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Helpful PC Tips You Can Use Right Now...

Click for Info on How to Send BCCs (Blind Carbon Copies) Email Courtesy for Everyone

Click for Info on How to Do ScanDisk, Chkdsk, & Defrag Critically Important PC Maintenance!

Click for Info on Handy Keyboard Shortcuts Ctrl+X=Cut, Ctrl+C=Copy, Ctrl+V=Paste, Alt+0162=, etc.

How to Make Filename Extensions Visible

For reasons I've never understood, Windows, by default, hides most of your filename extensions. Here's how to make them visible:

Windows XP and ME users will double-click My Documents and go to Tools, Folder Options, View and UNcheck "Hide Extensions for Known File Types."

Windows 98 users will go to View, Options, View to find this choice.

This will not only display all the various graphic extensions (such as BMP for BitMap Picture) it will also display others that can make your computing much easier. Some of them and what they mean are: EXE Executable file, TXT Plain Text document, DOC MSWord document, XLS MSExcel file, WPS MSWorks Word Processor file, and SYS System file.

Other bitmap extensions include JPG (JPE or JPEG), TIF or TIFF, GIF, EPS, PSD, PCX, among many, many others.

How to Make a "ScreenPrint" of Something Displayed on Your Monitor (such as a Help file or an Error message) Using Your "PrtScr" Key

If you press the PrtScr (Print Screen) key on your keyboard, everything currently displayed on your monitor is "copied" into the "invisible Windows Clipboard." You can then launch the "Windows Paint" program by going to Start, Programs, Accessories, Paint and doing Ctrl+V to "paste" it all into this program as a bitmap image.

If you hold down ALT while pressing PrtScr, only the top "window" or "dialogue box" will be copied, and displayed when you "paste" it into Paint. Next, you can use Paint's "Select" tool (the dashed rectangle in the upper right corner of the Tool Bar) to outline a target area of the image and then do Ctrl+C to copy it. Now you can go to File, New, and do Ctrl+V to paste in the cropped section as a new image.

Finally, go to File, Save As, and save the graphic as a JPG.

The saved file will normally be sent to your "My Pictures" folder, but you can choose another folder or place it on your Desktop, if you prefer.

Read about using PrtScr with Irfanview at Bottom of Page*

How to Crop & Resize Pictures
Using Irfanview
(a Totally Free Downloadable Program)

CROPPING: To "crop" a picture is to eliminate excess background, such as lots of blue sky or green shrubbery that often surrounds the main subject of a photo.

RESIZING: Resizing (also called resampling) is to make an image's dimensions larger or smaller.

There are many ways of doing these things with different programs; but I'll just describe the easy methods I use.

For starters, WinXP users need no special software to get photos from a digital camera onto their hard drive. For pre-WinXP users, a CD always comes with a digital camera, which make your PC and camera work together.

Although some cameras connect directly to a PC for transferring photos, most use a tiny flash memory card, which you remove from the camera and connect to your PC via an adapter into a USB port.

I have two cameras, each using a different shaped flash card, so I bought an adaptor that accepts four different sizes.

(More Information Below)

How to Crop & Resize Pictures

When a photo-laden card is connected to your PC, the pictures normally begin showing up on your screen via an image-editing program, which then invites you to copy them onto your hard drive - usually into your "My Pictures" folder by simply dragging and dropping them.

Well, I use several different image-editors for various tasks, but prefer a free program named Irfanview for opening, cropping, and resizing photos.

Irfanview is completely free from

As you download the program, click YES when asked if you want it to be the default program for opening your bitmap images (JPG, BMP, TIF, etc.). Then, whenever a photo's filename or icon is double-clicked, it will open in Irfanview.

Since digital photos tend to be fairly large, they may not fit completely in the Irfanview window. Click the toolbar "minus sign" to reduce the view size. Each click makes the view 10% smaller.

To make the photo physically smaller in size (reduce its dimensions) click Image > Resize/Resample. Here you'll find many options, such as HALF, which makes the photo 1/4 its original size (half as high and half as wide). Or you can reduce it by a chosen percentage, say, 75% to make it 3/4 of the original. You can also designate an exact height or width in pixels or inches.

This is also where you choose the DPI (dots per inch) for the image resolution. 300 DPI works well for images to be output on an inkjet printer. However, if the image will just be viewed on a screen, 96 DPI is fine for most LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors with 72 DPI being suitable for older CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors.

Now you may want to "crop" the photo, i.e. select the important area, and eliminate the extraneous background which can quickly empty your expensive inkjet cartridges.

With your left mouse-button held down, use the arrow pointer to draw a box around the area you want to keep. Release the mouse-button to fix the dashed outline in place. Finally, click the toolbar scissors followed by clicking the "clipboard paste" icon to complete the cropping.

Irfanview doesn't have the huge arsenal of editing tools found in programs like PhotoShop or PaintShopPro, but it does have some useful ones.

If a photo is too dark or too light or needs some color correction, click on Image > Enhance Colors. Here you'll find sliding scales for increasing or decreasing Brightness and Contrast, along with scales for adding and subtracting RGB (red, green, blue) colors. You'll also see two reduced images - one to show the original coloring and one to show the changes taking place as you edit.

When the photo has been cropped and/or resized the way you want it, go to File > Save As and name it - you can keep the existing name, or type a new one. In the "Save as Type" field, choose JPG for any picture you plan to email or post on a Web site. In fact, JPG has become the most popular format for snapshots and family photos. (More about the other formats later.)

If, after clicking OK, you're not pleased with the end result, use Edit>Undo to revert to the original image.

You'll find several other useful options under Image, such as Rotate, Flip, Sharpen, and Convert to Negative or Gray Scale. Under Image>Effects you'll find some avant-garde treatments such as Emboss, Oil Paint, and Explosion.

If you plan on doing a lot of edits on a particular image, I'd recommend saving it as a BMP, rather than as a JPG, while you edit. Re-edits on a JPG tend to diminish resolution quality with each subsequent Save. BMPs, conversely, maintain resolution quality with multiple Saves. Save the picture as a JPG when you're sure you will do no more editing on it, and keep the BMP version on hand, just in case.

If file size is a major consideration, a JPG can have its byte count adjusted with a slide bar which appears when doing File>Save As>(filename).JPG. Experiment to see how small you can make a JPG and still maintain a presentable final result.

In addition to manipulating JPG options, the physical size of a picture obviously affects its final byte count. If you have trouble emailing, say, an 8x10-inch image, how about reducing it to 4x6 - or something in between? Use cropping and/or resizing to get the size and aspect ratio you want.

As for printing, if you're using a "photo printer" dedicated to outputting standard sizes such as 3x5 or 4x6, crop and resize before you print. Otherwise you can waste a lot of ink printing out acres of, say, the grass and sky which surround a tiny subject in the middle of the picture.

Using Irfanview with a Scanner

Irfanview also works beautifully with desktop scanners. Use File > Select Twain Source to make your PC communicate with your scanner, and File > Acquire to do the scanning.

*Using Your "PrintScreen" Key with Irfanview

To capture something seen on your Desktop, press PrtScr (the PrintScreen key), followed by opening Irfanview and clicking the Paste Icon. Crop and Save As, to preserve the image, along with using any of the editing steps explained above.

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