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Published 26-Sep-2002

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  A right-click away  

A powerful Windows features often overlooked by users is the information we can gain from a right-click on an item.

To see the point of right-clicking, imagine every part of Windows - the desktop, a folder, a file, an icon on the desktop, a hard drive, a printer - as an object with unique properties and attributes. Right-clicking on a file or other Windows object always pops up a menu, one item of which is "Properties". Other choices on the menu depends on what type of object you've right-clicked. If it's a file, one item on the popup menu will enable you to copy this file.

To start, how can you find the hardware properties of your computer? A right-click on "My Computer" pops up a menu, the last item of which is "Properties". A click on this item brings up the "System Properties" screen which contains general information about your computer, the devices manager, hardware profile and performance. You may have reached this information by another route in the past - through the Control Panel. That's one of the forgotten features of Windows - often you can reach the same objective by different routes. It's just a matter of choice as to which means you use to more effectively carry out a task.

Here's another object to investigate. Right-click on the desktop and choose "Properties". This takes you to various attributes such as the screensaver and wallpaper. By the way, all Windows objects are built up from the Desktop. You'll see this when you sometimes go back too far in the folder tree in Explorer when opening a folder to open or save a file.

Even the Start button is an object! Right-click and choose "Open". You'll see a folder named "Programs" and other items depending on your system setup.

Open Explorer and go to your "My Documents" folder. Select a file and right-click it. The first item on the popup menu could be "Open" or "Open with...". You'll see the former if this file has a program associated with it (e.g., MS Word or MS Excel or WordPad, for example). If there's not an associated program, you'll see "Open with...". If you know you've got a suitable program for this particular type of file, use the "Open with..." choice to associate this type of file with the program. In most cases, however, it's best left alone.

Another use of right-clicking a file is to move or copy it. To move or copy, highlight it, then rather than right-clicking, just hold your mouse over the file name with the right button depressed. Now move the mouse and the file follows you. Move it over to a different folder name and release the button. Now you have the choice to move or copy the file, or cancel the operation.

The idea of objects possessing properties extends to words, phrases and paragraphs in your wordprocessor, text editor or spreadsheet. Select some text and right-click and see what appears on the popup menu. At a minimum you'll be offered the choice to cut, copy or paste.

A task you do weekly is to right-click the Internet Explorer icon on your desktop, choose properties and then delete the files in the Temporary Internet Files folder. When that job completes, you might want to clean out the History entries.

A right-click in Windows opens a new way of accomplishing tasks. It's a particularly efficient way to move or copy files, spell check, format a sentence or paragraph, resize an image, copy text, or check your computer's hardware.

  IrfanView as a solution  

To solve the problem with sending attachments which are photos or images, download the IrfanView program - it's free and small enough to fit on a floppy so you can share it with friends who aren't online.

When sharing photos and images through email, use IrfanView to reduce the size of the file to a size that's not going to cause the recipient's email program to choke. A rule of thumb is that the image's file size should be only about 10 to 20 Kbytes - yes, that small. Use Irfanview to not only reduce the size (say, about 10cm x 15cm) but the quality. Remember to save this edited file with a new name so your original remain untouched. If your recipients want to print a high-quality copy, burn the images onto a CD and post that by snail mail.

As the receiver of that "family.pcd" attachment, because you've downloaded and installed IrfanView, you can save the file to your hard drive in your "My Pictures" folder and later view it using IrfanView.

When installing IrfanView, you have the option of associating a long list of file types with the program. If you'll be receiving many photo files of type "PCD", for example, at this stage you may want to choose that association. Then whenever your friend sends an attachment of type PCD, double-clicking will load IrfanView with the file so enabling you to see the photo.

For casual use, however, it's best to leave IrfanView's huge list of image file types unchecked. This just means to view a photo or image you need to start IrfanView and choose the image from a particular folder for viewing.

In conclusion, familiarise yourself with your favourite programs and the types of files they use. From time to time, open a folder in Explorer and see what types of files Windows is seeing, that is, which file extensions inform Windows which program it should run when you double-click on the file name.


The webDotWizards sessions at Rushworth Community House each Wednesday evening Friday morning are proving fruitful for all involved. Several sites in this week's list are contributions from these webDotWizards.

Among this week's list is the Melbourne World Masters site. Several local sporting personalities are participating in teams from the region so watch their progress once the Games begin on October 5.

The Weather Watch Radar page is quite handy to see where all the rain is falling. Some orchardists have installed their own radar systems to warn them of any approaching hail storms. Now the radar facility at Yarrawonga provides a weather watch to all within a 256 kilometre radius.