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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July 2, 2002 Managing Your Fonts
July 7, 2002 Free Font Display Program + Exporting Outlook Address Book into Outlook Express + CD-ROM, CDR and CD/RW Differences + AOL "BCC" Peculiarity
July 9, 2002 Free Directory Printer Programs + Info on BMP, TIF, JPG & GIF Bitmap Files
July 14, 2002 Converting BMPs to JPGs + Some Info on Using WinZip
July 16, 2002 Copying Graphics from One Place to Another
July 21, 2002 Message Rules in Outlook Express, Ideas To Get Hardware Working Again, Use Latest Version of Free Software
July 23, 2002 Copy, Cut & Paste Via the Windows Clipboard - Computers 101
July 28, 2002 Giving a Word File a Password - "Save" vs "Save As" - Incremental Filename Changes - Backing Up Files on Other Disks/Discs
July 30, 2002 Defeating MSWord's Automatic Margin Indents + Setting Tabs in MSWord
July 30
Defeating MSWord's Automatic Margin Indents
     Peggy Casserly wrote to ask how to defeat MSWord's maddening insistence on setting its own paragraph indentations in a list she was trying to edit. I suggested she go to Tools, Options, Edit and UNcheck "Tabs & Backspace Set Left Indent."
   Yes, the creators of Word, in an attempt to make formatting chores easier for us, have embedded a number of "default" settings that often create more problems than they solve. Keep reading.
   Being able to set Tab stops where you want them in a document can go a long way toward making its pages easier to read, besides giving it a more professional look. By default, Word has Tab stops set every half inch across a page. Hit your Tab key and watch the cursor jump in half inch increments.

Different Ways of Setting Tabs in MS-Word
   Word offers two main ways to set your own stops. The first is to go to Format, Tabs, and type in your settings. If you type .75 your cursor will jump 3/4" from your page's left margin when you hit Tab. However, there will be no other Tab stops in this paragraph unless you return to Format, Tabs and create them. Typing another 1.5, for instance, would cause your cursor to first jump 3/4" and then jump another 3/4" when you hit Tab a second time. Subsequent Tabs are eliminated beyond those you set yourself.

Using the Horizontal Ruler
   The second way Word lets you set Tab stops is to click anywhere on the horizontal ruler at the top of your page. (If you don't see a ruler, go to View, Ruler.) Now, instead of typing .75 and 1.5, you would simply click on the 3/4" and 1-1/2" marks of your Ruler. If you want to change the location of a Ruler's Tab marker, simply grab it and move it left or right. Pulling it completely off the Ruler will eliminate it.
   OK, all the above seems simple enough; but it can get more complicated. All the Tab stops discussed so far have been Left Tabs. If you need Right or Center or Decimal Tabs, you click on Right, Center or Decimal inside the "Format, Tabs" dialogue box. Here you can pick and choose, making your first Tab, say, a Left Tab, while choosing different characteristics for subsequent Tabs.
   Can the same thing be done by clicking on the Ruler? Yes! Notice the little "L" at the far left of the Ruler. Click it a few times and watch it change to other symbols, which indicate Right, Center and Decimal (along with some other specialized Tabs). Before clicking a Tab stop on the Ruler, be sure the symbol at the left matches the kind of Tab you want to set. If you make a mistake, simply pull the Tab off the Ruler and start again.

Using "Leaders"
   Now let's talk about "Leaders." When we used to create things like food menus using a typewriter, we would often type in a line of dots (periods) to connect an item on the left side of a page with a price on its right side. Well, Word lets you use dots or dashes of various kinds to do this. Only you don't have to type them in one at a time. Go to Format, Tabs, Leader and choose the kind you prefer. Setting these "leaders" can be a little tricky, but it becomes easier with practice.
   A third way of setting a Tab indent for the beginning of a Paragraph is to move the little markers found at the left Margin setting on the Ruler. Adjusting these three markers can not only set your Paragraph Indent, doing so can also adjust your Paragraph Margin Settings. Space here doesn't allow for a tutorial on how all this works - but here's what happened to Peggy:
   Once a Paragraph Indent has been set by any of the above methods, Word assumes you want this setting to continue throughout your entire document; and it locks them into place by adjusting these little markers. The fix is to do what I suggested for Peggy.

July 28
Giving a Word File a Password - "Save" vs "Save As" - Incremental Filename Changes - Backing Up Files on Other Disks/Discs
     Mike Kimball called to ask if I knew how to assign a password to an MS-Word document, so that others couldn't read it. I replied that I'd never been asked this before, but suggested he could alter the filename's ".doc" extension so that the file wouldn't be recognized by MS-Word if someone double-clicked it. However, upon experimenting with this, I discovered that MS-Word is smart enough to recognize a Word document even if the extension has been changed.
     But it's a moot point anyway, because Mike discovered that MS-Word does indeed have password options. He told me that when you go to "File, Save As" you can click on Tools and go to General Options, where you'll find a box for typing in a password for "opening" the document, along with a second password for being allowed to "edit" the file. On some versions of Word this Options button will appear in the "Save As" dialogue box so you don't need to click "Tools."

Differences Between "Save" & "Save As..."
     Speaking of "document saving" a number of people have asked what the difference is between "Save" and "Save As." Well, whenever you create a new document you need to "Save" it with a filename. "Save As" lets you name the file and choose a location for it. If you don't specify a location, most files will be saved in the "My Documents" folder. If you don't specify a name, the program you're using may choose one for you. MS-Word, for instance, will insert part of the first sentence you type.
     In any case, once the file has been named, subsequent "Saves" are normally done by going to "File, Save" or by clicking the "Disk" icon in your toolbar, or by doing "Ctrl+S."

Renaming Files Incrementally as "Insurance"
     Nonetheless, at some point you may want to do another "Save As" on the same file.
     Well, when I'm writing a lengthy document, I periodically change its filename by adding an incremental number to it. With a book, for instance, I may use "Save As" to call it "NewBook-1.doc." After some subsequent writing and "Saves" with this name, I'll do another "Save As" and call it "NewBook-2.doc." Each change of name sets aside the previous "Save" as a separate file, while each subsequent "Save As" will include all of the text of the previous "Saves."
     This means if you write a paragraph in the beginning of the book that you later decide to delete, a copy of that paragraph will still be in one or more of the previous "Saves." Why is this important? Well, if you later decide the paragraph shouldn't have been deleted after all, you won't have to re-type it; you'll just copy and paste it from one of the earlier "Saves."
     This principle applies to whole pages and chapters, as well. Using incrementally changed filenames is one of the best insurance policies available when writing a long manuscript.

Backing Up Important Files to Other Disks/Discs
     But all of these Saves may be for naught if your hard drive crashes. Important work needs to be backed up on other media. With today's CD-burners and discs having become so reasonable, this is the ideal way to make back-ups. However, for plain text documents, the standard 3-1/2" disks may be all you need.
     Insert one in you're A-Drive and periodically do a "Save As" on the small disk. Alternatively, you can get into Windows Explorer and drag your finished files from the C-Drive onto the A-Drive.
     I recently received an email telling me I'd been sent an "Instant Kiss" along with a link which would take me to where I could "collect the kiss." I was very suspicious, but clicked the link anyway and found myself on what appeared to be a legitimate AOL site. However, two clues instantly told me it was a scam. In order to "collect my kiss" I'd have to type in my user name and password.
     The other clue was a button promoting AOL 4.0. Well, Version 4.0 stopped being promoted over three years ago. The moral of this story? Do NOT give your password to anyone!

July 23
Copy, Cut & Paste Via the Windows Clipboard - Computers 101
     Bob Dickey wrote to say he'd somehow lost his ability to copy and paste items from his browser into his email program. I think the best way to answer this is to offer an overview of the "Windows Clipboard" and give some examples of how it works. You could call this "Computers 101, Copy & Paste."
     Let's say you're typing an email and you want to copy a paragraph of text you've found on a web page into your letter. Assuming you have the web page open in one window while your email program is open in another, you will mouse-select (highlight) the desired paragraph. Once the text has been selected, you will copy it to the "Windows Clipboard," which is an "invisible area of memory" that holds data temporarily until it is told to be "pasted" somewhere.
     Now that the desired paragraph is selected, how do we copy it? There are three basic ways. The first is to look for Edit in a list of menu items at the top of your page. Click it and choose Copy from the drop-down list. Here you will very likely see "Ctrl+C" following the word Copy. This is the second way of copying something; press C while holding down the Ctrl key.
     The third way to copy (and my personal favorite) is to RIGHT-click inside the selected paragraph and choose Copy from the pop-up list. Whichever method of copying you chose will now place the selected paragraph on the invisible "Windows Clipboard."
     The final step is to insert your cursor into the spot where you want the copied paragraph to be pasted. You can paste the text by: (1) Going to Edit and clicking Paste or (2) by RIGHT-clicking your mouse and choosing Paste or (3) by doing Ctrl+V.
     Now that you've pasted the text into the desired location, it's been removed from the Clipboard. Right?
     Data that has been copied to the Clipboard will stay there forever unless you do one of two things: (1) turn off the computer or (2) copy something else to the Clipboard. The Clipboard can only hold one "selection" at a time, and any new data that is copied will replace the current data.

Try This Experiment
     To illustrate this fact, open a word-processing document and SELECT one word by double-clicking it. Next copy the word with any of the above methods. Now click anywhere in the document and insert the word by using any of the above paste methods. Now click somewhere else in the document and do another paste. Now create a new document with File, New and paste the word into it. Finally, launch another type of program (say, a spreadsheet) and paste the word into any of the cells.
     Get the idea? Until something else is copied, the previous copy will remain on the Clipboard for unlimited subsequent pasting.
     OK, the next "Computers 101" rule is that everything said above about copy also applies to Cut. "Cutting" (removing) a word (or a paragraph or a graphic) will also place it on the Clipboard, where it will wait forever to be pasted somewhere else. In the meantime, it will immediately be replaced by the very next item that is cut or copied, and it will vanish if the PC is turned off or rebooted.
     Now that you understand the principles of Cut, Copy and Paste, why were the keyboard letters X, C, and V chosen to be used with the Ctrl key? Well, C speaks for itself (Copy). As for X, visualize a pair of scissors. Finally, V was chosen for paste because of its proximity to X and C, and the fact that all three keys are near the Ctrl key.
     If the above seems to have been unnecessarily "over-explained," it's because I know people who've been using computers for years who've never quite grasped these principles. Beyond that, there are some exceptions to the above rules (as there are to most rules) but not enough to justify itemizing here at this time.

July 21
Message Rules in Outlook Express, Ideas To Get Hardware Working Again, Use Latest Version of Free Software
     Traci Estabrook wrote to complain that Outlook Express automatically downloads each incoming email when she goes to view it in the "preview pane." Isn't the whole purpose of a "preview pane" to allow you to delete unwanted messages without having to actually copy them onto your hard drive? Right. The fix is to go to Tools, Options, Read, and UNcheck "Automatically Download Message When Viewing in the Preview Pane." Outlook Express users also have options for blocking all kinds of undesirable email before it arrives by going to Tools, Message Rules, New Mail Rule, and making their choices.
     I recently wrote that AOL users can insert a graphic in the body of an outgoing email by doing a right-click, choosing "Insert Picture," and then browsing their way to the target image. John York wrote to say that only other AOL users appear to be able to see these pictures on the receiving end. Well, if Version 4.0 or 5.0 are AOL is being used, this is true. However, here's what needs to be understood:
     Because computer technology advances so rapidly, updated versions of programs continue to be introduced almost faster than the average user can keep up with them. Trying to keep current with the latest version of application suites like MS-Office can be very, very expensive, and is often practical only for businesses who can deduct the costs from their taxes.

Use the Latest Version of Free Software
     However, much of the software we use is free, and we should download the latest versions whenever possible. All AOL users, for instance, should now be using Version 7.0, which is able to send and receive embedded graphics compatibly with most other current-version email programs.
     Internet Explorer and Outlook Express users should be using Version 6.0 of these programs. Netscape 6.0, however, was full of bugs and has been upgraded to 6.2. For the really adventurous, a "beta" version of Netscape 7.0 is also freely downloadable. Free versions of Eudora and Incredimail are also available, although paying a nominal "licensing" fee will let you use the programs without popup advertising.
     As for operating systems, WinXP is significantly different from Win95/98 and WinME, which makes it difficult to write instructions in this column that work for all versions of Windows. Where space permits, however, I do try to explain pertinent differences. Another thing about WinXP that many have discovered is that some older hardware peripherals aren't compatible with it. Usually, however, the peripheral manufacturers offer WinXP patches, which can be freely downloaded from their Web sites.

Ideas That Might Get Hardware Working Again
     Speaking of hardware, I get lots of questions asking why one's printer, scanner, or CD drive has stopped working. Well, I've never claimed to be a hardware technician; and even if I were, many of these problems may need to have personal hands-on repairs.
     However, there are a number of generic fixes one can try before calling a technician. For any external hardware device that has stopped working, the first obvious consideration is: are all the cables and power cords connected properly?. If in doubt, it never hurts to unplug a cable and then reconnect it.
     Beyond cable connections, however, I can't tell you how many printers I've seen return to life by simply reinstalling their drivers. Win98/ME users go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Printers and DELETE the icon that represents their printer. (WinXP users get to this area via Start, Control Panel.)
     Next insert the CD that came with the printer. The "Install Driver" prompt usually comes up automatically. Just follow the instructions. If the CD does not display its prompts automatically, go to Control Panel, Printers, and choose "Add a Printer." Click on "Have Disk" when the prompt appears.
     If an internal device such as a CD-Drive or Modem stops working, Win98/ME/XP users can get to "Device Manager" by pressing their keyboard "Windows" key and "Pause/Break" key simultaneously. Look for the device's listing and right-click it. Choose "Remove" or "Delete" and then restart your computer. In most cases Windows "Plug & Play" will kick in and reinstall the CD-Drive or Modem automatically. (Win95 does NOT have Plug & Play options.)

July 16
Copying Graphics from One Place to Another
     Jim Johnson wrote to ask how to place a graphic he received as an email attachment into the body of an outgoing email.
     Well, there are two main ways to copy any graphic found anywhere. The first is to simply right-click the picture and choose COPY from the popup menu. Then go to where you want to place the graphic and do another right-click. Choose PASTE from the popup and click OK.
     The second method is to right-click the graphic and choose "Save Picture/Image As." You'll then be shown the current name of the graphic along with a default location into which it will be placed when you click OK or SAVE. Before clicking OK, though, you can change the name and/or the destination of the file. If you change the name, however, be sure to maintain the filename's three-letter extension, unless a "Save as Type" box offers other choices.
     The "Save As" method is usually better than the "Copy" method because it stores a copy of the graphic on your hard drive, from whence you can edit it and/or Copy and Paste it to another location. The "COPY" method only works when you then PASTE the graphic into a location which will accept a graphic's being pasted.
     Admittedly, most modern word processing programs and many email programs will allow the "pasting in" of a copied graphic; but a more reliable way of doing this is to use the "Insert" command from within the selected program. AOL users can right-click inside an outgoing email and choose "Insert a Picture" while Outlook Express and Netscape users will choose "Insert Picture" from their menu choices.

Inserting Animated Graphics
     If your email program is HTML-based (as most are nowadays) and allows the insertion of graphics, you can even insert an "Animated GIF." The letter's recipient will see the graphic move - again, assuming his/her email program does HTML.
     So where does one find animated graphics? Well, you can go to any search engine, such as Google or Ask Jeeves, and type ANIMATED GRAPHICS into the search box. Click on any of the links that appear, and then choose a category, such as Animals, Holidays, or whatever. There are hundreds of choices on the Internet and most are free.
     One site I particularly like is This site not only offers a generous assortment of free animated drawings, it even lets you edit the drawings online. For instance, you can change the size of a image, alter its colors and even rotate it to a different angle. Experimenting with these features can be a lot of fun and very rewarding.
     Aside from the animations, when I need a particular type of graphic I've found Google to be indispensable. Go to and click the "Images" button before you type your criteria into the Search box. For instance, type in "COMPUTER" and you'll be shown hundreds of drawings and photos of things related to computing, including several cute animated computer GIFs.

Copying a Web Page into an Email
     Getting back to placing a graphic in an email, you can actually insert a whole Web page if you want to. You've undoubtedly received email ads that look like miniature Web pages, complete with colorful animations. Well, the key to this is having an HTML-based email program. And, in this case, you don't need to understand anything about HTML programming.
     Let's say you've found a Web page you'd like a friend to see. Well, you can COPY and PASTE the site's URL (Web address) into your outgoing letter, so your friend can click on it to go to the site. Alternatively, however, you can right-click the desired page and choose SELECT ALL. Do another right-click and choose COPY. Right-click inside your outgoing email and choose PASTE.
     Yes, there are certain limitations to this, but in most cases your friend will see the Web page just as you saw it on the Internet.

July 14
Converting BMPs to JPGs + Some Info on Using WinZip
     My recent explanation of the differences between various types of bitmap files generated more questions.
     "OK," I'm asked, "if JPG files are preferable to BMPs (because they're smaller and upload/download faster) how do I change a file from one to the other?"
     Well, you can't do it by simply changing a filename's extension from BMP toJPG. The transformations must be done using a "bitmap-editing" program. Professional illustrators use heavy-duty programs like Adobe PhotoShop or Corel PhotoPaint. However, all Windows users have PaintBrush (a.k.a. Paint and Pbrush) which can be used to change basic file types. Here's how:
     Go to Start, Run and type PBRUSH. Click OK and the PBrush program will open. Go to File, Open, and "browse" to find the target BMP file. For practice purposes, browse to the C:\Windows folder, where several BMP files can always be found. Double-click one to have it appear on the PBrush "canvas."
     To transform the file to a JPG, go to File, Save As and choose JPG from the "Save As Type" box near the bottom of the window.
     Click OK and, voila, you've now changed a big BMP file into a smaller JPG file - right? Well, not exactly.
     What you've done is make a "copy" of the BMP file and turned it into a JPG file. The original BMP still exists in the C:\Windows folder. Right below it, however, you'll find the new JPG version. Within Windows Explorer, click on View, Details, and you'll see that the JPG's file size is a lot smaller than that of the original BMP, even though they look basically the same when displayed.

Limitations on JPG Quality
     Patric Jewell wrote to point out that while JPGs are indeed an efficient method of reducing file sizes, users should be cautioned that they are "re-compressed" with each subsequent "Save As" and their quality deteriorates accordingly. For this reason, it's always prudent to keep the original image in a safe place.

Don't See Any "3-Letter Extensions"?
     Now if you've read the above instructions and say, "What's all this stuff about BMP and JPG extensions? I see no 'extensions' of any kind on my filenames," here's what to do: Right-click Start and choose Explore. Win98 users go to View, Options, View and UNcheck the box preceding "Hide Extensions for Known File Types." WinME and WinXP users will UNcheck this option by going to Tools, Folder Options, View.

Discussing ZIP Files with Radio Talk Show Host Lynn Harper
     San Diego radio talk-show host Lynn Harper called to discuss some "Zip File" principals that are worth reviewing here. Programs like WinZip were designed to "compress" files, so they temporarily shrink in size for faster uploading and downloading, and to "decompress" them back to their original state on the receiving end. It used to be that one had to endure a long, tedious learning curve to work successfully with WinZip.
     Nowadays, however, most email programs automatically compress ("zip") file attachments while they're being uploaded and decompress ("unzip") them on the receiving end. For instance, if you attach three photos to an outgoing e-mail, they'll be "zipped" into a single file with a name like, say, "" On the receiving end this file will be "unzipped" into the original three photos and placed inside a new folder named something like "3_Photos." All the recipient has to do is double-click the individual photos to display them.
     So does this mean that the received "ZIP" file was divided up into three restored photos and that "" now no longer exists? Nope. What happens with an incoming "ZIP" file is that it remains intact until you personally delete it. This means the recipient could send "" on to another friend, whereupon he could also extract its three photos.
     Lynn and I also discussed the fact that Windows always comes with filename extensions hidden (as described above) and we wondered why Microsoft does this. Well, Lynn suggested that if someone decides to change a filename by right-clicking it and choosing Rename from the popup, he might then forget to keep the extension in place while typing in a new name. (This would disable the file.) If, however, the extension is hidden, there would be no danger of its being corrupted. Hmmm.

July 9
Free Directory Printer Programs
     A number of people have asked if there is a program that lets you print a listing of all your folders and files. Well, Windows doesn't come with any such program (although I think it should) but I found a couple of them online. Their URLs are too long to put here, but you'll find links to them at
     These free programs let you print the names of all your folders and sub-folders along with the files they contain, or you can opt just to print the folder names. For those of us who have dozens of folders and thousands of files on our hard drives, this can be a very handy way to keep track of where everything's located.

     Among the zillions of acronyms computer users are expected to deal with, some of the 3 and 4-letter extensions appended to graphic filenames are actually helpful to know. There are dozens of these, but let's just concentrate on the few that we come in contact with most often.
     BMP means Bit Map Picture and is an extension that is recognized by all versions of Windows. "Bit map pictures," generically speaking, also come with other extensions, such as JPG, TIF and GIF. Before discussing these further, however, let's take a look at what a "bit map picture" actually is.

What Is a "Bit Map"?
     It's a graphic that's composed of hundreds of little colored squares, which, when viewed from a distance, can create the illusion of "continuous-tone" photographic images. These little squares are called "bits" and they're mathematically "mapped" into patterns that make up a finished graphic. How many of these little squares are used to create such an illusion? Well, most computer screen views are limited to about 72 or 75 per linear inch. However, when you print on paper, you can set your printer to output at 300 or 360 DPI (dots per inch) or even much higher.
     300-360 DPI is usually considered adequate for personal snapshots (when printed on good quality inkjet paper) with the higher resolutions being reserved for images found in publications such as glossy magazines.
     As for what the other "bmp" extensions stand for, memorizing their technical names is not necessary; but understanding the differences among them can be helpful. Let's begin with TIF (a.k.a. TIFF). This is one of the older formats for creating bitmap images and it takes up lots of disk space. This also means it takes longer to upload and download. One advantage of TIF files, though, is that they are usually compatible with both PC and Mac computers.
     JPG (a.k.a. JPEG and JPE) has become the most popular bitmap format, since it can emulate the sharpness and clarity of BMPs and TIFs; but does so using much less disk space. Furthermore, most image-editing programs will let you choose from among three or four "qualities" of a JPG image. The highest quality will be a larger file, but still smaller than an equivalent BMP or TIF. The lowest quality will be a very small file which, when examined closely, may appear to be somewhat "fuzzy" or "slightly out of focus" while the "in-between" resolutions will vary accordingly.
     If your photo is only going to be seen on a Web page or in an e-mail, then choosing one of the higher JPG resolutions will be a waste of disk space and upload/download time. But do use a high-end JPG format for prints to be placed in a family photo album. In any case, when choosing JPG for your output in the Windows PaintBrush program, you'll see no "quality" choices; a "medium" resolution is your only option, and it's just fine for most images.

GIFs Used Mostly for Drawings
     GIF bitmap files are the ones used for most Web page drawings, since they take up much less disk space than those mentioned above. However, GIF files are restricted to using 256 colors, while those mentioned above can use millions of colors in creating an image. GIF images can also be created with a "transparent" background, if you want. Beyond all this, most of the cute animated graphics you see on the Internet and in your e-mail are GIF files.
     Speaking of Animated GIFS, next time we'll talk about where you can find them and how you can edit them with a free online program. In the meantime, take a look at for more info.

July 7
Free Font Display Program
     Regarding a recent column about displaying one's fonts in the Windows "Control Panel," Tina Marie sent me a marvelous program called "FontViewer" which, when clicked, beautifully displays all the fonts in your system. Having received this little freeware gem, I'm now wondering how I ever got along without it; and have made the program downloadable from Thanks, Tina!
     Speaking of helpful utilities, I once offered to send "CharMap.exe" (the Windows Character Map) to anyone who requested it. However, the file was on a PC which was down for a while, but which is now back in service. If you'd didn't receive your copy, please write again - or download it directly from

"Outlook" & "Outlook Express"
     George Savare wrote to say he was set up with Outlook Express as his email program when he signed on with, and asked how he could switch to Outlook.
     In case you're unfamiliar with the differences between these two Microsoft programs, the former is basically an email client, while the latter is a super-sophisticated calendar/scheduler used mainly by people in business, and which also contains OE-like mail features. Beyond this, OE comes free with Windows, while Outlook has to be purchased.
     Anyway, George's task is a simple one: He'll launch Outlook and when he comes to a place where it asks if he'd like it to be his default email client, he'll click YES. Next, he'll be asked if he'd like to import all his settings from his previous email program. Clicking YES and choosing OE, it will all be done automatically. Should George want to return to OE, he'll simply uninstall Outlook and OE will automatically return to be his default email program.

Acronyms Defined
     Jack Tischhauser wrote to say he appreciated my recent column on "acronyms" and suggested I explain more of them. Well, computer acronyms number in the hundreds (perhaps in the thousands) and there's no way they could all be listed here. However, is a site that does have them all listed and which is constantly updated as new ones appear.
     Nonetheless, there are a few I get asked about frequently enough that they're worth mentioning here. "What are the differences between CD-ROM, CDR and CD/RW?" gets asked a lot.
     Well, CD-ROM has been around the longest and means "Compact Disc - Read Only Memory." These are the older CDs we all have, which can be "read" but never "written" to (recorded on). CDR is "Compact Disc Recordable," which can be "recorded" (burned, written to) and "read" but which cannot have any data "overwritten." CD/RW is "Compact Disc/ReWriteable," meaning data can be recorded on these discs, erased, and/or re-recorded -- much like we do with 3-1/2" disks.

AOL "BCC" Peculiarity
     AOL-mail-user Claudine Howland wrote to say that when she followed my advice of enclosing names of multiple recipients in parentheses (to turn them into "blind carbon copies") she was still able to see all the addresses listed on the copy she had addressed to herself.
     Mea culpa. I should have pointed out that, for some mysterious reason known only to AOL, the person whose email address is listed first in the BCC parentheses will be able to see all the others. The trick is to put your own email address at the head of the BCC list. This way, no one will see anyone's address but his or her own. Details of AOL's strange BCC procedures can be found at
     Jim Johnson wrote to ask for a "beginner's primer" on how to copy a graphic from a Web site and paste it into an outgoing email. Well, there's a "Downloading 101" page on, but here's a quick overview:
     Right-click your chosen graphic. From the popup menu, Netscape users choose "Save Image As." while IE and AOL users choose "Save Picture As." A dialogue box will appear showing the picture's name and suggested location on your hard drive. Click SAVE.
     In your outgoing email, OE users will click "Insert Picture" and browse to the picture's location. AOL users can click the "camera" icon and choose "Insert Picture." After finding the wanted graphic, double-click it to insert it into your letter.

July 2
Managing Your Fonts
     Gordon Raver wrote to ask if there's a way to make all his fonts display themselves in their actual appearance, so he can more easily choose the ones he wants.
     Well, it used to be that all fonts were listed in "plain text" on their drop-down menus. Nowadays, however, many programs clearly display each font in its own style on these menus.
     I remember first seeing this feature several years ago in MS-Works 4.0 and wondered why MS-Office 97 didn't have the same enhancement. Well, beginning with Version 2000, Word and Excel and all the other MS-Office programs had this feature added.
     If, however, you'd prefer your MS-Word fonts in to appear in their old "plain text" style, go to Tools, Customize, Options, and UNncheck "List Font Names in Their Font." Whichever choice you make will carry over into all the other programs in your MS-Office suite.
     As for those who have no programs that offer an "preview" of their fonts, you can go to the "Fonts" folder to check them out. In pre-XP versions of Windows, the "Fonts" folder was always inside the "Windows" folder. In WinXP, however, these system folders have been rearranged in ways that the limited space here doesn't permit me to describe.
     Nonetheless, the "Fonts" folder can be accessed by going to Start, Settings, Control Panel (Start, Control Panel, in WinXP) and clicking on "Fonts." Double-click any font's name and a window will appear showing the font in its actual style and in several different sizes.

We Didn't Always Have This Many Fonts
     There was a time when we considered ourselves lucky to have a dozen fonts in our computers, so this method of checking them out worked pretty well. Nowadays, however, it's not uncommon to have hundreds of fonts onboard, some of which are unbelievably ugly and which I'd suggest deleting after you've examined them. Doing this one at a time in Control Panel, admittedly, can be a big job; but once it's done here's what I'd suggest:
     Choose a dozen or so fonts you really like, and move the rest into a spare folder. Right-click on your Desktop and choose New, Folder. Name it something like "Surplus Fonts." Finally, drag all the "surplus" fonts into this folder.
     Now get into your favorite word processor and type the following sentence a dozen or so times: "This is an example of ______." Fill in each blank with the name of a favorite font and then format the whole sentence with the corresponding font. Choose, say, 14 points to make all the text easy to read and, finally, keep this chart near your computer after you've printed it.

This is an example of Times New Roman.
This is an example of Courier New Bold.
This is an example of Comic Sans MS.

     If you ever decide to reclaim any of the "surplus" fonts, go to that folder and drag the chosen fonts back into the "Fonts" folder. Be aware, though, that finding the font you want may be difficult because it will have a different name in the "Surplus" folder. All fonts inside the regular "Fonts" folder will have their names fully spelled out, such as "Bookman Old Style." In any other folder, however, this font is called "bookos.ttf."
     Why? I have no idea; but outside of the "Windows" folder all font names are constrained to their old DOS "8.3" format, meaning a name can have no more than eight characters to the left of the dot (period) and only three to its right. To help make these odd names more manageable, I created a new folder for each of the following "categories:" "Scripts," "Casual," "Bold," "Gothic" and "Condensed." This makes any subsequent retrieval of my fonts much easier.
     One final word about fonts: Do NOT move or delete any of the RED fonts. These are "system" fonts needed by Windows.
     There was a time when I wanted as many alphabet styles as I could find to be in my "Fonts" folder. This was because my silk screen printing business had to match fonts on customers' business cards and stationery. Having retired from the business, however, a dozen or so fonts is all I need anymore.

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