Why Doesn't My Computer Turn Off Properly?
My PC used to shut down quickly without a problem, but now when I try to exit Windows, my computer hangs or otherwise acts up. How do I fix it?
Keyon Naghavi, via the Internet
If you use Windows 98 SE, there's a patch available that you can download from the Microsoft Windows Update page. If you don't use 98 SE, or if the patch does no good, you'll have to do a little diagnostic testing. Select Start, Run, type msconfig, press Enter, and click the Startup tab (if you use Windows 2000, see "Msconfig for Windows 2000 and 95"). Note any unchecked items on the list.
Now click the General tab, and choose Selective startup. Uncheck Load Startup Items, click OK, and reboot your computer. Shut down Windows and see whether your computer turns off correctly.
If it does, the problem is in something that loads at start-up. Back in Msconfig, click the Startup tab, check a listing, click OK, and reboot; then exit Windows and see whether the shutdown problem recurs. Repeat this process with a different listing until you find the culprit. At that point, you have two options: You can decide not to let the problem program load automatically every time you turn on your computer, or you can check with the vendor to see whether it has issued a fix or update.
If selective start-up doesn't solve the problem, the underlying cause may be a bad driver. To find out, boot your computer, and--just before the Windows logo appears--press F8 to enter Safe Mode. Once there, exit and shut down your computer. If it shuts down properly, and you have already done the Msconfig test, the fault probably lies with a driver. Visit your hardware vendors' Web sites and gather updates for all of your drivers; update them until the problem is solved.
If the problem persists when you exit Safe Mode, your trouble could be due to a BIOS problem. Contact your system vendor to learn whether a BIOS update is available. (See this month's Hardware Tips, for more on BIOS updates.)
One Notebook, Two Networks
How can I configure my notebook to switch easily between the office network and my home network?
Deborah Norling, Milpitas, California
Whether your notebook has a built-in ethernet port or uses a PC Card network adapter, your best bet is to run a network-configuration program like J.W. Hance's $14 NetSwitcher shareware. Go to www.netswitcher.com for a trial version.
Another useful network utility is GlobeSoft's $36 MultiNetwork Manager shareware. At www.globesoft.com you can download a trial version of this program.
Customize Office Dialog Boxes
I tried customizing my dialog box Places Bar, per your September 2002 column ["Customize Dialog Boxes,"], but it doesn't affect the dialog boxes in Word or Excel. How do I change these?
Gary Smith, Winter Springs, Florida
The Windows and Office dialog box Places Bars (both of which were added in the 2000 versions of the programs) look and behave identically. But customizing one doesn't alter the other. Go figure.
If you have Office 2000, you can easily customize the bar with Microsoft's Office 2000 COM Add-In. Once you've installed the add-in, you can bring up a Set Places dialog box by selecting Tools, Set Places.
To add a folder to Office XP's Places Bar, open any Office dialog box with a Places Bar, navigate to and select (but don't open) the desired folder, and choose Tools, Add to "My Places" in the upper-right corner of the dialog box (see FIGURE 1). Your folder will appear at the bottom of the bar. Right-click any of the Places icons for available options to move or remove them.
Wait for the Virus Check
Does your e-mail program load when you boot your computer? And does it start downloading your mail as soon as it loads? If so, it might be downloading messages before your antivirus program is ready to check them, which could expose your PC to e-mail viruses. The solution is to instruct your e-mail client not to check for new mail automatically when it loads. In Outlook Express, select Tools, Options. On the General tab, uncheck Send and receive messages at startup. Once you know that your antivirus program is properly protecting you, you can start to download your new messages.