PC Problem Solving


Personal Computer
  • Replacing a battery
  • Switching Off
  • Permanently cleaning the Drive
  • Playing CD's through speakers
  • DVD Regions
  • Using a modem away from home

  • Modem Speeds
  • Modem Volume
  • Cleaning your mouse
  • Webcam as stop motion camera
  • Restoring data from a backup
  • Recording LPs to CD

Image Processing
  • What type of scanner to buy
  • Using a dot matrix printer
  • Using multiple image capture devices
  • Inkjet printing delays

Windows 95/98

The Basics
  • Ensuring Defrag works properly
  • Autorun CD-ROMs
  • Using partitioned hard disks
  • Restoring Windows sounds
  • Finding out how much space is left on a hard disk
  • Removing unwanted applications
  • Keyboards that type the wrong characters
  • Automatically arranging icons
  • Setting the default printer
  • The Network Neignourhood
  • Making Caps lock beep

  • Deleting from the Documents menu
  • Printing font samples
  • Where to find the euro
  • Moving the Quick Launch bar
  • Clicking buttons that aren't visible
  • Installing Winzip

Files and Folders
  • Clearing the Temporary folder
  • Associating files to applications
  • Renaming Extensions


Word processors
  • Removing words from Word's dictionary
  • Creating Headers and Footers
  • Unusual characters
  • Word file sizes
  • Margins in Works
  • Watermarks in Word

  • Freezing Excel cells
  • Unusual numbers in Excel
  • Creating time sheets in Excel

General Software
  • Removing the Office Assistant
  • Explaining .thm files


  • Reducing image sizes for emailing
  • Draft folder in Outlook Express
  • Linking to websites from emails
  • Composing Email without logging on
  • Checking you can receive mail
  • Logging out of Outlook Express
  • Line Breaks in Emails
  • Blocking Email
  • Stopping Outlook from popping up the dial-up box
  • Sorting mail into user's mailboxes
  • Transferring Email archives
  • Including the last message in a new reply

The Web
  • What www and http:// mean
  • Installing a counter on a webpage
  • Making a webpage your start page
  • Getting newsgroups from the web
  • Country and Organisation identifiers
  • Saving web pages on your hard disk

General Internet
  •  The difference between Email and web addresses
  • What is ICQ?
  • How to use FTP Software
  • Making shortcuts for applications

Jargon Buster

Jargon Buster


Your PC

Replacing your PC's battery
A PC internal battery can easily be replacedQ.
I have been using my computer for many years and noticed that the Windows clock at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen has started running slow. I now have to adjust it every time I start the PC. Is there anything that can be done to set it right?

A. It sounds as though your computer's battery may need replacing. Your computer uses this battery when it's switched off to keep track of things like the time. If you're confident about lifting the lid off your PC, you can replace it yourself As always, turn off the computer and ground yourself by touching something metal that's connected to the earth, such as a radiator, before removing the computer's plug from the wall socket. Take the cover off your PC. You should be able to spot the battery quite easily. It is round and silver rather like a watch battery only larger. Replacement batteries can be found at your local PC retailer - and if you're in doubt, most places will fit a new one for you, though they may charge you for the labour.

Switching the PC off
Q. Some people say you should never turn your computer off, as you risk damaging the components inside because they heat up when it's running and cool down again when the computer is switched off. Is this right or can I shut it down when I've finished with it?

A. There was a time when PC chips were considered unstable enough to be incapable of handling the constant heating up and cooling down of a day switched on and a night switched off. Nowadays, this really isn't a problem and all modern PCs can be switched off without any worries.

Permanently cleaning the hard disk
I recently read an article that seemed to be saying that those of us who have succumbed to the temptation of viewing pornographic sites risk facing prosecution. It went on to say that the only way to remove the evidence of this is to physically destroy the computer, because forensic experts can find it no matter what one does. Is this true?

A. Putting aside the moral issues of pornography, this question highlights the way that confidential information may remain on your hard disk even though you think you have deleted it. This is because when data is deleted, Windows may just mark an area of your hard disk as free, but not erase it until new data is recorded over it. In some cases data can survive even if a disk has been re-formatted. With the right software, snoopers may be able to recover some of the deleted Information. Ever when new data has been written to the disk, it is theoretically possible to use special equipment to tell what was there before.

Playing CDs through the speakers
On my old PC I used to be able to play audio CDs through the speakers. I have now bought a brand new PC, but when I play a CD I have to plug headphones into the front of the drive in order to hear it. What is wrong?

A.The problem is that your CD-ROM drive isn't connected to your sound card. This is a simple case of fitting the correct wire, and is an easy process as long as you have the documentation for both the CD-ROM drive and the sound card. If you no longer have this to hand, get in touch with the manufacturer of your new PC and ask them for the information and a cable.

DVD regions
I've recently purchased a PC with a DVD player. I set this up to play region 1 discs so that it could play DVD movies from the US. I've since built up a healthy collection of titles, all from region 1. However, I have a single region 2 disc that I got with the computer. I'd like to know if there's any way I can set up the PC to play DVDs from both regions.

A. Region 1 players are designed to play films in America, while region 2 players are designed for the UK market. Because the drives are essentially the same for each region, the manufacturers of DVD drives for PCs tend to make these all the same, with the ability to let the user set the region themselves.
This means you can choose to either set it for the region in which you live, or to one of the other DVD regions. You can change your mind up to five times (depending on the drive). After this, however, you'll have to live with your final choice.

Using a modem away from home
Your laptop's modem may need a pause when dialling an outside lineQ.
I use a laptop computer and modem to access the internet as I travel round the country. However, I find it very frustrating that I rarely get an outside line and it is necessary for me to input a pre-dial number into the modem, which never seems to work properly.

A.You need to insert commas after the pre-dial number to make the modem wait while the switchboard connects to an outside line. This is often required when dialling out of an internal switchboard. The length of time it has to wait depends on the switchboard. Start off by putting one comma in, and if that doesn't work, keep adding another one until it works.
The other option could be to access the internet through a mobile phone. This can be slow, so don't try browsing graphically intensive websites, but it should be good enough for collecting your email. Some PC Card modems can be made to work with a suitable mobile phone - check your manual for details or you can buy a phone with a modem already built in.

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Modem speeds
I have a 56Kbps modem but it never seems to exceed download speeds of 31Kbps. Is it my modem, my phone line or my ISP that is the problem?

A. What you have to remember is that 56Kbps is the absolute maximum possible speed that one of these modems can connect at in perfect conditions. How fast it actually works depends on your modem, the version of the modem's internal software, the quality of your phone line, how busy your ISP is and how busy the internet as a whole is. By making sure you have the latest software from your ISP and the latest hardware upgrade, you can maximise your connection speed, though it still probably won't exceed the 3lKbps you are achieving now by very much.
If you really want high speeds you may have to consider upgrading your telephone and Internet connection to a higher speed service, such as ISDN.

Modem volume
You can alter the volume of your modem from the Control Panel
Q. I have just bought a new modem that works well but is unbearably noisy when dialling and connecting. Have you any suggestions for muting it?

A. You should be able to alter the volume on your modem through its Properties. Call up the Control Panel via the Start menu and Settings option, then double-click on the Modems icon. Highlight your modem with a single click of the left mouse button, and select the Properties button. This should bring a window up with a Speaker Volume option. There are four settings, ranging from mute to very loud. If your modem is set very high, you may be happier with a low setting so you can still hear what's going on at the other end.

Cleaning your mouse
Q. The pads on the underside of my mouse that help the ball run freely have worn down, making it run erratically. Do I have to buy a new mouse?
Erratic mouse movement may be caused by dirt inside
A. It's likely this isn't anything to do with the pads, but simply that the insides of your mouse have got clogged with dirt. This doesn't mean you've particularly dirty hands - it happens to most mice eventually, especially if they are heavily used for controlling games. Inside your mouse there are two bars which translate the rotation of the ball into the movement of the cursor arrow on your screen. The ball inside the mouse picks up sweat, dead skin and grime from your mouse mat and deposits it on these bars. This means that the ball occasionally loses contact with the rest of the mouse, causing your cursor to skip around on the screen. You can solve this by removing the ball from your mouse and cleaning the insides. Turn the mouse upside down and you will see a removable plate - you can take this off by twisting it a little anti-clockwise, which will release the ball.
You should then notice the bars and see the dirt on them where the ball connects. This can usually be removed with a little alcohol (such as white spirit) on a cloth.

Webcam as stop motion camera
Use your webcam for time-lapse photographyQ.
I purchased a webcam and it works fine, but I've decided I want to make a freeze- frame video showing one of our plants opening and closing during the day. I would then like to replay the frames in one continuous film. Is this possible?

A. There are many packages designed to film time-lapse sequences, one such is Gotcha from Prescient Technology (www.gotchanow.com). The program can be configured to take snapshots at regular intervals as well as detect motion in front of the camera. Although it's designed to make your PC act as a security device, it could also be used to help you keep an eye on your plants.

Restoring data from a backup
I lost everything on my hard disk when it failed recently, but fortunately I had made a full backup on my Iomega Zip drive. I bought a new hard disk but, because it is blank, I am not sure how to install my new operating system. Could you please tell me how to set this up? I have a Windows 98 upgrade and Windows 95, both on CD.

A. Although you have a full backup, this is only really useful for restoring your data. You are still going to have to restore your operating system from the original disks. Start off by digging out the startup disk that your computer manufacturer should have supplied. This should include drivers for your CD-ROM drive, so you can boot up the machine and install Windows 95. Then you can install your Windows 98 upgrade. Next you can reinstall your applications and games from their original discs. It's best to do it this way rather than from your backup, as many of them will have installed extra files into your Windows directory and elsewhere, without which they won't work properly.

Now you can restore your work, such as your My Documents folder, from your original backup.Not only will your system probably work faster because of your new hard disk, but all your applications will have been cleanly installed and you'll probably find your whole PC works better than it ever has.

Recording LPs to CD
Can you tell me how to record my LP records onto a CD using my new CD writer?

A. There should be output connections on the back of your LP player, probably labelled Aux Out Left and Right. They should be standard phono plugs, the cable for which can be picked up from a hi-fi store for a few quid. You will have to buy a mini jack adapter to make the other end of the phono leads plug into the Line In socket on your sound card, but this is all you need to connect the two together.
You will then need some software, such as Easy CD Creator from Adaptec (around £65) which includes the Spin Doctor application. This will make it easier to do the trickier bits such as taking out scratches, clicks and pops.

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Image processing

What type of scanner to buy
SCSI scanners are faster but harder to installQ
. Please could you explain the pros and cons of installing scanners that require SCSI cards? I am completely confused as to whether to buy a scanner that uses SCSI or whether to go for a parallel port model. If I go for SCSI how do I install it?

A. SCSI (pronounced 'scuzzy') scanners are generally considered to be better than parallel port scanners because they are faster and more reliable. You have to take the lid off your PC though, making them harder to install, and they tend to be more expensive than parallel port models because they include that extra piece of equipment - the internal SCSI card. To fit a SCSI card, remove the casing from your PC and locate a spare expansion slot. This will be beside other expansion cards in your machine such as the modem, graphics or sound card. This is not difficult to perform, despite the fact that taking the lid off can be a bit scary the first time you do it. When you buy your scanner, whether it's a SCSI or parallel port model, ensure that it comes with all of the relevant installation manuals to guide you through the process.

Using a dot matrix printer
. I use a dot matrix printer as a back up to my inkjet model. I have found and installed the driver but the printer is painfully slow. It seems to only print the top half of a line, then pauses for a couple of seconds or so, before going back to the beginning to print the bottom half of the line. It isn't this slow if I reconnect it to my old computer from the early eighties. How can that be?

A. Your problem is due to the sophistication of Windows compared to the software for those old eighties computers you mentioned. Modern word processing software uses graphical presentation (called WYSIWYG or, What You See Is What You Get) so that you can easily print fancy fonts without worrying about how your printer will interpret them. When your dot matrix printer was made, in the days before Windows, word processor programs could only print using the fonts that were built into each printer. In this 'native' mode, dot-matrix printers such as yours were relatively fast. The problem arrives when Windows tries to print its own fonts by using them as graphics. Old printers are slow at printing these.
To get faster printing, try selecting one of the fonts that is built into the printer. Windows identifies these with a printer icon to left of the font name (instead of the normal 'TT' symbol). Although printing will be fast, you'll only be able to print in the font sizes supported by the printer.

Using multiple image capture devices
Swap between Twain devices from within the image-editing program
Q. I have a digital camera and a scanner, both of which use a standard called Twain to communicate with the computer. I can use the camera, but can't get the scanner to work.

A. Most image processors can handle the swapping of Twain devices quite easily, and most work on the same principle.
To start downloading or scanning the image, go to the File menu and choose the option Acquire, Import or something similar. Your PC will look for whichever device the default Twain driver relates to - in this case it will be the camera.
Before you begin scanning, change the Twain source to the device you want to use.
For example, in Paint Shop Pro, go to the File menu and click on Select Source. In Adobe PhotoShop, scroll down to Import and across to Select Twain-32 source. If you're using Imaging (the program that comes with Windows 95 or 98) choose Select Scanner. In the dialogue box that opens, select the scanner's name and return to the application. You should then be able to scan as normal.

lnkjet printing delays
Why is there such a long delay between pressing the Print button and waiting for my inkjet printer to start printing?

A. The delay occurs while the PC converts your work into a format the printer can understand, and stores this translation temporarily on the hard disk. This minimises the amount of time your computer has to spend doing this. The alternative would be to send the work directly to the printer, but you would have to wait for the printer to convert and print your pages a bit at a time.

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The Basics

Ensuring Defrag works properly
Windows Defrag gets to about 85 percent then returns to the beginning. Can you tell me why this happens?

A. You need to switch off all the programs running in the background by pressing the Ctrl, Alt and Del keys all at the same time. This is because programs will be changing the hard disk's contents even though you don't realise they're running. A window should appear which you can use to close down all the background programs (using the End Task button). Switch off everything except Explorer.
Also, right-click on your desktop, choose Properties and turn off your screen saver (click on the Screen Saver tab and make sure the box with your screen saver name says None). Once all this is done your Disk Defragmenter should work without interruption.
A Shut down all programs before running Defrag

Autorun on CD-ROMs
Make your CD-ROM run automaticallyQ.
Without Autorun on my PC I am unable to play many of the CD-ROMs that I have.Can you tell me how to switch it on?

A. Autorun should work if Windows is instructed to use it. To check this, right- click on the My Computer icon, and select Properties. In the dialogue box that opens, select the Device Manager tab, and then highlight your CD-ROM drive. You may need to click on the plus sign next to CD-ROM to find it. Next, you need to hit the Properties button at the bottom of the box. When the Properties box for your CD-ROM drive opens, select the Settings tab, and make sure there is a tick in the check box next to 'Auto insert notification'. Even without Autorun on, you should be able to access a CD-ROM disc. Insert one in the drive, double-click My Computer, then either double-click on your CD-ROM disk or right-click and select Open. You're looking for a file with an icon that will look like or have the name of the program itself. If you are loading software from a CD-ROM, then you should be looking for a file called SETUP or INSTALL. The icon for this file will look like a computer with an open box next to it. Double-clicking on these files will bring up the screen you would have seen had Autorun been working.

Using partitioned hard disks
I have a computer with an 8Gb hard disk. The hard disk is partitioned into two - drive C: is 1.99Gb and drive D: is 5.85Gb. Drive C is just about full. Do I have to load Windows onto drive D: or will it just automatically go onto the next drive when C: is full? Also, is it worth uninstalling some of the games and putting them on to leave C: free for other applications?

A. You don't need to move Windows, just think of your D: drive as an extra storage area. Start installing all new products to D: and also consider transferring a few of your games to make room on C: for any expansion - it's always safest to have at least a few hundred megabytes free on the disk your operating system is running from. If you wanted to, you could also start using D: to store your work on, as there is nothing to say that you have to use the My Documents folder.

Restoring Windows sounds
Pump up the volume from the System TrayQ.
I have lost some of my sounds - those in Windows that signify events such as starting up or making a mistake. Some of my games don't have any sounds, either.

A. If you look to the bottom right-hand corner of your screen, your Taskbar should include a selection of icons in what Windows calls your System Tray. One of the icons should look a little like a loudspeaker
- double-click on this and it will bring up your Volume Control window. From here, you can check that all your volume levels are happy. Check that none of the levels have been muted (usually a tick at the bottom of the window). Also check that the levels are all high enough - if you can't hear Windows sounds, make sure the bar on the Wave Out option is pushed right up to the top to give maximum volume.

Finding out how much space is left on a hard disk
This pie chart will show how full your disk isQ.
Where do I look to find how much space I have left on my 1.5Gb hard disk? People say I don't need to worry because it's quite big and it's likely that I have used less than 500Mb, but this is guesswork.

A. You are right to be concerned, and you should always keep an eye on how much space you have left. You may find that you have less than you think.
There is an easy way to find out this information. Click on your Start button, and select Programs, Accessories, System Tools then Drive Space. Double-click on the letter representing the drive you want to examine, which is likely to be C: if you're looking at your main hard disk, and the pink part of the pie chart will represent the amount of free space you have. You can perform the same check on any of your drives, even removable floppy disks.

Removing unwanted applications
Having removed many old programs, games and demos from my computer, I find legacies of their presence remain. When I use the Add/Remove Programs facility in the Control Panel, I still have the option to remove things I deleted long ago yet I cannot remove these options as their unin stall files have been deleted.

A. This is one of those idiosyncrasies that plague PCs. More often than not, especially with games, an uninstall will not perform completely, because extra files have been added to the program's folder, such as saved games or other bits of data that were not originally installed.
If you know where you installed a program, it is a safe bet that you can eliminate this folder. It's always a good idea, when installing in the first place, to place the program in a directory (folder) with a name and location you can remember. The suggested option often hides files down a complicated tree-like sub-directory somewhere beyond your Program Files folder.
When deleting a directory, delete it to the Recycle Bin and leave it there a while. This ensures that you can then reinstate it at a later date should your computer start behaving abnormally. It's possible that the program may have left files all over the place- especially in your Windows directory - but we don't suggest you delete files from there because they may be used by some other programs.

Check your keyboard is set for the British layout Keyboards that type the wrong characters
Q. When I use my keyboard, certain keystrokes do not correspond with the characters displayed on the screen. For example, pressing the £ key prints *, and speech marks print as the @ symbol. I suspect my keyboard settings are in some I way incorrect. How do I change them?

A. There are two areas where you might be having trouble with your keyboard, so you'll need to check both. They are both accessed from the Control Panel, so click on your Start button, select Settings then Control Panel. First double-click on the Keyboard icon. Click on the Language tab and make sure the language is set to English (British) and change it if necessary. Go back to the Control Panel and click on Regional Settings. Again, make sure English (British) or English (United Kingdom) is selected.

Automatically arranging icons
I recent]y had some problems with my PC and, after contacting the helpline, I was informed I could only cure the problem by reformatting my hard disk. I did this and installed everything once again and it now appears to be working fine. However, since doing the reinstall, the icons for My Computer and the Recycle Bin can be moved around my desktop, whereas before no matter where you dragged them they always returned to their original location. Is there a way I can make them return to their usual spot? I am worried I may do something silly and delete them.

A. If you set your icons to Auto Arrange, there shouldn't be any problem with keeping them in place. Right-click on an empty part of your desktop and choose Arrange Icons then Auto Arrange. When you next try to move them, they should pop back into place.
Having said this, both these icons are difficult to delete, so with a bit of care you shouldn't run into too much trouble.

Setting the default printer
Select a default printer to avoid confusionQ.
I hope you can help with a problem I'm having. Every time I try to print a document using Microsoft Works, the Compose New Fax wizard pops up. This all started last week when I tried to send a fax and it refused to go.

Double-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop, then double-click on the Printers icon. You'll probably find that there's a white tick on a black background looming over the icon labelled Microsoft Fax. Right-click on your regular printer then click on Set As Default. This will move the tick to your regular printer, which should now be the first one Windows chooses when you have to print something out.

The Network Neighbourhood
Don't throw it out, you may need it one day!Q.
While trying to solve a problem using a telephone helpime, I started up Network Neighbourhood. It was empty, so I tried to drop it into the Recycle Bin with no success. What's it for?

This is a section of your system that's reserved for keeping track of other machines on any network you might have. Since you haven't got a network, this is somewhat superfluous, and so it remains empty. However. Windows won't let you delete it, just in case you ever need to attach another PC in the future - no matter how unlikely that may seem at the moment.

Making Caps Lock beep
I have been using my computer for eight months now, but I frequently find myself typing in capital letters, having inadvertently pressed the Caps Lock key. Is there any way to make my PC beep when I hit this key, in order to warn me that it has happened?
A. There is a way to make it beep. From the Start menu, select Settings and Control Panel. Double-click Accessibility Options and tick the bottom item, labelled ToggleKeys. This will produce a beep whenever you hit Caps Lock, Num Lock or Scroll Lock.

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Deleting from the Documents menu
Right-click to delete from the Documents menuQ.
When I click on Documents in the Start menu I find a few things that I would like to delete. However, when I go to the Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel, none of these items are there. Where are they, and how do I banish them from my screen?

A. This is a list of shortcuts to recently used files. Usually this keeps shortcuts for about 10 files in an easy-to-find list, so that if you've been using a certain word processor file recently, you could find the file on this list rather than searching for it on your hard disk.
To eliminate a file from the list simply right-click on it and choose Delete from the menu. You can also clear t Open your Fonts directory for a previewhe list completely by going to Settings on your Start menu then choosing the Taskbar and Start Menu option. From here, click on the tab at the top labelled Start Menu Programs and click on the button marked Clear. When you next return to the Documents menu, you will find it has no files in it, though it will start to fill up again as you create and edit more files. To delete the files directly, you will have to go to the place where they are saved. Even deleting these may mean that the shortcut to the file stays in the Documents menu though, until it is replaced by a more recently used file.

Printing font samples
I would like to get a sample print of all the fonts on my PC, but other than copying lines of text and then changing the font on each line, I cannot see how to do it. Do you have any ideas?

A. If you go to the Windows directory then the Fonts directory, you should see all the fonts on your computer. By right-clicking on a font and selecting Open, you should be presented with information about each one, and a demonstration of how they look in different sizes. This can be printed off as a reference.

Where to find the euro
Windows 98 now supports the euro symbolQ.
Whether we like it or not many of us are dealing with the unit of currency for the European Union, the euro. How do I make or where do I find a resizable symbol for the euro? It isn't in the character map.

Windows 98 already has support for the euro, which you can access by holding down AltGr (on the right of your spacebar) and hitting the 4 button at the top of the keyboard. Any Windows 95 user who finds this key combination doesn't work, can go to www.microsoft.com/windows/euro.asp to download the euro-enabled version of the operating system. Most hardware manufacturers are now shipping keyboards with the euro symbol printed alongside the 4 key, but we recommend that you double-check this before you consider buying a replacement.

Moving the Quick Launch bar
Use the toolbar handles to move icons aroundQ.
When I installed Windows 98 it loaded icons for Internet Explorer and Outlook Express on the toolbar on the left-hand side near the Start button. I turned this off initially, then decided I rather liked it there, so I right-clicked on the bar and selected Quick Launch from the Toolbar option. This did return the icons, but now they are on the right-hand side of the toolbar. I have, to date, been unable to persuade the icons to move over to the left-hand side.

A. To the left of the buttons there should be a handle - a little vertical line. Use your mouse to grab this handle, hold the left mouse button down as you do it and drag it across to the left. The icons should move to the left-hand side and stay there.

Clicking buttons that aren't visible
Alter screen resolution from Display PropertiesQ.
Is there an easy way to access the OK or Apply buttons in Display Properties if you accidentally accept too low a resolution? I can't set the screen size I require as I can't get to this button by pushing the window up far enough, as the blue line at the top of the window goes out of the picture.

A. Right-click on your desktop to bring the settings up and click the Settings tab. Now change your screen resolution setting, then press Enter. The screen should change to the new resolution without having to use the OK button.

Installing WinZip
I foolishly erased the WinZip program that came with my PC. I now realise that WinZip is a very useful application and would like to reinstall it. I can't find it on the Windows CD-ROM - where can I get it?

A. WinZip isn't available on the Windows disc and must have been put on your PC by your manufacturer. However, you can download a trial version directly from www.winzip.com or get it from the cover CD of our sister magazine What PC? WinZip creates zip files, which can be used to group and compress a number of different files into one. This makes it ideal for archiving your work and sending files via email over the internet, since the space taken up can be dramatically reduced.

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Files and Folders

Clearing the Temporary folder
Many temporary files can be safely deletedQ.
I have 203 objects in my Temporary folder. Can I delete all the files without affecting my PC?

A. Generally, anything in your Temporary folder is there because an application is using the space as temporary storage. Having said that, when applications crash, they will leave their temporary files behind because they haven't been shut down properly.
You can find out whether any of them are needed in one of two ways. The easiest is to delete all the files into your Recycle Bin just after starting your PC and before launching any applications, then run your PC normally for a good while - a couple of weeks of normal usage should be sufficient. If nothing untoward happens and your applications don't bring up 'Unable to find file' messages, you should be fine. The other way is to open the folder, usually found in the C:\WINDOWS\TEMP directory and select Details from the View menu. The date under the Modified heading shows you when the file was last used. If this was a long time ago, it's a safe bet that you can delete the file, though it's still worth leaving it in your Recycle Bin for a while.

Associating files to applications
Change the application associated with the fileQ.
I have just uninstalled Corel Draw because I prefer Paint Shop Pro for images and scanning. Now, when I go to explorer, my .jpg and .bmp files have 'Corel Draw image' as their description, not Paint Shop Pro. If I double-click to load a picture file from Explorer, a screen comes up asking me to locate Corel Draw. How do I make it look for Paint Shop Pro instead?

A . These 'associations' are a feature of Windows and not individual applications. As a result, uninstalling a package will not change a file type's association back to an existing program, causing the PC to prompt you for the location of the deleted one. You can change these yourself though. Select the Start button, choose Settings then Folder Options. There will be a tab in the next window called File Types. Choose this then scroll down the list until you find the one you want to change. Highlight with a single click and choose the Edit button. On the next screen, choose Edit. You get a Window with a box saying 'Application used to perform action:' above it, and a Browse button next to that. Hit Browse and find the directory where the new application is, in this case, Paint Shop Pro. Click on the icon for the application, press OK on all the other screens, and next time you double- click on an icon of its type, the new application will launch.

Renaming extensions
How do I change a file's extension type in Windows 95 and 98? In Windows 3.1 this could be carried out through the Rename function in File Manager. Renaming now appears to only allow the file name to be changed.

A. We suspect you've got your file extensions turned off. Open Windows Explorer and choose Folder Options from the View menu. From the Options screen, make sure that the box next to the words 'Hide MS-DOS file extensions for file types' that are registered' (Windows 95) or 'Hide file extensions for known file types' (Windows 98) does not have a tick in it. If it does, click once on the box to remove it. Next, click on OK, and when you return to Windows Explorer you should find file extensions alongside every file. Go to your file, click on it once and edit the letters of the extension, which should now appear after the file name.

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Word Processors

Removing words from Word's dictionary
While I was spell checking a document in Word 97,I hit Add instead of Replace. Now I have incorrectly spelt words as part of my spell checker. How do I remove them?

A. In the Tools menu select Options. Click on Spelling & Grammar, then Dictionaries. Highlight your dictionary (most likely it'll be called custom.dic) and hit Edit. This opens a Word document listing words you've added to your spell checker. Delete the offending entry, save and exit.

Creating headers and footers
Set up your Headers and Footers in WordQ.
When using Word 97, please can you tell me how to set up a header or footer with both the page and section numbers in it, so it says 'Pages section 4, for example?

A. In the View menu choose Headers and Footers and move to wherever you want to place the information. Type the text as you would like it to appear, using the letter x or a character of your choice to represent the numbers you want Word to replace. In your case, it should look something like 'Page x section x'. It's a good idea to perform any formatting (such as centring or justifying) at this stage, so you don't have to worry about it later. Highlight the number you want to replace, and choose Field from the Insert menu, which will bring up the field box. Select All in the box on the left, and scroll through the box on the right until you find the description of the number you want to replace the 'x' with. In this case, replace the first 'x' with Page, and the second with Section. When you return to Word, you should notice that the first page now reads 'Page 1 section 1', and subsequent pages and sections are numbered properly.

Unusual characters
Use the Symbol option to find odd charactersQ.
I use Windows 95 to do a lot of typing work but I do not seem to have a Character Map, or at least I cannot find it.

A. Most of the popular word processors have this function built in now, since all fonts include special symbols like the © symbol or accents over letters. In the case of Microsoft Word, for example, simply go to the Insert menu and choose Symbol. Select the Special Character tab at the top of the window and scroll down to the character you require. This will also tell you what the hot key combination is, which in the case of the copyright symbol is pressing C with the Alt and Ctrl keys held down.

Word file sizes
Some of my Word document files have expanded to such an extraordinary degree that I can no longer fit them on a floppy disk, yet there is no more text than in other files which fit on a floppy with oodles of room to spare. What's going on?

A. When Fast Save in the Save As options is enabled, Word 97 saves the changes you make in a document, rather than the document itself. Because it retains all deletions and formatting changes, it means that every time the file is saved, it increases in size. You can disable Fast Save through Options on the Tools menu. Choose the Save tab and make sure Fast Save does not have a tick next to it.
Also select the File menu and find the option labelled Versions immediately below 'Save/Save As'. This facility saves successive versions of any file you edit, in effect giving you the opportunity to return to an earlier version if you are unhappy with your changes. Click on the Versions option to open the dialogue box. If the 'Automatic Save Version On Close' box is checked, then click on it to remove the tick.

Margins in Works
Is it possible to permanently change the default margins in Microsoft Works? This would save me going into Page Setup every time I create a new document.

Watermarks can be simply added to Word filesA. Open up a brand-new blank page and set the margins as you want them in the normal way. When you are happy with these, choose Save As from the File menu and click on the Template button in the bottom right-hand corner. This takes you to a new Window. Type in the name of the template, such as My Margins and tick the box that asks whether you want to 'Use this template' for new word processor documents. Next time you start the word processor option with a new page, it should have the correct margins.

Watermarks in Word
How do I get a watermark effect in Microsoft Word?

A. Go to New in the File menu, make sure that the Create New box is set to Template and hit OK. Select Header and Footer from the View menu. Choose Picture from the Insert menu and find the image you want to use from the browser. Click once on the picture to select it and choose Watermark from the Image Control button in the Picture toolbar to remove the colour. Drag the little squares on the edge of the picture to resize it, and move the picture to the desired location on the page by dragging it (holding down the left mouse button as you move around). Right-click on the picture, select Format Picture and click on the Wrapping tab. Select None from the available options and you're there. Save the template via the File menu. When you go to create a new document from the File menu, choose your watermarked template rather than the normal one.

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Freezing Excel cells
Select Freeze Panes to keep text in view Q.
I use Excel 97. Details entered in a worksheet are listed according to the category, which appear across the top row. When I roll down to the next page, the categories disappear. How can I keep them at the top?

A. There are two ways you can achieve this. If the categories you want to keep visible all the time are in Row 1, highlight Row 2 on your worksheet. From the Window menu at the top of your screen, select Freeze Panes. This will cause all the rows above the highlighted row to stick in place. This works for columns too. Alternatively, you can split the worksheet into panes. There are two scrolling bars on your screen. Clicking on the little bar above the upwards pointing arrow will cause a bar the length of your worksheet to appear. You can drag this bar down as far as you like - in your case, take it down to just under Row 1. You can scroll up and down inside your own worksheet, while the duplicate worksheet remains static, allowing you to keep Row 1 visible at all times. Any work done in the original worksheet will be repeated in the duplicate worksheet.
To keep Column A in sight, do the same thing with the little bar that appears at the very right of the scrolling bar across the bottom of your screen. To get rid of a pane, double-click on the bar.

Unusual numbers in Excel
When I use Excel and type in measurements in stones and pounds such as 9-12 the entry appears as 9 December. How do I get my computer to just stick to 9-12 and not change the amounts to dates?

A. It's annoying when your computer tries to guess what you're doing and gets it wrong. This feature is handy if you're inputting a lot of dates, but it's not at all useful in your case and you need to create a new style.
Open the problem worksheet and highlight the whole thing by clicking in the cell in the top left-hand corner. Go to the Format menu and select Style. When the Style dialogue box opens, you will see that Normal is highlighted in the Style Name box. Just start typing in - you don't need to worry that the Normal style will still be available in the drop-down menu. Let's call your new style Weights. Type the name, and click on Add. Now click on the Modify tab, and make sure that the Number tab is to the front. Change the number format from General to Text, and hit OK, then just hit OK again.
If you only want to do this to selected cells and not to the whole of your worksheet, you can. Simply highlight the problem cells, and follow the same steps. If you want this to be applied to all your new worksheets as default, then make the changes to the Normal style, but make sure that you make a note of the amendments you make in case you want to revert to your original settings. Adding dates helps Excel calculate a timesheet

Creating timesheets in Excel

Q.I have to work both days and nights, and must submit my own timesheets. I cannot get Excel to work out how many hours I've worked when I've been working overnight.
A. If you include the date as well as the time in the cells on your spreadsheet, this will help the software work out that the hours start on one day and finish on the next.

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General Software
Removing the Office Assistant
Office Assistant can be removed if you no longer need itQ.
I can see that the Microsoft Assistant can be fun and useful if you are learning Microsoft Office, but as a more experienced user I find it irritating. Is there a way of removing this little helper once and for all?

A. The Office Assistant is a component of the software just like the spell checker or templates. So toget rid of your friendly companion, orto install it if you don't already have it, you must return to your installation CD-ROM. From the initial screen, choose the application you wish to remove the Assistant from, then select Add/Remove Components from the next screen. You should be confronted with tick boxes showing lots of different features of Office. The box to the left of Office Assistant has a tick in it. Click on the box to remove the tick and press Continue. When you reload your application, you shouldn't be bothered by it.

Explaining .thm files
Since installing my scanner there are .thm files littering the folder where I keep my scanned images. When I try to open these I get an Open With dialogue box showing a list of programs. Is there any way to open these files and what exactly is their purpose?

A. The .thm extension is often used when the tile is a thumbnail. This is a reduced size version of a picture which is used to preview it when browsing through folders with a lot of pictures in them, since it is a lot quicker to bring up a tiny representation than the full image.
However, the only way you can see these pictures is to look at them in conjunction with the program that made them. You still won't be able to open them directly, as they will simply appear when you look in the folders that hold the pictures they represent. If there's a particular reason why you want a thumbnail-sized image, perhaps to create a button on a web page, then you will have to make one by shrinking the image itself in an image-editing application.

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Reducing image sizes for email
I would like to attach some pictures of my children to send to relatives via email. However, no matter what resolution I scan a picture at, the file is always roughly 2,500Kb. Please could you tell me how to reduce the file size?

A. The best way to compress the size of a picture is to save it in a compressed format. The best format to use is JPEG or .jpg (try Save As in your graphics package once you've scanned an image). This can degrade the image quality, but will also squeeze it down to a more manageable size. Alternatively, you can use the program WinZip to squash files, and collect them into one convenient package for sending via email. Go to www.winzip.com to download a trial version of it, and make sure the people you are sending pictures to also have a copy.

Draft folder in Outlook Express
Store emails-in-progress in the Drafts folderQ.
Could you please explain the purpose of the Drafts folder in Outlook Express?

A. If you are writing a message and have to leave it to do something else, you can use the Save option in the File Menu to save the file in the Drafts Folder. Later, when you wish to continue writing the message, move to the Drafts folder by clicking on its icon and double-click on the email to bring the file into its own editable window. Once you've finished, just send it and it will be deleted from the Drafts folder.
Also, if you are reading a message in the Inbox and you want to use part of it in your reply, then highlight the required lines and drag and drop them into the Drafts folder. A new message window will be opened with the selected lines printed out.
Web addresses often appear as links in emails
Linking to websites from emails
Is it possible to put links to websites in emails?

A. Yes it is. If you're using Microsoft or Netscape mail programs, which are the two most common, simply type the web address into your mail. If the recipient is also using one of these packages, the web address will appear blue and underlined, and when clicked on will launch a web browser and go directly to the site. Otherwise, just type the link into your email as normal and instruct the recipient to highlight it, choose copy from the Edit menu and Paste it into the Address box of their web browser.

Composing email without logging on
Save your pennies by writing emails onlineQ.
My email is sent and received using Outlook Express. Currently, I have to be online to use it. How do I set it up so I can work offline to compose my email, only going online when I choose to and not by default?

A. Click on the Tools menu and select Options. Choose the General tab and you should get a box with a tick next to 'Send and receive messages at startup'. Click on the tick to remove it and Outlook will never go online without your permission.

Checking you can receive email
I have just signed up with Freeserve, the internet service provider. I think I have mastered sending emails but I'm not sure about receiving them. How can I check I'm doing everything right?
A. The best way to see if your email program is receiving emails is to send one to yourself.

Logging out of Outlook Express
I am using Windows 95 and am having trouble with an intrusive Enter Windows Password box. I follow the instructions by not entering a password and clicking OK, which ought to ensure that I don't see this prompt again, but it doesn't work. The box appears each time I choose to log off after a spell on the internet, and at no other time.

A. The Log Off option in Outlook Express version 4 actually logs you off Windows and not just the internet. By selecting this option, Windows assumes that you are leaving your PC and want to secure it so that other users can't change your personal settings.
If you want to stay in Windows but disconnect your modem from the internet, right-click on the icon resembling two linked computers in the System Tray in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. This will close down the link from the modem but won't shut down any of the software you're using.

Line breaks in emails
Solve line break problems from the Tools menuQ.
When I  compose an email in Outlook Express it looks fine. The lines break in the right place, at the end of the line, unless I use the Enter key to finish them earlier. When I select Send the message goes to the Outbox, and if I look at the message there it is all broken up. I am told that my friends also receive my email in this same state.

A. When you send email, the package you use may automatically start new lines after a certain number of characters, in case the recipient doesn't have an email browser that does it automatically.
However, most email packages will break up the incoming text automatically if one of these lines extends beyond the display window.
You can change the distance at which the text is broken up by selecting Options from the Tools menu. Click on the Send tab and on the Mail Sending Format: Plain Text Settings button. It's best to send all your mail in plain text since this makes it more likely that everyone will receive it in the same way as it has been sent. In the box next to 'Automatically Wrap Text At' reduce the number of characters to prevent your lines from spilling over.

Blocking email
Is it possible to block emails carrying attachments using Outlook Express? If so, how is it done? This would surely cut down the risk of receiving junk and contaminated emails.

A. It is possible to block these from coming through, though it will not discriminate between junk and friendly emails. If you do want to eliminate them all, make sure your contacts know never to send you any attachments, or their emails will be lost. Choose Message Rules from the Tools menu and select Mail. This allows you to create filters for your mail. Select New and in the first window click in the box next to Where The Message Has An Attachment, in the second window click in the box next to Delete It From Server and click on OK.
As soon as Outlook Express next comes across a file with an attachment, it will delete it as soon as it arrives in your email program.

Stopping Outlook from popping up the dial-up box
When using Outlook Express I get the dial-up connection box appearing on my screen at random and I then have to retype my password. It all takes time and if I am in full flow on the keyboard it can go unnoticed until I look up at the screen. The only way I can overcome this is to go online and type my emails, but this can be expensive in call charges. All I want to do is type an email, go online to send it and then disconnect.

A. We suspect that there is a problem with the way you have Outlook Express set up. From the Tools menu choose Options and click on the General tab. Make sure that the tick boxes next to 'Send and receive messages at startup' and Check for new messages every do not have ticks next to them. This should stop your dial-up box from appearing without you asking for it.

Sorting mail into users' mailboxes
Sort out your emails using Message RulesQ.
I have recently installed Internet Explorer 5, which comes with the latest version of Outlook Express. Could you tell me how to receive email addressed to other members of the family into their own folders? I have already set the email accounts up but they don't automatically go into their own folders.

A. From the Tools menu of Outlook Express select Message Rules then Mail. These are a set of rules that you can pass your emails through to sort them into separate folders. Click on the New button to create a new rule. In box one click on the option 'Where the From line contains people', then click on the underlined 'contains people' phrase that should appear and enter the email address you want to sort in the box. Click on Add and then OK.
Move down to the box labelled 'Select the Actions for your rule' and click on 'Move it to the specified folder' (which you must then specify as you did the email address) and also select 'Stop processing more rules'. Name your rule in the final box and click on OK.
Repeat this process for any other email addresses you might have coming in, and you should find that everyone's mail is sorted to their new folders.

Transferring email archives

Find old emails by looking for .mbx and .dbx filesQ. I have recently bought a new PC. Can you tell me how to copy all of my old emails across from my old PC?

A. Email folders used by Outlook Express have a .dbx, .mbx or .idx suffix. You can search for these on your hard disk by using the Find option from the Start menu and typing *.dbx, etc in the 'Named:' box, making sure that the 'Look In:' box has been set to the whole drive and copy these files to a backup disk.
Or you can back up all of your email and newsgroup information in one go. Just copy the files in the Outlook Express folder, which can be found in C:\Windows\Application Data\M icrosoft\ Outlook Express.

Including the last message in a new reply
When someone responds to one of my email messages, they always have my previous message included in the email so that I can refer back to what we have been talking about. When I send an email back to them, their previous message does not appear. How can I make Internet Explorer do this for me?

A. Select Options from the Tools menu. Click on the Send tab and make sure there is a  tick in the box to the left of Include message in reply'. The email history will now be included in the message.

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The Web
What www and http:// mean
Many web addresses start 'www.', which I presume to mean world wide web. But I notice that some have 'http://' at the beginning. Why is this?

A. The http stands for hypertext transfer protocol. Hypertext is the system used to build web pages, and isn't actually as complicated as it sounds. The transfer protocol bit is a posh way of saying that this uses a standard way of sending the web pages to your PC, so that incompatible machines (like PCs and Apples) can see the same web pages.
The http part of a web address essentially warns your browser that it is going to receive a web page, just as a www prefix does. Not all web page addresses start with www, but all start with an http, so modern web browsers don't insist that you type it in each time.

Installing a counter on a web page
Your ISP may be able to provide a web counterQ.
I am almost finished designing my first web page and would like some help adding a counter to the page so I can see how many people, if any, actually visit my site.

First you need to make sure that your ISP can support a counter. If it can, chances are that it will already have a counter set up that you can use.
If you use free web space or your ISP doesn't provide this facility, a list of free counters and information on using them can be found at www.markwelch.com/ bannerad/baf_counter.htm.

Making a web page your start page
I have recently setup internet access on my PC and use Freeserve as my ISP. When I start, the Freeserve page appears and I get the Lycos search engine on the home page. I was just wondering if it would be possible for me to change this search engine to Yahoo?

Make your browser's home page your ownA. You can't change what appears on the Freeserve home page, but you can make your browser open a different page when you first start it up. Go to the page you want to change to and select Internet Options from the View menu. Hit the tab labelled General (if it isn't already showing) and click on the button labelled Use Current.

I have a free internet provider which provides me with free email, but it does not provide newsgroups. Is there any way I can access all the newsgroups without changing my service provider subscription?

A. There are ways in which you can browse newsgroups using your web browser. One of the most comprehensive services is DejaNews which can be found at www.deja.com.

Country and organisation identifiers
Having been on the internet for a couple of months now, I'm intrigued to know what the difference is between a .com and a co in a website address. The latter always seems to be followed by a country's initials, such as .uk.
What other suffixes are there? The only other ones I've come across are org and .gov.uk. I often try to make an educated guess at a company's website address to avoid using a search engine, but how does one predict which suffix to use?

A. The difference between .com and .co.uk is the country. Web addresses ending in .com are presumed to be American companies (but this is changing as the web grows), or at least the website where the company would want their US customers to look for them. The .co part of any other address also implies that it is a company, but the other initials should tell you where the company is based. For example, addresses ending in .jp are Japanese and .de addresses are German.
Of course, not every website is a commercial one. An address with .ac as its suffix is an academic site, .gov is for the Government, and org is used by organisations that don't want to be considered companies, such as charities.
Any of these that aren't followed by country initials are presumed to be from the US. If you want to try and guess a company's website, start off with www.companyname.co.uk in case they have a British website, then try www.companyname.com for a worldwide site. If this fails, it's often best to make sure you are using the right search engine, as this reduces the chances of having to hunt around. A directory search, such as Yahoo at www.yahoo.co.uk, will often turn up the best results for company searches of this nature.

Saving web pages on your hard disk
Save web pages for later from the Save screenQ.
To save time while online I download any interesting material to my hard disk.
However, when doing this, any pictures or graphs are not saved. Is there any way that these items can be downloaded and reproduced with Internet Explorer5?

A. Internet Explorer does let you do this. Go to the website of your choice, select Save from the File menu and you will be presented with the standard Save window. However, one of the options is 'Save as type' and you should make sure that this is set to 'Web Page, complete'. Save the page and you should have everything you need to view it offline in its entirety.

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General Internet

The difference between email and web addresses
I receive a regular email newsletter with links to other internet addresses in it. I can use some of these by making a copy of the link and using the Compose Message and Send facilities on Outlook Express but sometimes I get the message No Matches Found. I have tried to send them using Yahoo Mail but I just get told that part of the email address is missing.
I have no trouble in sending emails so what is going wrong with my attempts on these addresses which have appeared as links?

A. Unfortunately, a website is not the same thing as an email address, so sending messages to a web page address simply doesn't work. The addresses we receive as examples of this kind of problem are web addresses and are used for browsing the web. Open up Internet Explorer, the software where you found Yahoo and type the whole line, starting with http://, into the box labelled Address near the top of the screen, then press enter. This will take you to the web page you require. With some of the more modern web browsers you don't have to type in the http:// part of the address, though you should experiment to find out whether this option works with your browser or not.
Generally speaking, you can tell which addresses are web pages because they will start with either http:// or www. If it is an email address it will have an @ sign in the middle of it, separating the identification of the person from the name of the organisation that provides the email service. Take the example of Computeractive. If you want to view our web page, you open Internet Explorer and type www.computeractive.vnunet.com. To email
the problem page of the magazine you type noproblem@computeractive.co.uk. Notice how they differ and watch out for these clues in the lists of addresses you are sent. If you want to converse with an organisation and you know it has a web page but don't know the email address, there will often be a Contact Us section somewhere on the page. This will often be a link to an email address, so you can either Compose a new message and copy the link to the To: section, or simply click on the link and let Internet Explorer pull up a message window and copy the address to it automatically.

What is ICQ?
Chat online with the ICQ messaging programQ.
I keep seeing the initials ICQ followed by a number. I also saw contact me via ICQ on an email recently. What does ICQ stand for and what is it all about?

A. ICQ  (I seek you) is a messaging program through which you can instantly send messages and files, as well as chat to other people who have the software and are also online at the time.Each user has an individual number that they can share with their friends, but you can also search for people by their name or email address. If you have friends orcolleagues in different locations, and spend a lot of time connected to the internet, this can be a very useful tool for contacting them.
You can download the software for free from www.mirabilis.com, though there are other similar services available from Yahoo, MSN and AOL, so you have to make sure that you and your friends all use the same service.

How to use FTP software
I have just finished creating my first web page and I have downloaded an FTP program from the internet. What do I do now?

A. . Moving files around the internet is done with FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software. If you don't have one of these, you can get one from www.ipswitch.com free of charge. You also need to find out from your internet service provider what the address is of the computer used to store its subscribers' home pages - most companies will have this information on their website.
When you load your FTP package it will show a dialogue box where you must type the address of the computer at your internet service provider and your usual log on details. Once you have connected to the server, the FTP package will show two windows, one being the remote folder and the other being a local folder. Using the techniques you would normally use to browse folders on your PC's hard disk, look through the local folders on your hard disk until you find the directory where you've been storing your home page. You should notice that between the two windows are two arrows, one pointing from the local computer to the remote computer, and the other pointing back again. Simply highlight the files on your machine that you want to move, by clicking on them once, click on the arrow pointing to the remote server, and the file should appear on the remote computer, located with your provider. Repeat this process with all of the files and graphics that make up your home page and you should then be able to go to your web browser, tap in the location of your web page and see it on the web in all its glory.

Making shortcuts for applications
Go straight to the Address Book with a shortcutQ.
In Windows 98 I have made shortcuts on my desktop for frequently used folders. In My Documents, in the Go menu there is an item called Address Book. Is it possible to have a shortcut for this on the desktop?

A. This is a shortcut in itself, which points to the address book in Outlook Express -Microsoft Internet Explorer's contact management system. Right-click on the point on your desktop where you want the shortcut to be, then choose New followed by Shortcut. In the box that comes up, type the location of the file WAB.EXE on your system. This is most commonly located in C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\wab.exe but if you can't find it, click on the Start button, and select Find, Files or Folders and type in WAB.EXE to find where it's hidden. After entering its location, click Next, give the shortcut a name, then click Finish.