Office challenge: What's a quick way to get a list of file names into an Excel spreadsheet?

Learn the answer to last week's Word challenge and test your Excel skills in this week's new challenge.

A user needs to list file names in an Excel sheet. The information's right there in front of her, but how can she get it from her screen into an Excel sheet? You could spend a while writing a VBA procedure, but let's skip that route. There's a quick an easy way to get file names into an Excel sheet--what is it? You aren't restricted to applications—you may use whatever tools you like.

Last week we asked…

What's that red x and where are my graphics? Gbentley suggested checking the Show Picture Placeholders option. This suggestion is good, but not quite right. Placeholders appear empty; they don't display a red x. For future knowledge, it's good to know though, so thanks Gbentley!

The red x indicates a broken link to a linked image file. This happens when you move a linked file or you move the Word document and forget to also move the linked image file. In addition, this can happen if you rename or delete the linked file. Word 2007 goes a long way toward clearing up the mystery by actually telling you what's wrong—you won't find this error message in earlier versions.

The easiest solution is to avoid the problem altogether by embedding instead of linking to the image file. That's not always practical though. Perhaps the next easiest solution is to simply relink the image file—Insert | Picture, and so on. It's quick and easy.

You can repair the link, but the process is a bit lengthy and easy to forget unless this problem occurs so often that you memorize it (and if that's the case, you need to rethink your strategy). To repair a broken link to an image file, do the following:

  1. In Word 2010, click the File tab and choose Info in the left pane. In Word 2007, click the Office tab and click Prepare in the left pane.
  2. In the far-right corner, click Edit Links to Files.
  3. Select the link and click Change Source.
  4. Use the dialog box to locate the file.
  5. Double-click the file.
  6. Click OK.

In Word 2003, do the following:

  1. Select the broken graphic.
  2. Press [Alt]+[F9] to display the field code.
  3. Correct the path.

Frankly, it's simpler to just relink the graphic, unless doing so plays havoc with your formatting.

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