Maximizing Productivity - Setting Up Your eSword Workspace for Peak Efficiency
By Dr. Dave Thomason, "DoctorDaveT"
The eSword default options work great "right out of the box." So much so that some users don't delve into optional configurations. While their eSword experience is still quite pleasant, they never harness the full power of eSword. The purpose of this article is to help the diligent student of The Word fine tune his/her eSword experience to maximize their productivity. Less time "sermonating" is more time parenting, or visiting, or shopping....
Using eSword's "Options" Menu to Prepare Your Custom Experience - It Will Make Your Study Time More Productive
Let's start with the "Options" menu. Lots of helpful customization options are neatly tucked away right there.
SET YOUR DEFAULT FONTS
I'm a Times New Roman guy. You might prefer Arial, or Trebuchet, or a number of other fonts. Change your default font to your favorite so that you can ease your eye strain. Here's how:
Go to "Options/Fonts...." At the very top of the window, you'll be able to set the Default font for your Bibles, Dictionaries, Commentaries, Daily Devotions, Bible Reading, Prayer Lists, Scripture Memory, Graphics Viewer, STEP Reader, and Sermon Illustrations. Choose the standard font you’d like eSword to use throughout the program.
You can set the size, too. Do not change the fonts below the "Default Font Size" selector. Greek, Hebrew and Latin must be TITUS Cyberbit Basic," or many of the Greek/Hebrew/Latin resources will not display correctly.The Default font setting does not affect the modules in the Editor Window (Journals, Topics, and Study Notes). Those are set by the user in the Editor window. Once in the editor window, choose "Format/Font..." to select the default font for that particular editor.
SET YOUR TOOLTIP FONT
Go to "Options/Tooltip Font..." to select the font and size that eSword will display when you mouseover a Green tooltip hyperlink. I have "Times New Roman" 11 point selected; that works well for me.
Please note: as of version 9.9.1, the only customizable option under the "ToolTip Font..." area is the point size. But still, that's nice to be able to set to 11 (or 12, or 14, or 10, etc.).
SET YOUR "RED-LETTER" SETTINGS
I don't like the red letter editions of Scripture. To me, that's commentary. You can change the "red" letter color from red, to dark red, to black. I chose black. Under "Options/Text Colors..." you can change several settings. eSword nicely gives you a sample result right on the page. And here - you can change "Red-Letter" to black.
SET YOUR SCRIPTURE TOOLTIP VERSION
We all love the multiple Bible versions that are available using eSword. Did you know you can choose any of your translations to display in ToolTips?
Go to "Options/Scripture ToolTip..." to set the versions. You can choose a translation as an Old Testament ToolTip, and another version as the New Testament Tooltip. Example: you might want your "Old Testament" version to be "Hebrew Old Testament Interliner" and your "New Testament' version to be "Greek New Testament." Or something else. Set them to what you want them to be. Now when you mouseover a Tooltip, that version of the Scripture appears in that box.
If you're like me, you simply set them both to "King James Version."
SET YOUR SCRIPTURE TOOLTIP DICTIONARY
Go to "Options/Strong's # ToolTip..." You are able to choose a Dictionary to use with both Old and New Testament Strong's tooltips. You can choose "Brown, Driver, Briggs" for the OT, and "Thayer's" for the NT, if you like. Most, though, would probably keep their Dictionary set to "Strong's."
SET YOUR "PARALLEL SCRIPTURE" SETTINGS
In your Bible window, the last tab to the right is the "Parallel" view. Here you set which Bibles you want to see in Parallel view. Choose the Bible versions using the drop down boxes at the top of the Bible view.
SET YOUR "SCRIPTURE COMPARISON" SETTINGS
The "Compare" Bible view is just to the left of the "Parallel" tab. However, the versions to use for the "Compare Bible" are set in the "Options" menu. Under the "Options/Compare..." menu, you can choose which versions of the Bible you want to use when you select "Compare" in the Bible tab.
SET YOUR TABS TO "DISPLAY TABS IN A SINGLE ROW"
If you have a lot of eSword resources, you probably begrudge giving up so much of your workspace to "tabs." (I hated it.) eSword 9.9.1 makes it really easy to turn that massive tab space into one simple row -and thereby maximizing usable work space.
In the "Options/Resource..." window, simply select the box at the very bottom of the window: "Display Tabs in a Single Row." Do so, and reclaim all of that precious space!
SET WHICH RESOURCES TO DISPLAY
Want to remove some resources without deleting them from your computer? Example: you don’t need to see Spurgeon's Treasury of David (tab name: "Psalms") most of the time, so you'd like for that tab to vanish. But you don't want to delete the resource, because you know that you'll want to look at it at some point. What to do?
In the "Options/Resource..." area, simply select with the check boxes which resources you want eSword to display. Unchecked resources are not deleted; they are simply left unopened by the program. To view those tabs later on, just return back and re-check them.
NOTE: if you want to permanently delete a resource, this is the best place to do so. Simply right-click a resource, and you'll see the permanent deletion option. eSword removes all copies of this resource that live on your computer - including "Virtual Store" copies that you may not even know that you have. This is by far the best way to delete eSword resources.
Using eSword's "Windows Dockability" Feature - Maximize What You Want To See - Temporarily Hide What You Don't
When eSword 9.5.1 came out with these "dockable" windows, all was forgiven for the difficulty we had upgrading to 9.0. Yessir, these dockable windows are that cool!
Let's take a look at the best configurations to maximize Bible Study.
REMOVING THE "LOOKUP SCRIPTURE REFERENCE" WINDOW
Rick dislikes this particular feature. I do, too. He actually removed it once (at least), but the backlash was vocal enough that he put it back in. I take it out. Here's how: See that little pushpin in the top-right of the frame? Push it. Bye-bye, lookup box! (If you feel the need to restore it, click the "Lookup Scripture Reference" tab on the far left of the Screen. There it is. If you want it to stay, push the pin again. Yuck.)
DECREASING THE DICTIONARY VIEW
How important is the Dictionary window to you? Most users will find it very necessary but very little used. So there are two options to best maximize the usage of the space for the dictionary.
Option #1 - we'll call this the "Minimal Space" Option. If you'll hover your mouse just over the top edge of the dictionary, you'll see the mouse change from an arrow to a railroad track. When the mouse is in the railroad track setting, the window may be re-sized. Just hold the left mouse button down, and drag the dictionary frame towards the bottom of the screen. When the frame stops moving, you've reached the dictionary's "Minimal Space" option. That’s as short as the dictionary can be.
Option #2 - we'll call this the "Vanishing Space" Option. Push the dictionary pushpin, and the dictionary disappears. Don't despair: it's still over there on the left edge of the screen. Whenever you want to take a look at a dictionary entry, just click the tab. When you're done using the dictionary, click on another window, and the dictionary vanishes again. If you want the dictionary to "unvanish," simple click the pushpin.
I prefer Option #1, but to be quite frank, I use the dictionaries so little that I probably should use Option #2.
COMBINING THE EDITORS WINDOW WITH THE COMMENTARY WINDOW
Most users play with their eSword windows configuration, and know they can hide/unhide the windows. But did you know you can combine them?
I have a lot of .topx files; and I use them regularly when I'm studying. Most of the time, I don’t need to see both the Commentary window and the Editor window. So I combine them. Here's how: Click (and hold) the top of the Editor frame (the darker blue bar that says "Editors"). Drag it up towards the middle of the window selector, and release it right in the middle of the selector. (See the pictures at the bottom of this article.)
Now you can use the tabs at the bottom of that window to move back and forth between the "Editors" and the "Commentaries." (If you dislike what just happened, grab the "Editors" top frame and put it back down below. Voila!) You can put the dictionary down there, too. But I found the dictionary "minimalized" and the Commentaries/Editors combined worked best for me.
CHANGING THE WINDOWS PERSPECTIVES
You can also change the horizontal size of the windows. Hover the mouse over the middle partition; when the train tracks appear, you can drag it left or right. Dragging left decreases the Bible/Dictionary window and increases the commentary. (Vice versa, of course....)
Now don't be afraid to experiment with these settings. You might find a configuration you like better than those above! If you get to a spot where you cannot figure out how to "get back to normal," simply choose "Help/Restore e-Sword Settings." That will revert everything back to "factory defaults." (Use this as a last resort, however. All of the other personal settings that you like will be reset, too....)
Using The Whole Screen - Studying To Teach, Preach, and Reach
Some users who simply use eSword as a personal devotional tool may not need to customize eSword with all of the above recommendations. After all - it comes "right out of the box" ready for a tremendous devotional experience. But for those who "Teach, Preach and Reach" - eSword isn't the only Windows program you're using when eSword is open. You also have a Word Processor open. If you're eSwording to create lessons, handouts, and sermon manuscripts - to teach, preach and reach! - you may need a better monitor. Here's why:
TVs were originally built with a 4:3 ratio perspective. The standard computer screen was modeled after the perspective of the TV. But movies aren't made in that perspective.* Films are made wider - with a 16:9 perspective. You can tell in older movies that some scenes aren't right on a TV: they’re either squished (so everything looks really thin - ever see John Wayne's "Chisum" on an older TV?) or something had to get cut out of the right side, the left side, or both sides ("Casablanca" on an old TV just isn't right).
DVDs started to be made available in "wide screen." The top and bottom of the TV screen was black - but that's because the entire width of the movie was available. The "wide screen" versions were very popular with viewers. When TV makers realized that consumers wanted to see the widescreen movies, widescreen TVs were made. And once wide screen TVs were made, wide screen computer monitors were next. And that brings me to eSword configuration!
STANDARD WIDTH COMPUTER SCREEN
With the old 4:3 computer screen (same shape as an old TV), eSword and a word processor can both be open (eSword on the left, word processor on the right, or vice versa); but in order to see "margin to margin" on your word processor, it could not be viewed at 100%. With both eSword and WordPerfect open, I could only view my sermon notes at 75% to get margin-to-margin access to my notes. When I was 30, that was fine; at 35, it caused some fatigue; and at 40 - headaches.
WIDE-SCREEN COMPUTER SCREEN
My solution was to upgrade to a 21" widescreen monitor. And oh! did that solve the problem! With the 21" widescreen (16:9 perspective, instead of the older 4:3 perspective), I could have the left half of the monitor showing eSword. My eSword was divided into two colums: Bible on the left (with a very small dictionary window open below it) and the Commentary/Editors window on the right. Clicking around from commentary to commentary was easy. Using the dictionary was fine.
The entire right half of the widescreen monitor allowed me to see my WordPerfect - margin to margin! - at 100% view size. I can type full size sermon notes in WordPerfect while I can see my full size eSword text at the same time. That, my friends, is the way to write! So, if you're still using a 4:3 monitor, may I kindly suggest it's time for an upgrade.
21"+ WIDE-SCREEN MONITOR SETUP
I bought a 21" "no frills" flat panel monitor. (A "flat screen" refers to the shape of the screen; a "flat panel" has to do with the entire depth of the unit. Get the "flat panel.") It worked great. But if you're looking to clean up your real world desktop a little, get a monitor with internal speakers. If you can afford a little extra $ (and have a little more space on your desk!), get a 24" widescreen flat panel with internal speakers. I think you'll be glad you did. This customization system has allowed me to maximize my productivity with eSword. I'm quite confident these settings will help you to maximize your study time as well.
*This is a great illustration of not thinking ahead. The guy who originated the TV set in a 4:3 ratio perspective should be tarred and feathered....