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.

Return to Don's Home Page        Return to List of 2002 Columns

Oct 1, 2002 Wordpad Compatibility Issues - AOL Browser vs IE - Viewing Graphics with Your Browser
Oct 6, 2002 Overcoming Taskbar & Text Size Problems
Oct 8, 2002 Moving Your Taskbar - "Beta-Testing" - Looking Up Filename Extensions & Acronyms - "Word-Wrap" & "Carriage Returns"
Oct 13, 2002 Removing Unwanted Icons from Your Taskbar + Qusetions About BCCs (Blind Carbon Copies)
Oct 15, 2002 Retrieving BCC Names in Outlook Express + Missing CHARMAP or MSCONFIG Files + Asst'd Email Tips
Oct 20, 2002 More on Retrieving BCC Names in OE What is ".WMF" - "Raster" and "Vector" Graphics - Sneaky Spamming
Oct 22, 2002 Bytes, Kilobytes, Megabytes & Gigabytes Explained - Missing DLL Files - Doing "Splits" in MSWord
Oct 27, 2002 Finding "Hidden Files" - Helpful "View" Options - Downloading "DLL" Files
(a Dissenting View re: part of my 10/22/02 article)
Oct 29, 2002 Doing Mailing Labels & Envelopes with MS-Works Illustrated Instructions Here
Oct 29
Doing Mailing Labels & Envelopes with MS-Works
     As the time to send out holiday greetings approaches, I always get a number of questions about printing labels and envelopes. I've always found this easy to do with MSWorks, whose recent versions (6.0 and later) make it even easier, by providing step-by-step instructions right up front.
     Today's newsletter is about using MSWorks. The next PC Chat will explain how to do all this with MSWord.
     Addressing labels or envelopes intended for multiple recipients is basically a function of two different applications: a database program and a word processing program. The database is where all the names and addresses are stored, while the word processor is what's used to format the actual printouts.

What Is a "DataBase" Program?
     A database program is an application that organizes various kinds of lists so they can be easily cross-referenced. A mail-order business, for instance, might ask its DB program to display the names of all its female customers between certain ages, who live in a certain zip code area and who bought something from the company within the past year. Other databases might include all the parts of a particular car model.
     But the DB most of us use is simply a list of friends or relatives, along with their addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses, etc. MSWorks comes with a database utility and a word processor built right into one program.

Using MSWorks 6.0 or Later
     Users of MSWorks 6.0, or later, will launch the program and click on Works Word Processor. Next click on Mailing Labels or Mail-Merge Documents. Choosing the former will lead you through the steps of printing labels to multiple recipients, or of printing all labels alike (such as return address labels).
     Choosing Mail-Merge Documents will lead you through the steps of creating form letters and/or the printing of names and addresses, along with optional return addresses, on envelopes intended for multiple recipients.

Using MSWorks 4.5 or Earlier
     The following instructions are for folks using earlier versions of Works, where the built-in instructions tend to be less clear. Let's use the following six fields for our example: FirstName, LastName, StreetAddr, City, State, and Zip.
     Launch Works and go to Works Tools, Database. In the Field 1 box type FirstName and click Add. Repeat this process for each Header and then click Done. Go to File, Save As, and name the file, say, Holiday Address List. By default, the file may suggest being saved in the MSWorks\Documents folder, or the My Documents folder. However, you can designate any folder you want. Works will add the extension .WDB to the filename.
     If you want a printout of your database, it's best to do it "sideways" by going to File, Page Setup, Source, Size & Orientation. Choose Landscape. This can help make all the column fields fit on a page. Choosing a smaller, narrower font also helps. To make the column widths match their data, do Ctrl+A (select ALL) and go to Format, Field Width, Best Fit.
     At some point you'll probably want to Sort (Alphabetize) your data by Last Name. Go to Record, Sort Records, and choose Last Name, Ascending.
     Now let's format the printing of the labels or envelopes. Go to File, New, Word Processor. Use File, Save As to name this file, say, Layout for Printing. Works will add the extension .WPS to the filename. Next go to Tools, Labels or go to Tools, Envelopes. Now a rather intimidating multiple-choice window will pop up, but don't let it scare you. Just click Next.
     Choose Avery #8160 for inkjet printing or #5160 for laser printing. Click Next two more times.
     A window will open to display any Works databases you might have created. Choose Holiday Address List.WDB. Now, assuming you plan to print a label or envelope for every name on the list, keep clicking Next until you arrive at Label Layout or Envelope Layout.
     Here you'll click Add Field and New Line until you get a layout that indicates Name on the first line, Street Address on the second line, and City, State and Zip on the third line. Using an additional line for Apt. or whatever is optional.
     Additional formatting options, such as different font styles and colors, are available by clicking on Advanced.
     All the above can be found with illustrated examples at Instructions for Creating Labels & Envelopes with MSWorks
Oct 27
Finding "Hidden Files" - Helpful "View" Options - Downloading "DLL" Files
(a Dissenting View re: part of my 10/22/02 article)

Why Are Some Files Hidden?
     Bob Dale called to say he sees a reference to hidden files in the Status Bar at the bottom of his various Windows folders, and asked how to unhide them. The answer is found in the folder's View options. Win98 users can click on View, Folder Options, View, Hidden Files, while XP users would go to Tools, Folder Options, View, Hidden Files. If your status bar is not showing, go to the menu item View and click Status Bar.
     Why are some files hidden? Generally, these are system files that should not be tampered with, and having them hidden tends to keep them out of harm's way.
     While in the Folder Options/View area you'll find lots of other items you can check on or off at your own discretion. The one I always suggest having UNchecked reads, Hide Extensions for Known File Types. Being able to see these extensions is important to efficiently managing your files.

Some Helpful "View" Options
     Regarding the View menu item seen at the top of all folders, it has a number of very useful features that are worth exploring. Here are just a few examples of how I use the choices under Arrange Icons By. The default is Name, which lists all the folder's files alphabetically.
     I use Size when I want to see if a GIF or a JPG version of a certain graphic is smaller. This option is also useful for comparing the size of a plain text document to its formatted version. You might be surprised at the differences.
     I use Type when I want to put similar files in a group. For instance, in the My Pictures folder, all the GIF, JPG, ART, and BMP files can be sorted into four separate groups.
     Modified is helpful when I want to find a recently edited file - but sometimes I need to know when a file was Created. All these Arrange Icons By choices are displayed when you click on View and choose Details. A number of ther choices are available by going to "View, Choose Details."
     Once you have all these choices displayed under View, Details there are other things you can do with them. Let's say you're looking at a bunch of files displayed under Name, Size, Modified and Created. By default, Name will be display all the files alphabetically. Click on the word Name and the list will be displayed in reverse order (Z-A). Another click returns it to A-Z.
     Clicking on Size will show all the files itemized from the largest to the smallest, and vice versa. The same principle applies to the dates displayed (earliest/latest) when you click on Modified or Created.

Important Upgrade Available to Windows XP Users
     Anyone using Windows XP should download the XP Service Pack No. 1 (SP1) from Without getting into the technicalities of what this upgrade does, suffice it to say I've read a number of credible articles saying it fixes a variety of XP weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Downloading Missing "DLL" Files - a Dissenting View from a Reader
     Regarding a recent newsletter in which I mentioned being able to find and download DLL files from, Dave Looney wrote to express doubts about the advisability of doing so. His thought-provoking letter, along with my reply, can be found on this page.

Oct 22
Bytes, Kilobytes, Megabytes & Gigabytes Explained - Missing DLL Files - Doing "Splits" in MSWord
   Peter Farina wrote to ask if there is an easy way to understand the relationships of file sizes that are expressed in kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes. Well, the smallest measurement in computereze is called a bit and eight bits are equal to one byte. Each alpha/numeric character, for instance, is one byte in length.
   Beyond that, a kilobyte is a thousand bytes, a megabyte is a million bytes, and a gigabyte is a billion bytes. Well, sort of.
   Not all of the above numbers are entirely accurate. For instance, it actually takes 1,024 bytes to equal one kilobyte, while a megabyte is really 1,048,576 bytes. The numbers are rounded off to a thousand and a million for the sake of simplicity.
   Notice that the "correct" numbers are all a result of sequentially doubling the number "one." Therefore, someone upgrading a computer's RAM (Random Access Memory) from 64 megabytes normally goes to 128 or 256 MBs.
   To simplify file size conversions, a Web site called will let you enter a number in, say, megabytes, and tell you its value in bytes, kilobytes and gigabytes. The best part about this site, however, is that it's not limited to computer values. It also converts inches, feet, yards and miles, as well as pints and quarts, along with all kinds of metric to non-metric measurements.

Missing DLL Files
   Have you ever gotten a message saying a certain program won't run because of a missing "DLL" file? These Dynamic Link Library files are an important part of most of the programs you use. Other DLLs are a part of your Windows operating system and accessed by various applications. Well, any missing DLL file can be downloaded from, along with instructions on how to install it.
   Speaking of useful Web sites, Raj Patel told me about, where software to create PDF files can be downloaded on a free trial basis. Many businesses nowadays are expected to convert documents created with programs such as MSWord, Pagemaker, or WordPerfect into PDF files, which can be read by anyone who has Adobe's free Acrobat Reader. If you decide to keep FinePrint, its price is about 1/5 the cost of Adobe Acrobat.

Animating Fonts in MSWord
   Pauline Clayton called to ask how to "animate" fonts in MSWord. Well, going to Format, Font, Text Effects, will display several clever animation options.

Doing "Splits" in MSWord
   Have you ever been working on a lengthy MSWord document and wished you could see two different parts of it at the same time? Well, you can, by going to Window and clicking on Split. This will place an adjustable horizontal bar on your Word document's screen.
   Each section will have its own vertical and horizontal scroll bars, which means you can be looking at, say, pages 12 and 25 of a manuscript at the same time. If you want to return to a single pane view, just grab the bar and move it off the top of the screen.
   But what if you'd like to be able to look at three different parts of a document at the same time? Okay, go to Window and click New Window. This will give you a "floating" duplicate of your current document, which can be re-shaped by adjusting its edges. Clicking New Window again will give you a third frame, and subsequent clicks will give you additional frames, should you need them.
   Each frame will have its own set of scroll bars and Minimize, Maximize/Restore, and Exit buttons, which means any frame can be eliminated by clicking its X.
   Beyond this, have you ever wanted to look at two different MSWord documents side by side so you could compare, say, numbered lines of text? If you go to Window and click Arrange All, all Word documents that are currently open will be arranged in individual frames, stacked one above the other, each of which can have its shape changed by grabbing any edge or corner and adjusting it accordingly.
   Thus, the windows can be arranged side by side or any other way that would be most useful to you. Clicking the Maximize button will cause any frame to fill the screen and hide the others. Clicking the Restore (overlapping squares) button will return the window to its previous shape.
Oct 20
More on Retrieving BCC Names in OE
   Regarding a recent column that explained how to retrieve "Blind Carbon Copy" names sent via Outlook Express, Bill Smith wrote to say that the names can also be found by right-clicking a target e-mail in the "Deleted Items" folder, as well as in the "Sent Items" folder. Thanks, Bill.

What is a ".WMF" File?
   Bill Wolf wrote to ask if there's a way to preview graphic files with a .WMF extension. Well, if you have WinXP, double-clicking a WMF (Windows Meta File) graphic will display it in the XP Picture & Fax Viewer. In Win98 it can be displayed inside most Microsoft programs, such as Word or MSWorks. Go to Insert, Picture, Clipart or File, and browse to the graphic. Make sure that the "Files of Type" line says "All Files" or "All Picture Files."

Differences Between "Raster" and "Vector" Graphics
   Most PC users have a number of WMF and/or CGM files on their computers, and they will usually be found in a folder named Clipart. WMF and CGM used to be popular formats for creating simple "clipart" drawings. However, these formats are used much less often nowadays because of limitations that impede their effectiveness with newer and more modern graphic technologies.
   In any case, WMF and CGM files are "vector" rather than "raster" images; and this might be a good time to review the differences between these two basic types of computer graphics.
   The type of graphic most PC users are familiar with is called "raster" or "bitmap." These images are made up of different-colored tiny squares that, when viewed from a distance, appear to blend together much like a continuous-tone photograph. The squares are called "bits"and they are "mapped" on a grid to create the finished picture.
   "Vector" images, on the other hand, tend to be flat-colored drawings that are made up of straight or curved lines along with geometric shapes, such as circles and rectangles. They've generally been used to create simple designs such as those found in cartoons and various clipart images.
   In earlier versions of Windows, a program called MSDraw could be used to create and/or edit WMF/CGM files, but this feature seems to have disappeared from recent versions. However, users of vector-based programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw can do whatever they want with WMF and CGM files. PaintShopPro can handle these files, as well, along with all kinds of bitmap files.
   Back to Bill Wolf's question, WMF files can also be opened with Windows PaintBrush (a.k.a. Paint or PBrush). (Go to Start, Run and type in PBRUSH.) However, PBrush is a bitmap editor, and has no direct way of editing the vector elements of a WMF file. Nonetheless, PBrush will let you convert the vector image to a raster image by going to File, Save As, and choosing a bitmap format such as BMP, GIF or JPG.

Sneaky Spammer Using Incremental Return Address Names
   Nathan Kelly called to say the "Block Sender" feature of Outlook Express has failed regarding a certain spam sender who changes his email name slightly with each new message. The spammer simply adds an incremental number to his name each time (, promo12..., promo13..., etc.).
   I suggested to Nathan that he should go to Tools, Message Rules, Mail and do the following: Click on New Rules, New, and choose "Where the FROM line contains people" in the "1. Select the Conditions..." box. He should then choose "Delete It" in the "2. Select Actions..." box. In the "3. Rules Description..." box he should click the "Contains People" link and type "promo" into the appropriate space.
   This means that any incoming e-mail with "promo" in the name will be immediately deleted.
   The Outlook Express Message Rules options can be quite comprehensive, once you've spent some time figuring out how to use them.

Outlook Express Upgrades
   Also, OE 6.0 has recently been upgraded to automatically delete attachments it suspects of bearing viruses. It then sends along a note regarding the deleted attachment to the intended recipient, so that he or she can take further action if so desired. I'm not sure where this feature came from, since I'm constantly being advised by Microsoft to download recent upgrades. But I'm sure glad to have it.

Improvements in AOL 8.0
   AOL 8.0 is also being advertised as having new anti-virus filtering features.
   Speaking of AOL 8.0, it is now officially out of beta-testing and CDs will soon be showing up everywhere. However, current AOL users can download the new version by typing upgrade into the AOL "Keyword" box. Mary Hanson has been using 8.0 for about a week now, and says she is very favorably impressed with it. More details will be given in future newsletters.

Outlook Express Preview Window Just Does "Preview"
   John Marcinkevicz wrote to ask how to keep Outlook Express messages from automatically opening in the Preview Pane. Well, a message displayed in the Preview Pane is, in fact, just being "previewed." The message is not actually "opened" until it is double-clicked (or right-clicked, followed by choosing OPEN).

Oct 15
Retrieving BCC Names in Outlook Express
   I've said it before - but I'll say it again - I learn more about computers from the readers of this newsletter than from any other source!
   When I said I knew of no way to recover a list of Blind Carbon Copy names that had been emailed via Outlook Express, Dick Travis, John Rau, Lisa Melton, Tom Inglesby and Linda Couture all wrote to say the names can be found by right-clicking the email in the "Sent Items" folder and choosing Properties, Details.
   When I said AOL does not display a Blind Carbon Copy box for entering names, John Peacock and J. Donahue wrote to say that a BCC button is displayed inside AOL's Address Book.
   True - but this only applies to names in the Address Book. If you want to just type in a name, or paste in a group of names copied from another source, AOL doesn't readily explain that these names can go in either the "Send To" or "Copy To" box, but that they need to be enclosed in parentheses. (Complete details can be found at here.)
   I, for instance, keep the several thousand email names to whom this column is sent in an MSWord file.
   Arline Kennedy wrote to say that my instructions on using "Start, Run, MSConfig, Startup" to bring up a list of programs that are launched when Windows boots up did not work in Windows 2000.

No MSConfig Available in Win95 or Win200
   Right - MSConfig does not exist in Win95 or Win2000. However, Mary Hanson found a Web site that has a freely downloadable utility that lets Win2000 users have the choice of what programs start up automatically. Go to and click on "Startup Control Panel."
   As for Win95, it's basically no longer supported by Microsoft, and users should upgrade to at least Win98.

Peripherals Not Working with Windows XP
   Norman Melber wrote to say his Canon MP F30 worked fine with Win98, but doesn't work with WinXP, and that Canon told him they have no fix for this. Norman asked me to mention this, since this printer is still being sold and buyers should be aware of the problem.
   Right - a number of older peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.) don't work with XP. However, many of these items have downloadable driver upgrades from their manufacturers' Web sites. In any case, when buying a peripheral to be used with XP, it's best to be sure the box indicates that it's "WindowsXP-Compatible."

Inserting Special Symbols with Keyboard Codes
   Donald Van Selus wrote that using "Insert, Symbol" in MSWord works fine for inserting the "degrees" character when he needs it, but wonders if there's a way of doing this in Outlook Express. No, OE does not have a built-in "Insert, Symbol" feature, but all kinds of special characters can be accessed by going to Start, Run and typing in CHARMAP (Character Map).
   Special characters can also be inserted by using keyboard codes. For instance, the "degrees" symbol () can be inserted by pressing ALT and typing 0176. ALT+0162 will insert the "cents" sign () and ALT+0174 will give you the "Copyright" () symbol. However, you must use your keyboard's numeric keypad - the numbers along the top of your keyboard do not work with ALT.
   These keyboard codes work everywhere, even in IMs (Instant Messages).
   But where do you find the codes? Well, CHARMAP shows the ALT+numeric code along with any symbol you choose to display. Make a list of the ones you use most often.
   But there is an easier way, if you use certain symbols frequently. Let's say you type in lots of recipes and use the "degree" symbol all the time. Well, I would put this symbol at the top of my page and then type an "ampersand" (&) every place I needed to indicate "degrees." (If you don't like the ampersand, use the asterisk (*) or pound (#) symbol.) Later I would highlight the special symbol and do CTRL+C to Copy it. Then I would double-click each "ampersand" and do CTRL+V to replace it with the "degrees" symbol.
   You can also use CTRL+F to "Find" your ampersands more easily. If you're using a word processor, such as MSWord or Works, you can use CTRL+H to "Find/Replace" all the ampersands automatically when you click "Replace All.

Downloadable "CharMap" File
   Speaking of CHARMAP (Character Map), it's not always installed automatically with Windows. However, I keep a copy on my Web site at that can be freely downloaded.

Unblocking Blocked Senders in OE
   Ken Rusk wrote that he accidentally put someone's email name in his "Blocked Senders" list. Yes, unintentionally blocking someone's incoming mail in OE is easy to do, but not so easy to figure out how to undo. Go to Tools, Message Rules, Blocked Senders List, and click Remove.
Oct 13
Removing Unwanted Icons from Your Taskbar
   Syd Notkin wrote to ask how to remove unwanted icons from his Taskbar. Well, they can be dragged from the Taskbar onto the Desktop -- or, for permanent removal, right-click them and choose "Delete." This applies to "Quick Launch Shortcut Icons" which we've usually placed on the Taskbar ourselves.
   However, removing icons from the "System Tray" (near the Taskbar's clock) is an entirely different matter. These "startup" icons indicate programs that are launched when Windows is booted, and which run continuously in the background. Having these programs launched at startup uses system resources, and can slow down your computer.
   If you use AOL, for example, most likely its icon is displayed in the System Tray. This means the program is running even if you have no intention of using it.
   An example of something many users DO want running in the background is their anti-virus program and, if they're on a network, their firewall.
   So how do we pick and choose which programs get launched at startup?
   Go to Start, Run, type in MSCONFIG, and click OK. Click the Startup tab and look at the list of checked-off programs. UNcheck the ones you don't want running in the background. Click OK and reboot to make your choices stick. If you later change your mind, repeat the above steps and check any you want restored.
   Admittedly, many of these "startup" programs have cryptic names which give no clue as to what they are or what they do. When in doubt, UNcheck questionable items one at a time and see if you notice any difference in the way your computer operates. Deselected items can always be restored.
   Also - some of these programs have sneaky ways of putting their shortcuts back into the MSConfig Startup list no matter how many times you deselect them. A good example is Microsoft Messenger (a.k.a. MS Messenger and Windows Messenger). The only way to keep these out of the Startup list is to completely uninstall the programs (Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs).
   Some folks like having computer maintenance tasks, such as Scandisk and Defrag, scheduled to run automatically. If the Maintenance icon is not already showing in your System Tray, you can put it there by going to Start, Settings, Control Panel (Start, Control Panel in XP) and clicking "Scheduled Tasks." Personally, I prefer to run these programs when I think they're needed - about once a week in my case - perhaps once a month for most users.
   Speaking of Scandisk and Defrag, e-mails complaining that they don't work properly arrive almost daily. Yes, these are problem-prone utilities, and the various ways to overcome these problems would fill this newsletter. This is why I've placed a page of instructions at I urge you to copy this page, since regular use of these utilities is essential to keeping your computer running at its best.

Questions About "BCCs" (Blind Carbon Copies)
   Dorothea Oldfield wrote to ask if there's a way to see a list of BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) names after you've sent them an e-mail. Well, first, let's review the concept of sending BCCs.
   If you send the same message to several people and put all their addresses in the "Carbon Copy" box, each recipient will be able to see the e-mail addresses of all the others. Not a cyber-courteous thing to do.
   It's better to put all the names in the "BCC" box. This will insure that each recipient sees only his or her own name/address. Many e-mail programs make the "BCC" box easy to find and use. But, strangely, Outlook Express and AOL (the most-used e-mail programs) do NOT make it easy.
   In OE, after choosing New, Message, you have to click on View, All Headers, in order to make the BCC box display itself. Fortunately, this only needs to be done once.
   AOL actually has no BCC box, but will treat any e-mail address enclosed in parentheses as a Blind Carbon Copy. Detailed instructions on how to make BCCs in AOL and Compuserve can be found on my web site.
   Back to Barbara's question, in AOL the first person in a BCC list will be able to see all the other names in the list. Therefore, an AOL e-mailer should always put his/her own name at the head of the BCC list.
   Eudora users can look in their "Sent Mail" folder to see names on a BCC list, but Outlook Express offers no such feature. Once an e-mail has been sent, there is no way I know of to take another look at the names in the BCC list.
   If anyone knows of a way to see such a BCC list, I would surely love to hear about it.
Oct 8
Moving Your Taskbar
   I guess the thing I enjoy most about doing this column is that I learn so much from its readers. After recently mentioning the problem of grabbing "just the right spot" on a misaligned Taskbar to return it to the bottom of its screen, Bob Drewry wrote to say that all one has to do is click it in "any open area." Well, Bob was right - if we know what constitutes an "open area."
   If the Taskbar still doesn't move, it might be that a Toolbar (such as Quick Launch) is "invisibly "covering this area Just right-click the area and choose "Toolbars." Then, temporarily, deselect any Toolbars you might find checked.
   The right end of the Taskbar, containing the digital clock and various icons, is called the "System Tray" while the left end often holds a collection of icons which make up a "Quick Launch" Toolbar. The space in between these areas will respond to a mouse click which can easily move the Taskbar to any of a screen's four edges. However, this space is often filled with buttons designating open files. To close a file, just right-click its button and choose "Close." To close multiple files, hold down Ctrl while right-clicking, and then choose "Close Group."

Doing "Beta-Testing" for Software Companies
   Bobby D. Mosher was recently offered a chance to do "beta-testing" on a Microsoft upgrade and wrote to ask what a "beta-test" is. Well, today's computer programs are so incredibly complex and have so many amazing features that the people who create them can't possibly check out everything themselves. So they invite everyday computer users to help them seek out all the potential possibilities and possible problems.
   So what's in it for the testers? Well, they may be offered a free or discounted copy of the finished program; but they are expected to earn it by trying all kinds of different things, including some which could be potentially dangerous to their computers. (I spent three months last year helping test Windows XP - and had a number of crashes along the way, which Microsoft helped me fix over the phone.)
   My reward was a discount on the final version of XP; but my main reason for volunteering was to get a headstart on learning the program, with the idea of being able answer questions from readers of this newsletter.

The Meaning of ".EML" & Other Extensions/Acronyms
   John Smaldino wrote to ask what the extension .EML means. It's the extension used by Outlook Express e-mail messages; and the messages can normally be opened by any Windows user, since OE always comes with Internet Explorer and Windows. If you don't have OE, it can be freely downloaded from
   Speaking of filename extensions, I used to keep a list on my Web site; but since the list is always changing I discontinued it and now go to, where they also have definitions of all the computer acronyms you're likely to encounter (SDRAM, TCP/IP, etc.).

Unwanted Outlook Express Messages Downloading Themselves
   Mary Ann Presutti asks why her Outlook Express messages automatically download after being displayed in the Preview Pane, without first giving her a chance to delete them. Well, this can be fixed by going to Tools, Options, Read, and UNchecking "Automatically download message when viewing in the Preview Pane.

"Word-Wrap" & "Carriage Returns"
   Duane Preimsberger wrote to say he is new to computers and asks why the stories he writes and sends via e-mail don't maintain the formatting he used in creating them. Why, for instance, do his paragraphs arrive with alternating long and short lines?
   Well, when we used to create documents with a typewriter, we'd do a "Carriage Return" at the end of each line, and copies of our typed pages would always look like the original. Word processing programs, however, do "word wrapping" at the end of each line, which automatically adjusts the lines to fit within the document's vertical margins. If we later change those margins, the lines automatically lengthen or shorten themselves accordingly. The same rule applies to text we put into an e-mail.
   So why does our beautifully formatted e-mail often look strange on the receiving end? It's because of the arbitrary insertion of "CRs" (Carriage Returns) as our messages pass through various electronic hands along the way to their intended recipients.
   So, can this be circumvented? Yes, in a variety of ways; but we only have space here to mention one. Send your document as an e-mail attachment, using the .RTF (Rich Text Format) extension. Most recipients will then see your document just as you created it.
Oct 6
Overcoming Taskbar & Text Size Problems
   Sharon Diffee wrote to say she likes to print recipes she finds on, but complains that the printout's type is too small, even though she chooses her browser's "View, Text Size, Largest" option. Here's the problem: even though our browsers try to help us choose the font sizes we prefer, some Web authors override this feature and restrict their fonts to a locked-in size, usually 10 points. Perhaps all the FoodTV fans should write to the network and ask them to change this policy.
   When the "View, Text Size" (View, Increase/Decrease Text Size in Netscape 4.7) feature is allowed to work, it can be enormously helpful to visually impaired computer users. Internet Explorer offers five font-size choices, with the largest being about double the normal view. Netscape 7.0, however, lets you choose a percentage by which you'd like the size increased, meaning you can make the screen fonts several times their normal size.
   By the way, if you're using a "wheel mouse" you can enlarge the text size on this newsletter by holding down your Ctrl key while moving the wheel. This trick works with Outlook Express and Internet Explorer. It does NOT work with AOL or Compuserve.
   Getting back to Sharon's problem, though, there are three little words that will ensure your having a printout you'll be happy with; and this fix works just as well with e-mail messages as it does with Web page text. Select, Copy and Paste.
   Select the recipe, e-mail message (or whatever) with your mouse.
   Copy your selection with Ctrl+C (or - right-click the selection and choose Copy).
   Paste it into your favorite word processor with Ctrl+V (or - right-click the page and choose Paste).
   Once the recipe/message is pasted into your word processor, you can not only make it larger, you can delete text you don't need, make important text bold, and/or edit it in numerous other ways. While you're at it, you can get Web-page pictures by right-clicking them and choosing Copy, followed by right-clicking in your word processing document and choosing Paste. You can then grab any picture's "handles" and resize it to your own specs.

Erratic Taskbar
   Carol Daffron wrote to say her Taskbar has disappeared and that since there is no "Start" button in view, she has to use her PC's power switch to turn it off. Well, the Taskbar is an unpredictable rascal that can be made wider (taller) by grabbing its top edge and pulling up - or made to disappear by pushing it down.
   If it seems to have disappeared completely, close examination should show a thin gray line along the bottom of your screen, which is actually the Taskbar's top edge, and which can be pulled back into view.
   If there is no gray line to be seen, then the monitor may need to be adjusted with the little wheels, buttons or on-screen menu commands it came with. If all this fails, a re-installation of Windows will always put the Taskbar back where it belongs.
   Speaking of which, one of my most-asked questions is, "How can I get my Taskbar back to the bottom of the screen? It somehow jumped to the side of the screen."
   Well, I've done this "retrieval" dozens of times, but can't really tell you how. All I can say is that I aim my mouse pointer at the upper outside edge of the misaligned Taskbar and then "yank" it back toward the bottom of the screen. It may take a dozen or more attempts, but sooner or later you'll hit the magic spot and the Taskbar will jump back to where it belongs.

Shutting Off the PC from the Keyboard
   Getting back to Carol's "no Start button" problem, it is possible to do a "proper shutdown" without this button. Alt+F4 is the keyboard "Close" command that works for all Windows programs, as well as for Windows itself.

What Is That Odd-looking Key?
   Art Robinson wrote to ask about the strange-looking bottom-row key that bears what appears to be a miniature keyboard with a tiny arrow pointing to it. Well, this is our keyboard's "Right-Click Key." If you click on an icon or a word or a graphic of some kind and press this key, a menu will pop up with choices such as Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, etc. -- in other words, the same menu you'd see had you right-clicked the item.
Oct 1
Wordpad Compatibility Issues - AOL Browser vs IE - Viewing Graphics with Your Browser
   Francine Silver wrote to say that although she doesn't have MSWord, she's always been able to open an MSWord newsletter she receives with Wordpad. However, the newsletter has suddenly become unreadable. Well, the newsletter's author has begun using a more recent version of Word, which Francine's older version of Wordpad can't read.
   Let's take a look at some of these word processing compatibility issues.
   "Wordpad" is the no-frills word processor that has always come with Windows, although it was originally called "Write." The program can be found under Start, Programs, Accessories, or by going to Start, Run and typing in WORDPAD or WRITE. If you don't have a MSWord, WordPerfect or MSWorks, WordPad is capable of doing basic word processing, but with some serious limitations. For instance, it has no spell-checker nor can it be set to do double-line-spacing.
   Anyway, documents created with early versions of Write and Wordpad always had a .DOC extension, which made them appear to be MSWord files. Well, most versions of MSWord can read a file created with any version of WordPad, but the reverse is not always true. In fact, earlier versions of MSWord can't always read files created with later versions of the same program. For instance, Word95 users can't read files created in Word2000 or WordXP - unless the document's author takes certain steps.
   The trick is to save the Word document as a "Rich Text Format" file, with the extension .RTF. (When saving, look in the lower left corner for "File Type" options.) As an ".RTF" file, a Word document can usually be opened by any other word processing program. Furthermore, all other word processors have the same "Save As .RTF" capability - and newer versions of Wordpad are automatically saved as .RTF files. A Word2000 or XP user can also save his document as a Word6.0/95 file if he knows the recipient uses one of these earlier versions of the program.
   Looking for "File Type" options can also be used on incoming documents. If a WordXP user receives a file created in, say, MSWorks4.0, he can click on File, Open, and go to his "Files of Type" list and find the exact program. Also listed will be programs such as WordPerfect5, which at one time was the world's most-used DOS word processor.

AOL Users Are NOT Restricted to using the AOL Browser
(and the same is true for CompuServe users).

   Something that I find many AOL users don't realize is that they do NOT have to use AOL's browser to get on the Internet. Windows always comes with an Internet Explorer Desktop icon. Once an online connection is made with AOL (or CompuServe) a user can double-click the IE icon to get on the Web. I find IE to be faster, easier and just plain more reliable than the AOL/CS browsers.
   If one prefers Netscape, it can also be used instead of the AOL/CS browsers. However, Netscape usually doesn't come with a new computer (as does IE) but it can be freely downloaded at any time. The new version 7.0 has been getting good reviews from the critics, although I still prefer IE.

Using a Browser to Display Graphics
   Speaking of browsers, here's a little trick you might find handy; if you have a graphic file you'd like to display, just drag it into the address line of Internet Explorer, which will cause it to be immediately displayed. If the file happens to be an animated graphic, it will be seen moving. This trick also works with the AOL browser, but an animated graphic will not move. As for Netscape, I haven't been able to get this trick to work, and would appreciate hearing from anyone who can tell me how to do it.

Backing Up Outlook Express Messages
   A question I'm asked constantly is how to back up Outlook Express messages. Well, they are all backed up as cryptic ".DBX" files in a hard-to-find folder on your hard drive. These files can be copied to another disk for safe-keeping and reopened by OE, should the need arise. However, I find it easier to create Desktop folders, into which I can drag/copy individual OE e-mails. These folders can then be dragged (copied) onto a floppy or CD for safe-keeping. Alternatively, any e-mail messages can be dragged into any new, outgoing e-mail, where they will become attachments. You can then e-mail the new attachment-laden message to another computer for backup storage.

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