Apr 24, 2001||
Using Your Word Processor's Ruler|
Since MSWord has become the world's best-selling word processor, it's not surprising that I receive a lot of questions about using it. The first thing I advise new users to do is eliminate unneeded toolbar icons. This can open up additional white space for doing one's actual typing. Go to Tools, Customize. Drag all the icons you seldom or never use into the gray window that opens up. They can always be restored if you change your mind.
One icon that should be on everyone's toolbar, but which isn't unless you put it there, is the Ruler icon. Click on Tools, Customize, Commands. Click on View and then drag the Ruler icon into your toolbar.
Users of the MSWorks 6.0 word processor will have to use View, Ruler to turn the Ruler off and on. Users of earlier versions can drag a Ruler icon onto their toolbar by finding it at Tools, Customize Toolbar, View.
From then on, clicking this icon will toggle your Ruler off and on. The Horizontal Ruler at the top of your page is a very helpful tool and will be used often. However, if Word users see a Vertical Ruler on their page's left edge, I'd recommend removing it. It's seldom used, and getting rid of it will open up more white space. Do this by clicking on Tools, Options, View, and UNchecking Vertical Ruler.
While you're in Options, click on General and set your Recently Used File List at the number of your choice, up to and including nine. Most programs show only the four most recently accessed documents when you click File - having nine available can be very useful. Another important thing to do under Options is to click on Save, Always Create Backup Copy. Choosing Allow Background Saves and Save AutoRecover Info Every__Minutes are additional security measures for protecting against accidental file loss.
Getting back to the Horizontal Ruler, it provides you with the easiest way to set Tab stops. Notice the little "L" at the far left end of the Ruler. This stands for Left, and will allow you to set Left Tabs by just clicking on the ruler. Press your Tab key and watch the cursor move from one Tab to the next. Clicking on the little "L" will display a "backward L" which is used for setting Right Tabs. Other Tab settings, such as Center and Decimal, can be chosen with more clicks of this symbol.
If you set Tabs at the beginning of a document, the settings will continue to the next paragraph every time the Enter key is struck. However, it's important to understand that Tab settings apply only to the paragraph that the mouse cursor is in when you set the Tabs. If you want to set Tabs throughout an existing document, do Edit, Select All before positioning them. Otherwise just highlight the target paragraph/s before setting the Tabs.
There will be no little "L" showing on the Works toolbar, but clicking on the ruler will install Left Tabs. For other types of Tabs, one must go to Format, Tabs. In any case, a Tab setting can be removed in either program by just dragging it off the Ruler. Beyond that, any Tab can be repositioned by dragging it left or right. If you have tabbed text in your document, it will move left and right as the Tabs are moved.
On another matter, I recently mentioned having trouble finding a way to Export an Address Book from Netscape. My thanks to Art Rideout and Steve Barkas who each wrote to say it's done by getting into Communicator and clicking on Address Book, File, Export.
Why didn't I know this? Well, there are many different email programs, and it's not easy to keep up with all their differences and peculiarities. So, when asked about programs I don't normally use, I research them as best I can. But, as I've said before, much of what I know about computers has been learned from readers of this column. Again, I thank all of them.
Apr 22, 2001||
More Tricks for Typing Special Symbols|
Ñ, ñ, á, é, í, ó, ú, ü
¿, ¢, ÷, ©, ¼, ½, ¾, ©, ®, ™, °, ², ³, †, ±, ‡
When I wrote recently about inserting foreign language symbols into a document, I received several calls which explained alternative ways of doing this. As usual, my readers continue to be my greatest source of useful information on computers, and I thank them all.
When I mentioned going south of the border to buy a "Spanish" keyboard, I was informed that existing Windows keyboards can be made to generate the special symbols of a particular language by going to Start, Settings, Control Panel, and clicking on Keyboard, Language. Click the Add button and dozens of languages will be listed, including variations of English such as British, Canadian and Caribbean.
I chose Spanish/Mexico and found that certain keys on my keyboard would generate special symbols. For instance, pressing the semicolon (;) generates ñ while a colon (:) produces Ñ. The other symbols, including ¿, can be found by experimenting with your punctuation keys, or by copying a list of them off my website at www.pcdon.com.
Once you've chosen a special keyboard from Control Panel, a blue "En" icon will appear near the clock in your Taskbar. Clicking this icon will display a list of your "national" keyboards, with the default being English (United States). Click the language of your choice and click back to English when you're done.
Emily Hanson wrote to explain that foreign language symbols can be keyboard-generated even without using a special keyboard. By using your "Tilde/Grave" key, the one with ~ in the upper left corner, along with certain other keys, all the special foreign symbols are available. The key combinations are too numerous to list here, but they are also displayed on my website.
There is also the "Alt+Numbers" method for inserting special characters. For instance, Ü can be generated by holding down the Alt key while pressing 0220. However, only the numbers in the 10-key pad will work with this method; the numbers at the top of your keyboard won't work. In any case, you can find these numbers by going to Start, Run and typing CHARMAP. Each symbol in Character Map will show the Alt number in the lower right corner. Click here for some of the most useful ones.
The above tips work in any Windows application, but MSWord users have even more options. I've explained previously how to use Word's AutoCorrect to convert certain keystrokes into special text. Another lady called to point out that Word also lets you assign "shortcut keys" to insert special characters. Here's how:
Go to Tools, Customize, Commands and click the Keyboard tab. Click on Categories, Common Symbols. Scroll to ñ and choose, say, Alt+N. This means that pressing N while holding down the Alt key will produce an ñ.
You could then choose Ctrl+Alt+N to generate a capital Ñ. However, neither the upside down question mark nor the inverted exclaimer are included in the Common Symbol list, so you would need an alternative way to produce those two symbols. For instance, I let AutoCorrect turn ?? into ¿ and !! into ¡.
AutoCorrect is also available in MSWorks 6.0 and later versions. Earlier versions, however, don't have this feature; but they do have something called EasyText. Go to Edit, EasyText, and click on New. You'll be presented with two boxes, a small one and a large one. Type your special code into the small one and your desired text, which can even be on multiple lines, into the large one.
The next time you want the target word or phrase entered into your document, type its code and press F3. This allows you to insert, say, a person's name along with his address and phone number, by just typing in his initials and pressing F3.
I realize that many, if not most, people reading this may be thinking, "I don't type in foreign languages, so a lot of this means nothing to me." Well, most of the above can also generate other commonly-used symbols not found on one's keyboard, such as: ¢, •, ÷, ©, ¼, ½, ¾, ©, ®, ™, °, ², ³, †, ±, & ‡.
Apr 17, 2001||
Moving Email Address Books from One Program to Another
I continue to get questions about moving address books from one email service to another. It's not always easy because of the variety of ways in which the various services store this data.
Some address book utilities, such as Outlook Express, are mostly lists of names and email addresses while others, such as Outlook, are full-blown "contact" lists containing all kinds of personal data. Moving data between Outlook and Outlook Express is something I get asked about frequently.
To copy "contact" data from Outlook to OE, do this: From within Outlook, go to File, Import & Export, Export to a File. Click Next. Click "Comma Separated Values (Windows)" and click Next again.
This will create a file named "Outlook Contacts.CSV" which will serve as a temporary "holding tank" for the data. At the "Select folder to export from" prompt choose "Contacts" and click Next. Finally, click Finish. You're not really finished, however, until you "import" the data into OE.
From within OE, go to File, Import, Other Address Book, Text File (Comma Separated Values) and click Import. Browse to your newly created file and then select the fields you want to use. An OE listing usually contains just a Name, an Email Address, and possibly a Phone Number or two. Click on Change Mapping if you need to rearrange the order of the fields. You may also have to answer Yes or No to "Replace existing data that matches data being imported?"
To reverse the above and copy an address book from Outlook Express into Outlook, launch OE and go to File, Export, Address Book. The prompts will be the same those shown above for exporting data from Outlook, complete with creating a "CSV" file.
Next, launch Outlook and go to File, Import & Export, Import from Another Program or File. Click Next and choose "Text File (Comma Separated Values)." Click Next and browse your way to your CSV "holding" file. You'll see some choices concerning importing duplicated data. Click Next and choose which fields to import. Choose a destination folder within Outlook and click Finish.
To import an address book into Netscape's address book, launch the program and go to Messenger, File, and Import, where you'll find "Please select an import format from the list below." This list should show any other "address books" you might have, including those in a plain text format. If you choose "Text File" you'll be invited to browse to the "CSV" files you may have previously created.
A Netscape Address Book, can be exported by going to Communicator, Address Book, File, Export and saving it as a text file with a CSV, TXT, or LDIF file.
Users of AOL 4.0 and 5.0 can make a copy of their email address book by opening it, clicking on Save & Replace, and following the prompts. This feature, regrettably, was not included in version 6.0. However, 6.0 does have a "Print All Contacts" command. Having a printout of your address book can be handy, I'm sure, but what most emailers want is a way to copy and paste the listings into another file.
Well, I was able to do this by choosing "Paperport" as my "printer" and then dragging the miniature printout onto a word processing icon at the bottom of the Paperport window. From there, Paperport's OCR (Optical Character Recognition) function took over, and gave me an editable file. This may sound complicated, but it's really not all that difficult and it works beautifully.
As for "importing" an address book into AOL, it can only be done by copying and pasting one item at a time. My solution to all the above inconsistencies from one program to another is to just keep all my email addresses in a separate text file, from whence they can be copied and pasted as needed. I use MSWord to store my email addresses.
Apr 15, 2001||
Free Word Processor + AutoCorrect Tricks + Writing in Spanish with MSWord
Are you familiar with WordPad? It's the no-frills word processor that comes with Windows95+ and which can be accessed by clicking Start, Run and typing in WORDPAD or WRITE. Since most PC users have at least one other word processing program, WordPad is seldom needed. However, a reader who does use it wrote to ask if there was any way to automatically double-space a document. No, there isn't, nor does WordPad (a.k.a. Write) have a spell checker.
However, StarWriter is a free word processor that is available from Sun Microsystems. I'm using it to write this column and have found it be very much like Microsoft Word. For instance, double-spacing can be accomplished by pressing Ctrl+2. Ctrl+1 or Ctrl+5 will choose single or one and a half line spacing, respectively. Most of the other MSWord features I regularly use also have an equivalent in StarWriter, including a Spell Checker, Thesaurus and AutoCorrect.
If you'd like to have this free program, click on this link: StarOffice5.2
Another reader wrote asking how to keep MSWord from automatically beginning a sentence with a capital letter. This is part of Word's AutoCorrect feature, and assumes that the first word in all sentences is to be capitalized. However, with words like eMachine and dBase this isn't always the case. This feature can be defeated by going to Tools, AutoCorrect and unchecking "Capitalize First Letter of Sentences."
Another reader asked if there was an easy way to type in Spanish, since so many people in this area are studying and/or using the language. Well, I used to teach Spanish and always prepared my lessons in MSWord. This was a number of years ago and I suspect there are now Spanish word processing programs that would make this easier, but I've not really looked into it. If you know of any, please tell me about them.
In any case, what I did with Word was use AutoCorrect to insert the special symbols needed to format the Spanish text properly, including Ñ, ñ, á, é, í, ó, ú, and ¿.
For instance, typing aa followed a blank space would give me an accented á. If, however, one expects to use AA in another context, then a different coding would be needed to produce the á. With AutoCorrect, the choices are endless, and using the feature is easy to do.
As for doing whole words in Spanish, I have my most-used ones set up to be automatically inserted. For instance, when I type in manana, Word's AutoCorrect automatically changes it to mañana. If I need to type señora or señorita, I type in senor, which AutoCorrect changes to señor. I then type a or ita to finish the word. If I need these words capitalized, I type ssenor, which produces Señor. I carry on from there as explained above.
In order to get the ñ in the first place, in Word you click on Insert, Symbol, match your font and double-click the desired special character. Other programs can find these symbols by clicking Start, Run and typing in CHARMAP to bring up the Windows Character Map.
However, there are obvious limitations. For instance, I can't have carbon coded to become carbón, since carbon is also a word in English. So I use carbonn instead. To make this easier, both Word 2000 and StarWriter have built-in Spanish spell-checkers, which can be found by going to Tools, Thesaurus, Language, Spanish. If you'd like more details about doing Spanish with MSWord, let me know.
In conclusion, I must confess that if I were still teaching Spanish, I'd seriously consider going south of the border and looking at computers that might be available with special Spanish keyboards, as well as a Spanish word processor.
Apr 10, 2001||
An Overview of Using Scanners
I get a lot of questions from folks who've bought a scanner and tell me they can't figure out how to use it. Well, there are several different brands of scanners and lots of different programs to use with them, so there's no way I can explain every available option. But here's an overview. Scanners create "bitmap" pictures of photographs, drawings, and various types of text documents. The resulting images can be edited and displayed in many different ways.
Before you do an actual scan, however, you're expected to choose from a list of options that will help produce the kind of image you want. Among these choices you'll normally find Fast Color Photo, Quality Color Photo, Black and White Photo, Fax/File/Copy, and OCR (optical character recognition). You also have the option of doing a "Preview" before doing the finished scan. A Preview is a quick, low- resolution image that lets you have an overview of whatever is in the scanner.
There will be a "selection" rectangle with moveable edges that let you delineate the actual area to be scanned. If you routinely scan, say,
8 1/2" x 11" printed documents you can skip the Preview and go straight to the final Scan, once these parameters have been set. If, however, you plan on scanning a photograph it's wise to "crop" the image by adjusting the "selection" box to just encompass the important part of the picture, eliminating as much extraneous background as possible. If you plan on outputting your picture with an inkjet printer, unnecessary background imagery can use up your color ink cartridges pretty rapidly.
If you're planning on emailing the picture, large graphics take longer to upload and download, besides taking up a lot of disk space. Speaking of printing on paper vs. sending with email, it's important to understand how to choose which DPI
(dots per inch) resolution to use. For printouts on paper,
300 to 360 DPI is adequate for most family photos, with high-gloss "professional" photos requiring higher DPI resolutions.
As for viewing a picture on a computer screen, the average monitor has a resolution of about 72-75 DPI. So choosing anything higher for an image that will only be viewed on a screen increases the size of the file, but does nothing to enhance the picture's appearance.
But what if the email recipient expects to print the picture using an inkjet printer? Then use the higher DPI, knowing that it won't be noticed on the screen, but will make a much sharper printout on paper. Having said all that, you still need to decide on a file format for the finished picture, and there are dozens from which to choose.
The JPG format has become the most popular format for photos, because of its smaller file size options. BMP is a larger format, but it can be opened on any Windows computer. GIF files are small, but are limited to 256 colors, which makes them ideal for artwork to be used on web pages. Another format option in some of the newer image-editing programs is PDF (portable document file) which can be opened by Acrobat Reader, a program that comes with most new computers or which can be freely downloaded from http://www.adobe.com/.
Most image-editing software also offers OCR (optical character recognition) which lets you scan a printed document and then feed it into a word processing program, where it can be edited just like any typed-in document. If the scanned document is a spreadsheet or other table of some kind, it can be fed into a program like Excel, where the data will actually end up in the appropriate rows and columns and can be edited accordingly.
Visioneer Paperport, for instance, will display a miniature of a scanned image in the middle of the screen with a row of "program buttons" along the screen's bottom edge. Just drag the miniaturized image onto one of the buttons and the associated program will be launched, within which the editing can be done.
Today's article is about filename extensions, which are usually three characters in length. Examples are story.doc (MSWord document), picture.bmp (bitmap picture) and setup.exe (executable file). Some are longer or shorter, such as drawing.ai (Adobe Illustrator) and page99.html (hypertext markup language).
Speaking of file name extensions, I've listed most of the currently used ones on my web site at www.pcdon.com along with a brief description of what they mean.
There may be times when you want to change the name of a file or a folder. This can be done from within Windows Explorer by right-clicking the target item, choosing Rename and typing in a new label. Folders can be renamed to just about anything; but if you attempt to change a filename's "extension" you'll get a warning that doing so may make the file unusable, and then be asked if you wish to continue. Normally, a filename's extension should NOT be changed - but some exceptions to this rule are described below.
If you attempt to attach a file with an "exe" extension to an outgoing email, the "executable" file will probably try to "launch" itself, rather than letting itself be copied and attached to the email. However, if you change "exe" to, say, "xex" the file will cooperate in being attached to the email. The email's recipient would then need to change the extension back in order to use the file.
The same holds true for fonts, which usually have a "ttf" extension, standing for TrueType Font. Leave the "f" off the extension before trying to attach the font to an email. The recipient will need to replace the missing "f" to make the font useable.
Why would someone want to attach a font to an email in the first place? Well, if you design an advertising flyer and email it to Kinko's for printing, you may be told that they don't have all the fonts you used in your layout. Well, you can e-mail the missing font or fonts (which will be found in the C:\Windows\Fonts folder on your PC).
Speaking of email attachments, a friend recently asked if I could help her open one she'd just received. It was named "usedcar.email." Since "email" is not a "legal" file extension, there was no conventional way to open it. When I asked my friend if the sender had indicated what the file was supposed to be, she said she was told it was a funny ad for a used car, along with a photograph of the vehicle. (If you want to check out the ad, I've attached it to this letter. It is rather amusing.)
Well, when multiple files are sent as email attachments, they normally get compressed into a single file with a ".zip" or ".mim" extension. The compressed file will need to be "unzipped" on the receiving end, in order to extract the enclosed documents and restore them to a useable state. The program used most for compressing and decompressing ("zipping" and "unzipping") files is WinZip. During the process of bundling files which have been tagged as email attachments, WinZip will append a "zip" or "mim" extension to the newly compressed file. How this particular file ended up with "email" as its extension is still a mystery.
Anyway, I renamed the file to "usedcar.zip" and then double-clicked it. When WinZip saw the ".zip" extension, the program was launched, along with the usual prompts to continue. However, doing so brought up a message saying the file was not in a legitimate "zip" format, and that it couldn't be opened. So I changed the extension to "mim" and tried again.
Eureka! WinZip decompressed the file into three separate files; one with a "jpg" extension and two each with a "txt" extension. Double-clicking the first "txt" file produced a Notepad document which showed a classified ad describing the used car. The second "txt" file was the same except that the message was surrounded by HTML coding. The "jpg" file was indeed a photograph of the car.
Why am I telling you this? Because it's not the first time it's happened. I've had several people send me files with strange extensions (or no extension at all) most of which turned out to be compressed files whose names simply needed a "zip" or "mim" extension. It's worth a try.
When I wrote recently that graphic file icons in Windows 98 could be viewed as "thumbnails" by right-clicking their folder, choosing "Enable Thumbnails" and then clicking "View, Thumbnails" inside the folder, Jim Steeves wrote to say that in Windows ME one simply right-clicks the graphics folder and then goes to "View" at the top of the screen and then clicks "Thumbnails."
Having these icons appear as miniatures of the images they represent is very handy if you work a lot with graphics. However, these procedures don't work with all graphic formats, so don't be surprised if some image icons don't change to pictures.
I keep a lot of graphic files on my Desktop for easy accessibility. So how does one make Desktop graphics appear as thumbnails? Well, first you have to realize that your Desktop is actually a "folder" inside your "Windows" folder.
From within Windows Explorer, double-click the "Windows" folder; then right-click the "Desktop" folder and follow the instructions above. This will create a window which shows graphic file icons as thumbnails. To make this task simpler, I had previously right-clicked the "Desktop" folder and chosen "Create Shortcut." I then dragged the "Shortcut to Desktop" onto my Desktop, from whence I dragged it into the "Quick Launch" area of my Taskbar. Now whenever I want to see my Desktop Thumbnails displayed, I simply click this icon. It works great!
Speaking of graphics, I've been getting lots of questions about "animated" pictures. You see them all over the Internet, of course, but we can also put them into email. All email programs have an "Attach" or "Insert" command that lets you send graphics along with your letters. Since most email services have now become HTML-enabled, animated graphics can be sent just as easily as regular photos or clipart images.
So where does one find these animations? Go to your browser Search Box and type in FREE ANIMATED GIFS. You'll be amazed at how many hundreds of free animations can be found on dozens of different web sites. Right-click any you like and choose "Save Picture/Image As" to download them to your hard drive.
The problem is that they don't automatically "move" after being saved. The animation only takes place when the files are displayed in certain areas, such as your browser. Launch Netscape or Internet Explorer and go to File, Open, and click on a "Animated GIF." It will come to life in this view.
Beyond this, when the graphic is inserted into or attached to an outgoing email, the recipient will see the animation, unless he or she is using a "plain text" (nonHTML) email program. In any case, you can send an animation to your own email address to see how it works.
Another place you can display an Animated GIF is on your Desktop as a "Background" or "Wallpaper" image. Drag any Animated GIF file into your "Windows" folder. Then right-click your Desktop and choose Properties, Background. Double-click the target file and it will appear in the center of your Desktop in full animation. If you choose "Tile" from the "Display Options" the object will fill your screen as a collection of animated postage stamps.
As mentioned above, all email services can now display animated graphics, including AOL 6.0. However this version is still full of bugs, so many users are sticking with version 5.0 until AOL gets 6.0 to work more reliably. After a lot of trial and error, I've learned to work my way around the deficiencies in AOL 6.0, and use if with HTML email; but I also use version 5.0 to correspond with folks who don't care to deal with 6.0's problems.