Outlook 2013: DPI Issues & How to Solve Them in Email Marketing

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You may have heard that Apple introduced a whole New Look for their desktop and mobile operating systems with the launch of OS X Mavericks and iOS 7. Well, the transition from Snow Leopard to Mac OS Mavericks was a total transformation, and the same goes for iOS 7. It’s not only about the looks, either. Apple made countless changes under the hood of their operating systems to perform better, be more stable, and offer more features.

While we were lucky enough to get an early peek at Mac OS Mavericks and iOS 7, those of us using Microsoft’s latest software, Windows 8 and Exchange Server, may still be struggling with several compatibility issues that arise from the transition. Namely, Apple’s new operating systems have a number of features that wreak havoc with Microsoft’s corporate email solution, Outlook.

DPI Issues

One of the most significant changes made to Windows 8 is how it handles displays. Microsoft changed how the operating system renders and displays graphics to work better across all devices. As a result, applications that were designed for the classic desktop will now look awful on a large tablet or notebook PC. This is where DPI (density-independent pixels) issues come in.

DPI is a measurement of how closely pixels are packed together on a display. When an application, such as Microsoft Word, is viewed on a tablet, for example, each letter is a pixel. In order to make the text appear more natural and readable on a larger screen, DPI is increased. As a result, the text looks jagged and unpleasant. This is a problem that Microsoft does not have (at least not yet) when it comes to fixing or providing an option for users to adjust their display settings.

How to Solve DPI Issues

Fortunately, there is an easy solution that doesn’t require you to run around changing a ton of system settings. It’s called DPI awareness, and it’s a feature that is available in all versions of Office. When the application is launched, you will be presented with a screen that looks like this:

What you do here is, you enter the number of pixels you want to use as a basis for the scaling, click on OK, and your application will be displayed the way you originally intended. In the above example, I’ve entered 1000 pixels as the DPI value. As a result, each letter in Word will be rendered at a size that is one-tenth the original size of the text.

If you want to go even smaller, you can use the dot menu to the right of the number to choose a DPI value between 96 and 65. If you want to make the text larger, just increase the value.

This is a great solution for anyone experiencing DPI issues. Not only does it allow users to easily change how their applications look without risking anything, but it also ensures that all of the applications they use regularly will be displayed the way they intend. Furthermore, if they switch to a different display device, such as a notebook or tablet, everything will still appear the same as it did on their desktop. This is because all of the applications will be adjusted based on the DPI of the new display device. A side-benefit of this solution is that it prevents jagged edges when scaling down images, which can be a real eye-saver. For those of you that use Office frequently, you can consider this a must-have upgrade!

DPI issues don’t just affect images either. It can happen when using any type of graphics, including lines, shapes, or text. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for that as well. You can choose which graphics mode to use when drawing in Excel. If you’re used to working in Photoshop or Illustrator, you can choose to use those applications’ DPI settings when creating images for use in Excel. Just ensure that the unit is set to pixels when doing your research so that the correct DPI value is used.

Managing Multiple Displays

Microsoft has acknowledged the issue with DPI scaling and is working to provide a solution. As of today, there is no official word from Microsoft regarding when they will implement the fix. Until then, there is an easy workaround that will allow you to manage your Office applications across multiple displays. What you need to do is, when launching the application, choose an output resolution that will work for all displays. Then, when you are taking your work home with you on a notebook or tablet, choose the highest resolution available on that device. This will allow everything to appear sharp, regardless of whether you’re using a projector or the device’s built-in screen.

As I mentioned before, DPI issues don’t just affect images. It can happen when using any type of graphs, including lines, shapes, or text. When that happens, you will not see the intended results. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for that as well. Just go into the application’s Settings and choose the way you want the graphs to look. For example, if you’re taking a report home and using it on a projector screen, you can choose to have everything appear in large format or on individual sheets. You can even adjust the colors and amount of information displayed on each graph or chart. For instance, you may decide that a chart representing sales revenue over time would be more useful in black and white rather than color. The choice is yours!

In reality, I would not suggest using this solution for every single report or task. What I would suggest is, instead of taking a digital report home with you on a notebook or tablet, print out everything on paper. You will not only have the ability to use all of the colors and adjust the layouts and formatting of the graphs and charts, but you will also be able to interact with the information in a different manner, such as using a magnifying glass to discover more details about a particular subject.

Another huge change in Outlook 2013 is how attachments have been handled. Microsoft implemented a new “smart attachment” feature, which automatically detects the format of the file you are attaching and presents you with a menu of compatible applications. What is nice is that you no longer need to manually choose the application you want to use to open the file, as the computer will choose it for you based on the format of the file you are attaching. This new feature makes the process of opening attachments a lot faster. If you’re used to manually choosing the proper application before opening an attachment, you may find this new feature a little jarring at first.

Summary

If you’re still playing around with your new device and experiencing some compatibility issues with the applications you’re using, don’t worry. You’re not alone. There are fixes for all of these issues, and you don’t have to settle for sub-par performance just because your device is running on a different operating system or an older version of Office. By taking the time to learn the ins and outs of each piece of software you use regularly, you will be able to successfully navigate the system changes Apple and Microsoft have imposed upon us. Good luck!

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