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Microsoft Word in a Word: Frustration

By Jeff Kagan
Jan 10, 2019 9:47 AM PT
one of the most useful features of microsoft word for mac doesn't always work

Why have Microsoft and Apple been getting so lazy, testing the sanity and wasting the time of their users? How can both screw up so badly and so often? I cannot believe it. My latest irritation concerns the disappearance of the Microsoft Word "Recent" folder from my MacBook. It was simply gone. Vanished. Poof.

Like most people, I have a morning routine. I wake up, make my first cup of coffee, and sit down at my kitchen table to plan my day, check my email and calendar, and think about the next column I will write. For the second time in a matter of a few weeks, my routine was disturbed by a bolt of lightning. My "Recent" file folder was empty!

It's understandable that life can be a little more complicated when you use Microsoft's Word for Mac on an Apple MacBook, but it's not like it's a new thing. The companies have been working together on Word for longer than I can remember. This type of problem should be history.

Tree of Many Branches

Both companies are aware of the importance of customer satisfaction. That's why it's absolutely nuts when they hurt their users. It provokes animosity.

From what I've heard, this problem has been occurring for many years. It just affects different users each time.

The "Recent" folder provides access to previously used files. Creating it was a good idea. It makes it easier to find and open files. Rather than searching the file tree for each one, a user simply finds it in the "Recent" folder. Mine has grown over time. It used to contain a few files, but the list has gotten long.

This "Recent" feature has made it easier to use Microsoft Word. The problem comes when this easier way to access files no longer works. That's when you have to remember where you stored each one. It can be maddening trying to remember where certain files are so they can be opened and used.

My file tree has been growing for decades. It's a huge tree with so many branches and sub-branches. It made sense when I used to go to the tree to find a file.

However, the "Recent" list made things easier for me. So, when it disappeared, it threw me into panic mode. Thank you Microsoft and Apple.

Since this disaster occurred twice in a month, I am now in meltdown mode. Thank you once again, Microsoft and Apple.

Hint: This is not how you create a happy and content user base.

My 'Recent' Workaround

I finally figured out a solution to this disaster. There is a second list of "Recent" files that has nothing to do with Microsoft Word. Instead, it is a MacBook feature.

Go to "Finder" on the bottom of the screen, and then go to "Recents." This is harder to get to and takes extra steps, but at least it's still there, and it displays every file you recently have opened and worked with, not just those associated with Microsoft Word.

At least there is a solution -- but it doesn't answer the question. How do two of the biggest and most powerful and important companies in the world today, screw up so badly and so often?

Blessing and Curse of Modern Technology

This is an example of how modern technology can be both a blessing and a curse. When it works, it makes our lives easier and better. However, when it doesn't work, it makes our lives completely miserable. We forget how to do simple things.

I have noticed this time and time again over the last several decades. While it is not a new problem, it is an inexcusable problem.

In days gone by, we didn't have these features that made us lazy. We all exercised our brains and knew how things worked. That is no longer the case. Today, we are lost in a maze of modern technology. When it works, life is wonderful -- but when it stops working, we go into a tailspin.

What gives these companies the right to interfere with our lives, our sanity, and our time by being sloppy with their updates, or whatever else may cause these problems?

How many hours have been wasted? How has the negativity of dealing with these frustrations impacted our mental health? There is a price to pay for everything.

At least my files haven't vanished. I have heard from other users who have had that awful experience. Unbelievable! Simply unbelievable!

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.


Jeff Kagan has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2010. His focus is on the wireless and telecom industries. He is an independent analyst, consultant and speaker. Email Jeff.


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