When you upgrade to a new version of Microsoft Office, you’ll always find new features that make life a little easier for your users. One such feature in Microsoft Office XP is Microsoft’s Clip Organizer, a stand-alone program that allows you to organize and use drawings, photographs, sounds, videos, and other media clips with presentations, publications, and any other Office documents. The Organizer can make work simpler for users who create company newsletters, put together PowerPoint presentations, post photos to the intranet, or perform any function that requires use of pictures and clip art.

Here, I will explain where to find Microsoft Clip Organizer and how to use it so you’ll be prepared to show your users this handy utility.

Something new
At first glance, Clip Organizer may seem similar to the old Insert Clip Art function, but this version has a major difference: It can search your system and catalog your clips. This function saves you the trouble of remembering where you saved a particular picture. It doesn’t move any of your files; it merely creates a gallery of thumbnails of your media items and allows you to preview and copy and paste those clips.

To use this feature
Clip Organizer allows you to have media clips stored in a variety of locations and yet use them as though they are a single archive. Users can find the clips they have stored directly though the Clip Organizer by going to Start | Programs | Microsoft Office Tools, or they can use the Insert Clip Art feature found in many Office applications.

The first time users run the Clip Organizer application, they will be prompted by a dialog box, shown in Figure A, to allow the Clip Organizer to search their drives. Doing so will take a few minutes and will provide them with a display of all the drive locations that contain media clips.

Figure A

Once the application has had the opportunity to catalog all the media clips, it will list them within four collections:

  • My Collections includes clips added automatically via the search feature or individually.
  • Office Collections includes clips from the Clip Organizer CD-ROM and those included with Office XP.
  • Web collections lists clips you’ve downloaded from the Web.
  • Shared Collections will only exist if a network administrator has created and exported a collection for shared use. Users will not be able to add to or change clips in Shared Collections.

Users can gain access to the clips by going to Insert | Picture | Clip Art, which will bring up the Insert Clip Art panel, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The Search feature in Clip Organizer allows users to find clips by typing in a keyword, such as “building” or “paperclip.” Users can narrow their searches by specifying a particular collection or by searching for a specific file type. This type of search can also be performed from within Office programs (e.g., PowerPoint) by clicking Insert | Picture | Clip Art.

One of the options in the Insert Clip Art dialog box is a link to Clip Organizer, which allows users to locate the image or media clip that they wish to insert. Figure C illustrates the Clip Organizer screen.

Figure C

Users can select the image they wish to use, and a gray button will appear at the side of the image offering options for copy, cut, paste, and other file manipulations. This menu, shown in Figure D, allows users to preview, copy and paste, or delete the clip.

Figure D

Maintaining the gallery
As with any database, regular maintenance is required. To keep their Clip Organizer up-to-date, users may choose to rerun the initial search to automatically add clips to the Organizer. Alternately, they can choose to manually add new images or remove the entry for a particular clip, which will not delete it from their system altogether.

To refresh the list or to add a file to the organizer, go to File | Add Clips To Organizer and select from the options:

  • Automatically
  • On My Own
  • From Scanner Or Camera

The Automatically option will rerun the search that took place the first time you used the Organizer and add in any new images that may have been saved to the system.

The On My Own option brings up a Browse box, which allows you to navigate to and add individual clips. It will also allow users to specify the collection where the item should be cataloged.

Using the From Scanner Or Camera option allows users to choose a TWAIN device and import clips directly from those sources.

Help your users get organized
Clip Organizer will make it easier for your users to add media clips to Office documents. The next time you receive a panicked help desk call from an Office XP user who’s trying to find the art they used in last year’s PowerPoint presentation, a quick overview of the Clip Organizer may save the day.