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Tips for your TIP

Recently I posted some tips to get more out of Vista on your Tablet PC.  In that post I mentioned a few tweaks for the Tablet Input Panel (TIP) that I find useful:

  • Insert text by pointing at insert.  In the tools menu at the top of the TIP select Options.  On the Settings tab select “Pointing to the Insert Button inserts the text”
  • Open the TIP by pointing at it.  Also in the tools menu at the top of the TIP select Options, then the Opening tab.  Select “Point to the Input Panel icon or tab to open the Input Panel.
  • Get the input panel tab out of your way when in laptop mode – still on the opening tab clear the “Show the Input Panel tab when the pen is out of range” checkbox.  Note – don’t do this on a touch screen!

There is a lot more you can tweak in the TIP options.  In this post I will go into more detail about how you modify the TIP options and a closer look at some other useful options.

First here is how you get into the TIP options.

Open the TIP and click the drop down next to the Tools menu and select options.
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In the options dialogue there are a number of interesting options.  Lets go through the interface tab by tab.

First up on the Settings tab you will find the option that lets you insert text when you point to the Insert button as described above.

You can also change which side of the TIP the Insert button appears on.  Personally I prefer it on the right, which is the default.  If you prefer you can move it over to the Left.

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One setting on this tab that I strongly recommend you do not alter is the Autocomplete option.  Just like the description says this “Suggests matches in Input Panel when possible, such as email addresses, URLs, file names and other previous entries”.  I first blogged about this feature during the Vista beta back in April 2006 and it rocks.  It is on by default.  Keep it.

On the Opening tab you can configure the TIP to open when you point at the icon and prevent the TIP icon from appearing when the pen is out of range as described above.  In addition to this can:

  • Choose to show the TIP icon in the taskbar ala Windows XP Tablet Edition.
  • Turn off the slide out animation for performance
  • Choose which side of the screen the TIP tab appears on (though you can also drag the tab from one side of the screen to the other without ever going into the options)

On the Writing Pad tab there are some more useful options.  One of my favourite tricks – especially on a small screen tablet or UMPC – is to reduce the ink thickness.  Thinner ink takes up less room on the line which allows you to fit more words on each line of the TIP. This makes ink entry much more efficient.

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You can also choose to insert the text automatically when you pause writing and tweak how close you get to the edge of the line before a new line appears in the Writing Pad.

Similar options exist on the Character Pad tab.  You can also drop the thickness of the ink and choose to insert ink when you pause for the Character Pad.

On the Gestures tab you can select which gestures are supported in the TIP.  By default they all are, so you will probably only need to change this if you find you are triggering gestures unintentionally.

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On the Advance tab you can change the settings for Password Security.  I recommend keeping the default – which will automatically show the on screen keyboard whenever you click into a password box.

There is one other critical thing to know – there is a very important button back on the Settings tab that I have not mentioned yet.

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There is a “get-out-of-jail-free” button that will reset all the TIP options back to defaults.  This means that you should feel free to experiment with these settings because you can always get back to where you started if you mess things up.

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