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The SYS-ED knowledge base is a service for answering questions, inclusive of the research and validation of the accuracy of information in the public domain. Citation of source documentation and examples are used to provide answers to the questions. Utilization and reliance on the answers, information, or other materials received through this website is done at your own risk.

Q I work for a small business with a limited budget and I have been instructed to become the in-house documentation specialist. I am looking for guidelines to reduce or eliminate printing hard copy and then cutting, pasting, and scanning the pages into a digital file format. We use the Microsoft Vista operating system.

The MS Windows operating system includes a Snipping Tool that can be used for capturing an image of the full screen or active window and for capturing a small section of the Windows Vista screen instead of the entire screen or active window. This will obviate the need to crop the grabbed image.

The Snipping Tool provides a:

  • Free-form snip that captures the section of the screen that has been defined by the mouse cursor or pen tablet.
  • Rectangular snip that captures the portion of the window that has been enclosed in an onscreen rectangle.

Located in the Accessories folder, the Snipping Tool is accessed by invoking the Start menu and going to the All Programs folder.

In order to designate the type of screen capture, click on the arrow next to the New button and choose the snipping option.

In addition to the built-in support provided by Microsoft, step-by-step instructions are provided from the WikiHow site.

Q I have been unable to get security updates on my Windows Vista computer. Why is this occurring is and what I can do to remedy the problem?
A If there is an error message with a code 0◊80072F8F, when attempting to use MS Windows Update site, check the date and time settings on the PC.

If the computerís date and time are too far off from the Windows Update servers, there may be another underlying problem.

In the spring 2010, Microsoft ended update support for Windows Vista systems that havenít been updated with service packs. Vista service packs can be downloaded from the Microsoft web site. Microsoft offers automated troubleshooting shooting services at for its Windows Vista operating system. It can be used to automatically problems such as printing, system speed, or hardware devices.

Q I have purchased a Microsoft Windows 7 computer for the purpose of replacing my longtime Windows Me workstation. How difficult is it to transfer my e-mail documents and files from Windows Me to Windows 7.
A Windows Me is a nine-year-old operating system and the upgrade path to Windows 7 is not as straightforward and automatic as upgrading from Windows Vista. Documents and files will have to be transferred using a USB-based external hard drive or a pocket USB flash drive. After connecting the USB device to the old computer, drag the documents, pictures, music and other files onto the drive from the Windows Me machine and disconnect the device from the old computer. Then connect it to the new Windows 7 machine and copy the files over. Another method is to copy the files to a CD or DVD on the old PC and copying the files from the discs onto the new PC.

Application programs that ran on Windows Me may or may not run on Windows 7 if you try to install them, so you may have to invest in updated software.   Alternatively, commercial application software can be purchased and used implementing the changeover.

Q I have been experiencing significant intermittent slowdowns in response time (several times the applications hang) when I am creating and editing MS Office applications, browsing websites on the web, and receiving and sending e-mail. Is there a utility in MS Windows Vista that can help in identifying the source of the problems in order that I can work more efficiently?

Perform the following steps in MS Vista:

From the Start Menu use the mouse to drill-down and navigate through the following icons:

1. Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Performance Information and Tools.
2. From Tasks, invoke Advanced Tools and Choose to Generate a System Health Report.
3. The System Diagnostic Report will provide the errors and highlight potential problems reported in the Diagnostic Results portion of the report listed under the Warnings heading.

Additional more comprehensive system information is available by expanding the CPU, network, or other category headings.

Q I am a writer who recently became responsible for installing and maintaining my own Microsoft Windows workstation. I have performed several installations which have had error messages and which aborted prior to an acknowledgement that the installation had been successfully installed. I am also experiencing some odd intermittent errors. Is there an inexpensive way to clean up my computer.
A The MS Windows Installer CleanUp Utility can address the issues left behind from a partially installed and typically corrupt entries in various areas of a system. The utility displays a list of all installed and partially installed programs.

Remove the bad install and click Remove. The program can then be reinstalled.

Microsoft provides a useful website -

Q I am in between jobs and I am looking for ways to reduce my electricity bills. I have a computer with an Intel P3 processor with the MS Windows operating system installed.
A There is Energy-management software which puts a computer on a schedule to reduce the amount of electricity it uses.

Verdiem makes energy-management computer software for business. It released a consumer-grade version if its Edison software. The software provides the ability to set a computer on working and nonworking schedules. It also provides estimated savings reports that show how much carbon dioxide has been. It works on computers running Windows XP and Vista. The software is available free at htpp://

The Environmental Protection Agency ( also has a energy-management program called EZ Wizard for computers running Windows 2000 or Windows XP. Google Desktop users can download a free plug-in called Energy Saver that works on Windows XP and Vista, but to use it first will be necessary to download Google Desktop at

Q When MS Word crashes while I am working with a document, what is the best way to address this problem and reset the Word to its proper working state.

Perform the following steps:

1. Close Outlook and press CTRL+ALT+DEL to open the Windows Task Manager.
2. Check the running processes to ensure that there are no stalled instances of Word still running, and if there are, end those processes.
3. The crash will have left a selection of temporary files in the current Document folder for any document that was open at the time, in the Word Startup Folder, in the Office Startup folder, and at other locations depending which global template add-in has been installed. These temporary files can impair the future smooth running of the application and should be deleted.

Q How is a custom number format created in MS Excel?

A number format consists of three parts: code for negative, code for zero, and code for positive values. The code for each part is separated with a semicolon.

Perform the following steps in order to apply a custom number format:

1. Select the cell or range that is to be formatted.
2. Choose the Format Cells command or press Ctrl+1.
3. Click the Number tab on the Format Cells dialog box.
4. Click the Custom category.
5. Enter the number format code into the edit box labeled Type.

Help in Excel provides a comprehensive reference for the formatting codes.

Q In Excel 2007, the Custom Views command is grayed out. I am experienced user of older versions of Excel. I do not understand why this is occurring.
A This typically occurs because a workbook contains a table. Convert the table to a range. The Custom Views should then be available.

Q How can I change the default font from Times Roman New 10pt (12pt) to something else?

In order to change the default font, perform the following steps:

1. Open a new document.
2. Invoke the Font dialog box from Format -> Font
3. Set the preferred font and click on the "Default" button in the lower left portion of the of the dialog box.
In order to complete the change, both the default font and default style need to be changed.
4. Open the template either from within Word or if in Windows, right-click on and select "Open."
5. Open the Style dialog box - Format -> Styles...and choose the Body Text style.
6. Click on the Modify button.
Where it says "Based On" Normal scroll up to the top of the list to no style.
7. Change the Font - Format (button) -> Font
8. Change the language back from (no proofing) to the required language:

Format (button) -> Language).

9. Set up the default paragraph formatting (e.g. space before, indents, tab settings, etc.) using Format (button) -> Paragraph).
10. Click on the OK button. Click on the OK button (different OK button).
11. Click on the Apply button.
12. Type the letter "a" or any character and then press backspace. This will force Word to recognize that has been changed.
13. Save and close

Q Is it possible to count the number of cells in Excel?
A There are several ways to count cells in a range that meet various criteria:
Function Explanation
DCOUNT function The data must be set up in a table, and a separate criterion range is required.
COUNT function Counts the number of cells in a range that contain a number.
COUNTA function Counts the number of non-empty cells in a range.
COUNTBLANK function Counts the number of empty cells in a range.
COUNTIF function Provides flexible counting of cells.
Array formula Useful when the other techniques won't work.

Q I have discovered that sometimes my Excel formulas do not get fully calculated. This intermittently occurs when using custom functions created with VBA.

Microsoft has acknowledged some problems with the Excel calculation engine in some version of Excel. In order to be assured that all of your formulas have been calculated, press Ctrl-Alt-F9 to force a complete recalculation. This key combination will also update formulas that use custom VBA functions.

Q Is it possible to create a slideshow in MS Excel?

This VBA macro displays a full-screen slide show, using all of the embedded charts on the active worksheet.

Sub ChartSlideShow()
  Dim Cht As ChartObject
  Dim UserSheet As Worksheet
     Set UserSheet = ActiveSheet
     Application.DisplayFullScreen = True
     Application.DisplayAlerts = False
     For Each Cht In UserSheet.ChartObjects
       Application.ScreenUpdating = False
       ' Delete old chart sheet if it exists
       On Error Resume Next
       On Error GoTo 0
      ' Copy embedded chart and move it
      ActiveChart.Location Where:=xlLocationAsNewSheet, _
      ' Show the chart sheet and prompt for next one
      Application.ScreenUpdating = True
      If MsgBox("OK for next chart, Cancel to stop.", _
      vbQuestion + vbOKCancel) = vbCancel Then Exit For
  Next Cht
     ' Clean up
     On Error Resume Next
     On Error GoTo 0
     Application.DisplayFullScreen = False
     Application.DisplayAlerts = True
  End Sub

This code now needs to be placed in a VBA module. Then activate a worksheet that contains embedded charts and execute the ChartSlideShow macro. No changes will be made to the original charts.

The order of the slides is determined by the z-order of the charts on the worksheet. The z-order can be changed by right-clicking the chart object, and using the 'send forward' or 'send backward' command. In Excel 2007, this can be done using the Re-order buttons in the Selection and Visibility pane.

This macro has been tested in both Excel 2007 and Excel 2003.

Q Is it possible to recover a corrupt a MS PowerPoint presentation file?
A1 There is no single surefire way of restoring a corrupt MS PowerPoint presentation.

The ability to restore a corrupt file is highly dependent upon identifying the underlying source of the message being generated by MS PowerPoint that it cannot open the type of file being represented by .ppt

Common source(s) of the error message are:

1. That the file has been password protected in PowerPoint 2002 (XP) or later.
  • Earlier versions of PowerPoint can not open password protected files.
  • Macintosh versions of PowerPoint will also be unable to open these presentations.
  • If the file has been password protected, have the file's owner save it without the password protection and then send you a new copy of the file.
2. The presentation file has become corrupted.

When running PowerPoint under the MS Windows Vista operating system, it may be possible to recover a previously saved version of a presentation file by:

1. Launching the Windows explorer and navigating to the folder where the presentation is located.
2. Right-clicking on the presentation and chose "Restore previous versions" command.

Q Is it possible to open MS PowerPoint 2007 files in earlier versions of the software?
A1 The file's author can resave the file in PowerPoint 97-2003 format.
A2 Download and install the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 file formats.


Can a font be set to the Heading or Body font style?

A1 A font can be manually selected for text or a font can be selected with the font associated with the current font theme for Headings or Body. With the latter choice, if a change is made to a different Font theme, the text will take on whatever font is assigned to Headings for that theme.

According to Microsoft the Headings or Body style can be assigned programmatically.

In order to assign a Headings (major) or Body (minor) font style to text, the font name needs to be changed:

  "+" & FontType & "-" & FontLang


  Major (Headings) = "mj"
  Minor (Body) = "mn"


  Latin = "lt"
  Complex Scripts = "cs"
  East Asian = "ea"

In order to change all of the selected shapes on a slide to the Major/Headings typeface for Latin text:

  Sub Example()
  Dim osh As Shape
  For Each osh In ActiveWindow.Selection.ShapeRange
  With osh
  With .TextFrame.TextRange
  .Font.Name = "+mj-lt"
  End With
  End With
  End Sub

After selecting some shapes that include text and running this code, go to the Design tab and change the Fonts themes.

Each of the changed text box fonts will change in accordance with the changes made to the font themes.

Q My Internet connection is slow and slows considerably when there are animations on the web pages that I am viewing. Is there a way to improve this sluggishness when viewing web content?

Changing your web browser options should ameliorate some of the problems:

From Internet Explorer 6 or 7:

1. Invoke the Advanced tab.
2. Scroll to the Multimedia section.
3. Uncheck the box alongside Play Animations In Web Pages.
4. Invoke the Apply button
5. Invoke the OK button.

Close Internet Explorer and initiate a new web browser session in order to assess whether response time has been improved.

Q I am a textbook editor and frequently have highly sensitive documents that I donít want anyone else to view. What is the best way to secure a document.
A1 In Windows XP, a file can note be secured unless it has first been compressed.

Perform the following steps in order to password protect a file.

1. Right-click the file to be password-protected.
2. Choose Send To from the menu.
3. Select Compressed (Zipped) Folder as the destination.

There may be a warning about designating the folder as the application for handling ZIP files.

4. Invoke the Yes button.

There will be a file created with the same name, along with a .zip file extension.

5. Right-click that file and choose Open With from the menu.
6. Choose Compressed (Zipped) Folder From the File menu.
7. Select Add A Password.
8. Type in the password and provide confirmation.

Attempt opening the file. It will be necessary to specify a password.

The password is required for the folder that contains the file; the original document is not password protected.

A2 Encryption can be also used to secure a file. Data encryption is a method of scrambling the contents of the file in order that only the create (owner) of the file can read it.

From Windows XP Professional or Vista:

The following steps need to be performed in order to implement encryption:

1. Go to the My Documents folder in MS Windows XP.

Go to the Documents folder in MS Vista.

2. Right-click inside the default folder and select New, Folder to create a new subfolder.
3. Name the sub- folder ďFile Encryption ExampleĒ.
4. Copy the file to be encrypted inside the new folder.
5. Right-click the file and select Properties.
6. From the General tab, press the Advanced button.
7. Check to Encrypt Contents To Secure Data.
8. Click OK.
9. On the window displayed, click Apply.
10. The first time a file is encrypted inside a new folder, there will be a prompt to encrypt the file and parent folder.
11. Choose that option and hit OK.
12. Click OK again.

Perform the following steps in order to verify the security of the content.

1. Right click the file and select Properties.
2. On the General tab, press Advanced.
3. In the Advanced Attributes window, examine the Details.

If your logon ID is available, only you will be able to read the file.

Q Three years ago, I bought an Intel-based computer with Microsoft Windows XP installed. My applications definitely run a significantly slower. Do you have any suggestions?
A1 Answer:

Keep a minimum of 25 percent of your hard drive empty, this will increase the efficiency at which programs will store temporary files and perform other tasks. When a hard drive is over 75 percent full, consider uninstalling programs that are rarely used and move rarely used files to another hard drive, DVD, CD or flash drive.

The Disk Cleanup program can be used to delete programs.

Use the built-in defragmentation utility on a regular basis.

Minimize multitasking; only keep open the programs that are currently be used.

If a computer is run for long periods of time, restart the computer occasionally and clear out system memory.



Computer Maintenance Guidelines:
Guideline Explanation
Recycle Bin Regularly review and empty.

Emptying the Recycle bin will free up space. Deleting a file does not physically eliminate it from the computer. It is possible to recover deleted information. Commercial software applications can ensure permanent removal of trash files.

Internet Cache


Inspect and clear.

Web browsers saves copies of pages in a cached area of the hard drive. The cache expedites reloading of web pages. However, the cache can quickly load up with unnecessary files and periodically clearing it will improve performance.

Web History Delete files.

The web history contains a listing of the pages that have been visited. A web browser can be set to keep a certain number of days of history. The history can be modified and/or deleted.

Temporary Files

Periodically review and delete.

Most programs will create temporary files as they run; when the program is exited normally, the temp files will then be deleted. However, ill behaving programs that behave erratically and/or become non-response (lock up) up may not delete the temporary files that they have created as part of their use.

Registry cleaner

Use a Registry cleaner.

The registry on a MS Windows computer stores a wide variety of configuration settings. As software is installed and uninstalled, entries are made to and deleted from the registry. If software does not uninstall properly, it can leave entries in the registry. This can cause a computer to start and run slowly and become less reliable and stable. A Registry cleaner should be used on a regular basis.



Run a defragmentation utility regularly.

When a file is saved, in most situations it will be stored in a several sections of the hard drive. As the hard disk becomes increasingly populated and files are saved and deleted, the available space on a hard drive will be non contiguous and this will lead to a degradation of speed in opening and closing files. A defragmentation utility moves the files in order that the files are physically located in consecutive locations on the disk.

Antivirus software

Enable the virus software, scan the hard drive, and update regularly.

An antivirus program should always be running, and its definition file updated regularly.

Spyware and adware Use prophylactic software.

Prophylactic antispyware and adware programs keep extensive databases of spyware and adware and should be run on a regular basis for removing the unwanted software from a system.

Q I have lost the ability to copy a file from a folder and paste it into another folder. What have I done wrong and how can I correct the problem?

On the MS Windows XP operating system, click Start, Control Panel, switch to Classic View. Double-click Internet Options, Select the Security tab. Hit the Custom Level button. In the Security Settings windows, scroll down to the Miscellaneous section and select the enable option for ďDrag and Drop or Copy And Past FileĒ. Invoke the OK button.

The likelihood is that the settings have been changed from an external source (ie. the Internet).

Q When I attempt to install a program on my Windows XP machines, I receive the following message: The Windows Installer service could not be accessed. This can occur if you are running in Safe mode or if the Windows Installer is not correctly installed.
A The Windows Installer is a service used by the Windows operating system to make sure that a program installs successfully. You may have a damaged registration service. To resolve this issue, click Start, All Programs, and Accessories. Then click on Command Prompt. At the flashing cursor, type msiexec/unregister. Press enter. And then type exit.

Q Questions Revisited Again: Disk I/O Optimization and Disk Space Utilization
A Since the mid 1980ís we have had questions on how to tune and optimize hard disk space and improve I/O throughput. And now hard drives are filling up faster than ever with the standard documents and e-mail, cp digital photos, music, and movies taking up space.

Our recommendations for the current generation of Microsoft operating systems include:

1. If the hard disk is not too full, The Disk Defragmenter utility program that comes with Windows can be used.
2. Copying all the data to an external source, erasing the disk and reformatting it and setting up new partitions. Microsoft has instructions on this for Windows XP at Once new partitions have been set up, Windows will have to be reinstalled and then the programs and files will have to be reinstalled. This is a time consuming process.

Partition utility programs can be used to resize a disk partition with out having to erase and reformat a drive: Symantecís Partition Magic, VCOMís Partition Commander Professional, and SubRosaSoft provides the capability for the Macintosh

Windows Vista includes a utility for repartitioning a hard dirve (

Q My PC is 3 years old and I recently installed Windows Vista. The Vista interface is very attractive, however, the performance of the Vista applets and my applications programs is significantly slower less responsive than they were with Windows XP? Is there anything I can do to make my programmers run faster or do I have to purchase a new PC?
A This recommendation that we give our corporate clients (and teach in our Vista courses) is to remove the Sidebar streamline the CPU intensive visual effects.

Remove the Sidebar:

1. Right click on the Sidebar.
2. Select Properties.
3. Uncheck Start Sidebar When Windows Starts.

Streamline the Visual Sidebar:

1. Click Start and type sysadm.cpl.
2. Invoke the Enter key.
3. Invoke the Enter key followed by the Continue button.
4. Select the Advanced tab followed by the Settings button.
5. Under the Visual Effects tab, select to Adjust for Best Performance.

Our standard recommendation is always to have the maximum amount of RAM installed when purchasing a computer. It can be used in many ways and extend the useful life and investment in the machine.

Q My children are heavy game players and they have Windows XP installed on their PC.  Every couple of months, I have to bring the computer to a repair and the technician informs me that the machines are infected with a virus. Is there anything that I can do on a limited budget, to address this problem?

Microsoft has free downloads available from its websites. Use your Internet browser (which is probably Internet Explorer) to perform the following steps:

1. Go to
2. If Windows Defender is visible under Popular Downloads then click it.
3. If Popular Downloads is not available, type Defender in the Search box.
4. Select the link for Windows Defender Home.
5. Follow the instructions for downloading and installing.

Q We have a substantial investment in styles and macros written in WordPerfect - DOS, WordPerfect Windows, Word - DOS, Word version 2 and Word 97. And we have reached the point in time, when it just isnít possible to use the original source software. What is the most efficient way for us to migrate this code? And is it possible for us to use the stylesheets and macros ďas isĒ with Microsoft Office 2003.
A We have experience in migrating stylesheets and macros from WordPerfect DOS to WordPerfect Windows and Word. Our recommendation would be for you to provide us with sample code, inclusive of the source software and we will evaluate it for you. Unfortunately there is no simple answer; nor one one best way to perform the retrofitting and migration.

Microsoft Office 2003 is the standard for stylesheets and macros; however there will be additional changes with Microsoft Office 2007. And there are a number of major advantages in migrating to the newest release.

Q I am a long-time administrative secretary with a major law firm and we naturally have a large number of documents created in WordPerfect and Word - both DOS and Windows. Do you have courses specifically oriented to the requirements of law firms. And I have heard that the next frontier in document management is HTML and publishing documents to a web server? Is this true?
A The requirements of law firms and attorneys is quite different from the word processing and document management from other enterprises. Yes, we have courses and learning paths tailored to address your operational requirements. And the migration of documents to HTML and XML from word processors, such as Word 2003/2007 is well underway.

Ten years ago, the trend was a microcomputer in every home; the next trend will be a web server in every office and eventually every home!

Q How important is HTML and how difficult is it to work with?
A HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and it has become a central component of document management and web integration for all business application software. For organizations looking to leverage the accessibility and capabilities of the Internet, HTML is fundamental to this implementation. From a practical standpoint, very few people code and work with native HTML.

Typically, it is generated from a product like FrontPage or from a menu option on a word processor. However,a knowledge of HTML is essential to both adding polish and troubleshooting documents to web servers. FYI, the successor to HTML, is XML, and it is rapidly being implemented.

Q What is .NET and will it affect the way that I manage my Microsoft Office documents?
A .NET is the Microsoft standard for its implementation of Active Directory and its Internet - based programming languages and APIs. Microsoft Office 2003 has new features which will leverage .NET.

However; it is not a forgone conclusion that Microsoft .NET will command a dominating presence in the market such as with operating systems, Internet browsers, and network operating systems. Sun Microsystems Java open standard is the other major player for the next generation of web enabled applications.

Q Do we have to take all the courses in a curriculum?
A No. We invite you to review the sample programs, course workbooks, and workshops and cross reference them to your project specifications and operational objectives. Our systems consultants will provide consulting expertise and commit in writing the skillset that your staff will acquire in our courses. You only take the courses specific to a project specification. Optionally, we can provide pre and post course validation procedures.

Q We are not a Fortune 1000 company; and it is important that we leverage our existing investment in web server and Internet technologies?
A Since we are vendor-independent; we can provide unbiased information and hands-on demonstrations as part of your assessing whether or not you should take a course. And we offer the just-in-time training you require to make your operational requirements a reality within a realistic budget.

Q I just graduated from college and my first major assignment has me responsible for consolidating 15 years of data from a variety of sources files: DOS databases - dBASE, Q & A, and FoxPro and Lotus 1-2-3 files. Do you have any suggestions as to how I should proceed and any guidelines?
A All the databases files formats are based upon the Xbase standard and should be easily migrated into a newer database. Forms, labels, and reports can be more problematic. We have tailored courses in which we draw upon our library (assembled over a period of 20+ years) of sample formats and programs.