MS-Excel / Excel 2003

Choosing menu items and dialog box options

To choose pull-down menus or select buttons on an open toolbar (such as the Standard or Formatting toolbar), say the menu and item name or the toolbar's button name. For example, to choose File → Save on the pull-down menus to save changes to the current workbook, you say "file," and then when Excel opens the File menu, you say "save" to choose the Save menu item. Alternately, you can just say the word "save" to have Excel perform the same action - this time by clicking the Save button on the Standard toolbar.

If you say a menu command that opens a dialog box, you can select its tabs or options by saying their names. For example, if you say "format" and then say "cells," the Format Cells dialog box opens. You can select the Font tab in this dialog box by saying "font," and then you can select the Strikethrough check box by saying "strikethrough." To then close the Format Cells dialog box and apply the strikethrough attribute to the entry in the currently selected cell(s), say "okay." To close a dialog box without putting into effect any of the options that you changed, say "cancel" instead. (You can also say "escape" to close a dialog box without making changes.)

Keep in mind that you can use Voice Command to select the dialog box option that you want to change. Say the word "tab" to have Excel advance through each option displayed on the current tab of a dialog box, selecting each option as it goes. When the dialog box option that you want to change is selected (indicated by highlighting in the case of text boxes and combo boxes, and dotted outlining in the case of option buttons and check boxes), you can then say the new value or suspend Voice Command and enter the new value manually.

If you need to enter a new value in one of the text boxes in a dialog box (or select a value in a drop-down list when you don't already know its name), you must first turn off Voice Command temporarily and then enter or select the new value with the keyboard or mouse. To turn off Voice Command, simply click the Microphone button on the Language bar, thus causing the bar to hide the Dictation and Voice Recognition buttons. To resume giving voice commands after you have entered or selected the new value, click the Microphone button a second time.

Don't forget to turn off Voice Command before you start clicking objects in the Excel window with the mouse or typing something from the keyboard. If you don't, you stand a good chance of having Voice Command decide that your mouse clicks or typing actually sounds like you're speaking some Excel menu command or toolbar button. Having Excel choose a harmless command that you're not expecting can be bad enough, but having the program choose one that alters your worksheet can be devastating. (Usually when I forget to first turn Voice Command off, it responds by having Excel open up a new, blank worksheet, which totally throws me off because the worksheet with all my data is suddenly no longer on-screen!)

Note that the effects of many Excel commands that you choose (whether you do this by voice, keyboard, or mouse) are reversible by immediately using the program's Undo command. (Some commands, such as saving changes in a document, are not reversible, however.) If Speech Recognition ever messes up and chooses the wrong menu command, toolbar button, or dialog box option, immediately say the word "undo." Because Excel supports multiple levels of undo, you may have to repeat the word several times to get your worksheet back to the desired state.

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