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Computer Corner:
File Utilities on Steroids

By Marjory Harris, Esq.

> Depo Prep Made Easy
> S&W and 3rd Party Claims
> Administering MSAs
> War Story
> Computer Corner: File Utilities
In this series, we explore organizational techniques, software and hardware that will help you clear the mess from your desk, be more productive, and cut office overhead.

This article presents some file utilities to make it faster and easier to view your files and manipulate data.

If you missed previous Computer Corners:
A Case Management Adjunct
Analyze Evidence – and more – with TextMap
Be More Productive with Office OneNote
Create Your Own Medical Manager
Getting on Top of To-Dos
How to Calculate Settlement Values & Organize Issues & Evidence
How to Store It, How to Find It
How to Work Faster, More Efficiently and with Lower Overhead
Saving Graces
“In computers, a utility is a small program that provides an addition to the capabilities provided by the operating system. In some usages, a utility is a special and nonessential part of the operating system. In other usages, a utility is an application that is very specialized and relatively limited in capability.”

A viewing utility lets you see what is in the file without opening it, saving time and memory. Maybe you are familiar with such programs for viewing your jpegs. For much of our office work, a program that lets us view the text of Word or WordPerfect files, PDFs, and Outlook messages, without opening each one, is worth installing and keeping loaded on your desktop.

Most lawyers use PCs with some version of Windows. Here is a program that, for a small price, expands on Windows Explorer with “bang for a buck” functionality.
A viewing utility lets you see what is in the file without opening it, saving time and memory.
PowerDesk Pro 8

This file manager does everything Windows Explorer does and a lot of other things you wish came built into the Windows OS. It currently sells for $39.95, but I Googled for a coupon and got 10% off. With the 60-day money back guarantee, it is worth trying out.

PowerDesk Pro includes 6 file utilities, including a powerful file finder, but the feature worth the entire price for the workers’ compensation practitioner is the file viewer. Without opening anything other than PowerDesk Pro, you can see the contents of a file, copy and paste, and add or edit a note. This effectively ends the clutter of scores of open windows when reviewing a folder.

The program supports many file formats, including Excel spreadsheets and Outlook messages. You can even preview email attachments in the preview pane. When preparing a letter to an AME or QME, for example, you can cull out bits and pieces of the medical file, then copy into the word processor. Or, as seen in these screenshots, you can view a case and its note summarizing the holding.

powerdesk pro 8

powerdesk pro 8
PowerDesk Pro contains 6 file utilities, including a powerful file finder, but the feature worth the entire price for the workers’ compensation practitioner is the file viewer.
The first screenshot shows part of a client’s folder with the case highlighted. In the bottom of the screen the case is visible in the preview pane. The note summarizing the holding is to the right of the menu item (enlarged in the second screenshot).

In Depo Prep Made Easy, I explain how to use a file viewer utility to quickly gather notes for a deposition questionnaire.

Another neat feature of PowerDesk Pro is the customizable toolbar and launchbar, where you can click on a button and open commonly used programs, including the Start menu, task manager, and control panel. Just right click and a menu drops down with choices. On the menu bar under “Options” is the Layout Manager, so you can arrange the panes to your liking and save the layout. You can easily add the saved layout to the launchbar. If you have different layouts for different purposes, it saves clicks to launch the needed layout from the launchbar instead of from the menu bar.
I found it only took a few minutes to get the hang of this program. By clicking through the menus, I got a good idea of what could be done to make legal work easier. This really is Windows Explorer on steroids.

PowerDesk Pro also functions as a search engine, with more choices than the search engine that comes with the Windows operating system. I wanted to find all the cases where a certain doctor served as Agreed Medical Evaluator. I clicked on the File Finder button near the top of the screen, identified the path (the paths are saved in a dropdown list in the File Finder or by highlighting the folder in the main window). I typed in the doctor’s name, clicked on the “Find Now” button, and the list appeared immediately. I decided to refine the search, clicked the “Contents” tab, and typed “knee.” A new list of files appeared. I was able to preview the files in the File Finder viewing pane.

I decided to search with “Almaraz” in the contents tab, to find the letters I wrote to the doctor and the reports where the doctor discussed that case. Try to do that with Windows Search.

Another feature is color coding the folder icons. You might want to color code red for the cases that are most crying out for attention, ones you need to monitor closely. How about green for settlement pending? Blue for cases going well, on track? Or black for cases going south? There are 7 color choices. While on a boring phone call, why not tinker?

Remember to take advantage of the note feature. Adding a note that is visible at a glance, when looking at the folder, makes it a lot easier to spot the report or letter that you need. Many labeling systems are mysterious about the actual content. How about this label from one of the biggest defense firms: doc20100930083525.pdf?

The screenshot shows how color coding and notes can be used:

powerdesk pro 8
This really is Windows Explorer on steroids.
Dealing with papers is the time sink of workers’ compensation practice. If you scan and label well, or have documents sent as PDFs to start with, you can do file review in a flash with a good viewing utility. The many features, ease of use, and low price make PowerDesk Pro a “must have” for office efficiency.

Marjory Harris, Esq. began practicing law in 1974 as a defense attorney and later became an applicant's attorney and a certified specialist. She continues to represent injured workers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Inland Empire, and mentors attorneys on big cases.

Reach Marjory at (888) 858-9882 or email to MHarrisLaw@verizon.net www.workerscompensationcalifornia.com

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