NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, December 2009
Jimís Computer Tips
Compiled by Jim Paton, a member of the Perth PCUG, Australia
June / July 2009 Issues, Axess Magazine of the PPCUG
editor (at) perthpcug.org.au (click to email author)

This article has been obtained from APCUG with the authorís permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).


Every time I start up my computer, it says Check Disk and takes forever. How do I stop it?


Sometimes this is the result of a previous improper shutdown, sometimes this is the result of an error on your disk. To find out if your disk is really ok or not, run a good third party utility like Fix-it Utilities 5. If this is happening consistently, your computer has been otherwise behaving absolutely normally and your PC checks out ok with the utility, your computer may just have a dirty volume bit set. By that I just mean that a chunk (one volume, like a volume in an encyclopedia) of your disk's data doesn't look quite right to the Autochck program. The Autochck program then takes its time going over every square inch of that entire drive. To stop this from continually happening, you can exclude volumes from the Autochck. This does involve the registry and is serious, serious business. If you mess this up, you can give yourself one world full of possibly irrevocable hurting. This is an advanced user tip only. It's somewhat more user friendly than most registry tips because it runs from the command prompt, but the risk is equal. First, as with any alteration of the registry, you should back up your registry, back up the rest of your computer, and set a Restore Point. Go to Start, Run, and type in cmd Then type in chkntfs /x c: This will stop Autochck from scanning drive c. If your main drive is the D:\ then type chkntfs /x d: Close out of the command window when the next prompt appears, and that's it!

To undo this setting at a later point: Go to Start, Run, and type in cmd Then type in chkntfs /d Remember, this is only a solution for otherwise well-behaved systems whose drives check out clean with a good utility program and who are consistently running lengthy checks during bootup. If your system does not meet all of these criteria, it's likely that something else is actually wrong.

Redecorating Windows
Themes are complete redecoration packages for your desktop. A typical theme will contain a coordinating screen saver, icons, fonts, colours, window borders, cursors, and sometimes even sounds. XP offers the Windows Classic and Windows XP themes automatically. You can find others online or install them from CDs.

Right-click your desktop and choose Properties. The Display Properties window will appear. Click the Themes tab and choose one from the list. If you like what you see in the sample box, click OK to apply the theme to your computer.

To delete a theme from your hard drive, follow the above routine to get to the Themes tab, then highlight the theme you want to delete and click the Delete option. I would recommend against deleting the Windows Classic or Windows XP themes. Yeah, you might think you're never going to use them again, but we've noticed that some tips work only for the XP view on some folks' systems. Don't redecorate yourself into a corner.

In MS PowerPoint you can select several objects with one click and drag of the mouse. Replacing the old "Shift + mouse click (repeated over and over on each individual object) routine" we have the lovely and wonderful one click and drag option.

Most people are aware of this neat little trick on the desktop. Where you click on the desktop, hold down the left mouse button and drag. A dotted line rectangle is drawn and everything in the rectangle is selected once you release the mouse button. Well, as I was working on a PowerPoint presentation the other day I accidentally figured out that I didn't need to waste all that time holding down the Shift key and selecting each item. (I had something like 30 separate text boxes and was frustrated with all the selecting. In my fit of frustration I clicked and dragged a rectangle and much to my surprise all the objects in the rectangle were instantly selected. Yeah!)

I tried this in Word and got nowhere, but, for those of us who use PowerPoint with a lot of objects, this is a huge timesaver. (Just a quick note here: I did find that you must have the object completely in the rectangleóif an object is only partially in the rectangle it will not be selected.)

New Word AutoText Without Retyping.
So, you're working on your Word document and you realize that you frequently use a certain word or phrase and you think that maybe it's time to create an AutoText entry. That entry combined with Word's ability to show AutoComplete suggestions of the AutoText could really save you some time.

What do you do?
Well, one way would be to go to the Insert menu, AutoText submenu, AutoText choice and begin typing the word or phrase that you want to add. (While you're in the AutoText window, double check that the "Show AutoComplete suggestions" option is checked to take advantage of that feature!) This method works, but it seems to be a bit of a pain to navigate into the window just to retype the text anyway.

What if you could use the text you already have in the document to create the AutoText entry without all the menus and submenus? Sounds like a plan to me and you're not going to believe how quickly it can be done!

First, highlight the text for the AutoText entry. With the text still highlighted, hit the Alt + F3 keys.

The Create AutoText window will open with the highlighted text (or part of it if it's a long string) already in place as a suggested name for your entry. You can choose to keep the entire suggested text string as the AutoText name or you can change it to something smaller at this step. Click OK when you're satisfied with the name.

That's it! The AutoText entry is complete without retyping any text or a menu in sight!


I'm going on vacation next week and I don't really want a bunch of e-mail piling up in my Inbox while I'm gone. What can I do to prevent this?


I'm sure several of you have been asking this very same question recently. If you get lots of e-mail (or even if you get a little e-mail) everyday, it's going to build up while you're away and you'll be bombarded with it all when you get back home.

What to do?
Well, this may surprise you, but my advice is to just let it pile up. If it's too much, just use your delete key when you get back from vacation. Besides, if you see something good, you'll be glad you didn't miss it. You can also try telling everyone that you share e-mails with that you're going to be gone for awhile, so if they can resist sending you emails, it would be best. Just send a quick e-mail to everyone you think will write to you while you're gone and tell them your vacation dates and to please refrain from e-mailing you. Reassure them that you'll get back to them when you get home. That will save you from any Inbox mania issues when you return. If you are signed up for newsletters, you can contact each list and see if they have a "vacation" mode they can put you into. Otherwise, you can unsubscribe and then rejoin when you get back.

A final suggestion is to have your e-mail account disabled. That will cause any e-mail you get to bounce back to the sender. The only bad thing is that you may be removed from any e-mail lists you're on (most good e-mail software removes addresses that bounce too many times). So, you may want to keep this one as a last resort.

Make it Stand Out in Excel
Every once in awhile, we all have data in MS Excel that just needs to be presented with some "oomph." right? Do you like to use AutoShapes or text boxes to draw the reader's attention to specific information? Maybe you'd be interested to know that the two can be combined. That is, you can put cell data into a text box or AutoShape with a direct reference to the cell.

What's so good about a reference to the cell, you ask? Since you reference the cell, you don't have to retype the information and the cell reference will provide automatic updates as the data changes. Happily, this merge of ideas can be done with very little work!

First, you need to draw the AutoShape or text box you want to use. Now, with the AutoShape or text box selected, click into the formula bar and type an equal sign (=). At this point, you simply need to click on the cell with the data to display in the AutoShape or text box. Press the Enter key.

The data is now displayed inside the object. From here, it's just a matter of formatting the text and business as usual!

These tips are provided by our members for the interest of our members. Original source is not known.

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