Tech – for Everyone

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

How To Repair the Add/Remove Programs List*

Reader Asks How To Repair the Add/Remove Programs List

Q: I have listing of programs which show up in my add/remove programs that do not exist on my computer. I would like to remove them from the add/remove programs. Is there a program or do you know an easy way to remove non-existent programs which still show up here?

AddRemoveA: When a program remains in the list of installed programs in your Control Panel’s Add/Remove Programs, after you have uninstalled it, it really doesn’t hurt anything to leave the entry there– but it is annoying and .. well, wrong. All it is is a key in the Registry didn’t get deleted by the uninstaller (which is why I use Revo to uninstall programs and not Add/Remove Programs or the Uninstaller)

The simplest way to remedy this ‘glitch’ is to click on the entry and launch the Remove process (as if it was still there) — Windows should “discover” that the program no longer exists, and ask if you want to remove it from the listing – answer yes, and it will remove the name.
(Vista and Win 7 are pretty good at this, but in XP [and older] this is more of a 50/50 proposition.)

If Windows doesn’t fix itself, then you can run the Registry repair/cleaner in CCleaner, which should find and delete the Registry key. When CCleaner asks if you want to make a backup, answer yes.

The direct approach is to manually edit the Registry. The Microsoft instructions for that are here, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314481. As always, I remind you that editing the Registry is risky and to make a new Restore Point (System Restore) and a Registry backup before editing the Registry.

* Orig post: 9/14/2009

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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August 10, 2010 Posted by | computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Tip: Keyboard Shortcuts – Manage Your Windows with Alt

There’s no doubt that knowing a few keyboard “shortcuts” can enhance your computing and save you time.. and make you appear the Über Geek to friends and coworkers. My favorite is Ctrl+Z, aka “Undo”. It has saved my bacon more than once!

Today’s tip focuses not on the Ctrl key, but the Alt key, and managing your open windows. Start today’s lesson by hitting your Alt+spacebar. Keep the Alt key depressed..

Alt_spaceIf you had a window open – your web browser, or Word, say – a little window will have opened. Here are some more shortcuts.

Alt+X will “maximize” your active window to “full screen” mode, and Alt+R will get it back to the size-adjustable “windowed” mode.
Alt+C will close the window. As will Alt+F4 .. if you can remember that.. (I remember “c”-for-“close”.)

Alt+Tab will switch between your open windows (jumping from Word to your browser, for example), which is a fast way to do your Copy (Ctrl+C) from here and Paste (Ctrl+V) to there operations. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a few Ctrl’s…)

Using keyboard shortcuts takes a little getting used to, but once you do, you will (probably) never go back to reaching for the mouse. Try it and see how much quicker it is for yourself.

And remember folks: Ctrl+Z un-goofs many goofs.


** Software License Giveaway Drawing **


The folks at Codyssey have generously donated 10 licenses for CodySafe Σ (Sigma) to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. So I am having a random drawing¹ contest from folks who “enter”. The drawing will close  midnight Thursday, July 22nd, and the winners announced Friday. So act now.

CodySafe is essentially a portable applications launcher and portable drive management tool for use with USB drives, and making them into a “computer on a stick”.  With it, you launch your “portable” programs and files from a Vista-like menu. For details (and to enter), click here.

Today’s reco’d reading: The Helplessness of a Father in the Internet Age

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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July 21, 2010 Posted by | computers, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Icons Cluttering Windows Desktop – A Problem?

There is a compromise solution which “Power Users” know..”

Q: “Paul-
May I ask you a question? I have a few small programs on my desktop and lots of shortcuts.  Will this slow my computer any or cause any other difficulties? Thanks for your help & have a great day,”

A: On a reasonably modern computer, with reasonable graphics ability (say.. anything from 2004 to present) the number of icons on the Desktop becomes mostly a matter of personal preference, and not one of performance degradation.

True, each shortcut is usually associated with an icon (typically, a 16 x 16 pixel graphic), and Windows will have to look each one up (from its “icon cache”), and draw each one in, and this can take a moment or two (or three).. which technically you could be using for working… The more icons to draw, the longer it will take – but, we are talking moments, not minutes.

* Some people are in search of an “instant on” speed to get to their online Casino games, while other people turn on their PC on their way to brush their teeth. The first category might value those few moments.. and they may want to delete “shortcuts” (and associated icons). Deleting a shortcut does not delete the program itself.

* Some people find icons distracting, and want as few as possible; while others view them as friends, and want as many around as the screen will hold. (me.. I set my Desktop “wallpaper” to a nice, calming, nature photo, so to me, shortcut icons are a distraction.. why is there a white “W” [Word] up in that palm tree?)

There is a compromise solution which “Power Users” know: you can right-click on your Desktop, then:
Windows XP: choose “Arrange icons by” (I know.. not intuitive!)
Then uncheck Show Desktop Icons.
Windows Vista/7: point to “View“, and then click Show Desktop Icons to clear the check mark.

That will clear every icon off your Desktop, yet leave you the Taskbar.
Then, when you want access to your icons, you repeat the steps and check it again – getting them back. It’s too much hassle for me, but some folks swear by it as it gives the best of both worlds, and makes them seem tidier and more organized than they really are.

Note: Hiding all of the icons on your desktop doesn’t delete them, it just hides them until you choose to show them again.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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July 1, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Learn How To Get More Out Of Your Browser*

I am doing a big on-site job today, and so I must re-post a prior article. This article describes how to get more out of Internet Explorer with the use of bookmarks (“Favorites” ) and tabs. Though Internet Explorer 7 debuted some time ago, the basic lessons are the same for the current version, IE 8; and the principles apply to other Web browsers, such as Firefox, as well.

Once again, I am reminded that the simple things often make the best topics. I showed my screen to a client during a support session, and they asked me “how do you do that?”ie icon

I didn’t know what they meant, and was startled to learn that what they wanted to know was – how did I have Internet Explorer “pre-set” to several of my mailboxes, and Google’s search page? To be more specific — they didn’t know about tabbed browsing, and weren’t real sure what Favorites were either.

Tip of the day: Stop repeating yourself, get the hang of IE 7’s features. Relatively new to IE (but not to Firefox, Opera, Netscape, and others) is a feature called “tabbed browsing” which allows you to open multiple websites within a single window, and quickly switch back-and-forth between them. In this screenshot you can see how my IE usually appears.

ie-tabs.jpg

As you can see, I typically have five “tabs” open: my Google home page, an online dictionary, Tech–for Everyone, Hotmail (now “Windows Live Hotmail”), and my ISP’s home page. When I shut down at night, I click IE’s red “X” — the big red one in the upper-right corner –and am presented with the window (You may see “You are about to close multiple tabs. Do you..?” Click on the “Show Options” link.) shown below.

opentabs.jpg

and I select (check) “Open these tabs the next time I use Internet Explorer”. This option allows me to skip having to open five tabs and navigating to each of my regular websites each morning.

To open a new tab, and this works in every browser I’m familiar with, press Ctrl+T. Depending on your Settings selection (under “Tabs” in Internet Options) this new tab will open to your current Home Page, or to a “blank page”, as shown below.

blankie.jpg

Now I can type “http://www.mychoiceofsite.com” (no quotes) into the browser bar, and there I am. Or I can click on the gold star for my list of Favorites, and launch (open) a site from there.

“Favorites” is Microsoft’s word for “bookmarks”, and in the world of PC’s the two words are interchangeable. If I stumble across a particularly interesting and/or useful Website that I know I will be returning to frequently, I can “bookmark it” by clicking on the green + on-top-of-the-gold-star icon and select “Add to Favorites” (or hit Ctrl+D). My mailboxes, my favorite tech websites, Google, and an online dictionary are in my Favorites list, so I can launch (open) them with a click — which saves on my typing.

To close a tab, simply click on its “x”; which is not red but grey. The tab must be “active” (selected) to be closed.

tabs.jpg

Now set your Tabs options to keep all your browsing in one instance of IE (instead of opening another IE, a new tab will open). In the upper right corner, click on the “Tools” menu and select “Internet Options”. Look down to the Tabs area and click on the Settings button.

tabs2.jpg

Now select the radio buttons to change “in a new window” to “in a new tab”, as shown below.

tabs3.jpg

Related articles:
Restore Missing Favorites In IE*

Internet Explorer Runtime Error!!*

Quick Tip: Turn on ClearType in Internet Explorer

Can’t Download? Reset IE

How To Clear Your Cache

View Multiple Mail Identities in One Browser

Extracting text from Web pages*

Precautions for your Internet privacy*

Quick Tip: Customize new tabs behavior

IE’s Menu bar, Taskbar icons, and bad Updates*

Internet/E-mail Troubleshooting – JavaScript

What is a “homepage”?

How to use tabs in IE 7

Saving webpages as files

Today’s free download: (You knew this was coming … right?) An application that has gained quite a name for itself is the “alternative” browser called Firefox. If you haven’t tried this powerful, free program, nor learned about its nifty “Add ons”, I suggest you give it a test drive now. Click here to download Firefox and then click the Tools menu and then Add ons. I suggest you start with NoScript and AdBlock Plus, and then explore the vast assortment.

*Orig post: 2/4/2010

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 29, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, IE 7, ie 8, Internet, Microsoft, PC, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Quick Tip: Easy Trick Creates A File List

This quick and simple trick will produce a list of the files in any folder, which you can then paste into any text editor, then Save and/or print. (Possibly a handy way to keep track of your music/videos collection.)

1) Open the folder you would like to list.

2) Click on one of the files to “select” it (turn it blue), and then hit Ctrl+A (the keyboard shortcut for “Select all”) to highlight all the files in the folder.

3) Right-click on any of the (now highlighted) files, and click on “Send To“, and then “Mail Recipient“.. as shown below. (This right-click menu is called the “Context menu”, btw.)
send_to

4) This will open your computer’s default e-mail client (Outlook Express, for example) and the ‘body’ of the e-mail will be your list of files.

5) Highlight (aka “select”) the list, and then press Ctrl+C (or, in the Menu bar: Edit > Copy) to copy the text to the clipboard.

6) Open your text editor (Word, Notepad, etc.) and press Ctrl+V (or, in the Menu bar: Edit > Paste) to ‘paste’ the list into your document.

Now you can Save this text file, or simply print it out.

[note: you can ‘paste’ the list into other programs as well, such as a spreadsheet program – like Excel.]

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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February 2, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ease Holiday Mailings With Word and Mail Merge

Use Word To Create Labels From Your Address Book Of Contacts

mail merge graphicYou can use Word’s “mail merge” feature when you want to create a set of documents that are essentially the same but where each document contains unique elements. For example: a letter of holiday greeting, your inserted photos and the basic message (text) will appear in each letter, but the address and greeting line will be different in each letter.

Using mail merge, you can create:

  • A set of labels or envelopes The return address is the same on all the labels or envelopes, but the destination address is unique on each one.
  • A set of form letters, e-mail messages, or faxes The basic content is the same in all the letters, messages, or faxes, but each contains information that is specific to the individual recipient, such as name, address, or some other piece of personal data.
  • More…

Using mail merge, all you have to do is create one document that contains the information that is the same in each version. Then you just add some placeholders for the information that is unique to each version. Word takes care of the rest.

It is that first – creating address labels – that can really help if you need to send correspondence to a lot of people. Your “address book”, or “Contacts” list, can be used as the source for the label maker (see Step 2). Microsoft has a very clear tutorial on using Word’s “mail merge” feature, and here are the links:
Step 1: Choose a document type and main document
Step 2: Connect to a data file and select records
Step 3: Add fields to the main document
Step 4: Preview the merge and then complete it

When you have “merged” your address book, and the ‘labels’ (or, if your printer allows it, envelopes), you just insert a sheet of labels (such as Avery) and hit “Print”. Saves having to look up, and manually copy down each person’s address…

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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December 15, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, MS Word | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Worth Repeating – Top Tech Tip #2*

Some time ago I was asked by a reader what my one piece of advice for a non-techie was (Click here to read my reply). That was a good question. A challenging question. Limiting myself to one answer was what I found so difficult.

So today I am going to offer you, Dear Reader, my “Probably The Second Most Important Piece Of Geek Advice For Non-Techies“.

* Leave Registry “Cleaners” Alone *

What happens is this: older computers get slower, and so the owner enters “slow PC” (or, “my computer is slow”, or sumsuch) or “slow internet” into a search engine — where they get sold a computer “optimizer”. What this is – usually – is a “Registry Cleaner”, which promises to “find errors” and fix them.

WOT warnings on "speed up your PC" sites

WOT warnings on "speed up your PC" sites

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Here’s the real deal — there are two cases (IMHO) when you actually need a reliable Registry cleaner:
1) You’re an experimental sort and you uninstall a lot of 3rd-party (non-Microsoft) programs; like.. you try every new program that comes along. (And you forgot to use Revo to uninstall them when you’re done.)

2) You have just completed a manual malware removal.

That doesn’t describe you? Leave the Registry “cleaner” alone!

Now, my regular readers will remember my mentioning this before, but for the rest of you, here’s why you want to avoid messing with the Registry: and this happens a lot actually, it can kill your machine.

What?!

Yup. Read the user forums. The odds of this increase if you have more than one User Account on your system. Ask yourself this: do you know what the Windows Registry is? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_registry)

Even if a “cleaning” does not kill your machine, no one can convince me that any Registry cleaner – and they have been many over the years – has ever actually sped up their PC. And I am certainly not alone in this opinion.

So what should you do to speed up a machine that has slowed down over time? Well, you already have the tools you need to “optimize” and rejuvenate your PC. Please read Four Vital Tools You Already Have… But Might Not Know About. There you will find the answers! And, guess what? They’re free. (Probably why they’re not advertised, eh?)

… and if you’re the type who is not going to click the link and actually read more, and are just itching to download something, well, the safe and effective Registry cleaner CCleaner will do this for you for free. As will the free Glary Utilities, or the free Advanced Windows Care, and you won’t find user forums filled with complains of wrecked systems, if you should use one of those.
Fair enough?

[Note: BEFORE making any changes to the Registry, please read (and follow) this Microsoft article: How to back up and restore the registry in Windows]

* Orig post: 08/19/09

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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December 12, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment