Tip of the month by Chris Cochrane

Most modern computer programs have a Help function.  In fact computer programs created as far back as 20 years ago had help but one of the problems then was that there was no standardisation of function keys.  Windows, for all the times we curse its features and failings, introduced a standard that almost every Windows program adheres to.

The help function is usually accessed by pressing F1.  This is true in Printcost. Alternatively you can use the mouse to access the last item on the windows menu, again this is a standard on most windows programs.

We didn’t write the help program – we only created the data within it – the index, search, print etc functions are provided by Microsoft.  This is a two edged sword in that because it’s Microsoft the functions are exactly the same as other standard windows products but that means we can’t change them so if we wanted to add a new feature to help we couldn’t. Fortunately Microsoft have provided a good range of features.

There are three basic ways to get to the details in help.  First through the table of contents you can drill down into each topic.  Second you can use the “index” tab which lists the topics alphabetically and finally through the “find” tab which indexes every word in help and allows you to access the topics that contain the selected word.

Help has a significant section on “how to”.  Select the “contents” tab, double click the “How to perform various tasks” line then select the topic that interests you. 

As another example, assume you want to know about printing an invoice copy.  Click the “find” tab (note windows may want to create a database of help topics if you do this – follow the options allowed – it will only take a few seconds).  Key in invoice copy (or just start to and the list below will scroll).  When you find a topic double click it and note that the word you selected is highlighted.  Note if you key in two words (like invoice copy) help will provide you a list of topics where both words are included in the topic (this is a Microsoft feature – not a Printcost one)

You can use Index – it’s simpler but only includes the indexed headings we have created, and in the format we created them.  So you can search for Invoice and see a selection of invoice topics below then scroll through these or add, copy and move directly to the topic (but you need to know the "," is required).  Index searches the indexed headings only but Find searches the entire databases – different horses for different courses.

So before you use your digit on the phone pad, try the mouse on the help button – it probably works with every program you use, not just Printcost.

If you want to comment or suggest a topic for ‘tip of the month’, contact Chris on email cc@printcost.com


“We first installed Printcost in 1995 when the company had 35 staff, since then various modules have been added to keep up with the increasing requirements
of the company, which now has 100-plus staff. One of the biggest benefits I get from Printcost is the KPI reports. It used to take
us one hour per day to compile the spreadsheet, but now ePrintcost does it all automatically and sends it to me wherever I am in the world."

Fred Soar, Soar Printing, Auckland, New Zealand