Starting to use a new piece of software, especially when you're used to a different one that you loved that was mercilessly taken from you by Earl the IT guy, can be a little confusing.
Here are a few of the things new users encounter the most, from troubleshooting and a little confusion to frequently asked questions about how to make the software do what you want it to.
Don't worry about the JRE unless you're making databases.
The install for 1.x will ask you where your JRE is. If your reaction is to think, well, maybe you left it in your other pants, or that Dallas was cancelled years ago, don't worry about it. Just say you're not using one. If you end up wanting one later, you can get it from Sun (java.sun.com) or for OpenOffice.org 2.0 you can download the Windows version with the JRE built right in.
To be honest....*you* told OpenOffice.org to “take over” your Microsoft files.
In some versions of OpenOffice.org 1.x, the default was to have Windows automatically associate OpenOffice.org with your .doc, .xls, and .ppt Microsoft files. So that when you innocently double-click one of those files, expecting Microsoft Office to pop up, now OpenOffice.org does instead.
That is because you merrily clicked OK when the installation asked you whether you wanted that. (Or Earl the IT guy did when he installed it.)
In OpenOffice.org 2.0, it is not the default, though you get the same window asking if you want that asociation.
If OpenOffice.org is starting when you double-click your Word, Excel, or Powerpoint files, and you want to change it so Microsoft Office starts, here's how. The steps vary between versions of Windows so if it doesn't match exactly, keep in mind the principles are the same.
- Open My Computer or your Windows Explorer.
- Under the Tools menu, choose Folder Options.
- In the window that appears, click File Types.
- In the Extensions column of that window, find the .DOC extension that has OpenOffice.org or StarOffice next to it.
- Select that line in the list.
- Click Change.
- Another window will appear. Find Microsoft Word.
- Click OK.
If you need to do Excel files and Powerpoint too, repeat steps 4-8. However, instead of DOC, find XLS and change it to Micorosoft Excel, and find PPT and change it to Microsoft Powerpoint.
Sherry in Accounting can't open your OpenOffice.org file
You've heard that Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org are compatible, that Microsoft can open OpenOffice.org documents and vice versa.
Well, yes. But Microsoft Office is a bit uncooperative, so you need to do an extra step to make up for it. When you send an OpenOffice.org document to a Microsoft Office user, you need to save your OOo document in a Microsoft Office format. Then send that document.
So for instance, let's say you've got a budget.odt document, or budget.sxw document, in OpenOffice.org.
- Choose File > Save As.
- In the Save As window, click the Save As Type list and find Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP.
- Click Save.
- Then write your email and attach that new budget.doc file. Send that file to the Word user.
If the person you're sending the document to doesn't need to change the document, just needs to read and/or print it, it's best to send a PDF. You'll never have any formatting problems between OOo and MS because everyone can read PDFs.
Just click the PDF icon on the object bar, name the file something like budget.pdf, then attach that document to your email.
Why are Word documents screwed up when you open them in OpenOffice.org?
OpenOffice.org 2.0 took a lot of steps to help documents go between the two applications a whole lot better. They did some low-level coding, they changed the default margins of new documents (sometimes it's the simple things), and generally did a whole bunch of work to make transitions easier.
Here are some things you can do when that's just not enough.
- Turn on the marks that show how the document was created. Choose View > Nonprinting Characters. If you see a bunch of carriage return marks (the backwards P), a bunch of extra tabs, or anything else that seems weird, delete them and reformat. The issue is typically not incompatibility, just different settings for how far apart tabs are and other settings. (Using lots of tabs will usually get you into trouble anyway, so try to use indenting or just paragraph formatting under Format > Paragraph to indent text or do other formatting.)
The following illustration shows tabs and carriage returns.
- Text boxes can come over weird periodically. If you've got a text box that you want connected to a graphic, do this. Choose Insert > Frame, click OK, and resize the frame to fit the graphic and text box. Then cut and paste the graphic inside the frame, and do the same with the text box. Rearrange them as necessary. Then the text box and graphic will stay together.
- Check the wrapping with graphics that aren't doing what you expect. Select the graphic, right-click and choose Wrap > No Wrap or Wrap > Page Wrap. Drag the graphic nearer to where you want it, and try adding a carriage return (blank line) above and below the graphic.
- Switch bullets to graphics, not fonts (normal bullets). Fonts can be a little weird. Select the bulleted list, choose Format > Bullets and Numbering, click on the Graphics tab, and select the bullets you like.
Where are the reveal codes?
For WordPerfect users, reveal codes are life. But with OpenOffice.org, asking for reveal codes is kind of like asking where the woodpile is. You don't actually need them since you don't have a woodburning stove. Or most of the same problems you have with WordPerfect and Microsoft Office formatting. To make something bold, just select the text with your mouse or the keyboard arrow keys, and click the Bold icon. To take off that formatting, do the same thing. If formatting is being really weird and not obeying you, select the text and choose Format > Default and start over. The key point is, select all the text you want to format, apply the formatting—and you're good to go.
Why aren't there any templates for OpenOffice.org?
There are a bunch, they're just not installed with it.
Here are some:
Here are others:
If they're in zipped or tarred format after you download them, unzip them or untar them.
Then find where OpenOffice.org was installed on your computer, and go to the openoffice.org\share\templates\en-US\ directory. (Or instead of en-US, which indicates the language, you might find en-CA, or another directory for your language.) Copy the template files to that directory. If you want you can create a directory inside en-US such as book_templates, downloaded_templates, etc. Then choose File > New > Templates and documents, and you'll see the templates you added.
Also note that OpenOffice.org can open all your Microsoft Office templates. So just convert them to OpenOffice.org by opening them or using the batch convert tool (File > Wizards > Document Converter), then put them in the same directory noted early.