Jewish World Review Feb. 9, 2004 / 17 Shevat, 5764

Path to default documents too obvious to find; using Yahoo with Word attachments does not transmit in format; uninstalling older version of DVD-burning software via Add/Remove Programs Control Panel won't work

By James Coates | (KRT) Q. Is there a way to change the default My Documents folder in Windows that most software looks to as the first place to save or retrieve files? I use Windows XP and I added a hard drive to handle my documents. The trouble is that whenever I save a document, the default is the My Documents folder on the C: drive.

When I use the Windows Explorer (by right-clicking on Start and selecting Explore) I am unable to reassign the drive associated with My Documents. How can I make Windows look to my new hard drive instead of the C: drive for My Documents?

Peter Lynch

A. The answer is right under your nose, Mr. L., but as your experiences fumbling around with the Windows Explorer show, Microsoft is utterly brilliant at hiding things in plain sight (plain sight for software engineers, anyway).

To change the default documents folder, click on Start with the left mouse button and then press the right button over the My Documents icon and then pick Properties in the display that pops up. Up pops another display that includes exactly what you asked for — a Browse button that lets you move the My Documents default folder to any place you want on the computer.

This tool can be essential to folks like moviemakers or professional photographers whose files get stored under My Pictures or My Videos in the My Documents folder and can quickly fill up the original drive. By adding an internal hard drive or plugging in one of the low-cost external hard drives for USB 2.0 or FireWire, a Windows worker can fix things so the default location for saving files is changed to that copious new real estate.

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Q. I am a novice in computer technology and need your help. When I send e-mail using with attachments from Word, the resulting e-mail sent does not transmit in the format to the letter in Word.

For example, if the Word document is formatted in two columns the resulting e-mail is not in two columns and is in a strange format. I am using Windows 98 as an operating system on an HP Pavilion computer. Are there any fixes for this problem?

Lloyd Van Bergen

A. I'll fix your problem in a Zip, Mr. V., even though I have no idea why your particular computer is getting pole-axed trying to retain formatting in Word documents sent as attachments in the popular Yahoo e-mail service.

The trick to all of these problems where attachments don't arrive as sent is to first enclose them in a protective envelope known as a Zip folder, which compresses the data of one or more documents and puts it all into a single file that is "zipped" at your end and "unzipped" by the receiver. This assures that what you send will be exactly what your addressee gets.

Recent versions of Windows can create Zip files, or you can buy software like WinZip ( or PKZip ( that create these compressed files. In Windows XP you can create a Zip folder for your documents by giving a right-click on the Desktop and picking New and then Compressed Folder.

Beyond your current problem with that quirky Word issue, encasing e-mail attachments in a Zipped folder facilitates sending numerous documents in one burst, and it can be a godsend with compressing these files down to a fraction of their regular size, thus reducing transmission time and costs.

On that Word problem, since you are using the older Windows 98 I wonder if you are saving your files in a version that can be read by the newer word processing programs. Try going to File and Save As and saving in a different format, such as Word 6, and see if that fixes things.

Even if that doesn't fix you up, your problems certainly can be zipped up.

Q. Perhaps you can help me to get Windows to work when I try to use the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel to uninstall an older version of DVD burning software so I can install an upgrade. I installed MyDVD Studio Deluxe 5.0 and it worked fine. I tried updating to 5.2.2 by first downloading it from Sonic Systems, and when that failed I tried using the update CD they subsequently sent me — it also failed to install.

In both cases, the Sonic software would not remove 5.0 prior to installing 5.2.2 and thus would not install 5.2.2. (Version 5.2.2 requires prior versions to be removed prior to installation.) I tried to uninstall 5.0 using Add/Remove on my computer (Dell, XP Pro) but it would not remove 5.0.

Dennis Holik

A. To paraphrase the cliche that we had to burn the village to save it, in your case you've got to build the village before you can burn it, Mr. H. Specifically, you need to haul out the disc for Sonic 5.0 and reinstall it before your computer can destroy it.

Here's why: When Windows attempts to uninstall programs using that Control Panel found under the Start menu, it checks to make sure that all of the supporting files, such as things called DLLs (dynamic link libraries), are available to prevent erasing something that might affect the whole computer. A lot of times confusion occurs because the computer opens a DLL and then stamps it with a date not expected.

To prevent chaos, the Add/Remove module halts. By reinstalling the software, the operating system will find the confusion eliminated and permit the uninstall.

A footnote: Sometimes your problem occurs when the computer's internal date gets confused. So before doing the fix, click on the time of day display at the bottom of the screen and make sure the calendar is set for the correct date and time.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of this column by clicking here.



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