Tips and Tricks

Tech Tips for Start-of-Semester Success

dynamic back to school background with a burst of colorful geometric shapes and symbols representing different academic subjects. Generative AI

Whether you’re returning to Clark or joining our campus community for the first time, ITS is excited to help you succeed this semester! We’ve worked hard over the summer to expand technological tools and spaces to help you study, create, and teach to the best of your ability.  

If you want to save time… 

If you want to organize your emails… 

  • Turn on conversation view, which groups received messages and replies together. No more searching through your sent items!  
  • Create rules in Outlook to automatically take action on emails as they come in. Choose from a variety of options, such as forwarding, filtering, categorizing, and flagging. With rules, the important stuff gets your attention, and the less-important stuff gets organized.  

If you want to brush up on what you learned last year… 

  • Use your Clark credentials to activate your free LinkedIn Learning account. Browse thousands of topics, including programming, research and citation, study skills, and time management.  

If you want to customize notifications to increase focus… 

  • Customize your Canvas notifications by going to your account and selecting Notifications. From here, you can create your own preferences to make sure you’re receiving messages in a way that best supports your learning or teaching style. 

Screenshot of left sidebar Canvas menu. "Account" is selected, showing options including Notifications, Profile, and more.

If you want to try a new way to get ideas on paper… 

  • Practice dictating your thoughts into a Microsoft Word document. Brainstorming or writing this way might feel more natural depending on how you think best, and it’s a great technique to use to avoid blue light and eye strain if you’ve been looking at your screen for a while. Click here to learn more about how to use dictation in Word

ITS looks forward to supporting you during the academic year. Please contact the Help Desk by emailing or calling 508-793-7745 if you have questions, suggestions, or require technological assistance.

‘Tis the Season for Poster Printing


Spring is Poster Printing season, with ClarkFEST, class and departmental poster events, Academic Futures Showcase, academic conferences, and much more.

Each year ITS prints over 250 posters in support of teaching and learning, and academic research. As a result, we wanted to share our top 5 tips for easy poster printing.

If you’re looking for more advice, click here to read additional guidance.

Check Sizing

While the most common poster size we print is 36 inches by 48 inches, different events require different poster sizes and dimensions. Check requirements early and set your size in your design application before beginning your work. Changing sizing, and particularly dimensions, at a later time can require you to change your design significantly – a stressor that you won’t need before the event.

Most posters are created in Powerpoint, where it’s very easy to change your slide size. Click here for more information on how to do so. For an even easier option, use one of our pre-sized templates, available here.

Poster Printer

Our trusty poster printer

Edit your text

Posters, by their nature, have limited space. As you’re designing your poster, consider what your goals are and be ruthless in editing your text. Remove anything extraneous and be sure that all elements support your narrative. Remember that reducing your font size to help everything fit is rarely a good choice.

Additionally, your audience will be moving past your poster and may not have the time to read every line of text. Choose descriptive and catchy headings and subheadings to draw people to your work and encourage them to spend more time with your poster.

Use images (appropriately)

Images are an important element to making a poster attractive, interesting and useful for the audience. However, remember that all images should build towards your goals, and shouldn’t be purely decorative.

From a technical perspective, ensure that all images are high-quality to prevent pixilation when printed at large scale (click here for advice on how to do this). Also, the cost of your poster will be impacted by the ink-usage during printing. Images with high contrast, large areas of very dark colors, or image-based backgrounds will increase your poster costs.


Proofread, proofread, proofread. We can’t say this enough!

Everyone makes mistakes, but doing all you can to catch mistakes prior to submitting your poster to be printed will reduce your stress. Read every word on your poster multiple times, read it backwards, have a few friends read it. Please note that ITS does not proofread posters prior to printing.

Know your deadlines

For large events such as ClarkFEST, ITS can receive over 100 poster requests in a period of 2 business days. Our poster printer can take between 5 and 10 minutes to print each poster, and that timing doesn’t account for sizing review, paper and ink changes, invoicing and rolling. As a result, submission dates are set to allow our team to print high-quality posters in plenty of time for events, so we appreciate you submitting your work by the deadline.

New Year, New Tech

With January almost over, your New Year’s goals might need an infusion of energy or inspiration. No matter what you’re hoping to accomplish in 2023, technology can help you stay on track, spark new ideas, and improve your daily routines.

If you want to prioritize your well-being…

If your resolution is to learn something new…

If your resolution is to declutter and be more organized…

  • Learn more about how Microsoft OneDrive can help with digital clutter.
  • Learn how to organize and declutter your phone from NYT Tech Tips
  • Get rid of physical clutter by joining a local Buy Nothing group. This is a great way to rehome clothes, toys, books, or furniture within your community.

If your resolution is to save money…

As always, ITS is eager to assist you and make sure you have a successful semester and productive 2023. Please contact the Help Desk or the technology training specialist if you have questions, concerns, or requests.

How to Annotate PDFs

Chances are that you’ve come across or even created a PDF file before. They’re common in online research databases, on websites, and even as homework assignments.

A PDF (portable document format) is designed to preserve the format of the file, which makes it ideal for documents like resumes or presentations with images (other files, like Word documents, may change format depending on factors like the viewer’s screen size). This format also makes PDFs difficult to edit or annotate. Fortunately, it is possible to mark-up PDFs using university resources such as OneDrive and computers across campus.

What is annotation and why should I do it?

Annotation is a method of interacting with information (text or otherwise) by marking it up with questions, summaries, symbols, drawings, etc., to enhance comprehension. This interactive way of reading or reviewing while studying has been shown to reduce cognitive overload and help students identify structure and contextualize ideas (source). Click here for a quick guide on how to start annotating from the University of North Carolina.

For faculty and staff, annotating PDFs can allow you to give quick feedback and content changes to collaborators across campus.

How do I annotate on my phone or tablet?

First, download the OneDrive app to your phone from the App Store or Google Play and sign in using your Clark account. Next, select the PDF you’d like to annotate (see more info on using OneDrive to organize documents here).

Tap the “Annotate” pencil icon on the bottom of the screen and then use the pen and highlighter tools to mark up the document with your finger or stylus. You can also type notes using the note icon in the upper right of the screen.

How do I annotate on a computer?

Most campus devices in public computing spaces, including those in the library, are pre-installed with an app called Foxit PDF Reader. This app allows you to open multiple PDFs simultaneously, as well as add typed notes, images, and highlights to the file. ITS recommends uploading your files to OneDrive for seamless file access so you don’t have to shuffle files back and forth between personal and university computers.

There are also third-party sites, such as Kami, which integrate with OneDrive and provide different editing and annotation tools for academic use . Please note that these third-party tools are not supported or affiliated with Clark University, and you should always check privacy policies and terms of service before creating an account.

Ten Minute Tech Tip: Attach or Link

Hi Tess,   

When partnering with my colleagues , I’ve noticed some people email files to me for comments, and others share files for the same thing. Is one method better than the other? What’s the difference between emailing a file and sharing a file?  

Thanks, Mr. Attach or Link? 

The short answer: emailing the file as an attachment sends your coworkers or classmates a copy of your incredible work, while sharing the file allows them access to the original.

If you don’t need the recipients to review or make changes to the file, emailing is fine – but for collaborative projects and brainstorming, sharing is much better. Here’s why:

  • No need to waste time condensing everyone’s comments and versions into a single file
  • Easily see who made which changes
  • Control who is allowed to do what (Jenny can review and leave comments and Maria can edit the whole thing)

You can share files easily with your Clark OneDrive account.

Bonus tip: Tired of searching through your email for a file your department chair or TA sent you? Log into OneDrive through ClarkYOU and click “Files Shared with Me.” Bookmark this page for easy access—it’s a running list of all files and projects shared with you by people at Clark!

Click here to view a two-minute video playlist on LinkedIn Learning (log in required), or click here to schedule an appointment with the technology training specialist.

Ten Minute Tech Tip: What is the Cloud?

Written by Tess Walsh, Technology Training Specialist.

You may have noticed the word “cloud” floating around the internet, news reports or in applications. Messages such as Save your photos to the cloud for more space and Download from the cloud pop up as we’re sending emails, typing essays, or taking pictures. But what is the cloud, really? And why should we use it?

If you like analogies… you can think of files as money—both are valuable and necessary to modern life. You can keep your money in cash in your wallet or under your mattress and you can keep your files saved to a single computer or hard drive. Alternatively, you can keep your money in a bank account, and you can keep your files in the “cloud”.

Once your hard-earned cash is in a bank account, you’re able to access the funds in this account at any store, withdraw them from any ATM with a debit card and a PIN, or login to a website to transfer funds. Similarly, if your files are in the cloud, you can access and edit them from any internet-connected device using your account information. This method also makes sure that your valuables are less susceptible to accidents and emergencies, such as a lost wallet for your cash, or a damaged laptop for your files.

In more technical terms, the cloud is a file storage space on the internet linked to a specific account rather than a specific device. Most well-known tech services, including Microsoft, Google, and Apple, have their own versions of the cloud. Clark University offers community members five terabytes of storage (which is a lot!) on Microsoft cloud storage – Microsoft OneDrive.

There are many benefits to saving files to the cloud, including:

  • File protection if your computer fails or malfunctions
  • Ability to access and edit files from multiple devices, including phones and tablets
  • Integration with your Clark Outlook account
  • Microsoft encryption and security for your files
  • Easy collaboration with colleagues and peers

Interested in learning more? LinkedIn Learning provides lots of information about Microsoft OneDrive and other cloud services free to all members of the Clark community. Staff and faculty can schedule an appointment with Clark’s technology training specialist to learn more.

Ten Minute Tech Tips

Written by Tess Walsh, Technology Training Specialist.

The world we live in is always changing. In 2022, we read academic articles on phones, use emojis to communicate with coworkers, and might even order groceries from robot assistants. The ability to interact meaningfully with a variety of software, devices, and apps—a skill often called technological literacy—has become vital in all aspects of our lives.

Everyone at Clark is at different points in their tech literacy journey, and this journey will continue beyond your time on campus. Just as technology itself is always evolving, so too is our relationship to it. Here are a few ways you can enhance your technological literacy:

These resources will take you less than 10 minutes and may make a big difference in how efficient and comfortable you are working, teaching and studying at Clark. Look for more future resources in this reoccurring column.

Interested in learning more? Tess Walsh, our Technology Training Specialist is available to meet with staff and faculty to learn more about how best to use technology. Click here for more information.

Stay on Track with Moodle

Decorative: Moodle Logo in a cloud

In a world full of deadlines, we can always use a reminder or two. With our recent update, Moodle now has new tools to help teachers and students stay organized by tracking what work is due and what has already been submitted and graded.

These tools are available now and include the Timeline block, Upcoming Events block, and additional information in the Collapsed Topics course format.


This new feature provides a way to keep track of activities and deadlines across all of your Moodle courses. Located on the right-hand side of your dashboard (the first screen you see when logging into Moodle), this block allows you to sort by overdue or upcoming due dates (for all courses), or sort by due dates for each course.

Student and faculty view of the timeline block

Upcoming Events

The Upcoming Events block shows deadlines within and specific to a course. The block is located on the right side of the course page and displays activities and assignments that have due dates, as well as other calendar events. Users may click an item to preview details and navigate to the activity to be completed.

Detail of the the upcoming events block

Collapsed Topics: Additional Information

When using the Collapsed topics format (a Moodle course that has sections that you can toggle open and closed), users will now see additional information about the status of many activities, including assignments and quizzes. Directly from the course home page, users can see at a glance the due date, submission details and if feedback is available for a range of activities.

Collapsed topics and additional information

Remind me to Grade by

For faculty and TAs a new assignment option can now remind you when to grade submissions. To add the reminder, under the Assignment Availability settings, set “Remind me to grade by” to a date/time on or after the due date. The notification will display to faculty and TAs in the Timeline and Upcoming Events blocks.

Screenshot of how to set up Remind me to grade by

We hope these changes enhance your ability to better plan and prioritize your work. If you have questions about these or other Moodle features, reach out to your Academic Technology liaison.

Upgrades and Updates and Security, Oh My!

The news is regularly full of scary reports about critical security exploits on phones, tablets and computers and advice to immediately update your device. Additionally, you’ll see many articles touting the newest, greatest version of Windows, MacOS or iOS. How should you read, prioritize and act on these reports?


Upgrades represents a significant change to the way your computer works. Moving from Windows 10 to Windows 11, or from MacOS 10.15 (Catalina) to MacOS 11 (Big Sur) or from iOS 14 to iOS 15 is an upgrade. Usually there is a lot of media attention for these upgrades as the developers promote new features and software.

Upgrades are exciting and may mean a big change in how you use your device.

IT professionals – including Clark’s ITS – usually recommend not upgrading to a new operating system immediately on release. New operating systems often experience minor issues that the developers need to work to resolve. Additionally, software that you use regularly may not always be compatible with the new upgrade. Finally, for Clark community members, ITS will often need to spend some time evaluating the upgrade  to ensure it will fully integrate with our campus resources.


Updates are smaller changes to your operating system that are used to keep your operating system secure and reliable. Sometimes called patches, updates usually do not have new names, or a new full version number – instead being represented by a “dot release number”, such as iOS14.8 to iOS14.9.

ITS recommends you install and apply updates on a regular basis, and when prompted by ITS or your manufacturer.

How to Update your Device


Please note that ITS manages software updates for the university-managed Windows devices, and while you can follow these directions anytime, you do not need to.

  1. Click the Windows icon in your taskbar
  2. Click the settings icon
  3. Click Updates and Security
  4. Click Windows Update on the left (if necessary)
  5. Click Check for updates; Don’t click “Check online for updates from Microsoft” if you’re using a university-managed computer.

Click here for more information on how to apply Windows updates

Personally-Owned Mac

Please note that ITS manages software updates for the university-managed Mac devices and you will not need to follow these instructions; you will instead be prompted to simply close applications for the update to apply.

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Choose Software Update
  3. Click Update Now.

Click here for more information on how to apply MacOS updates on personal devices.

iPhones and iPads

  1. Ensure that your device is plugged in, or is at least 50% charged
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Go to General
  4. Choose Software Update. The screen shows the currently installed version of iOS and whether an update is available.
  5. If an update is available, click Download and Install and follow the prompts.

Click here for more information on updating iPhone or iPads


  1. Open your phone’s Settings app.
  2. Near the bottom, tap System
  3. Choose Advanced
  4. Choose System update.
  5. You’ll see your update status. Follow any steps on the screen.

Click here for more information on updating Android devices

If you have any questions about upgrades, updates or if you should make changes to your device, please don’t hesitate to contact the ITS Help Desk.

Back-up Early, Back-up Often

Some of the most difficult calls we get to the Help Desk are when students, faculty, or staff, who are working hard on projects, papers, research or grading, have something significant happen to their device, and face losing important data. This is especially difficult in the run-up to the end of the semester when stakes are higher, and time-lines are tighter.

While ITS will work hard to try to restore data where possible from Clark-owned devices, and help as much as possible with personal devices, the easiest way to reduce the stress of losing your work is to back-up often, both to your device and to another location.

Clark University provides all community members with 5TB of OneDrive space for you to store or back-up your Clark data and access it from many different devices. Especially at this often-stressful time of the semester, please get in the habit of backing up your work regularly.

As an important reminder, confidential data (Social Security Numbers, other PII, PHI, etc.) should not be stored either on your Clark device, nor in your OneDrive. Click here for more information on different types of data and the appropriate storage choices.