Do you like wasting time on repetitive tasks? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Me neither. I always try to find tools and techniques that can help me work smarter and more efficiently. Fewer clicks, more smiles! :)
In this category, I write about applications that can help increase your productivity. I also share tips for saving time in applications you might already be using. Some of my favorite free tools for text editing are Notepad++ and Visual Studio Code. I’m also a huge fan of the Redgate products, especially SQL Prompt. This is a licensed tool, but the one tool I would pay out of pocket for to use at work!
This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Jess Pomfret (@jpomfret). She wants to hear about life hacks to make your life easier! In this post, I share two of my most-used keyboard shortcuts. One for moving text lines up and down without copying and pasting, and one for moving windows around without dragging and dropping. I use these all the time :)
Moving text lines up and down
Previously, I was moving text lines up and down in a couple of different ways. Have you ever marked all the text on a line, copied it, then pasted it again? Yeah, I did that all the time. And then I discovered there’s an easier way! Yay :)
There are a couple of different flavors to this keyboard shortcut.
In Office applications like PowerPoint and OneNote, you use Shift+Alt+Up and Shift+Alt+Down:
In other applications like SQL Server Management Studio, Azure Data Studio, and Visual Studio Code, you simply use Alt+Up and Alt+Down.
Moving windows around or between screens
Similarly, I was previously dragging windows around multiple monitors using my mouse. Then I discovered you can use Win+Arrows to move windows around. And then I discovered that you can use Win+Shift+Arrows to immediately move windows to the same position on other monitors. Are you showing a full-screen application while presenting? Just win-shift-arrow it to the extended screen and you look like a total pro. Whaaat! :D
Keyboard all the things!
There you go. Two of my favorite, useful, and timesaving keyboard shortcuts! I use these so much that I don’t think about them anymore – until someone goes “whoa whoa whoa wait what magic did you just do!?” :D
Do you have large Visual Studio solutions with many projects? Are you looking for an easy way to hide some projects while working on others? Maybe you are a fellow speaker looking for a way to group and organize your demo files? Solution Folders may be what you are looking for!
What are Visual Studio Solution Folders?
In Visual Studio, you can add virtual folders to group and organize your projects and files. Folders can be nested, collapsed, expanded, and even hidden in the Solution Explorer. Please keep in mind that these folders are entirely virtual. That means that you will still have to physically organize your projects the way you prefer in your file system.
Create Solution Folders
Right-click on the solution → Add → New Solution Folder (or with the solution selected, click the Project menu → Add New Solution Folder)
Hide Solution Folders
Right-click on the folder → Hide Folder (or with the folder selected, click the Project menu → Hide Folder)
Show Solution Folders
Right-click on the solution → Unhide Folders (or with the solution selected, click the Project menu → Unhide Folders)
T-SQL Tuesday #101 is hosted by Jens Vestergaard (@vestergaardj), and the topic is The Essential SQL Server Tools in my stack. There are several tools that I use every single day, such as Notepad++, Redgate SQL Prompt, and BimlExpress. In fact, there are so many amazing tools out there for data professionals that I created an entire session focusing on Tools and Tips For Data Warehouse Developers! Since I have already covered my favorite tools in other blog posts, I want to take a slightly different approach this time and share some of my favorite online tools.
I admit it, I was late to the smart phone party. In 2012 I still had a Sony Ericsson G502, and I was perfectly happy with it. I could call and send text messages, and it had the familiar T9 keyboard that I knew how to use without looking at the phone. I searched for smart phones for years without finding one that I really wanted.
The happy Windows Phone years
Then I found the Nokia Lumia 800 and immediately fell in love. The Windows Phone operating system really appealed to me with its minimalist design. And it was pink! I bought one in February 2012 and loved how simple, fast and responsive it was. I loved it.
In 2014, I broke it :( The screen cracked. I may have cried a little.
After a short period using a borrowed HTC One Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 930 was finally released in Norway. No pink version this time, so I bought the bright acid green one instead. Because colors :) I was once again really happy with my phone. The phone itself is wonderful, I love the look and feel of it, and the upgrade from Windows Phone 7.5 to Windows Phone 8 came with a bunch of great improvements.
The “only 1% of our users use Windows Phone, so we don’t have an app for you” stage
I was patient. I waited. I defended the Windows Phone – and I still like the look and feel of it. Windows 10 would make everything so much better! I don’t need all those apps I can’t get anyway! Things will be better Soon™
But two years later, I changed my mind. It was a difficult decision, being a Microsoft girl. I really wanted the Windows Phone to be awesome. But it wasn’t. It was slowly dying. Sorry, Microsoft! I tried, I really, really tried.
It wasn’t fun to feel left out because I couldn’t see all the pictures and videos of my niece and family on SnapChat. It wasn’t very productive having to click Select → Move → Trash to delete my Gmail e-mails because the Delete button actually only archived the e-mail and labelled it “Deleted Item”. (Oh, that wonderful day when I discovered that and had to sort through several thousand e-mails that I thought I had deleted. SO FUN!) It was sad only having beta version of apps for several years, apps I needed, apps that crashed frequently, apps that were never fixed or updated. Sure, there were workarounds to many issues. But too many workarounds are cumbersome.
The “OMG Android!?” future
In 2016, I finally made up my mind and bought a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Android phone.
IT’S A WHOLE NEW WORLD!
(A new fantastic point of view! ♫)
I was worried that it would take me a long time to get used to Android, that it would feel chunky and cluttered, that there were ten thousand things I had to dig through to find what I wanted. All based on my brief experience with Android phones back in 2012. And I’m happy to say that I was very wrong.
The phone is extremely easy to understand and use, and it’s very fast and responsive. I did spend some time customizing and tweaking things, but I did that on my Windows Phone as well. (I could never decide how to move those tiles around!) In less than a day, it felt like my phone.
It’s a beautiful phone. I adore the vibrant colors and the crisp and clean look and feel. The fingerprint sensor is such a relief to have after typing the wrong pin code approximately 2147483647 times. Both cameras take fantastic pictures. The edge panels gives me even easier access to the things I use the most. The speech-to-text and “OK Google” features actually work really great. It’s such a great user experience that I’m fine with Google knowing more about me and my life and my habits than me :)
More importantly – it makes me productive. (Or… well… at least when I’m trying to be productive and not just playing with all the new, shiny apps and features!) It has all the apps I need, everything is integrated seamlessly, and it all feels smooth and responsive.
In Notepad++, you can quickly find information about your text. For example, what is the document length and total word count? You can do this by using a built-in feature or by using the TextFX plugin. They count words differently, though, so be aware! Make sure you use the one that is right for you :)
Word Count in Notepad++
If you have no plugins installed, you can use the built-in Summary feature. If you are using the TextFX plugin you can use the Word Count feature:
Click View → Summary
Double-click on Length / Lines on the Status Bar (shortcut to Summary)
Use TextFX → TextFX Tools → Word Count
Differences between Notepad++ and TextFX
The Notepad++ Summary only shows the total word count, not the selected word count. If you have text selected, it shows you how many characters you have selected, but not how many words are in your selection.
The TextFX Word Count shows the total and selected word count. It only works when you have text selected. It shows you how many words and characters are in your selection.
More importantly, Notepad++ and TextFX counts words differently. Notepad++ counts hyphenated words as two words, while TextFX counts hyphenated words as one word.
Fun fact: TextFX and Microsoft Word counts words the same way :)