Q: I would like to restore my computer back to a previous time, but I'm not sure how to do that. Please help!

A: If you have you ever made changes to your computer that seemed to just mess everything up, you can go back to another time to save yourself and your computer from any further torment.  A great feature of Windows XP is the System Restore option and it is very easy to use. You can go back to a previous setup without losing your documents, jpegs, e-mails or other files. It keeps track of changes in your system and automatically creates what are called "restore points." These points allow you to travel back in time to when your system was more stable.  To bring up System Restore, go to Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools, then click "System Restore." You must be logged in as the administrator and make sure that you close all programs and save all files. Select the button that says "Restore my computer to an earlier time" and click "Next." The days in bold type are days that have restore points.  Select the day you want and click "Next." Windows will shut down and then restart your computer with the settings from the date you chose. Pretty slick, huh? You can also create your own restore points. Even though System Restore automatically creates restore points, it is a good idea to manually create one when you are making any changes (like installing Service Pack 2). To do this, choose the button marked "Create a Restore Point" on the first screen, then click "Next." Give the restore point a name and click "Create." You can make up whatever name you'd like or you could just use the date. It's up to you. The new point will be stamped with the current date and time.  So, if you've run into any problems or happen to in the future, you can use this nifty safety net.




Q. How can I pick a new way to open a file?

A. We all know that when we want to open a file, it is done by an application or a software program, right? Well, this is true when working with our Windows system as well. For example, when you want to listen to a music file, you click on it and your computer automatically picks a program that is designed to run music and audio files. But, what if you wanted to pick your own programs to open up your files? What if you want something different? It�s really interesting and important to be able to assign Windows the programs or applications you want to open our favorite files.For instance, have you ever thought about who assigned Windows to open our text files with Notepad? Some of the choices are kind of crazy. If you would like to change the procedure by providing Windows an alternative way for opening your files, you can do that. Suppose you have downloaded a program from the Internet that is a word processor and you would like to use it as your default text handling program from now on. So, how are you going to tell Windows to set that application as the default word processing program? By learning the following technique, you�ll have more control over your files and internal Windows operations, and eventually, your working experiences will be more enjoyable because you�ll no longer have to use a mandatory preset program to open your files.Now, let�s start by clicking Start, Control Panel and clicking on the Folder Options icon. (Make sure you are in the classic view of the Control Panel in XP). Select the File Types tab from the top of the window.On this page, you can see the numerous file types and extensions all set up in a menu.These are the file types that are present on your computer and you can see which application opens which file type. When you click on each file type, you can see an additional description that appears in the lower section of the page that gives you some information about the file, the file type and the application that is assigned to open it.have selected a JPEG image file and as you see in the image, by default it�s set to be opened by Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. Now, suppose you have a program like ACDSee installed on your PC. It�s a powerful image organizer, editor and viewer with many options and you just want your images to open in ACDSee from now on. You just have to tell Windows what you want. Since we want to change the default application, select Change. A new window opens that enables you to select the program you want to open your files. Continuing with the example, select ACDSee and click OK and then exit. In some cases, not all of the software that you have installed on your computer will be displayed in the list of programs, but that is no problem. You can use the Browse button on the lower right and find your application by manually searching for it. You just need to find its executable file which has an .exe format. For example, you may have installed ACDSee in drive C, Program Files, ACDSee folder. But, by default, Windows installed it in drive C, but in the Program Files Folder. So, if you have placed your application in a different folder or drive, just browse for it. Generally, it�s not difficult to find your program. Now, have you noticed the small checkbox on the lower left side of the image above? It is there to tell Windows that from now on, you want your JPEG files opened in ACDSee. Please note that you can choose and change your default programs all the time and as many times as you like, and no changes are permanent. You can always switch it back to another program. Can you tell what has changed in this image? You have successfully changed the way Windows handles JPEG files by changing the default program from Windows Picture And Fax Viewer to ACDSee. Now, close the window and click on a JPEG file to experience the change. By knowing this technique, you can change nearly all of your default programs for a large number of file types.Just follow the guidelines above and select the desired program to open your files. Now, let�s try another easy trick. There is another way and, in fact, a shortcut for assigning the default application that runs your files. If you have Windows XP, you can do all of the above procedures faster and easier. In whatever folder you are in right now (for example, in your My Documents folder), right click on a JPEG file and select the Open With command. This will open another window and then select Choose Program. You are probably familiar with this image, because it is the same image we saw in the above example, but this time, it's much faster and easier.The rest of the process is the same. Users of older versions of Windows (like Windows 98) can do this practice as well, of course with just a few changes. Click on your My Computer icon and from the top drop down menu, click View and select Folder Options. Next, click on File Types. Now, click on the Edit tab and on the opening page, you will see file descriptions and file types similar to the ones we saw above. Click on the Edit button in the lower part of the page and find your favorite program by browsing for its .exe file on your computer. Click OK and exit.


Q. Have you ever wanted to send an attachment along with an e-mail, but never really knew how to? Here�s how to do it.

A. To begin, an e-mail attachment is a file you include with the text of an e-mail. For example, let's say you have a text document or a picture that you want to share with someone. You can "attach" this document to an e-mail and send it off to them. How do you attach it? Usually via a little paper clip icon in your e-mail software. Just click it and you should get a dialog box that lets you browse through your files and attach the one(s) you want to send. If you're sending more than one attachment, you have to click on the attach icon for each separate item. And no, it doesn't take the file off your computer, it only sends a copy of it. A word of caution though. Keep an eye on the size of the file you're sending. Your recipient may not appreciate downloading a three meg file.


Q: Can you please tell me how to create a new account for my computer under XP? I want to make a separate account just for my children to use.

A: User Accounts are very important for the operation of Windows XP. They allow certain users to access authorized files and prohibit others from using the important files. They are important, even if you don�t share a computer with another user. The first time you started Windows XP, you created a user account. This account was given administrative privileges. These privileges allow you to add, modify and delete users, as well as, modify your files and other users' files. Today we will create a �limited user� or a basic user account for your computer. This account could be used for your children, roommates or co-workers.  First, we need to access the Control Panel. Click Start, Control Panel. The Control Panel will appear. Click User Accounts on the right side of the window. The User Accounts window will appear. Click Create a New Account. The New Account Wizard will ask you to name the account. If your children are using this account, then you could name it �Children.� The new step of the wizard will ask for the account type. The computer administrator is allowed to create and modify users and all users� files. The Limited User may only modify his/her files. Usually you will want to create a Limited User Account so click Limited User. Then click Create Account. Your account is now created and the user can log into your computer. From the User Account window, the user can change his/her password, picture and username if they want to. Another thing to keep in mind is If you ever need to take your computer to a computer repair shop, make sure you create a �limited user� account for the repair staff to use. This will allow them to fix your computer, but will prevent them from accessing your personal files. Never allow a computer repair person to use the computer administrator account unless you will be watching them the whole time.


Q: When I open my folders, some of them show icons, some show lists and others have thumbnails. How can I make them all stay the same?

A: There is an easy way to make them all consistent.

1. Open the My Computer icon on your desktop (or from your Start menu if you are using Windows XP).
2. Using the View menu, set the folder to the way you want all your folders to be. For example, if you're like me, you want to see all of the file info. So, I selected the View menu, Details. Next, set your icon arrangement. Using the View menu, click the Arrange Icons item and select your favorite sort order. I personally prefer "By Type."
3. OK, now make all your folders act the same way. Click the View menu (or Tools menu, depending on your version of Windows) and select Folder Options. Click the View tab and click the "Like Current Folder" or "Apply to all folders" button. It will ask you for confirmation, click Yes. Finally, press the OK button and you're all set.



Q: My Windows folder is full of these things called"$NtUninstallQ...etc." There's a whole bunch of them! Is it safe to delete them?

A: This should only happen to you Windows XP and 2000 users out there. When you install a patch or update, Windows makes a directory for files you'll need if you decide to uninstall the update/patch. In other words, it's an escape hatch in case their update messes up your system. Do you really need these files? Probably not. I had 184 files taking up 33MB of space! You better believe I deleted them. If you want to get rid of them on your computer, it's pretty easy. Go to My Computer / C: / Windows and they should be there (probably in blue). If you don't see them, you need to have hidden files displayed (in a folder go to Tools / Folder Options and make sure the radio button for "Show hidden files and folders" is selected. If not, choose it, then click the "Apply to all folders" button). Next, select the "$NtUninstall..." directories and Delete. Bye bye unnecessary folders and hello more hard drive space! You might want to do this every couple of months, or at least a week after each update.

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