Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

The View menu and more reader questions

Today I will answer a few reader questions in the (hopefully) now familiar “Q’s and their A’s” format.

Q: How do I get my computer to show thumbnails of my pictures?
A: The small previews of the pictures stored on your hard drive are called “thumbnails”, and they make browsing your photo collection much easier. If for some reason your PC is displaying only a file name — like DSC0000345.jpg (how helpful is that?), or a generic icon, like thisicon1.JPG, you need to change (or restore) the folder’s View setting to “Thumbnails”. Click on View in the menu bar (or hit Alt+V).


Now click on “Thumbnails”. That’s it. Now you will see small versions of your pictures, and browsing for the one you’re looking for will go a lot smoother.
While you are here, you might want to try the other View options and get a feel for what they look like. I set my machines to display the “Details” view, as I find the extra information useful (I am, after all, a geek), but you may find it too ‘cluttered’, and prefer the Tiles or Icons view.

Q: Do I have to buy a new computer to get a new version of Windows?
A: No. Newer versions of Windows can be purchased as Install CDs (or in the case of Vista, DVDs). These can (often) be purchased in “Upgrade” versions, which will modify your existing version. If you are considering upgrading to Vista, I seriously and strenuously recommend that you DO buy it (already installed) on a new computer, and do not upgrade from XP — and use the Easy Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to move your ‘stuff’ to the new machine. If you are considering this upgrade, please read this article, and please don’t until you have run the Vista Upgrade Advisor tool.

Q: Can I use a thumb drive while in Safe Mode?
A: Typically, no. Safe Mode is a very limited version of the operating system used for troubleshooting and recovery purposes, and all non-essential drivers and services (and startup programs) are disabled. This reduces the variables and makes diagnosing the problem.. less complicated (I almost said, “easier”).
You really should not be in Safe Mode… unless you’re fixing something. If your computer has become so unstable that the only way you can use it is in Safe Mode and you don’t know how to fix it, and System Restore has not resolved your trouble, contact a tech support person — such as myself…

Today’s free link: I have always been interested in astronomy (what, a geek likes Star Trek? No!) and galaxies and stars and comets. I have previously posted Celestia here ( a free program for amatuer astronomers) and also Google Earth. Google Earth lets you view distant stars and galaxies by using its “Sky” feature.
But if you really want a good collection of Hubble telescope and other astronomy images, an excellent resource can be found at

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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September 29, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, device drivers, file system, how to, PC, Safe Mode, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | Leave a comment