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The Cutting Edge | TECH Q&A

Use Word's AutoText to Place Data in Multiple Files Without Retyping

September 14, 2000|JEFF LEVY

Q: I use Microsoft Word 2000 to create reports. I use certain paragraphs in several of the reports I create. Is there a way to insert these paragraphs without having to retype them?

--Ronald M., Woodland Hills


A: Microsoft Word has a feature called AutoText that allows you to store and retrieve text, graphics, bookmarks and more. This feature is available in both Office 97 and Office 2000 versions of the Word program. Here's how to use it.

Highlight the text you want to use with AutoText. On the menu bar at the top of your screen, click on Insert and then on AutoText. Click on New in the resulting menu box. The New option won't be available unless you have highlighted text to add to the AutoText list. Word will suggest a shortcut to bring up that text. You can overwrite the suggestion by typing your shortcut name in that box. To use the new text you created in AutoText, type the shortcut name for that particular text and then press the F3 key.

You can also select from a list of AutoText items by clicking on Insert and then on AutoText. This time, click on AutoText in the new drop-down menu and a list box will come up. Type any letter of the alphabet to go directly to that section of the AutoText list. Highlight your choice and click Insert.

Better Scanned Photos

Q: I use a flatbed scanner to scan photographs into my computer. The colors look washed out and not as good as the original. Do I need to upgrade to a new scanner?

--Kay Y., Ontario


A: Before you toss that old scanner out, try placing a piece of non-reflective black construction paper over the image you want to scan. The black paper should be cut to the size of the glass area on your scanner. The paper tends to absorb excess light and the colors in your scanned image so it will be closer to the original.

Erasing Original E-Mail

Q: When I answer an e-mai message the original text of that message appears in my response. Is there a way to delete the original message before I send a response?

--D. David, Long Beach


A: You can highlight the entire original message in your reply by pressing and holding the Control key and then pressing the A key. The original message will vanish once you've typed the first character of your response. You can also set your mail program to ignore the original message text when you reply. In Outlook Express, for example, click on Tools and then on Options. Open the Send tab and remove the check mark next to "Include message in reply." In Outlook 2000, click on Tools and then on Options. On the Preferences tab, click on the e-mail Options button. Click in the box to the left of "Close original message on reply or forward." Click OK twice to exit.

Cleaning Up Hard Disk

Q: Is there any easy way to delete files that build up in the temp file?

--Henry S., Venice


A: Windows 98 comes with a program called Disk Cleanup that can delete several kinds of files. Click on Start and then on Programs. Click on Accessories and then on System Tools. Select a drive to clean up, and the Disk Cleanup opens. You will see that Disk Cleanup can delete Internet temporary files, downloaded program files, the contents of the Recycle Bin and temporary files. Once you have checked off the items to be deleted, click OK.

Click on the More Options tab and you can delete optional Windows components you are not using. You also can make more hard-disk space available by deleting programs you don't use.

Customizing Wallpaper

Q: My kids like to draw and paint. Is there a way to use any of their paintings or drawings for my Windows desktop background?

--Ellen B., Thousand Oaks


A: You can create files that end with the .BMP, or Bit Map, extension and use them as wallpaper for Windows. Click on Start and then on Programs. Select Accessories and then click on Paint. The Paint program will allow you and the kids to make all kinds of shapes in a variety of colors. You can spray paint, fill in background colors and make all kinds of images.

When you have finished your work of art, click on File on the Menu bar and then on Save As. Give your artwork a name using eight characters or less. Paint will save your file in the My Documents folder with a .BMP extension.

To use your finished work of art as wallpaper, right-click on the Desktop and click on Properties. In the Wallpaper section of the Background tab, click on Browse. Navigate to the My Documents folder and find the file you created in Paint. Highlight that file and you'll see it appear on the monitor in the Background tab. Click OK to close, and you can admire your new wallpaper.


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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