Teams: Notify Me When a Coworker is Available (or Offline)

With so many of our coworkers working remotely, it can become challenging to know who is really “here” and who has “left” at a given time. After all, we can’t exactly wave hello or goodbye as they walk past our desk! In lieu of these familiar “in person” notifications, here is a quick way to be notified virtually via Teams.

James Kirk is now available banner

Teams Settings

In the upper right of your Teams screen is either your image (at WSU this is imported from Outlook), or your initials. Click on this circle to access a variety of options. We are selecting Settings for this one.

Imae in upper right, setting option


1. On the left side of the Settings screen, select Notifications.

2. Scroll all the way to the bottom under the header Status. Select Manage Notifications.

On left, notifications, at bottom status, Manage Notifications

3. In the search bar, Search for the person for whom you would like to be notified.

      • Quick Note: when searching for people in Teams, try searching by the wording in front of the @ symbol in their email address; e.g. firstname.lastname for faculty/staff, and initials lastname for students.

Add person to notifications

4. Select your person from the dropdown list. They will now appear in a list under Manage Status Notifications.

    • At any time you can revisit this setting and select Turn Off to stop receiving notifications.

Person in notifications, option to "turn off" notifications for them

Notification Banners

That is all there is to it! Now you will be notified when this person becomes available…

James Kirk is now available banner

And when they go offline…

James Kirk is now offline

Pretty cool!

Teams Essentials Training

Are you interested in learning more about Teams? I would love to see you in one of my remote Teams Essentials trainings! Sessions are listed in myTraining. There will always be a listing or two of this session, so if you don’t see a time that works for you, not to worry, simply select Notify me of new sessions to receive an an email when a new session is listed.

Notify me of new sessions link


What do you think, will you activate notifications for any of your Teams contacts? I would love to hear from you!

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit:

  • Lora Lea Pickering
  • Mikayla Irish
  • Kelly Eden

PowerPoint: All About Audio

What happens when you insert audio into your PowerPoint presentation? For many, the little audio button that appears in the slide is a source of some confusion. What are you supposed to do with that button? Do you always need to press play during your presentation? What if you want audio to play across slides? Let’s explore some of PowerPoint’s audio options that are not readily apparent.

Audio Play button

Inserting Audio

Like visual elements, audio elements also live on the Insert tab in the ribbon.

1. Go to the Insert tab, Media group, and select the dropdown for Audio.

Insert tab, Media group, Audio dropdown

2. There are a couple options here, allowing you to browse for an existing mp3 file, or record your own audio.

Audio dropdown, audio on my pc and record audio options

  • Remember that if you are recording your own audio, you will need a computer with a functioning microphone.

3. Once Audio is selected or recorded, PowerPoint throws an audio button in the center of the slide…

Audio button in center of slide

This button can be moved around if desired.

audio button moved

Audio: During the Presentation

The default audio setting has this button appearing during a presentation, but we will explore how to make an adjustment if that is not what you were hoping…

Audio button in lower right of screen

Since no defaults have been changed so far, if we start this presentation, the presenter will either need to trigger the action with their clicker, or press the  Play button on top of the audio button with a mouse.

Playback Contextual Tab

Like so many contextual tabs, the Playback contextual tab that comes along with Audio in PowerPoint is often ignored, but there are so many amazing adjustments that can be made back here! Let’s check it out.

1. Be sure that you have Selected the audio button to trigger the appearance of the Playback contextual tab on the right side of the ribbon.

2. Select the Playback tab. Take a look at the Start dropdown in the Audio Options group. This will allow you to set audio to start automatically, rather than in a click sequence.

Playback contextual tab, start dropdown

3. The Audio Options group contains some additional settings that may interest you. Do you want to hide that audio button during a presentation? Have audio play across slides? There are checkboxes for these popularly requested settings, and more.

Playback tab, audio options group

4. Some popular preset settings are also available to the right of Audio Options group, in the Audio Styles group. Do you want audio to play in the background? Select this button, and some check boxes in Audio Options will be selected for you. With this setting, your audio will:

  • Play across slides
  • Loop until stopped
  • The audio button will be hidden during the presentation

Audio styles group makes changes to audio options


What do you think, do these tips help you as you are working with audio in your PowerPoint presentations? I would love to hear from you!

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit:

Excel: Create Stunning Map Charts with Geography Data Types

Here is a question that has been particularly popular recently. How do you create a map charting figures by county, city or zip code in Excel? There are a variety of ways to tackle this question, but today I want to show you how to use data types in conjunction with the map chart type to create a chart by county in Excel.

County populations displayed on a map

This Byte is inspired by two different faculty members who emailed me with this question… you know who you are, and thank you for the inspiration!

Starting Place: The List

Your starting place should include clearly named locations and associated figures. In my case, I picked a few Kansas counties (sorry if I left out yours!), and their populations.  The numbers could have been any figure you are tracking, of course.

List of counties and populations

Step One: Convert to Geography Data Type

The first step is to make sure Excel can identify the locations listed in your document. This can be an optional step, but skipping it may mean that Excel can’t identify one or more of your locations and the map therefore won’t cooperate, so best practice is to start here.

1. Select the data to be identified (counties, in this case).

2. Go to the Data tab, Data Types group and select Geography.

Insert tab, data types group, Geography

3. Excel will attempt to identify the locations. If all goes well, a little map icon will appear to the left of the county name.

Locations identified, signified by a map icon on the left of county names

By the way, notice the little box at the upper right of your selection. Click on this to extract other pertinent information about your location. This is not part of your chart, but a cool trick in Excel worth mentioning.

Additional information about counties can be extracted at upper right

Here are a few extracted fields, so you can see how they look: image, largest city, area. Notice how Excel creates a new column for each one.

Information extracted, as described above

Here is a bit of inspiration: imagine that you have a list of zip codes and figures and you need to create a map by county. Simply convert the zip codes to geography data types, extract county, and off you go. Pretty handy, right?

Step 2: Create a Chart & Customize

Now that Excel has identified our data, we are ready to create a chart.

  1. Select the data to be charted. In this case, county and population columns.
  2. Go to the Insert tab, Charts Group
  3. Select the Map dropdown, Filled Map option.

Insert tab, charts group, Maps dropdown, filled map option

4. Excel will create a map with your data. If you don’t care for the default colors and appearance, don’t forget you can customize all your charts with the contextual Chart Design tab in the ribbon.

Contextual chart design tab

Shameless Training Plugs:  If you would like to learn more about the Chart Design contextual tab, please attend one of my Excel Pivot Tables, Charts and Pictures sessions (now offered remotely). Also, don’t forget you can easily change your theme colors on the Page Layout Tab in the ribbon. We cover this one in Excel Essentials if you are interested in learning more.

It may take a few tries to get a map you are happy with. Don’t be discouraged! The results are fantastic.

Kansas county by population map chart

One More Word on Geography Data Types

In the example above we mapped by county, but you may find yourself needing to map by zip code, state, country… the Geography data types can recognize all of these and more. Experiment with this powerful tool and you may be surprised what you find.


What do you think, do you have any geographic data that is calling out for a better visualization? I can’t wait to hear how you use this feature!

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit:

  • Debbie Neill
  • Kelsey Unruh