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Issue #277: November 11, 2012

Q: My Win XP taskbar icons suddenly changed to small. I managed to get two icons on the quick launch back to large, but cannot figure out how to get taskbar icons back to full size.  Enjoy your column, keep up the good work.

Glenn H.
Shalimar, Florida

A: For clarification, for my readers who don’t know the terminology, the “taskbar” is the area along the bottom of the screen in Windows that contains the Start button on the left and the Notification Area on the right, which usually contains a digital clock display.  Between these areas are icons – one for each currently running application, and optionally, toolbars that contain icons for launching applications.  Windows comes with several toolbars but none of them are displayed by default.  You can enable or disable any toolbar by right-clicking in an empty area of the taskbar, and selecting the “Toolbars” slide-off menu.  Toolbars that are currently enabled have a checkmark next to their name.  Each toolbar can be independently configured to show or hide the toolbar’s title, the text next to each icon, and select the icon size that you asked about.  So, to change the size of the icons, you have to do this for each toolbar: right-click within the toolbar itself (I usually aim for the “handle” on the left side, because you won’t get the correct menu choices if you click on one of the icons).  Then, select View, and from the slide-off, select Large Icons.

You’ll notice that this has no effect on the icons for the running applications, and there is not really any obvious way to change their size.  It is possible, however, although doing so affects other parts of Windows.  Feel free to experiment with the following, since you can easily put it back if you don’t like the results.   To begin, visit the Control Panel, and double-click “Display”.  Select the “Appearance” tab, and click the “Advanced” button.  Drop down the “Item” list, and select “Caption Buttons”.  Make note of the value in the “Size” field before continuing, so you can restore it later if desired, then adjust the value as you see fit.  You’ll notice that the title bar samples get larger or smaller as you change the size.  Changing the size of the Caption Buttons also changes the size of the icons displayed in the taskbar, although you must click “Ok” to actually see your changes.

Q: I cannot go to links on some websites. This started about a week ago. I have tried every solution.  By looking on the internet I have discovered a number of others with the same problem. After trying a number of solutions offered, I still have the problem. I am somewhat ignorant on the operation of computers; your help would be greatly appreciated.

Bob K.
Destin, Florida

A: I’ll be happy to help as best I can, but it would have been far better for you to tell me exactly what happens when you try to go to websites rather than just to tell me that you “cannot go” to them.  For example, if you get an error message, or if the browser goes somewhere other than where you expected.  For the purpose of this answer, I’m going to assume that the addresses themselves are valid, and that you’re either clicking on a hyperlink to go there, or properly entering the URL in your browser’s address bar.  With these assumptions, the most likely cause of the problem you described is that the sites are being blocked, either by your browser’s security settings, your internet security software (malware scanner, etc), or even your Internet provider.  Probably the easiest check you can do is to see if you can access the sites through another computer on your home network.  If you only have one computer, invite a friend with a laptop over, and hook it up to your network.  If you can’t access the sites from the second computer either, it means the sites are being blocked by your ISP (or less likely, it could also mean that both machines have the same problem).  If you can access the sites from one computer but not from the other, the problem lies within the machine.  You could try to download and install another browser and see if you can access the sites that way.  If you still can’t, the sites are being blocked by your security software.  If you can access them from one browser but not the other, then the browser itself is blocking them.  A visit to the browser’s security settings is in order in order to discover why.

2 Responses to “Issue #277: November 11, 2012”

  • GirlGeek says:

    It seems there was an update recently that affected the default browser defined on the PC. The problem arises when you try to go to a link from your e-mail or another website. The OS does not know what to use to open the weblink. You get a “Security” error message and the site will not open unless you copy and paste the link directly into your browser. Here is the solution.

    For WinXP go the Add\Remove Programs and select Default Programs on the left side of the screen. Open the Explorer choice and select Custom – uncheck the recheck IE as your default browser (or whatever default you want to use) and restart the PC.

    For Vista and Win 7

    Open Set Program Access and Computer Defaults by clicking the Start button , click Default Programs, click Set program access and Computer Defaults. Expand the Custom and the first selection is Choose a Default Web browser. Select “Use my current browser”. Click OK.


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