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Safe Mode Is Windows' Way to Get a Fresh Start

May 18, 2000|JEFF LEVY

Question: What is safe mode and why does it come up every once in a while?

--Kay Y., Upland

Answer: Windows uses safe mode to start without driver files that operate peripheral devices like printers, scanners and CD-ROM devices. Whenever Windows detects problems loading, it starts in safe mode. By doing a normal shutdown from safe mode, you tell Windows to try to fix whatever problems caused it to load in safe mode. It may take two or three tries for Windows to "get it right." You can always tell when Windows is in safe mode because the words appear in each of the four corners of your monitor.

Outlook Offers E-Mail Shortcuts

Q: Often when working on a document, spreadsheet or Web page, I'll sometimes want to send an e-mail. Is there an easy way to send e-mails without having to close whatever I'm working on?

--Sandy L., Tehachapi

A: If you are using Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, you can easily send an e-mail from wherever you are in your computer. If you are on the Internet, click in the Address box that shows the Web page you are logged to and type Mailto:. If you know the address of the person you want to e-mail, just include that in your Mailto command. For example, to e-mail me you would type You can also click on Start, select Run, and then type in your Mailto: command in the Open: box.

Web Site Can Check Connection Speed

Q: At work I use a DSL connection to get to the Internet, and at home I have a cable modem connection. Is there some way that I can measure the speed of each connection so I know which is faster?

--Betty Jane M., Toluca Lake

A: Microsoft has a Web page that can calculate the speed of your Internet connection. It works on any connection, including a dial-up modem, ISDN, DSL and cable. While on the Internet, go to I suggest that you run the test three times, add the speed results together and divide by three. That will give you an average speed reading for your connections.

Use Disk Cleanup to Sweep Out Trash

Q: My hard drive has accumulated tons of "temp" files. My Internet browser caches files, and I'm sure there are other useless files I can delete to create more hard drive space. How can I do this?

--Bob G., Tehachapi

A: Windows 98 has a tool called Disk Cleanup that will search your hard drive and list temporary files, Internet cache files and unnecessary program files that you can safely delete. Your hard drive can then use the unoccupied space left behind after the deletions.

To run Disk Cleanup, you can click on Start and then on Programs. Click on Accessories and then on System Tools. Select Disk Cleanup from the list, identify the drive you want to clean up, and you're off.

You also can right-click on My Computer, select Explore and select a drive. Highlight the drive and then right-click on it. Select Properties and then click on the Disk Cleanup button. The process will then start on that drive. You can select the categories you wish to delete. Try clicking on View Files to see a list of the files your computer keeps.


Jeff Levy hosts the "On Computers" radio talk show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on KFI-AM (640). He can be reached at

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