Friday, February 8, 2013

Speed Counts - Maximize Your Productivity in Drake Software

During the rush of tax season, every second saved is a big deal.  We have many time-saving features available at your fingertips, literally.  Shortcut keys, a right-click menu, and macros can be used to expedite return processing.  Here's a brief overview of each:

1. Shortcut Keys

These key combinations save significant time with data entry. They allow you to keep your hands on the keyboard rather than going back and forth from keyboard to mouse to keyboard. For example, press Alt + D to insert the current date in any date field, press F1 to get help in a field, press TAB to move forward one field, or press Ctrl + V to view the return, and CTRL + E to return to data entry.

Additional shortcut keys in data entry include:

  • Calculate a return - CTRL + C
  • Print a return - CTRL + P
  • Split MFJ return to MFS return - CTRL + S
  • Open a Detailed Worksheet - CTRL + W
  • View preparer notes - CTRL + R
  • Enter the preparer note pad (PAD screen) - CTRL + SHIFT + N
  • Increase Declaration Control Number (DCN) - CTRL + M
  • Toggle heads-down and standard data entry - CTRL + N
  • Delete a data entry screen - CTRL + D
  • Carry data to an amended screen - CTRL + X
  • Reset the screen - CTRL + U
  • Exit the screen - Esc
  • Exit the screen without saving changes  - SHIFT + Esc
  • Open Help from within data entry - CTRL +?
  • Flag a field for review - F2
  • Clear a flagged field - F4
  • Clear all flagged fields - CTRL + SHIFT + SPACEBAR
  • Open Drake Document Manager - F6

For a list of various shortcut keys used to enter data, navigate through the software, search the EF database, print forms, use the calculator, and send e-mail, see the Quick Reference chapter in the 2012 Drake Software User's Manual.

2. Right-Click Menu

Right-click any gray portion of the Data Entry Menu to access "hidden" options. This menu allows you to access special features of the program such as a calculator and label printing. The right-click menu also features some of the items you can access with the shortcut keys above if you prefer to use your mouse.

The right-click menu includes the following unique features:
  • Go to EF Database - Access the e-file and transmission data for the open client quickly and return to data entry with use of the F5 Data Entry button in the EF Database.
  • Forms Based Data Entry - Rather than view the screens in regular data entry mode, view the Form 1040 with links to each screen as they pertain to specific line numbers.
  • Calculator - Easily access a built-in calculator that records the entries made and allows you to print or copy and paste the calculations.
  • Add Appointment - If you use the Scheduler program included with Drake Software, you can use this feature to auto-fill demographic appointment data and select a date and time for the appointment.
  • Client Labels - One of the hidden gems of the right-click menu is the ability to print labels from a dedicated label printer. Quickly print client labels, custom labels, and even IRS and state "mail to" addresses using this feature.

3. Macros

Macros are a series of commands and functions that allow you to use a combination of keys to accomplish tasks. Also called shortcut keys, some macros (like those listed above in the "Shortcut Keys" section) are already available in the program. Macro commands are distinctive because you can edit existing macros or create new ones to meet your office needs. For example, if many of your local clients use Small Town Bank, you can arrange for the program to enter "Small Town Bank" every time you press a particular shortcut key combination.

To add or edit macros in Drake Software, from the Home window, go to Setup > Macros. You can access instructions for macro creation on page 38 of the 2012 Drake Software User's Manual,  or with the Help button on the Macros Setup window (at Setup > Macros.).

-- Barbara Cook, Education - Drake Software