Using the Selection Pane to Arrange Layers in Microsoft Word 2010 or Higher

As a word processing program, Microsoft Word can do many things. However, one of the things it hasn’t managed to do so well over the years is images.

Sure, you can add images to Word documents, adjust them, move them around, bring elements backward or forward, and even combine images, but traditionally the process has always been a little clunky.

Have you ever tried to select one shape, only to discover you actually selected the one you didn’t want? Have you ever wished that you could just “turn off” an image temporarily, so you could work with what’s behind it?

Now you can do all of this and more – if you have Word 2010 or higher.

Microsoft got wise to the frustration of Word users, and included a new feature in Word to help fix these problems and limitations. This feature is known as the Selection Pane, and while it’s one of Word’s most useful tools, it is also one of its best kept secrets.

Accessing the Selection Pane

To access the Selection Pane, you need to have a shape or image on your document already. Please note that this feature works best when you have several images on your document.

You can add images easily by going to Insert at the top of the Ribbon, and then selecting Pictures, Outlines, or Shapes.

For the purpose of following along, open a new word document, and insert several shapes, say a circle, square, and triangle, and make them each a different color. You should now have something that looks similar to the image below.

Shapes in Word 2013

Shapes in Word 2013

Once you have at least one image on the screen, you will be able to turn on the Selection Pane. To do this, click on any of the images on your document. A new tab should appear at the top of your Ribbon, called Format. Click on the Format Tab, and then click on Selection Pane.

Accessing the Selection Pane from the Ribbon in Word 2013

Accessing the Selection Pane from the Ribbon in Word 2013


The Selection Pane will open on the right side of the screen. From here you can drag and drop your images to re-arrange them, or turn various layers off so that you can adjust the layers underneath. You can even opt to show all images or hide all images, depending on what you are trying to accomplish during the editing of your document.

Selection Pane in Word 2013

And that’s all there is to it. Once you learn how to use the Selection Pane, you will find that it goes a long way to alleviating the frustrations of editing image layers within Word.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you get the most out of your software. Website:

Spring Cleaning: How to Refresh Your Computer – Part One Physical Cleaning

Dirty Computer

Image Credit: Paulimus J

It may still be cold in parts of the U.S., but in Florida it’s already beginning to feel a lot like spring, which naturally leads us to think about one thing – spring cleaning.

But did you know that it’s not just your environment that could use a good cleaning? Your computer could probably use one as well.

Whether it still feels like winter where you are, or whether it’s starting to warm up already, taking some time to clean your computer now will ensure you’re ready and prepared to take on the coming year.

Our spring cleaning series breaks down the various steps of cleaning your computer into easy, manageable chunks, so you don’t have to spend days and days cleaning your computer.

Instead, follow the series and perform the steps outlined. By the time the series is done, your computer will be cleaned up and running good as new, and you’ll be ready to handle anything the year throws at you.

Part one of the series focuses on physically cleaning your computer.

Did you know that your computer, and specifically your keyboard and mouse, are some of the dirtiest places in your office? In fact, your keyboard could be dirtier that the toilet. Eeewww. And you touch it several times a day.

Instead of letting germs and bacteria fester for another year, take some time to clean your computer. Your body will thank you.

Cleaning Items Needed

To physically clean your computer, you will need:

  • Canned Air
  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Electrostatic dusting cloth
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Electronics Vacuum

Important Note: Never spray anything directly on your electronics. Instead, spray your cloth, then wipe the device clean.

Cleaning Your Devices


While you can leave your devices attached, it’s best to detach keyboards and mice so that they don’t activate programs and commands on the computer while you’re cleaning. This includes both wired and wireless devices.

After disconnecting your keyboard, turn it upside down and shake it out. This will remove any large debris, such as food crumbs, hair, etc. Then, spray the keyboard with canned air, removing any additional large debris. If you have an electronics vacuum, use it on the keyboard now.

Once all the big crud is removed, there will probably still be spots that need some deep cleaning. Dip a cotton swab lightly in Isopropyl Alcohol, and spot clean any heavy gunk. Make sure that the swaps have enough alcohol to clean with, but aren’t dripping wet.

Continue cleaning until your keyboard is sparkling clean. Repeat this process every few months, particularly after a cold or illness to remove any residual germs.


Wipe down your mouse with a microfiber cloth to remove any large particles. Remember to wipe down both the top and underside of the mouse.

While rare these days, if you have a mouse with a ball, remove the ball and wipe it down. Gently clean any rollers with a cotton swab dipped (lightly) in Isopropyl Alcohol. (Again, you want it damp, not dripping.)

Otherwise, wipe down your entire mouse. For any stubborn spots, clean with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Repeat until your mouse is sparkly clean.

LED Screen

Even screens get dirty from time to time. First, clean your screen with canned air, to remove any large dust particles.

Then, clean your screen using LCD wipes, or a soft-dust free microfiber cloth. Moisten the cloth with a mix of distilled water and white vinegar, and wipe the screen in circular motions.

Wipe until your monitor is clean and streak free. Repeat every couple of months, or when your monitor is dirty again.

Note this will work for LCD TV’s too.

Computer Case / Laptop

Once all your peripherals are cleaned up, it’s time to clean the outside of your computer.

Shut down and turn off your computer. Using the canned air, clean any fans, air intakes, or other areas on the outside of the computer that is collecting dust. If your computer is super dusty, take it outside to clean.

Then, gently wipe down the outside of the case with a microfiber cloth. Clean any stubborn spots with a cotton swap dipped in Isopropyl Alcohol.

If you have a laptop, remember to clean really well between your keys, your touchpad, and any other area that is frequently touched.

And you are done! You should now have a sparkly, clean, germ free computer, keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Now plug everything back in, turn on the computer, and get back to work. 😉

Stay tuned for our next installment of the Spring Cleaning Series, where we’ll focus on cleaning the inside of your computer.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who believes that a clean computer is a happy computer. Website:

Surprisingly Small Spaces to Store Data

DNA Strand

Image Credit: ynse

The problem with conventional storage devices – hard drives, CDs, DVDs, etc. – is that the media can degrade over time making the media unreadable. And what good is storing data if you can’t access it later?

Scientists are actively trying to change the data conundrum by coming up with new ways to store data in ways that can be accessed later, regardless of how old it is, without any data loss.

Additionally, since our reliance on technology and data is only growing stronger, they are trying to couple data integrity with small storage spaces so that more data can be stored while taking up less space physically.

So, what kinds of small spaces are they using to store data? Some of the answers may surprise you.

Hitachi Glass

In late 2012, Hitachi revealed their newest invention, a small sheet of glass measuring one square inch that can hold up to 40MB of data. What’s more, the data is nearly impervious to corruption, as the glass is heat and water resistant, and unaffected by heat, chemicals, radio waves, and other possible corruption sources.

Click here to read more about how Hitachi glass works.

Tiny Hard Drive

Scientists have found a way to store data on a surprisingly small amount of space – 12 atoms. This doesn’t seem so small, until you realize that current hard drives use more than a million atoms to store a bit, and more than half a billion atoms to store a byte of information.

By storing data with a new unconventional form of magnetism called antiferromagnetism, scientists are now able to store data in a space that is drastically smaller than current conventional methods.

To read more about this new magnetism technique, click here.


However, scientists are actively working on storing data in the most surprising place, in something we always carry with us – our DNA.

In early 2013, Harvard scientists announced they found a way to use our DNA as a digital storage device, allowing them to store up to 700 terabytes of data in just one gram of our DNA.

So far they’ve been able to store

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an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a photograph of a double helix strand of DNA, and Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. And, not only were they able to store the data, but they were able to retrieve it with 99.9% accuracy.

To read more about storing data on DNA, check out these articles:

Harvard’s Discovery of Storing Data in DNA

Storing Data on DNA

And these are just a few of the surprising small spaces that scientists are creating for data storage.

What are your thoughts about these changes? Fascinating? Or a sci-fi tragedy waiting to happen?

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you learn about surprising changes in technology. Website: