There seems to have been an influx of computer problems lately. I've been keeping busy and that of course, gives me something to write about.
In the past six months I don't think I've changed a single desktop computer's battery; then suddenly I replaced two of them this week. The battery keeps your system clock set properly. So if your time is off, you might look at it first.
Generally, your computer will let you know if it's time for a new battery. It's about the size of a quarter, inexpensive and easy to replace. Most of them should last five years. Considering that's about how long we keep a computer on the average, you may never have to replace a motherboard battery.
But should you have to change one, be careful not to touch anything else while inside the case, and place the plus side facing up on the replacement. Then go to Control Panel or double-click the clock itself to enable a time change.
Let's mention Safe Mode next. I've found many computer users are either vague on its purpose or don't know how to access it. Safe Mode is a back door into Windows. It will let you in with a minimum of processes running, just enough for you to fix something. Many things like printers or Internet won't work while in that mode, so only do what you need to and then reboot before continuing with your work.
To access Safe Mode, reboot the computer. After the splash screen that says HP, Dell, Gateway or whatever, tap the F8 key repeatedly until you see a menu. The first item should be the one you want: Safe Mode. Hit Enter, allow it to load and get to work.
Often it is easier, when you have a problem, to delete a program or initiate a system restoration from there.
I've been asked how to change the way a certain file type opens, how to associate a different program with it. Take photos, for example. If you have been editing jpegs with Photoshop and want to change the default program to Easy Share, do this: right-click on any jpeg and choose Open With and you'll see a list.
If Easy Share isn't on that list, then click on Choose Program and navigate your way through the Programs folder to the Easy Share folder, which in this case would be Kodak. Click on it and hit OK.
If you always want Easy Share to be associated with your photos, check the box at the bottom that says, "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file." If you don't, it will just be a one-time use.
Has Quick Launch disappeared from your taskbar? Here's how to get it back. Quick Launch is a group of always-there shortcut icons. Right-click on a blank area of the taskbar and choose Toolbars. Go down to Quick Launch and click on it. A checkmark in front of it will verify activation.
Now look over by your Start button. You should see a small group of icons and a double arrow pointing to the right. You can add whatever you want from the desktop simply by left clicking and dragging them to the bar. You can adjust the icon placement the same way. The overflow goes to the double-arrows. Give it a click and you'll see.
Only keep what you use often there. Right-click and delete what you don't. I keep Firefox, Word and Show Desktop. It's a real time saver once you start using it.
Many users of Office 2007 ask why co-workers and friends can't open their Word documents. Well, Microsoft, in its unending desire to make things complicated, changed the old Word extension from .doc to .docx, just to confuse us I guess.
If you have Office or Word '03, you use .doc; the '07 versions use .docx and they are not backward compatible, not without some work, anyway.
Microsoft was kind enough to include a Compatibility Mode in the new version. To access it, click the circle, the Office button, on the upper left part of the page. Scroll down to Save As and choose Word 97-03 Document. This will save it in a compatibility mode so all can read it.
Some clients who purchased new computers have asked if there's a way to efficiently get rid of all the junk that manufacturers load on new machines. I discovered a program aptly called Decrapifier that will, in one fell swoop, do just that.
Find it at pcdecrapifier.com and allow it to scour your system of that unnecessary trialware. If you don't want Rhapsody, already have Office and will never use Real Player or AOL, get rid of them.
Now if I could only get a program like that for my television.
Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly. Arthur welcomes your computer questions and ideas for future columns.