A Quick way to print a Document

There are many ways to prints a document, but you can print a document quickly if you put a shortcut to the printer on your desktop and drag a document icon to it, no need to open file for printing just drag a file to printer icon and get your print.

3 stubborn PC problems you can fix

Ever notice how each PC has a personality of its own? Or maybe even multiple personalities? In the course of a week, your computer may act friendly, moody, and sometimes downright mean.

However, don't take a hammer to your PC just yet. The following is a list of common symptoms and treatments to help even the most troublesome PCs. You don't even have to be a psychologist (at least not yet) to deal with your PC's neuroses.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista usually manage this automatically, but overall you'll find that these tips work for all versions of Windows, from Windows 95 to Windows 7.

1. You keep getting a "your system is running low on virtual memory" message

Perhaps you're more than familiar with this scenario: You're working on your PC and notice performance getting gradually slower and slower. Programs become harder to open and close. You wait forever for Web pages to be displayed. And then, you get some serious-sounding "virtual memory is too low" message, like the one in the following graphic.

Don't worry: This message isn't as scary as it sounds.

Example of a Virtual Memory is low message.

Virtual memory low message

Virtual memory is the space your computer uses when it's short of RAM (Random Access Memory), which is the memory used when running programs like Microsoft Office Word or Microsoft Office PowerPoint.

So what can you do to correct this problem and prevent this message from coming up in the future? The following are some solutions to keep your computer from displaying the "virtual memory minimum is too low" message.

Solution 1: Bump up the virtual memory size on your computer

The first solution is to increase your computer's virtual memory settings. To do so, you first need to determine how much RAM you currently have.

Windows 7

  1. On the Start menu, click Control Panel, then click System.

  2. In the left pane, click Advanced system settings. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  3. On the Advanced tab, under Performance, click Settings.

  4. Click the Advanced tab, and then, under Virtual memory, click Change.

  5. Clear the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives check box.

    Example of the Virtual Memory dialog box with the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives check box cleared.

    Clearing the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives check box

  6. Under Drive [Volume Label], click the drive that contains the paging file you want to change.

  7. Click Custom size, type a new size in the Initial size (MB) or Maximum size (MB) box, click Set, and then click OK.

Note Increases in size usually don't require you to restart your computer for the changes to take effect, but if you decrease the size, you'll need to restart your computer. We recommend that you don't disable or delete the paging file.

Solution 2: Add more RAM to your computer

If you keep getting that dreaded "Your system is running low on virtual memory" message—even after you increase your computer's virtual memory—then you may need to buy more memory for your computer. To really work well:

  • Windows 7 needs at least 1 GB of RAM to run. See more system requirements for Windows 7.

  • Windows Vista needs at least 512 MB of RAM to run, but for some applications (like gaming) 1 GB or more of RAM is recommended.

  • Windows XP needs a minimum of 256 MB of RAM.

The more RAM you have, the better.

Find out how much RAM you have in your computer

  1. On the Start menu, click Control Panel, then click System.

  2. Under System, next to Installed memory (RAM), you can see the amount of RAM your computer has.

    Note In some cases, Windows reports both the amount of memory that's installed on your computer and the amount of memory that's usable. If you're using a 32-bit version of Windows, the amount of usable memory might be less than the total amount of memory installed.

If you're at work, contact your company's IT administrator before updating the memory on your computer. They may have some memory available and can help you install it.

If you do need to purchase some more memory, stop by your local computer shop. You can probably buy memory from them, and they'll probably install it for you. Or, you can buy memory online.

2. Your windows slide off the desktop—and you can't grab them

We're all familiar with moving program windows around the desktop. You can click-and-hold the window's title bar to move it around. But what do you do when you accidentally move a window's title bar off the desktop so you can't grab it anymore? The window is stuck in that inconvenient position.

Solution: Use your keyboard to help move your window

The trick to moving these stubborn program windows is to use your keyboard.

Use your keyboard to move a window:

  1. Select the program window you're trying to move, and then press ALT+SPACEBAR on your keyboard. The program's shortcut menu is displayed.

    Example of the shortcut menu.

    Accessing shortcut menu

  2. Click Move.

  3. Use your LEFT ARROW, RIGHT ARROW, UP ARROW, or DOWN ARROW keys to move the window so you can see its title bar on your screen.

  4. After you move the window where you want it, press ENTER.

3. Your taskbar has disappeared

The taskbar is that horizontal bar at the bottom or your computer screen that displays open programs on your desktop. The taskbar also contains the Start menu, which allows you to navigate to various programs installed on your computer. In many ways, it's your command central.

Thus, there's nothing more frustrating than going to start a program, only to find the taskbar gone. A computer without a taskbar will bring you to a grinding halt.

The good news is that the taskbar never disappears—it just hides. It may be hiding behind other open windows, or at the top or side of your screen. You can also (unintentionally) make the taskbar so thin that it seems invisible.

The following are possible reasons why your taskbar has vanished, as well as solutions to keep your taskbar from ever running away again.

Solution 1: Find your taskbar behind other windows

  • If you don't see your taskbar, minimize all windows on your desktop. See if your taskbar is hiding behind your open windows.

    Examples of maximized window with taskbar hidden and minimized window with taskbar visible.

    Finding your taskbar behind maximized windows

  • Set your taskbar so it's always on top of all desktop windows:

    1. Right-click the taskbar, and click Properties.

    2. Select the Lock the taskbar check box.

    3. Make sure the Auto-hide the taskbar check box is not selected.

Taskbar page on the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box. Under appearance, the Lock the taskbar checkbox is selected.

Locking and keeping the taskbar on top

Now your taskbar will always be visible, no matter how many windows you have open. Locking your taskbar also keeps you from accidentally moving it around.

Solution 2: Find your taskbar elsewhere on your screen

If you have tried minimizing all windows on your desktop and you still don't see your taskbar—perhaps it has been moved. Maybe you've moved it yourself by accident. Or, perhaps someone's playing a practical joke on you. Regardless, the following will help you get your taskbar back to its proper size.

  1. As you did in the previous steps, minimize all windows on your desktop. If you don't see your taskbar at the bottom of the screen, perhaps it's hanging out to the side or at the top of your desktop.

    Example of the desktop showing a taskbar that was previously hidden.

    Finding a hidden taskbar

  2. Click-and-drag your taskbar back to the bottom of your screen.

  3. Right-click the taskbar, and then click Properties.

  4. Click to select the Lock the taskbar check box.

Solution 3: Thicken your taskbar

You can make your taskbar a thin line—so skinny it's hard to see. To see if you've done this unintentionally, perform the following:

  1. Minimize all windows on your desktop. Look at each side of your screen. If you see a thin strip, that's the taskbar.

    The Windows desktop with the taskbar showing as a thin line.

    Finding a thin taskbar

  2. Point your mouse at the strip. It changes into a double-sided arrow

  3. Click-and-drag the mouse toward the center of the screen to thicken your taskbar.

  4. After you thicken the taskbar, you can drag it back to the bottom of the screen by following the steps in "Solution 2" above.

Where to find more help

This article covers three common PC problems. But if you're still unable to find the solution to your particular PC problems, check out the Microsoft support page. There, you'll find various self-support and assisted support solutions. You'll find answers to cure even the most disturbed computer.

5 good computing habits

Working off a slow, disorganized computer can be frustrating—and it happens to the best of us. This article is designed to give you some easy-to-follow guidelines on how to keep your computer on the right track using tools in Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

1. Organize your folders

We all know how easy it is to dump files into the wrong folder when we're in a hurry. But one way to make sure you'll keep your files organized is to remove the clutter with a filing system that makes sense for the way you use your computer. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start clean

    Begin by deciding which files you no longer need on your hard drive.

  • Think it through

    Take the time to plan the best way to organize your files. How do you spend your time on the computer and what do you create? Do you work with photos and image editing software, surf the Web, write short stories, research school projects, or play games? The folders you create in Documents (called “My Documents” in Windows XP) can be easily tailored to show you just the kind of data about your files that you need to track.

  • Use subfolders

    After you have an idea of the kinds of items you produce and want to save, create folders and subfolders to store your files. Be sure to use logical, easy-to-understand names. For example, within Documents, you might create additional folders called Projects, HR Benefits, and Career. Then, within the Projects folder, you could create subfolders for each different project.

  • Clean your files periodically

    After you have set up your file system, inspect and clean it regularly. Routine maintenance tasks such as deleting old or duplicate files and folders and making sure that important files are in the right folders can save you a lot of time and frustration.


Windows Tip

To create a new subfolder with Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, simply right-click anywhere in the folder, select New, and then select Folder. Type the name for the new folder and press Enter. In Windows 7, you can also click New Folder at the top of any Documents Library folder to automatically create a new folder. For more tips about creating a well-organized filing system, see 7 tips to manage your files better.

Windows 7 screen with New Folder command circled and New Folder ready to be named

Windows 7 screen with New Folder command circled and New Folder ready to be named

2. Clean up your hard disk

Now that you've organized your files and folders, and cleaned up your desktop, you can organize the data itself. Windows includes two utilities—Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter—that help you free up more space on your hard drive and help your computer work more efficiently.

  • Disk Cleanup compresses your old files so you can free up storage space.

  • Disk Defragmenter scans your hard drive and consolidates files that may be scattered across the disk.

    Not sure how often to run these utilities? It's really up to you—some people like to run both weekly, others prefer monthly, and a few only run them every few months. It's not a bad idea to do both at least once a month. Windows Vista users take note: Disk Defragmenter is automatically scheduled to run once a week (Sunday at 4 a.m.). You can change the scheduled time for this feature or turn it off, if you prefer.

  • To find both programs in Windows Vista and Windows XP, click Start, point to All Programs, then point to Accessories, and then choose System Tools.

3. Use System Restore

System Restore is one of those programs that can be a life-saver when you've been the unfortunate recipient of unstable software, a badly timed power outage, or a damaging thunderstorm. System Restore records important documents, settings, and preferences on your computer. If the unthinkable happens and your computer files are damaged or inaccessible, you can use System Restore to restore your computer back the same state it was in before the data was lost.

System Restore creates restore points daily, and whenever you install device drivers, automatic updates, and some applications. Still, it's a good idea to get into the habit of creating a system checkpoint (called a restore point) whether you're about to install new software or take any action you suspect might make your computer unstable. That way, if there's any conflict at all, you can restore your computer to the point just before you began the installation.

Windows 7

  • Click Start . In the search box, type system restore. Under Programs, click System Restore. Follow the directions in the wizard to restore your computer to the point you want.

    First page of the Windows 7 System Restore Wizard

    First page of the Windows 7 System Restore Wizard

Windows Vista and Windows XP

  1. Click Start, and choose All Programs.

  2. Point to Accessories, then point to System Tools, and then choose System Restore.

  3. When the program begins, choose Create a restore point and click Next.

  4. Enter a description of the restore point and click Create. After a few seconds, the program will tell you the date, time, and description of the new restore point.

  5. Click Close.

    Create a Restore Point page with a restore point created for a specific date before state was lost.

    System Restore screen with a restore point created for a specific date before data was lost

4. Keep Windows and Office up-to-date

Computer programs are continually improved based on customer feedback and continuing product testing. As problems are resolved, you should benefit from those improvements. By checking Microsoft Update regularly, you can make sure you've got the most recent Windows and Office improvements available to you.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista users don't need to sign up for Microsoft Update: an account is automatically created for you during the registration process and Windows Update is automatically installed on your computer with default settings that you can change later if you wish.

If you're using Windows XP, you have to visit Microsoft Update to start the update process. If it's your first time to visit Microsoft Update, you might need to sign up for the service.

Use Microsoft Update to install the update process for all Microsoft products on your XP-based computer

After you've visited the Microsoft Update site, you should also configure your Windows XP-based computer to receive critical updates automatically. This free service is called Windows Update in Windows 7 and Windows Vista and Automatic Updates in Windows XP.

Learn how to turn automatic updating on in Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

Important If you do not select the automatic updating option we recommend, you must download and install every critical update. If you download the updates, but forget to install them, your computer will not be protected with all the latest enhancements.

5. Run antivirus software AND a spyware detection and removal tool

Updating your Windows software is just the first step in keeping your computer safe. Next, you'll want to download and install antivirus software and keep it up-to-date. Your computer may have come with a free trial of antivirus software, but if you don't renew your subscription, you won't be protected from all the latest threats.

If your computer seems sluggish or if you begin to see lots of pop-up advertisements, even when you're not surfing the Web, your computer may be infected with spyware, adware, or other unwanted software. Learn more about spyware and what it can do to your computer.

8 ways to help maintain your computer and devices at work

You most likely couldn't do your job without your computer and mobile devices. Everyday you use them to work on files, connect with people, and access resources. Keeping them running smoothly is important to working effectively.

So how do you start?

At work your computer and devices are part of a larger network. Keeping them running means you have to work closely with your corporate IT department. Working with them will save you time, save your company money, and help keep the network secure. This article includes tips and best practices for working with your corporate IT department to keep your computer and devices up-to-date and functioning properly.

Who owns the computer?

You use a computer at work, you may take it home, and you might even have a picture of your kids on the computer desktop. The computer, though, isn't yours. It's important to realize that your company owns that computer. They have the right to install patches and updates on a regular basis. By doing so, they can make sure your computer and the network run as smoothly as possible.

"It's common for IT departments to get complaints about patches being put on computers," said Jim DuBois, a general manager for IT at Microsoft. "But it is the best way for companies to make sure the network and computers remain secure."

To further protect their computers, many companies even prevent users from making changes to the settings or software installed on the computer.

Best practices for maintaining your computer

Use these best practices to help maintain and protect the computer you use at work. You should contact your IT department to determine their specific policies.

  1. Install all updates required by your IT department. Not installing updates as required by your IT department can expose your company to viruses and other security risks. Some companies even prevent computers from accessing the network if patches aren't installed after a set date. Also, find out whether the IT department wants you to install updates on Microsoft Update . If they do, make it a habit of checking Microsoft Update regularly. You'll save yourself the hassle of the IT department forcing you to install updates when it's not convenient for you.

  2. Install only licensed programs. Make sure that you or your company have a license for any software you install on your work computer. Your company can get sued for having software without a license installed on its computers. For example, installing a program your friend bought could present some problems. Software that you've bought a license for is probably fine, but double-check the license to make sure. Sometimes, software bought for home use can not be installed at work as well.

  3. Don't install different versions of software. Even if you prefer the version of software you use at home rather than work, don't install it on your work computer. You could have incompatibility problems with the software your co-workers are using and with your specific line of business applications. Your IT department may also not be able to make any required updates or provide technical support.

  4. Let IT know when hardware isn't working. Fixing a broken computer yourself could just cause more problems. Your fixes, for example, could make the computer incompatible with the corporate network. Most IT departments have a helpdesk or technical assistance program designed for this type of work. The IT department may have already seen the same problem and have a known fix. Helping your IT department track common computer problems can also help them decide which brand and make of computer to order in the future.

  5. Let IT know when you need something. Giving the IT department reasonable requests and adequate time for planning can help them respond to your needs. Otherwise, you may end up with computer software or hardware you didn't want, which can hinder how effective you are at work.

  6. Don't download programs from Internet sites you don't trust. By downloading programs that may not be secure, you put all the computers on the network at risk.

  7. Be aware of suspicious e-mails. A virus introduced though e-mail may be disguised as a downloadable file. If an e-mail you receive is from someone you don't know, contains strange text, or otherwise looks suspicious, contact your IT department. If you open it, you could potentially cause problems for you and you co-workers. If it does contain a virus, the IT department can ask other employees in the organization to look for similar e-mails.

  8. Use online support resources. Many IT departments have created online internal help sites that could provide an answer to your computer problem. Each day, Help desks typically receive many questions that are already answered at these sites. For help effectively using Microsoft products, you can also use the following resources:

Buying pocket PCs and Smartphones to use at work

If you work on the road, your company may provide you with a Windows phone to stay in touch with the office. If you buy your own, though, check with the IT department to see whether they have a list of recommended devices. There are many options for devices and data and voice plans. Your IT department may have brands, models, and plans that they already support. Buying those will make it easier to connect to the network and get support if you need it.

5 ways to speed up your PC

By following a few simple guidelines, you can maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly. This article discusses how to use the tools available in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to more efficiently maintain your computer and safeguard your privacy when you're online.

1. Free up disk space

The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk to improve the performance of your computer. The tool identifies files that you can safely delete, and then enables you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified files.

Use Disk Cleanup to:

  • Remove temporary Internet files.

  • Remove downloaded program files (such as Microsoft ActiveX controls and Java applets).

  • Empty the Recycle Bin.

  • Remove Windows temporary files such as error reports.

  • Remove optional Windows components that you don't use.

  • Remove installed programs that you no longer use.

  • Remove unused restore points and shadow copies from System Restore.

Tip: Typically, temporary Internet files take the most amount of space because the browser caches each page you visit for faster access later.

Use Disk Cleanup

Window 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

2. Speed up access to data

Disk fragmentation slows the overall performance of your system. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. The response time can be significantly longer.

Disk Defragmenter is a Windows utility that consolidates fragmented files and folders on your computer's hard disk so that each occupies a single space on the disk. With your files stored neatly end-to-end, without fragmentation, reading and writing to the disk speeds up.

When to run Disk Defragmenter
In addition to running Disk Defragmenter at regular intervals—monthly is optimal—there are other times you should run it too, such as when:

  • You add a large number of files.

  • Your free disk space totals 15 percent or less.

  • You install new programs or a new version of Windows.

Use Disk Defragmenter

Window 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

3. Detect and repair disk errors

In addition to running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter to optimize the performance of your computer, you can check the integrity of the files stored on your hard disk by running the Error Checking utility.

As you use your hard drive, it can develop bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving) difficult, or even impossible. The Error Checking utility scans the hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors to see whether certain files or folders are misplaced.

If you use your computer daily, you should run this utility once a week to help prevent data loss.

Run the Error Checking utility:

  1. Close all open files.

  2. Click Start, and then click My Computer.

  3. In the My Computer window, right-click the hard disk you want to search for bad sectors, and then click Properties.

  4. In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.

  5. Click the Check Now button.

  6. In the Check Disk dialog box (called Error-checking in Windows 7), select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start.

    Check Disk Local Disk dialog box, with the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box selected.

    Example of Check Disk Local Disk dialog box

  7. If bad sectors are found, choose to fix them.

Tip: Only select the "Automatically fix file system errors" check box if you think that your disk contains bad sectors.

4. Protect your computer against spyware

Spyware collects personal information without letting you know and without asking for permission. From the Web sites you visit to usernames and passwords, spyware can put you and your confidential information at risk. In addition to privacy concerns, spyware can hamper your computer's performance. To combat spyware, you might want to consider using Microsoft Windows Defender, which is included in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and is available as a free download for Microsoft XP SP2. Alternatively, there are other free anti-spyware software programs available.

5. Learn all about ReadyBoost

If you're using Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you can use ReadyBoost to speed up your system. A new concept in adding memory to a system, it allows you to use non-volatile flash memory—like a USB flash drive or a memory card—to improve performance without having to add additional memory.