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Issue #205: Jun 26, 2011

Q:  In my Notification Area I like to see my power charge, my volume control and wi-fi net icon. But every time I get a Windows update or Java update I lose those notifications off the taskbar. Then I have to remember how to get them back because when I right click on the taskbar and go to notification menu I can only change the clock everything else is grayed out. I know there is some way to make the changes but since I do not do it every day I have to spend hours trying to figure out how make the icons show up again. So my question is how do I keep updates from changing my Notification Area?

– N. M.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: An ongoing source of frustration for most users is when automatic updates cause undesired changes on their computer.  I’ve lost entire files because I accidentally left open and unsaved in their application, when Windows Update forced a re-boot in the middle of the night and in the morning cheerfully informed me that it “had to” re-boot my computer to finish an installation (as if it had anything better to do between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM besides WAIT for me to tell it “OK”!).  I’ve also experienced the particular symptom that you describe, where your settings for the notification area are disrupted because someone in the Update Department at Microsoft can’t figure out how to do a software update that doesn’t also “update” your personal settings.  Unfortunately, this is probably going to be one of those “Thanks, Bill!” moments, because anything I can think of to lock-down these settings would very likely cause other problems that are far worse than having to restore a couple of icons in the system tray.  As a consolation prize, I offer this link: tinyurl.com/2s6y4q.  It will take you to an online tutorial on “How to Enable or Disable the Notification Area System Icons in Vista”.  Save this link and you won’t have to spend hours trying to restore it next time one of Wild Bill’s updates does you wrong.

TIP OF THE WEEK – Subject: Screen Captures

Did you know that your computer comes pre-loaded with all the tools you need to capture and save images right off your screen?  Such images are naturally called “screen captures”.  Making a screen capture is as easy as taking a picture; and the resulting image is actually exactly the same as what you get out of a digital camera.  To begin, decide whether you want an image of your entire screen, or only the currently-selected window.  If you want only the current window, press and hold the ALT key, if not, don’t.  Then press and release the [Print Screen] key (located on the right side of the keyboard, above the numeric keypad – sometimes abbreviated “Prt Scr” or some variation).  Release the ALT key if you’re still holding it.  You have just placed a screen capture on the Windows clipboard, which can be pasted into any program that can handle graphical data.  We’ll choose the Paint application that comes with Windows.  Go to Start>All Programs>Accessories, and you should see Paint there.  Run Paint, and select Edit>Paste from the program’s menu bar. Your captured image should appear.  Choose File>Save to save it to disk.  I like to use the PNG (Portable Network Graphics) type under “Save as type:”.   Once you have the image saved, you can e-mail it, embed it in a document, or do whatever you normally do with image files.  This is a great way to send detailed information about your computer’s errors to your favorite Technology columnist!


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