Mr. Modem
Subscriber Log in
Remember me
Forgot Your Password?

Your Computer Questions Answered Personally by Email
Newsletter subscribers get FREE access to Mr. Modem's searchable archive. More>>
Order Now
Sample Newsletter

Mr. Modem's Library

Click to View Alphabetical Index of Articles
A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-V | W-Z | View All

Frequently Asked Questions of Mr. Modem

1. My Taskbar moved from the bottom of the screen where it normally is, to the side. I've tried dragging it back to the bottom, but it keeps snapping back to the side. Help!

A. The Taskbar (the bar that normally appears along the bottom of your screen and has the Start button to the far left), is intended to be mobile so it can be moved to any of the four edges of the screen, or remain as a free-floating object on the Desktop.

If it does wander off to one side, dragging it back to its original location can be a little bit tricky, but with persistence, you can get it back where it belongs. It’s just a matter of having the right “touch” to finesse it back into position.

Start by clicking anywhere on the Taskbar, and while holding down the left mouse button, slowly drag the Taskbar to wherever you would like it to appear. When you get it back into position, pause for a second or two before releasing the mouse button. Look for the appearance of a faint, dotted “outline” that will indicate where the Taskbar will reside. It takes a second or two for the dotted outline to appear. Once that outline appears, release the left mouse button and the Taskbar will snap back into its position at the bottom of your screen, or the location of your choice.

If you’re using Windows XP, once you get the Taskbar back into position, right-click anywhere on the Taskbar and select “Lock the Taskbar,” which will prevent it from slithering off again in the future.

2. How can I copy multiple files?

A. To copy (or delete) multiple files, hold down the SHIFT key and click the first file to select it, then scroll down to the last one and click that. That will highlight (select) all the files in between. Note: If the files you want to copy are NOT located next to each other, use the CTRL key instead of the SHIFT key, and select just the files you want to copy.

When you have the files selected that you want to copy, right-click and select COPY (or DELETE) from the menu that appears.

3. When I start to type a Web address into Internet Explorer’s Address field, as soon as I type the first letter, a list of sites that start with that letter appear. Is there any way to clear out that list?

A. Some users call it a feature; others call it an annoyance. Regardless what you call it, that’s IE’s AutoComplete feature, which is intended to save you keystrokes by suggesting URLs of Web sites previously entered. One of the most helpful computer cleanup tips is to clear the AutoComplete memory by clicking Tools > Internet Options > Content tab > AutoComplete. Under "Clear AutoComplete History" click "Clear Form" followed by OK.

4. How do I activate Windows XP’s firewall?

A. To enable the Windows XP firewall, click Start > Control Panel, then double-click the Network Connections icon. Click to select (highlight) the connection you want to protect. For example, if you’re using Earthlink as your Internet Service Provider (ISP), select the Earthlink icon. In the left window, under Network Tasks, click “change settings of this connection.”

When the connection status dialog box opens, click the Properties button, followed by the Advanced tab, and place a check mark in the box under “Internet Connection Firewall,” followed by OK. If you leave it unchecked, the firewall is off or disabled. If you see a check mark in the box, your firewall is activated or enabled.

Click HERE to view a visual walk-through of the above process, courtesy of Microsoft.

5. How can I print just a portion of a Web page?

A. If you only want to print specific text from an email, Web page, or other document, your ability to do that is governed by your printer software. Most printers today will accommodate selective printing, however, so here’s how it is generally done. This is one of the many frequently asked computer questions, and answers will vary depending on your specific printer.

First, using your mouse, select the text you would like to print by placing your mouse at the start of the text, then hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor to the end of the text you want to print. Release the left mouse button at that point and the text will be selected or highlighted.

Next, click File > Print. In the Print Range section of the Print window that appears (it may be in another area, but just look around and you should be able to find it), you’ll see the ability to check or select the word “Selection.” Once you choose that setting (Selection), you can then proceed to print and only your selected text be printed.

6. Can you explain how to use the Print Screen key? Every time I press it, nothing happens.

A. Pressing the Print Screen (PrntScrn) key takes a snapshot image of whatever is currently appearing on your screen and saves it to the Windows Clipboard. This process occurs behind the scenes, so it does appear as if nothing is happening when you press the Print Screen key.

To use the captured Print Screen image, go to your destination location (such as a document or email), then right-click and select PASTE. Whatever image has been captured to the Clipboard will pop into that location.

7. How can I tell what’s a legitimate message and what’s a hoax?

A. There are four keys points or “red flags” that virtually every email-based scam or hoax contains. When it comes to computer tips, if two or more of the following elements appear in an email you receive, reach for the DELete key and delete the message.

1. A sense of urgency. This usually takes the form of many exclamation marks!!!!, a message TYPED IN ALL CAPS, or by using words that suggest a great sense of urgency.

2. Some form of corroboration or authentication (always phony), but it makes the message sound credible. "Harvey Aardvark, V.P. of IBM said..." or "my neighbor's husband’s brother’s cousin, who works for Microsoft said..." that type of thing.

3. The suggestion that dire consequences of some type will result if you don't heed the warning. This aspect, of course segues into Item 4 below, because none of us want our friends and family members to be hurt, so....

4. A request to forward the message to as many people as you can. This one item alone is really all you need to delete a message. Any time you receive an email that asks you to forward it to others, don’t do it. Legitimate information will come from legitimate sources, not some email chain-letter making the rounds. Keep in mind that it’s mindless, knee-jerk forwarding that keeps email-based scams and hoaxes in circulation for years. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution and delete this nonsense when it arrives.

In addition to the above, helpful computer tips and sites can be found at Hoaxbusters and Snopes. These web sites are excellent places to check to determine if something is a hoax or not.

If you’re enjoying this article, there’s a lot more helpful computer- and Internet-related information available to you as a subscriber of Mr. Modem's Weekly Newsletter ( Subscribe today and you’ll receive helpful computer tips, tricks, virus alerts, hoax information, plus prompt personal responses to your computer questions by email!

8. When I open programs, some windows open smaller than they should. How can I make sure a window always opens to its full size?

A. In theory, a window should open to the same size it was when it was closed. Windows doesn’t always remember that, unfortunately. Technically, the problem is usually caused by the fact that Windows can only remember details for a maximum of 200 window positions. But it can also happen for other reasons. For example, if your Internet Explorer opens smaller than maximized, that can occur because you may have closed a pop-up ad before closing IE the last time you used it, causing it to open to the size of the last pop-up.

If you “force” a window back to its full size, that will usually resolve the problem. So the next time a window opens to less than full-size, drag each of its edges to the four respective sides of your screen and “stretch” the window back to maximum size. Then, close the window using the X button in the upper right-hand corner. The next time you open it, it should open to that full size.

If that doesn’t work, as a last resort you might try downloading a small, free program called AutoSizer, which will automatically resize any window. AutoSizer works with all versions of Windows and once installed, resides in your System Tray, located to the far right of the Taskbar.

9. How can I get rid of cookies?

A. Cookies are small text files deposited on your computer by various Web sites you visit. Cookies are generally harmless and are used for such things as remembering your password on a given site or personalizing a Web site so when you return to it, it greets you by name. As you visit sites, you’ll continue to accrue cookies. Before it gets to a point where your neighbors start talking about you behind your back, it’s a good idea to put some practical computer cleanup tips to use and periodically delete them. It’s also a good idea to perform a couple of other maintenance items in addition to periodically deleting cookies: Be sure to clear out your browser’s cache, and temporary Internet files on a regular basis, also. I follow this routine daily, but even if you do it once a week, which should be sufficient:

If you’re using Internet Explorer, click Tools > Internet Options. On the General tab, under Temporary Internet Files, click the Delete Cookies and Delete Files buttons. Under History, click the Clear History button.

If you’re using Firefox, click Tools > Options > Privacy. Then click the Clear buttons located to the right of History, Cookies, and Cache, followed by OK to close the window.

If you’re using Netscape, click Edit > Preferences > Privacy & Security > Cookies > Manage Stored Cookies > Remove All Cookies.

10. How do I use System Restore?

A. In the event of a computer problem, using System Restore (available in Windows ME and XP) allows you to turn back the clock to a point where, presumably, your computer was humming along, birds were singing, and the sun was shining. Your system automatically creates Restore Points, but it’s a good idea to create your own before installing new software or making system settings changes, just in case things take an ugly turn.

To create a Restore Point, click Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore. Click “Create a Restore Point” followed by the Next button.

When Windows asks you to describe your new Restore Point, type in something that will help you remember why you created it in the first place. For example, you might type "Created before installing Attack of the Mutant Martian Marshmallows." Click the Create button and Windows will automatically include the date.

To return to a Restore Point when disaster strikes, click Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore, then select, "Restore my computer to an earlier time." You’ll see a small calendar where you can select a Restore Point date.

Note: Deploying System Restore does not affect your data files; it's only for system settings and configuration issues. So if, for example, you write a letter and it's in your My Documents folder, if you utilize a Restore Point created before the date of the letter, your letter will still be there.

Has this article including computer cleanup tips and computer questions and answers helped you? If so, why not subscribe to Mr. Modem's Weekly Newsletter ( today! Think of Mr. Modem for your computer questions and answers! As a subscriber, you’ll receive computer cleanup tips, computer maintenance tricks, virus alerts, hoax information, and prompt, personal responses to your computer questions!

A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-V | W-Z | View All