Don Edrington's  PC Chat   nct-3.gif
Computer Tutor Don appears twice weekly in San Diego's North County Times & in Riverside County's The Californian.

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Year 2001 aro-grn.gif Click Here for Complete Listing of 2001's PC Chats
Year 2002 aro-grn.gif Click Here for Complete Listing of 2002's PC Chats
Mar 3, 2002 Deleting "TMP" Files + Using Text & Pictures in Writing a Book
Mar 5, 2002 More About the "Windows\Temp" Folder + DOWNLOADING 101
Mar 10, 2002 OCR (Optical Character Recognition) Turning a Scanned Page into Editable Text
Mar 12, 2002 Cleaning Up Email for Printing + Making Your Own Icons
Mar 17, 2002 Using "Open With," Using "Plain Text," Using "Page Breaks"
Mar 19, 2002 AutoCorrect Options in MSWord + View Options You Can Control in Many Programs
Mar 24, 2002 Importing Address Books into OE - Sending BCCs from AOL & CompuServe - Working with Screen Shots
Mar 26, 2002 Using Special Symbols - Clearing History & Temporary Internet Files
Mar 31, 2002 More on Using Special Symbols + Using Alt+PrntScrn
Mar 31
More on Using Special Symbols + Using Alt+PrntScrn

Using CHARMAP (Windows Character Map) to Create Special Symbols

© ® ¿ ¢ ° ¼ Ñ
   I was surprised by how many emails came in regarding a recent column on the use of special symbols and foreign language characters. Wayne Peace wrote a "thank you," saying he'd been trying for years to find the upside down interrogator (¿) used in Spanish.
   However, several wrote to say that going to Start, Run and typing CHARMAP (character map) only generated an error message saying the file couldn't be found.
   John Rannochio said he tried to find CHARMAP by going to Start, Find/Search, Files & Folders and found only CHARMAP.WPD, a WordPerfect list of these symbols.
   Well, I have a copy of the Windows Character Map, which can be sent to anyone who writes me at This is a must-have utility for anyone who ever needs things like the "cents" sign (¢), the "degrees" mark (°), the "copyright" (©) or "registered trade mark" (®) symbols, or a variety foreign language characters.
   MSOffice users already have this utility built into programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and can access the special characters by clicking on Insert, Symbol. As with CHARMAP, a list of all fonts on one's computer is displayed so that a selected character will match the font currently in use. Also, each character's "keyboard shortcut" is listed at the bottom of the font page.
   Carl Von Papp wrote to ask if there is a "shortcut" for inserting the wide "em-dash" (—) into a Word document. Well, recent versions of Word normally cause the em-dash to appear when two hyphens in a row are typed. This is handy, unless you want the two dashes to print out as two dashes. However, this "default" can be fixed.
   In Word you can turn any "special character" into an "AutoCorrect" character. I've set my program to create the em-dash only when three dashes/hyphens are typed. Here's how:
   First, I placed the character in a blank document by going to Insert, Symbol. Then I mouse-selected the em-dash and Copied it with Ctrl+C. Next I went to Tools, AutoCorrect Options, AutoCorrect. There I typed three dashes into the REPLACE box and used Ctrl+V to Paste the Copied em-dash into the WITH box.
   Voila; every time I type three hyphens followed by a blank space (or by striking Enter) the wide em-dash will appear. As for Word's "two-dash default" I went to Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat As You Type, and UNchecked "Hyphens With Dash."

   Did I hear you say you never use em-dashes and couldn't care less about all this? Well, the principle applies to any symbol you might use. Those who use Word to write recipes can benefit from typing, say, "dg" and having the two letters immediately turn into the "degrees" symbol (°).
   If you don't have Word, you can get this symbol by pressing ALT and typing 0176 on your numeric keypad. However, for non-Word users who need quick access to special symbols, a shortcut to CHARMAP can be created by going to Start, Find/Search, Files & Folders and typing CHARMAP.EXE. When the filename appears, right-click it and choose Create Shortcut.
   You'll get a message saying, "A shortcut cannot be placed here; would you like one on your desktop instead?" Choosing YES will insure that any time you need a special symbol you'll have immediate access to the Windows Character Map by double-clicking this shortcut.

More on "PrntScrn"
   When I said recently that your PrntScrn key will copy whatever is currently on your screen onto the Windows Clipboard, Steven Barisof wrote to say that pressing ALT+PrntScrn will copy only the contents of the currently selected window. This is handy when you want a "screen shot" of just the one item.
   Get into any image-editing or word processing program and go to Edit, Paste to see how this works. (Some programs may require using Edit, Paste Special or Paste as New Document.)
   Gloria McCaffrey wrote to describe the Escondido Joslyn Senior Center's Computer Facilities, and mentioned that they're in need of some volunteer instructors. Gloria can be emailed at

Mar 26
Using Special Symbols - Clearing History & Temporary Internet Files

Smart Quotes (“ ”) & the Em Dash(—)
   When I wrote recently that "smart quotes" and the wide "em dash" aren't used on Web pages or in email, Nancy K. York sent me the link to the Edith Macias Vann Chapter of the Women Marines Association, where they have been used.
   Nancy went on to explain that by pressing ALT and typing 0147 or 0148 the "curly" quotes can be inserted in an HTML document (as well as most other kinds of documents). The "em dash" can be inserted by typing ALT+0151.
   Where do we find these numbers? Well, this might be a good time to review the use of "special symbols" such as the "cents" (¢) sign and the "degrees (°) sign, as well as the special characters used in some foreign languages (¿Mañana?).
   Go to Start, Run and type CHARMAP. Click OK and a Character Map will appear which displays all the symbols that can be found in any given font.
   The font that often comes up by default is "Symbol;" but this usually isn't the one you want, unless you're looking for the Greek alphabet. Click the down arrow to display your computer's complete list of fonts and make your choice.
   Click your target character and click Select, Copy. Then click the desired insertion point in your document. Doing Ctrl+V will place it there.
   As for keyboard shortcuts, check the lower right corner of CHARMAP to find the numeric code to be typed while pressing ALT. If you frequently use, say, the "cents" sign it might be easier to memorize ALT+0162 than to go through the above ritual. Be aware, however, that these ALT codes only work when pressing the "keypad" numerals. The numbers along the top of your keyboard won't work.
   If you plan on creating a document where certain symbols will be used repeatedly, you can place them all at the beginning of the file and then copy and paste each one as needed.
   If you're using MSWord, you can go to Tools, AutoCorrect and create your own "automatic conversion" list of favorite symbols. For instance, I've inserted an entry in my AutoCorrect list that says if I type qq followed by a blank space, qq will turn into the Spanish upside down question mark (¿). Beyond this, MSWord will display a character map of its own when you go to Insert, Symbol.
   Yes, there are other methods for generating foreign language symbols—way too many to list here. However, Eric Fletcher forwarded a link to which he often refers for these shortcuts:
   Speaking of MSWord's AutoCorrect feature, Alan Jarrett wrote to say that if eBay gets changed to EBay at the beginning of a sentence, you can fix it by deleting the capital E and typing in a small e. True, but if eBay is used fairly often, I'd add it to my personal "conversion" list or UNcheck "Capitalize First Letter of Sentences" under Tools, AutoCorrect.

Removing Internet Explorer's "History"
   A number of people have asked how to eliminate the History folder from Internet Explorer. Well, the folder can be removed by clicking it and hitting your Delete key, but it will immediately recreate itself and begin logging your Internet visits anew. However, you can minimize the "history" of your visits by opening Internet Explorer and clicking on Tools, Internet Options, and setting Days To Keep Pages In History to zero. While there, you can also click Clear History (knowing, however, that a new history log will begin with your next Internet visit).

Removing Temporary Internet Files
   Along with the "History" question I'm often asked how to eliminate everything from the Temporary Internet Files folder. Get into the folder and do Ctrl+A to Select All. Hit your Delete key and they'll be gone. If it looks like nothing happened, get out of the folder and then get back in. Not only will the folder be empty, its contents will have been permanently deleted, rather than sent to the Recycle Bin.

Mar 24
Importing Address Books into OE - Sending BCCs from AOL & CompuServe - Working with Screen Shots
   David Greek wrote to say he wanted to start using Outlook Express, but all his addresses were stored in Outlook. Well, the addresses can be copied by getting into Outlook Express and going to Tools, Address Book, File, Import, Address Book.
   Speaking of OE, I recently said the BCC (blind carbon copy) box can be brought up by going to View, All Headers. However, I neglected to say that this option is only available after you've begun a letter by going to Create Mail (or to Message, New Message). Sorry for the oversight, but once the BCC box is in place it will remain there forever unless you UNcheck View, All Headers.

Sending Blind Carbon Copies from AOL & CompuServe
   Lenora Anderson wrote to say she couldn't find a BCC option in AOL. Well, in most email programs a BCC box is easy to find; but AOL doesn't have one. However, after clicking Write to begin a new letter, any name in the Address Book can be made "blind" by clicking it and then clicking the "Blind Copy" button. This will place the email address in the "Copy To" box and enclose it in parentheses.
   But what about names you type manually or paste in from another source? Well, just enclose each one in parenthesis as you enter it.
   Beyond that, if you have a lot of names, you can enclose the whole batch in one set of parentheses with each email name separated by a comma and a blank space. Alternatively, you can separate the names by pressing Enter after each addition. If you have, say, a dozen names in a text file where each has been placed on a separate line, you can copy and paste all twelve at once and then enclose the lot in one set of parentheses.
   Oddly enough, names enclosed in parentheses can be placed in either the "Send To" or the "Copy To" box. They'll go as Blind Carbon Copies either way, with each recipient seeing only his or her name. One caveat, though; sometimes the recipient whose name is first in the BCC list will be able to see all the others, so I always put my own email address at the head of the list.
   By the way, all the above applies to CompuServe Email, as well.
   To make above easier to understand, I've placed some screen shots of how all this actually looks here: AOL BCC Examples.

Using "Screen Shots"
   Did I hear someone ask, "What's a screen shot?" Well, anything you see on your screen can be converted to a bitmap image by pressing the PrntScrn (PrintScreen) key on your keyboard. You won't see anything happen, but you will have literally Selected and Copied the whole screen onto the Windows "invisible clipboard," where it awaits to be Pasted somewhere. (By pressing Alt+PrntScrn you will copy only the file on your screen that's currently open.)
   Next go to Start, Run and type PBRUSH. When PaintBrush opens, go to Edit, Paste. An image of what was on your screen when you hit PrntScrn will appear, which can then be edited for other uses.
   What other uses? Well, a reader wanted to send me a picture of a strange message that keeps appearing on his screen. So he took a picture of it with his digital camera. Seems like a reasonable idea, but the resulting image was totally illegible. Using the above "Screen Shot" procedure is the ideal way to do this.
   After the full-screen image appears, use your "select" tool to "marquee" or "frame" the specific area you want to save. Do Ctrl+C to Copy it. Now go to File, New, and then Edit, Paste (or Paste As New Image). This will give you the image you want. Finally, go to File, Save As and give the image a name, along with choosing a destination folder and a graphic format. JPG is the format used most often for screen shots.
   I used Windows PaintBrush (PBRUSH) in the above examples, but you can use any bitmap editor you prefer. (I generally useCorel PhotoPaint.)
   How else might this "screen shot" procedure be used? Well, if you see an interesting photo on the Internet, you can usually copy it by right-clicking it and choosing Save As. However, this doesn't always work. So use your PrntScrn key instead. Another example? Well, most illustrations in computer manuals, including mine, are created this way.

Mar 19
Using "Open With," Using "Plain Text," Using "Page Breaks"
   Frank Marsh wrote to say whenever he types in a series of asterisks and presses Enter, using MSWord, the asterisks turn into a line of black squares that goes clear across the page. Furthermore, Frank discovered, after typing a few dashes or equal signs and pressing Enter, these symbols also repeated clear across the page.
   This is one of the many "AutoCorrect" features in MSWord. It can be turned off by going to Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat As You Type, and UNchecking "Border Lines." If, however, you like this feature, but want to return the automatic "fill-in" to what you actually typed, press Ctrl+Z.
   Ctrl+Z is the keyboard equivalent of "Edit, Undo" and it reverses the last editing action taken in just about any program. Many programs are limited to a single Undo, meaning a subsequent Undos will simply toggle the last edit off and on. Word, however, allows multiple Undos, any of which can be reversed by striking Ctrl+Y. It pays to experiment with "Edit, Undo" in whatever program you're using.
   Bonnie Marona wrote to ask why any word she types, which follows a period, is automatically capitalized. This is another AutoCorrect feature, which assumes that any word following a period, a question mark, an exclamation point, or the striking of the Enter key, is the beginning of a new sentence and therefore should begin with a capital. Well, with words like eBay and dBase, this rule really doesn't necessarily apply.
   This feature can be defeated by going to Tools, AutoCorrect Options, AutoCorrect and UNchecking "Capitalize First Letter Of Sentences." While in this area, many other options can be found that you might want to look at.
   For instance, "Replace Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes" means that "curly-cue" apostrophes and quotation marks will be used instead of the "baseball bat" shaped ones. "Smart quotes" give a printed document a much more professional look, but in e-mail and Web pages only "straight quotes" are allowed anyway.
   This is also true of the "m-dash," the wide hyphen that often substitutes for a semicolon in books and magazines (so-called because it's about the width of an M). In MSWord, if you type two successive hyphens they will normally turn into an m-dash. However, the symbol will revert to a plain "minus sign" if copied and pasted into an e-mail. To turn off automatic m-dash creation, UNcheck "Replace Hyphens with Dash."
   Anther control you have, in most programs, is the appearance of a document on your screen. The screen view of a word processing document, for instance, will normally appear at 100%. By going to View, Zoom, you'll find other choices, such as 200% or 50%. These numbers will double or halve the size of the text on your screen, but will not affect text sizes on your final printout. This is a function of the "size" of fonts you've chosen.
   However, it's helpful to know that the pre-determined numbers in your zoom views and text sizes are not cast in stone. If you want to use 22 point text, but your size choices jump from, say, 20 to 24, you can type 22 right into the "size" window and press Enter. The same holds true for "zoom" ratios.
   Another thing over which you have control in many programs is the display of toolbar icons. MSWord, for instance, usually displays way more icons than most of us will ever use. This huge cluster makes it harder to find the ones we do use. To weed out all the seldom-used icons, go to Tools, Customize. Under Toolbars, be sure that Standard, Formatting, and Menu Bar are checked. Other toolbars, such as Drawing, can be activated when needed by going to View, Toolbars.
   To eliminate the icons you don't use, just drag them from your toolbar into the "Customize" dialog box. They can always be replaced by reversing this process.
Mar 17
Using "Open With," Using "Plain Text," Using "Page Breaks"
   Virginia Abushanab wrote to say she could no longer open a JPG file by double-clicking it. I told her that all recent versions of Windows Paint (a.k.a. PBrush and PaintBrush) should open a JPG with a double-click, and that if hers didn't she could right-click the filename and choose Open With. This would bring up a list of all the programs on her hard drive capable of displaying bitmap graphics. By clicking Choose Program, one can also choose to "Always use this program to open this type of file."
   Virginia wrote back to say this worked - however her son suggested yet another way to "open with." Go to Folder Options, File Types. Here you'll find numerous file extensions listed (including JPG, JPEG and JPE). Choose an extension, click Change, and choose the program you want to open it with.
   If you're uncertain of which program to use, experiment to find which works best for you.
   To find Folder Options, right-click Start, and choose Explore. Win98 users can then go to View, Options. WinME and WinXP users need to click Tools, Folder Options.
   While you're in Folder Options, be sure to look under View and make sure "Hide extensions to known file types" is NOT checked. If the box is checked, all this talk about file extensions will mean nothing to you. These extensions should NOT be hidden.

Other Uses for "Open With"
   Getting back to "Open With," this feature also works with a variety of other file types. For instance, if an MSWord user receives a WordPerfect file with a WPD extension, right-click the filename and choose "Open With." The document can then be converted to a Word file and saved with a DOC extension. Likewise, a non-Outlook Express user can use this feature to open an EML file in Word or WordPerfect or even in NotePad.
   I could give other examples, but try "Open With" yourself the next time you find a file that doesn't open with a double-click. Keep in mind, however, that many file types are not intended to be opened by the average PC user. Those with DLL, COM or SYS extensions are just a few examples.

Single or Double Clicks?
   Speaking of the "double-click," this has always been the default for most icons found on the Desktop, whereas a single-click normally activates Web page and e-mail links. However, if you'd like all your actionable icons to respond to a single-click, you can go to Folder Options and choose "Single-click to open an item."
   Dave Kulchin wrote to say that when he used File, Print Preview on an MSWord "club assignment list" the display just showed a few lines of text, whereas his printout consisted of multiple pages. He went on to say a number of "Page Breaks" had been inserted in the document and he wondered if this was affecting the Print Preview.

Saving a File as "Plain Text"
   I told Dave that, without being there to see all the variables, I could only offer the following suggestion: Go to File, Save As, and Save the file as a "plain text" document with a TXT extension. Doing so would eliminate all special formatting except for Paragraph and Tab insertions.
   Back in MSWord, he would then go to File, Open, and choose "Plain Text" in the "Files of Type" box to find his TXT version of the document. Now the document could be re-saved as a DOC file, but with a new name but with all fancy formatting gone. This would allow him to continue editing, along with the opportunity to add special formatting as needed. This would also preserve the two previous Saves so that either or both could be accessed in case the latest version wasn't working out right.

Using Page Breaks in a Word Processing Document
   As for those "Page Breaks," they should not mess up a Print Preview, but rather should enhance it. If you're not familiar with the concept, here's how it works: Let's say you're creating a name directory where you want each alphabetical change to begin on a new page. In other words, the first B entry would be at the top of a new page, rather than continue where the A entries ended.
   In MSWord you would go to Insert, Break, Page Break, while WordPerfect users would choose Insert, New Page.
   If you're writing a book, and formatting it yourself with inserted pictures, you may find that each individual page needs to end with a Page Break, to make sure all your graphics end up on the page they're intended for.

Mar 12
Cleaning Up Email for Printing + Making Your Own Icons
   Louis Muñoz wrote to ask how to delete the accumulated addresses that often come in forwarded email, so they won't show up in his printouts. Well, reluctant as I am to repeat things that have been previously covered, this is a question that comes in repeatedly. So here's the answer: SELECT, COPY and PASTE.
   Simply mouse-select the portion of the incoming letter you want to print, Copy it with Ctrl+C, and Paste it into another document with Ctrl+V. Repeat with any other portions of the email you want to preserve, including any enclosed graphics.
   If you also need to clean up forwarded text that arrives with bad formatting and all those pointy >>> characters, you can download "StripMail" (a freeware program) from my home page at
   The same "COPY & PASTE" rules apply to printing Web pages. We often don't want to print the whole page, so selecting just the portion/s we want can save time and ink, as well as wear and tear on our printers.
   So what "document" should these selections be Pasted into? Well, I prefer to use my word processor, but you can go to File, New, within your email program, and Paste into a blank, outgoing letter. The new letter can then be emailed to someone else and/or saved by going to File, Save As.
   Choosing "Save As" will bring up a number of "file type" options, in both your word processor and your email program. Choosing "plain text" with a .TXT extension will mean the saved document can be read by most any program. Choosing .HTM or .HTML will mean the document can be read by any browser. However, if you choose a file type peculiar to your email program, such as .EML for Outlook Express or .RTX for AOL, the file will only be easily opened by the same program.
   In fact, I get a lot of questions from non-OE users, asking how to open .EML files that often arrive as attachments. Well, the easiest way is to use Outlook Express, even if you use another program for email. Outlook Express comes free with Internet Explorer and is a stand-alone email client.
   Another way to view these files is to change the .EML extension to .TXT or .HTM. Double-click the file and you'll find the text you're seeking, although a bunch of computerese coding may be displayed above and/or below it.

Changing a File's Extension
   True, changing a file's extension is normally NOT recommended, but there are exceptions. For instance, changing .RTX to .HTM works nicely with AOL files. You'll always get a message explaining that changing a file's extension can render it unusable, and asking if you want to continue - click YES in these instances.
   Another exception: changing .BMP to .ICO can turn a BMP file into an "icon," which can then be used as a Desktop "shortcut."
   In fact, you can make your own icons by going to Start, Run, and typing PBRUSH. Go to Image, Attributes and choose 32x32 pixels. This will give you a square the exact size of a Desktop icon.
   To make the square easier to work on, enlarge its view by going to View, Zoom and choosing 800%. Also, go to View, Zoom and choose Show Grid. A 32x32 grid will appear, which makes creating your design much easier.
   When finished, use File, Save As to save your drawing as a BMP file. Save it inside a folder of your choice, say, My Documents. Finally, exit PaintBrush and go to Windows Explorer (right-click Start, choose Explore) and find your drawing. Right-click the filename and choose Rename. Change the extension to .ICO.

What Do You Do with Your Own Icon?
   Now that you have your own personal icon, how do you use it? Well, you can start by replacing one of your Desktop "shortcut" icons (any with an arrow in its lower-left corner). Right-click the target icon and choose Properties, Change Icon. Browse your way to My Documents and double-click the icon you created. It will immediately replace the one you targeted.

New Virus Warning
   Bob Howry sent the following link to a Microsoft Web page that warns about a new virus being circulated, which claims to be a "Microsoft Security Bulletin." Click to check it out: Microsoft Virus Warning.
   Thanks, Bob!

Mar 10
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) Turning a Scanned Page into Editable Text
   J Mendez wrote to say he had scanned a business form into MSWord, in hopes of being able to add typing where needed. However, the form came out as a "picture" with no way of inserting the text.
   "How does one turn a scanned document into editable text?" is a question I'm hearing more and more often these days. The answer is OCR (optical character recognition).
   Scanners are designed to create "bitmap" images, meaning that they produce a collection of tiny squares that blend together to simulate a reproduction of whatever original you give them, be it a photo, a drawing, or a printed page of some kind. To facilitate these tasks, software is needed that helps generate the kind of picture wanted.
   All scanners come with a bitmap-editing program of some kind. Beyond this, other image editors you may already have installed will normally have a "scan" or "acquire" command that lets you scan directly into their programs. Furthermore, some word processors now come with a scanning command. In MSWord, for instance, go to Insert, Picture, From Scanner.
   However, the fact that you use MSWord to scan a page of text does NOT necessarily mean that end result will be a Word document whose text can be edited. No matter which software you use, it will normally begin by giving you a choice of scanning modes, such as Color Picture (High, Medium or Low Resolution) Black & White Drawing, etc. Usually, one of the choices will be Text or OCR.
   By choosing OCR, your software will attempt to take the tiny black squares that constitute the alpha characters on your scanned page and turn them into editable text. The program will also look for word processing software on your computer, and then ask you which text editor you'd like to use.
   Beyond this, many OCR programs are now smart enough recognize and reproduce spreadsheets, databases, and other types of tables. Thus, Excel or Quattro may be among the program choices you'll see after doing an OCR scan. Good OCR software can also identify graphics on, say, a magazine page and work around them.
   However, not all OCR programs are created equal; some are more sophisticated than others. TextBridge and OmniPage are said to be among the best. I'd check for comparative reviews.
   But no matter how good your software is, the output won't be any better than its original. For instance, the original needs to be positioned with its text running parallel to the scanner's edges. A typewritten page whose paper had been inserted slightly a kilter needs to be adjusted when being placed in the scanner.
   Also, not surprisingly, originals with pencil notations, thumbprints and/or coffee stains will make it harder for the software to reproduce the text. The letter B, for instance, may turn into an 8, while C and G may end up being O or zero. It's always prudent to run a spell-check on the finished output.

Changing "TEXT" to a "PICTURE"
   All of the above is about changing a "text picture" into text that can be edited. Jimmy Fraser had the opposite problem. He wanted to take a "signature" he'd created with a cursive font and turn it into a "picture" that could be inserted into a web page.
   Well, one way is to make a clean, sharp print on good quality inkjet or laser paper and then scan the result to be a "picture." Making the original large and scaling it down with your graphics software can produce a very sharp signature. Conversely, blowing up a small image could give the signature objectionable-looking rough edges.
   Another way to make a "signature image" is to type your name using the graphic program of your choice. (Look for A or T to indicate Alphabet or Text.) Finally, save the file as a GIF image with a DPI resolution of your choice. For web page display, a resolution of 72 or 75 DPI will be fine. If the signature will be output on paper choose a DPI of at least 300.

Mar 5
More About the "Windows\Temp" Folder + DOWNLOADING 101

Deleting Temporary Files
   When I wrote recently that it's safe to delete all those temporary files in your Windows\Temp folder, Alan Jarrett wrote to say that sometimes other types of files can be sent to this folder and that you should check its contents before deleting anything.
   Agreed - double-checking anything you're about to delete is always prudent. Moreover, clearing this folder out on a regular basis makes it easier to spot that occasional "needle in the haystack." I empty mine at least once a week.
   I've occasionally had downloaded "ZIP" files end up in this folder - sent there on the theory that once the file has been "unzipped" and its contents extracted into another folder, it would then become an unneeded "temporary" file.

Download Basics
   This might be a good time to review the whole concept of downloading files, since I get so much mail saying, "I downloaded a file, but I can't find it," or "I downloaded a file, but don't know what to do with it."
   Whenever you download a file, there's a good chance it's been "compressed" before being uploaded by the sender. A "compressed" file is one that's been made smaller so it will upload, travel the phone lines, and download faster. If multiple files are involved, they'll often be compressed into a single file which will need to be decompressed by the recipient so that its contents can be "extracted" back to their original formats.
   The program used most often to perform these tasks is called WinZip - thus the words "zip" and "unzip" have become synonymous with "compress" and "decompress." Nowadays many computers come with other software that will unzip your downloads in the background and present you with the reconstituted files automatically. If this is the way your system works, you may never need WinZip, much less need to learn how to use it.
   However, if you download a file named, say, PHOTOS.ZIP that just sits on your hard drive waiting for you to unzip it, you'll need WinZip. If you already have WinZip on your hard drive, just double-clicking PHOTOS.ZIP will bring up a series of prompts that will lead you through the process of decompressing and extracting the individual photos.
   If you don't have WinZip, an evaluation copy of the shareware can be freely downloaded from Some users prefer ZipMagic, which is available at These programs will come to you as "self-executing unzips" which will help you get them installed properly.
   Getting back to "temporary" files, in the above example PHOTOS.ZIP will continue to exist as a file containing the compressed photos even after your viewable copies have been extracted. This is why the file may have been destined for the Windows\Temp folder in the first place. Whether to keep it as a backup and/or to send it on to others is your decision. Beyond that, if you do send it to someone else, you'll actually be sending a "copy" of PHOTOS.ZIP while your own copy remains in place.
   Getting back to "I can't find my downloaded file" - by default, different systems attempt to download files to specific folders. However, you can tell the downloads to go wherever you want. Once you've made the decision to click DOWNLOAD or DOWNLOAD NOW or SAVE THIS FILE TO DISK, a dialog box will appear which shows the file's proposed destination on your hard drive. Clicking SAVE or OK will send the file to this location, which, hopefully, you will have made a note of.
   Beyond this, however, there will always be a "browse" box with a little down arrow, which lets you choose a different location. I generally choose Desktop, because it's normally the easiest place to find something. You can always move it to another folder later.

More on "NORMAL.DOT"
   Regarding a couple of recent columns which discussed ways of fixing MSWord's "" problem, Stan Moss sent the following solution: Create a file called "" with your desired formatting before deleting "normal dot." Then rename "" to ""
   What Stan means by "desired formatting" is setting MSWord's toolbars, file menus and other parameters the way you want them. We'll talk more about this next time.

Mar 3
Deleting "TMP" Files + Using Text & Pictures in Writing a Book
     Barbara Quanbeck wrote to ask if it's safe to delete all the files in her Windows\Temp folder. These "temporary" files are created as "invisible backups" of documents being worked on, and will usually end up in this folder when the projects are finished. Most of these files have a ".TMP" extension and/or will begin with the "tilde" symbol (~).
     By the way, these "~whatever.tmp" files will sometimes end up in other folders, and can be safely deleted wherever they're found.
     Barbara's reluctance to delete all these files was because some were ".EXE" files and she feared their deletion might cause a malfunction in some program. I replied that in nearly a decade of using Windows I had yet to find a file in this folder that could not be safely deleted.
     Yes, you may occasionally find a file in Windows\Temp that can't be deleted because "it's being used by another program." Well, these files generally take up very little space and do no harm, so just let them be.

Fixing MSWord's "NORMAL.DOT" Problem
     I wrote recently that the only way I knew of fixing a corrupted "NORMAL.DOT" file in MSWord was to reinstall Word. Well, Tom Lydon and Helmut Wilck each wrote to suggest a better way.
     Simply exit Word and delete NORMAL.DOT. When Word starts again and discovers the file is missing it will create a new NORMAL.DOT with its original default settings.
     Since NORMAL.DOT is located in different folders in different versions of MSWord, the easiest way to find it is to go to Start, Find/Search, Files & Folders and type its name into the search box. When it's found, right-click it and choose Delete.
     If you've never had this key Word file go screwy on you, the above may seem like superfluous information. However, I sent this tip to all the people on my newsletter list, and you'd be surprised how many wrote back to say thanks for solving a problem that had plagued them for a long time.

Using Text & Pictures in Writing a Book
     Speaking of MSWord, Jim Hong called to ask how to keep pictures he was inserting into a manuscript from moving around. Well, the trick is to put each picture into a "text box" (or "frame" in pre-2000 versions of Word). If you want to place a picture in a manuscript, go to Insert, Text Box, and click where you'd like the picture's upper-left corner to be. Your cursor will turn into a cross, which can be dragged to create a "frame" of the approximate size of the graphic you want to insert.
     Next click inside the Text Box frame and go to Insert, Picture. Having inserted the target graphic, you can click it and go to Format, Picture, where a formidable group of editing tools awaits you. Click on the Text Box frame and go to Format, Text Box, where choices such as making the text flow around the frame and/or making the frame invisible can be found. The framed picture can now be moved around and placed just where you want it on your page.
     Having said this, however, it's important to understand that MSWord is not really a full-featured DTP (desktop publisher) and that the pictures and/or text may still end up shifting around in ways that you don't expect or want. High-priced DTPs, such as PageMaker and QuarkXpress give you absolute control over how text and graphics will appear in your finished product. Even lower-priced MSPublisher gives you more control than MSWord, but Publisher doesn't have the header/footer and automatic page numbering options of the other programs mentioned.
     If you intend to write a book with all the text and graphics placed exactly where you want them, you may want to consider one of the higher-priced DTPs. Yes, I wrote my illustrated computer manual using MSWord, but admit to having spent a lot of time realigning its text and graphics. I'm thinking seriously of getting QuarkXpress for my next book.

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