Q: Does your system ever seem really sluggish and you fall asleep waiting on it?

A: All those little icons you see in your system tray represent programs that are RUNNING. If a bunch of stuff loads when you start your computer, you may be maxing out your system before you launch your first regular program. So, if you find your computer getting progressively slower as you add more software, it could be that these system tray icons are, at least partially, at fault.  In addition, program running in your system tray can cause any (or all) of the following problems: 
- Sluggish system speed
- Frequent lockups / illegal operations
- Software install problems
- Difficulty in running some programs
The more of these programs you have running, the more likely it is that you're going to see one or more of the problems mentioned above. Granted, system tray programs are not the only cause for the conditions mentioned above, but they are the first place to look.  So, how do you keep all these unwanted programs at bay?  Click the Start button and select Run.  Next, type in:  msconfig.  Then hit OK.  The System Configuration Utility should run (please note that not all computers have it installed -see note below).  Click the Startup tab.  You'll see a listing of all the stuff that starts itself when your computer does. Just uncheck the programs you don't want to load and leave the rest alone.  Note - If you don't have msconfig on your system (win 95 / 2000 doesn't) then check out the Startup Control Panel at:  http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml.  It basically does the same thing.  Once you get msconfig or the program above running, you'll probably see more stuff than you bargained for. I would advise exercising caution while unchecking, especially if you're not sure about what program(s) you're suppressing. Stuff like " Scan registry " and " System tray " are probably best left alone. If you see stuff that you recognize as being non-essential software, then uncheck it. This is one of those "do at your own risk" things.  If you're not sure which program is being referred to, look at the path. Sometimes the folder just before the ".exe" file can give you a clue as to what program you're dealing with.  For example, if I see something like:  " C:\program files\real\realplayer.exe "   You can guess the program in question is the ever annoying Real Player.  In general, don't disable stuff that starts like this:  " C:\Windows\ "  Or stuff like this:  SysTray.exe.  These are more likely to be important system files and programs. You may find that your computer won't run without them and you'll have to go into safe mode to get things working again.  Finally, note that unchecking this stuff doesn't remove it. The idea behind having these programs start when the computer does is to give you fast, easy access to them. However, having too many of these programs running at the same time can hit you hard in the system resources department.
Q: Ever get those slashes mixed up?

A: You do use them quite often, so it would be helpful to have an easy way to remember the difference between them, wouldn't it? Well, a forward slash is / and a backslash is \. An easy way to remember is that the name tells you which direction the top of the slash points. Forward slashes tell your computer you're looking for something external to your system, like Web pages. Backslashes tell your computer you're looking for something inside your system, like a drive or a file. 


Q: I use Outlook Express and when I receive e-mails with pictures included, all I can see is a big red X. How can I fix it? 

A: If all you see is a red X where your pictures should be, you're probably pretty annoyed, huh? Well, help is here! If you use Outlook Express, the reason your pictures are being blocked is because of a security feature that OE offers. They block your pictures because they don't want unscrupulous senders tracking whether or not you've opened your e-mail. Unfortunately, the security often blocks what you want to see, like your pictures!  To see your pictures, simply click on Tools, then Options and then choose the Security tab.  Proceed to uncheck the "Block images and other external content in the HTML e-mail" box. Click OK.  While viewing your e-mail may take slightly while longer with this option, you'll be able to see all those beautiful pictures that your family and friends send you. Just make sure that you keep an eye out for unusual e-mail messages or unknown sources.
Q: How many e-mails do you get in one day? One-hundred? Five-hundred? Here�s how to sort them. 

A: To get MS Outlook or Outlook Express to sort e-mail, all you have to do is click!  When you're looking at your inbox, do you see the column titles at the top? The ones that label the columns From, Subject, Received, etc?  Simply click on the column title you wish to sort by.  You should notice a little arrowhead appear in the title bar, which indicates the direction of sorting.  An arrow pointing up will sort messages ascending (A to Z or oldest date to newest).  An arrow pointing down will sort messages descending (Z to A or newest date to oldest). One click and you're on your way to finding that one specific e-mail ASAP!


Q: I have WAY too much clutter in my Start menu. Some of it includes extra files and stuff I don't need there. How can I clean up the mess?

A: That's easy, believe it or not! Just right-click the icons you no longer want and select Delete from the resulting menu. OR  Right-click the Start button, Explore.  Explorer will open with focus on your Start menu items. Just right-click any you would like to be rid of and select Delete.  Remember, when you delete these icons, you aren't deleting the program, just the shortcut. If you want to remove the program, you'll need to do that from the Control Panel Add/ Remove programs section.
Q:  Why does my monitor go black after about 15 minutes of not using the computer?

A: Windows has a Power Management setting that will shut your monitor off after a specified amount of time. If you don't like when it's shutting the monitor off, you can change it by doing the following:  Hit the Start button, Settings, Control Panel (XP users: hit the Start button, Control Panel, then go to the Performance and Maintenance link). Then, open the Power Management icon.  Look for the " Turn off monitor " drop box. Select the amount of time you want the computer to wait before shutting off the monitor, or tell it not to shut the monitor off at all.
Q: I'm tired of my screen saver. How do I turn it off?

A: So, you have a really cool screen saver picked out and you really love it, but maybe you only love it for a little while. Or, maybe you just really love your wallpaper even more. So, what should you do to solve this little dilemma? Do you have to leave your screen saver up so you have to look at it every time your computer goes into that "sleepy" mode?  No, you surely do not. If you would like to get rid of your screen saver at any time, go to your desktop and right click on any open area. Click on Properties and then choose the Screen Saver tab. Now, clear at the top of the list of screen saver choices, there is one that says None. Click on that and click OK.  That will take away all of the settings you had set for your screen saver and your wallpaper will be shown all the time. Screen savers sometimes get boring and you may just want to look at your wallpaper all the time. There's nothing wrong with that!  Then in a few weeks or months, you may decide you want the screen saver back. If so, just follow the same directions and choose whichever one you want. It's simple either way.  Now, what about your desktop? Maybe you like to look at a solid color on your screen. Right click on your desktop again, choose Properties and click on the Desktop tab. Scroll to the top of the list and select None. Then you can choose a color for your screen. Maybe you like bright red or maybe a lavender color because it makes you think of Spring. Sometimes a solid color can be just as cool as wallpaper, just for something different and new. Click OK and you're all set!
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