Smart Fixes for Your Printing, E-Mail, and Audio Hassles
Save on costly printer ink, handle leftover Registry junk, and defeat a common Outlook annoyance. Plus: two cool volume-control tools.
Nothing is more expensive than replacing inkjet cartridges. In this month's column, I'll talk about the tips and tools I use to save ink--and paper. I'll also give you the lowdown on removing leftover Registry-clogging Class IDs, show you how to correct another irritating Outlook flaw, and offer two easy ways to control your computer's volume.
Zap Ink-Slurping Web Pages
The Hassle: I use up too many inkjet cartridges (and the prices are killing me), especially when I have to print full Web pages with big images and ads just to get one line of useful text.
The Fix: I have lots of solutions that can make you happy. On Web pages, you can use your browser's built-in Selection printing option. First select and highlight the text you want to print; then choose File, Print and click Selection in the Print Range section of the Print dialog box.
Unfortunately, on occasion you'll still scrape stuff off the page that you don't need. So use the trick in combination with GreenPrint, a printing utility that automatically removes wasteful pages--say, those with only headers and footers or small amounts of text, or totally blank pages. The tool is free (it's ad-based), and it lets you print from any application.
More interesting is HP Smart Web Printing Software, a freebie that gives you a way to grab selected text and graphics from Web pages, save them to a document, and then print your customized pages. Using it takes more work, but the end result is an almost perfect document.
Finally, you can use an ad blocker to banish big blocks of ink-guzzling ads. My favorite is Ad Muncher; you'll make up the $30 cost in ink savings alone. Read "15 Downloads That Will Block Annoying Ads and Pop-Ups" for other choices, including freebies. All of the products mentioned in that article work with Internet Explorer and Firefox, and with all versions of Windows. But if none of those choices appeal to you, see "Where and How to Buy Cheap Ink."
Quick tip: Instead of printing the document, save paper and ink by grabbing the text you want, sending it to, for example, your iPhone or BlackBerry, and reading it later. To do that, download ShifD, a free Web-based tool, then slice and dice the content according to the fairly simple instructions, stick it in ShifD, and read it on your daily commute. If you're a Firefox user, install the Read It Later extension, a cool way to save, sort, and manage Web pages you don't have time to read immediately.
Clean Out CLSIDs
The Hassle: My Registry cleaner is listing a stack of CLSIDs. What are they, and is it okay to delete them?
The Fix: Class IDs (known as CLSIDs) hold information about specific program parts, namely COM objects and ActiveX components. If your Registry cleaner specifically refers to them as broken or invalid CLSIDs, it's safe to send them to their doom; programs with sloppy uninstall routines leave these CLSIDs behind. (Use Revo Uninstaller to remove applications--it scours the Registry for uninstalled program remnants.)
But here's the rub: Overly aggressive Registry cleaners might include a necessary CLSID in their list of problem entries, without labeling it as "broken" or "invalid." I'd leave those intact. For more tips and cautions on the Windows Registry, have a look at the "Top Ten Registry Dos (and Don'ts)" section in my article "How to Clean Your Windows Registry and Speed Up Your PC."
Outlook Icon Stuck in an Endless Loop
The Hassle: Every time I launch Microsoft Outlook from a desktop icon, it sticks a new shortcut in my Quick Launch bar. I delete the thing, and Outlook puts it back again! This is driving me nuts.
The Fix: If you're in an endless loop, deleting and redeleting the same shortcut, try this trick. Right-click the Outlook icon, choose Properties, and enter the following command into the Target field (be sure to include the quotes and use Office12 in place of Office11 if you've upgraded to Outlook 2007).
"C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOffice11Outlook.exe" /recycle
The "/recycle" switch essentially tells Outlook that an icon is already in the Quick Launch bar; it also forces Outlook to use an existing Outlook window, if one exists.
Tools of the Month: Control Your PC's Volume
You're rocking out to some newly ripped MP3s in your home office when the phone rings. It's your boss, and you need to lower your PC's volume--right away. Instead of fumbling with Windows Media Player's volume control, grab the mouse, hover over the taskbar, and lower the volume with the mouse wheel. I use Volumouse, a smart little freebie that lets me handle my two volume issues: muting or unmuting and lowering or raising the volume. Because the tool appears in the taskbar, you can use it no matter what application you're currently working in. If you don't like the look and feel of Volumouse, try VolumeTouch, a similar product that uses either the mouse or keyboard combos to do the same thing.
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