Frequently Asked Questions

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Every day Pamela receives numerous questions from troubled computer and iPad/iPhone users, by email and at various seminars and workshops. Her answers provide advice on a variety of subjects related to computer hardware and software and Apple iPad and iPhones. Listed below are the questions that Pamela feels will be helpful to most users, from beginners to the more advanced.

If you cannot find the answer to your question listed below, ask Pamela your questions here or click on the ‘Ask Pamela’ link on the sidebar menu below the category list. You can also leave Pamela a Message by clicking on the Blue Button at the bottom of the right hand sidebar. Pamela always answers promptly.


How do I Clean Up and Speed Up my Computer?

In order to keep your computer running smoothly, without slowing down or crashing, it helps to run “Computer Maintenance” weekly. These three tools will help to keep your computer trouble-free.

FIRST: DISK CLEANUP – Cleans up all the unwanted files.

SECOND: ERROR CHECKING – Searches the hard drive for problems, and fixes them.

THIRD: DEFRAGMENTATION – Allows Windows to access your files faster.Close all open programs before you begin

Cleans up all the unwanted files.

  • To run Disk Cleanup: Click Start then click on ‘Computer’
  • Right click the hard drive (C Drive)
  • On this screen, click on ‘Properties’
 Disk Cleanup Properties  
  • When ‘Properties’ opens:
  • Click on ‘Disk Cleanup.’Disk Cleanup Properties Box

Then the system will begin to calculate which files are available for deletion.

Disk Cleanup Properties Calculating


When the system has Calculated all the files, it will ask you to select which files you wish to delete. Put a check mark next to the files you wish to delete.Then Click OK.Computer TipI suggest keeping your ‘Office SetUp’ files and ‘System SetUp’ files.All the others can be checked for deletion.The system will then proceed to delete the selected files.Disk Cleanup Properties CalculatedDisk Cleanup Deleting Files  
SECOND: ERROR CHECKING – Searches the hard drive for problems and fixes them.To run Error Checking:

  • Click ‘Start’ then click ‘Computer’
  • Right Click the hard drive (C drive)
  • Click  ‘Properties’
  • Select the ’Tools’ tab
  • Click  ‘Check Now’

Properties Tools - Error Checking

  • PUT A CHECK MARK BOTH BOXES the FIRST time you run this feature.
  • Then check just the FIRST box the next few times you run ‘Error Checking’
  • I advise checking BOTH boxes at least every few months to keep the system clear.

Check Disk


Schedule Disk Check

Click – ‘Start’ then click “Schedule disk check.”  Close all open windows and reboot (restart) your computer to make this feature run.

  • When your computer restarts, you will see a pale blue or black screen with white text.  
  • Do not touch any keys, your mouse or use the computer until this process is complete. Just let it run its course. It could take a few hours the first time you run it.

When it has finished cleaning and fixing the problems, Windows will resume and your Desktop will appear as usual.

THIRD: DEFRAGMENTATION – Allows Windows to access your files faster.NOTE: If you have a ‘Screen Saver’ running, It is advisable to turn it OFF before you Defragment your system.To run Defragmentation:

  • Click ‘Start’ then click ‘Computer’
  • Right click the hard drive (C drive)
  • Click ‘Properties’
  • Select the ‘Tools’ tab.
  • Click ’Defragment Now’ even if you have a schedule in place or it advises you that you do not need to do it now.


Let the ‘Defragmenter’ run until finished. This procedure could take some time the first time you run it.

Perform the above three procedures at least twice a month to keep your computer running smoothly.




If I delete an icon from my desktop am I deleting the program?

Deleting an icon on your desktop or from your Quick Launch Bar does not delete the program; it just deletes the icon.

 If you want to delete a program you will need to do so from the Control Panel. 

 Windows XP:
1. Open the Control Panel and click on Add/Remove Programs.
2. Scroll down the list and click on the program that you wish to remove.
3. Select the option to uninstall the software.

 Windows Vista:

1. Open the Control Panel.
2. Click on Programs and Features.
3. Scroll down the list and click on the program that you wish to remove.
4. Select the option to uninstall the software.

How often should I save my work when working on a document?

It’s always a good idea to save your work every ten minutes when working on a document especially if it is a lengthy document.

There is a quick way to do this using a ‘shortcut.’

Hold down the CTRL key and click on the ‘S’ key.

Save your work

Is it possible to change the grid color on an Excel worksheet?

Yes, you can make your grid any color that appears on the ‘color box’ in Excel. Follow the instructions below or click here for advanced users.

1. With an Excel Worksheet open (version 2010) click on the ‘File’ tab and then click ‘Options’ found in the left column.
2. On the left column click on ‘Advanced.’
3. Scroll down the features on the right column until you reach’Display Options.’
4. Put a check mark next to ‘Show Gridline’ and click on the ‘color box’ to choose your grid line color. Screenshot – Excel Display Options
5. You can select any worksheet in the ‘Display Option Box drop down’ that you wish.
6. Click OK

Why do I get the error message that my email is over quota?

Your ISP ( Internet Service Provider ) only gives you a certain amount of space for email and when you exceed it, all your emails will bounce back and not be delivered. You may already have missed some important emails by having it over quota.

I suggest that you clear your Inbox and Deleted Folder at least once a week or maybe more often if you receive a great deal of email including spam.

How do I check my system for corrupt files?

Malicious software will often attempt to replace core system files with modified versions in an effort to take control of the system. The System File Checker can be used to verify the integrity of the Windows system files. If any of the files are found to be missing or corrupt, they will be replaced.

Follow these simple steps to fix your system:
Click on “Start”
Click on “All programs”
Click on “Accessories”
Right Click on “Command Prompt”
Choose “Run as Administrator”
Click “Yes” to the “User Account Control” The “DOS” box will appear.
Type sfc /scannow (including the space) after C:\Windows\system32>

System File Checker
The system will begin to check the files on your computer until it reads 100%

System Checking Files
The system found corrupt files and replaced them.

Corrupt Files Found

I have cellular service so why can’t I get my email when away from Wi-Fi?

Check your WiFi signal by going to “Settings” then “WiFi.”

If you see an “unsecured” connection that has a “strong” signalStrong WiFi

If you see an “unsecured” connection that has a “weak” signalWeak WiFi

Your device tries to connect to WiFi first and will continue to do so without changing over to “cellular” even if the signal is weak. In order to switch to cellular, when the WiFi signal is weak, you will need to “turn off” the WiFi in “settings.” Your 3G, 4G or LTE will then take over and you will be able to work with your email and search the internet.

For more Apple iPad and iPhone Tips and Tricks click here.

Why do I need to update my operating system on my iPad and iPhone?

You need to keep your iPad operating system up-to-date at all times. You will get a notification on “settings” when new updates are available; similar to the way you get update notifications on your computer, if you still use one.

If you do not download and install the updates you will not benefit from all the new and exciting features that it offers and your device may begin to malfunction.

For more Apple iPad and iPhone Tips and Tricks click here.

Why has my text changed to Italics and Bold?


Your text may have changed to Italics if you inadvertently hit the CTRL and the “i” key and then the “B” key.  In order to turn these features off  hold down the CTRL Key and hit the “i” key and it will turn off. You can turn it on again and off again by the same shortcut and can do the same with “Bold” text using the CTRL key and the “B” key. This will turn the “BOLD” on and off as described above. A simple solution to a sometimes annoying problem.

What do you suggest that I back up on an external drive and what type of medium should I use?

I think that the most important files to back up are your “Documents” and “Pictures.” If you have stored them in the above folders they will be easy to transfer to your external medium.

The new WD (Western Digital) external drives have installed software that will allow you to back up just the files you want and they will also perform incremental back ups when you create new files. You can add a password to protect your data should you lose your external drive. The drive will only “unlock” if the correct password is entered so make sure that you use upper and lower case letters and numbers or symbols to make the password more secure.

The WD Passport Portable External drives are small in physical size and convenient to carry; they also come in several colours. The recent units have 500GB – 750GB and 1TB of storage space. Some are sold with a matching case.

Keeping a back up of your important files will be a safeguard if your computer malfunctions and it is also handy for transporting your files when you travel or wish to move them to another computer.

How do I sort or separate email addresses in Excel?

To Separate email addresses in Excel:

Excel Create TablePrecaution: Make a copy of your list and work on the copy in case of errors.

1. Highlight your list and click on ‘Insert’
2. With the highlight still active click on ‘Table’
3. The ‘Create Table’ box will appear with the data rows already inserted. If your columns have headers click the small box next to ‘My table has headers’

NOTE: Make sure you highlight all the columns that contain information and not just the email column otherwise your list will be out of order.

Sort Excel Table4. Click on the down arrow on the heading of your email address column and click into the ‘Search’ box.
5. Type .edu, .com etc. if you wish to sort by extension.
6. Click ‘OK’ and the .edu addresses will appear on a separate list.
7. Click the ‘Undo icon’ to bring the list back to the original or save your changes. (You cannot use the ‘Undo’ feature if you have saved the changes)

To Sort email addresses Using Conditional Formatting:

Precaution: Make a copy of your list and work on the copy in case of errors.

1. Highlight your list.Excel Conditional Formatting
2. Click on ‘Conditional Formatting’
3. Click on ‘Highlight Cells Rules’
4. Click on ‘Text that Contains’
5. Type .edu in the box supplied.

Excel Highlighted TextAll the .edu email addresses will be colored red and you  can sort your list accordingly.
Conditional Formatting has many features in order to sort all your lists.

If you would like more help with this and other features please visit this page.

Why are the emails in Microsoft Outlook not in date order? All the dates are mixed up and the most recent emails are not at the top of the list. What has gone wrong?

You can view your lists of emails in many ways and you will find it very useful to be able to sort them differently according to your needs. If all the dates are mixed up they are sorted by ‘conversation’ instead of by ‘date’ and that is the reason that they appear to be jumbled. Right click on the bar at the top of your email list and you will see a menu of choices. Select the first preference ‘Date’ and the most recent emails will be shown at the top of the list. You can change the order for sorting at any time.

Why can’t I delete, send or receive any emails in Microsoft Outlook?

If you do not Compact Folders in Outlook regularly it could stop working effectively.

When you delete email messages they go into your ‘Deleted’ folder. After you empty your ‘Deleted’ folder, the folder is empty but the emails still have not been deleted from your computer system. They are in a hidden file that just keeps growing if you do not ‘Compact’ it regularly. This will eventually halt the activity in Microsoft Outlook and it also applies to Outlook Express.

From time to time, your system will ask you if you want to ‘Compact’ your emails, unless you have disabled this option. You should click ‘Yes’ or you can compact them manually.

In order to free the “backlog” and give you some space back on your hard drive, try the processes below. Make sure that you close all open programs and leave the computer to “compact” without touching it until it has finished. Any interruption could cause a malfunction.

In Microsoft Outlook 2007:

  1. Select File
  2. Data File Management.
  3. Select outlook.pst, and then click Settings.
  4. Click Compact Now.

In Microsoft Outlook 2010:

  1. Click the File tab
  2. Select Info in the left pane.
  3. Click Account Settings, and Account Settings again.
  4. In the Account Settings dialog box, click the Data Files tab.
  5. Select the file and click Settings
  6. Click Compact Now.

While Microsoft Outlook is compacting the folders, walk away from the computer and do not work on the computer until the process completes. After the compacting has finished, close Microsoft Outlook and restart the computer.



How do I open two Excel worksheets side by side?

With the first spreadsheet open click on the Excel icon to open an unused spreadsheet and then click ‘open within this spreadsheet’ to find the other file. Then you can move each Excel window by pointing to the title bar and holding it down with your left mouse. Drag the windows side by side, resizing if necessary.

Alternatively you can elect view the two windows side by side by right clicking on the taskbar at the bottom of your screen and selecting  ‘Show Windows Side by Side.’


I have a WORD document which contains 45 pages. I would like to number the pages at the bottom of each page but do not want number 1 on the first page. I am using WORD 2010. Can you explain the steps I need to take?

Microsoft WORD 2010 has so many more features than previous versions of WORD and the footer is no exception.

To number the bottom of the pages in your document follow the steps below:

  • Start on page 2 of your document.
  • Click on the ‘Insert’ tab.
  • Click on ‘footer’ in the ‘Header & Footer’ Section – A selection of ‘footer’ styles will appear.
  • Click on the ‘footer’ style that would best suit your document and a ‘Header & Footer Tools’ box will be shown on your Ribbon.
  • Add the number of your page (2) to the footer.
  • Click the option ‘Different First Page’ then click into the body of the page to set the style.

The remainder of the pages in your document will be numbered in sequence. If you decide to remove a page the page numbers will adjust automatically and still be in numerical sequence.

When I copy text from a website to an email the font in my email changes. Can you explain why this happens and how I can avoid this?

When you copy text from a website and paste it to another document or an email the font may change from the one that you usually use in your email to the one that you copied from the website. If you want the font to match your emails default font you will need to use your ‘Notepad’ program.

‘Notepad’ is a text editor and used mostly by webmasters when designing websites or by technichians for writing or copying code. It is also used for other purposes and one of them is to clear text formatting.

To use the ‘Notepad’

  • Access the ‘Notepad’ from ‘Accessories’ in your ‘Program’ list.
  • Keep this software handy for future use by adding it to your ‘Start Menu’ or your ‘Taskbar.’
  • Copy ( CTRL+ C ) text from a website and paste ( CTRL+V ) to ‘Notepad’ then copy ( CTRL+C ) it from ‘Notepad’ and paste ( CTRL+V ) it to your email.

You will find that the text looks exactly the same as the other text in your email.

I have created twelve worksheets and a general ledger to do my monthly banking in EXCEL. How can I jump back and forth from the General Ledger worksheet to any given month without scrolling through all the worksheets at the bottom of the workbook?

  • From one of the monthly worksheets type GL for General ledger.
  • Highlight and right click on GL then choose ‘Hyperlink’ from the drop down menu.
  • Click on ‘Bookmark’ and then choose the ‘General Ledger’ from the drop-down list that appears.
  • Click OK and the hyperlink to your General Ledger will be active from your worksheet.

Repeat these steps throughout your workbook.

How do I add a text entry to the AutoCorrect list?

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Options.
  3. Click Proofing.

If you are using Microsoft Outlook, click Mail, and then click Spelling and AutoCorrect.

  • Click ‘AutoCorrect Options.’
  • On the AutoCorrect tab, make sure the ‘Replace text as you type’ check box is selected.
  • In the ‘Replace’ box, type a word or phrase that you often mistype or misspell, for example, type ‘usualy.’
  • In the ‘With’ box, type the correct spelling of the word, for example, type ‘usually.’
  • Click Add.
  • Click OK.

Why are some of my emails not being delivered?

There are many reasons for the non delivery of emails. Check the list below and see if your email falls into any of the categories.

1.  No subject line – Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) reject emails that do not have a subject line or your recipient may not open it because they fear it may be “Spam.”

2. Suspicious subject line –  Internet Service Providers (ISPs) reject emails that have “suspicious” subject lines and treat them as “Spam” for the user’s protection.

3.  The recipient’s mail box may be full or over-quota.

4.  The recipient’s email address may not be valid any longer.

5.  The recipients address was typed incorrectly. Double check the spelling, proof read your email and make sure that there are no spaces in the email address, before clicking “send.”

6.  The recipient may have changed their email address.

7.  Email Anti-Virus software often removes the contents of an email if it thinks that it has harmful contents such as Viruses.

How do I fill a long Excel column with a formula without dragging it manually?

Filling an Excel column manually with a formula in each cell can be daunting if your column is longer than 100 lines but Microsoft has equipped us with several automatic procedures to make it easy. Below is one solution that I believe is the easiest. Let me know what you think when you have tried it.

Best Solution:

Tutorial - Excel column with Formulas After you have filled all the information in the other columns in your worksheet, type the formula in the first cell of the column in which you need the information generated.

Double click the “fill handle” that you would normally “drag” down and the formula in that cell will be copied into the last cell of that column adjacent to the last cell of the corresponding columns.

For more help with Microsoft Excel sign up for a Remote Assistance Session and I will be on hand to help you when you need it.

Why does my pointer jump all over my document while typing?

Follow the steps below to prevent the mouse from jumping all over the document while you are typing.

Go to: Start
Go to: Control Panel
Click on “Mouse Properties”
Click on “Pointer Options”
Uncheck “Hide pointer while typing”
Click on “Apply” then on “OK”

Contact me and let me know if this solves your problem.



Why is my cell phone dead and does not charge when connected to a power source?

If your mobile phone has been working well, it will not be a major problem to get it working again. Below are a few things you can try:

1.  If the cell phone does not “power-up” when it is connected to a power source, the first thing you should do is disconnect it from the power source and plug in another device, that you know is working, to make sure that the power source is “live.”

2.  If the power source is “live” try removing the mobile phone battery and then replacing it into the phone. This “resets” the system and the mobile phone usually comes back to life. Plug it back into the power source until it is fully charged.

3.  If the “reset” does not work, the power cord might be faulty and should be replaced.

4.  If your cell phone is still inoperable, take it to your cell phone supplier for examination.

How do I remove the Hyperlink from the email addresses in an Excel list?

Email hyperlinks in a list in Excel can cause a new email to open if you accidentally click on them so it’s a good idea to remove the hyperlink so that changes can be made to the email address without causing a new email to open.

Right click on the email address and choose “Remove Hyperlink” which is the last option on the list if you are using Excel 2007.

When I opened my computer my Home Page had changed. How do I change it back and why did it change?

Sometimes a file or “cookie” can get into your computer and change your Home Page to the one that it wants you to view but it is very simple to change back to the one you enjoy.
• Find the page that you want as your Home Page.
• Click on “Tools” then on “Internet Options.”
• Under “Home page” click on the first button “Use Current.”
• Then click “OK.” When you reopen your browser the page that you chose for your Home Page will appear.

I have just returned from my vacation and cannot connect to the internet. I have a wireless system and am using my new laptop. Can you help?

One of the most common causes for not being able to connect wirelessly to the internet is that the settings in Internet Explorer have changed or have been changed to “Dialup.” This happens when you have been using “dialup” in another location and have not changed it back when you returned to use “broadband.” It could also happen if malware has infiltrated your computer.

To check if this is the problem, follow the steps below:

  • With Internet Explorer open click on “Tools.” Choose “Internet Options” from the drop down box.
  • Click on the “Connections Tab” and make sure that “Never dial a connection” is checked.
  • Click OK.

When I am typing an email or a document in Word on my laptop my mouse jumps to another line and I find myself typing in the middle of another sentence. Why does this happen and can it be corrected?

When using a notebook with a touchpad and a mouse attached, your thumb may get too close to the sensitive touchpad. This will cause the insertion point to jump to another line.

To prevent this you can disable the touchpad in Control Panel > Mouse > Touchpad tab, and just use the mouse. If you prefer to use the touchpad, look for a setting on the Touchpad tab to make it less sensitive.

What is a PDF file?

A PDF(Portable Document Format)is a file format developed by Adobe as a means of distributing compact, platform-independent documents. A PDF document may contain images and text, as well as hyperlinks.

Invented by Adobe Systems and perfected over 17 years, Portable Document Format (PDF) is the global standard for capturing and reviewing rich information from almost any application on any computer system and sharing it with virtually anyone, anywhere.

I needed to download Microsoft Silverlight so I installed it and clicked “run.” Each time I want to use a webpage that needs Silverlight to view the page I get another message asking me to download Silverlight again. Can you tell me why this is happening and how I can make this program active?

There is a very simple ‘fix” to this problem. When you download and installed Silverlight it went into your computer as an “Add On.” You just need to go into “Manage Add Ons” and “enable” Silverlight and you will be able to view all the webpages that need this software.

Follow the steps below to “enable” Silverlight:
• With Internet Explorer open click on “TOOLS” • Click on “Manage add-ons” • Scroll down until you find Silverlight then click to “enable” • Click Close.

I have just returned from our cottage where I was using a dialup service and now the dialup service keeps popping up each time I try to connect to the internet. How can I prevent this?

After using the dialup service you will need to change the setting in ‘Internet Options’ so that the dialup service is not operable.
Once Internet Explorer is open click on TOOLS > Internet Options > Connections.
Click into the Radio Button next to ‘Never dial a connection’ then click OK. This will turn off the dialup service.

I need to restore my computer to the Factory settings. I have the Recovery disk but it does not work when I put it in the CD tray. Can you let me know why the Recovery disk will not connect?

The Recovery disk will work if you place it in the CD tray while the computer is on and then RESTART the computer. When the computer restarts, the Recovery disk will begin the process to restore your computer to the factory settings. Make sure that you click to ‘boot from CD’ when the option appears. It disappears very quickly so you need to be quick to click on the option.

If I cannot close my computer using the Start Button or my computer freezes, is it OK to pull the plug?

No, it is not advisable to “pull the plug” if your computer freezes. The “shock” of pulling the plug on a working computer could cause the hard drive to crash or malfunction.

The safe way to close down the computer is to hold down the CTRL, ALT and DELETE keys simultaneously, which will bring up the Windows Task Manager. This “tool” allows you to close the troublesome program or programs and then continue working on your computer without closing down your system. It also has an option to ‘Disconnect’ or ‘Logoff’ under the ‘Users’ tab.