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Microsoft IE programmed to save Web pages

Posted by iTech - 2005-10-02

Q. I purchased a scanner about four years ago that captured Web pages and stored them in a special folder using software called PaperPort by ScanSoft. It no longer functions.

After exhausting several hours of trial and error and research to no avail, even going to the software manufacturer, I am at a dead end for new leads and follow-ups.

Joe Huspen @hotmail.com

A. PaperPort and ScanSoft date back to the early days of Windows computers. This Web capture feature, a big deal back in the 1990s when ScanSoft made its debut, now can be done more easily just using subsequent additions to Web browser programs.

Microsoft Internet Explorer includes a "Save as" command that quickly stores a Web page, complete with all of its associated artwork, on one's hard drive. This feature is not noticed by many folks, and that's a shame because the more you use the Web, the more valuable a collection of saved pages becomes.

Here's how I make this work. I start by creating a folder by opening the My Documents folder and right-clicking inside it. The New command in the menu that pops up includes making folders. I call mine "Web saves."

Next, go to a Web site and pick a page you'd like to keep on hand for use whether you're online or not. Click on File in the browser and select Save As, and you will find the first option is "Web page, complete."

When the window comes up to specify a save location, call up the "Web saves" folder you created. You can give the captured page a name or, better in most cases, just let the software leave the original page heading as a file name.

Both an icon for the page and a folder for its associated artwork are created and available, just as is any other file. You can move Web material from a work computer to a home computer or send it as an e-mail attachment.

This is simplified because when you drag the icon for the page, the software automatically moves the associated folder to the same location.

As your "Web saves" folder grows, you can use the Windows search tool to find stuff just as you use a browser online. The search tool is found by opening the "Web saves" folder and then clicking on the magnifying glass icon on the toolbar or tapping Ctrl + E.

Q. I recently had to replace my computer. I removed the practically new hard drive, put it in a case and now use it as an external drive on the new machine. The old machine was running in FAT32, and the new one runs NTFS.

Should some change be made to the external drive, and, if so, what and how? I'm using it for storage only, and it seems to be working.

Jack Mason @earthlink.net

A. I congratulate you on salvaging that hard drive by acquiring one of the USB 2.0 or FireWire external-drive-enclosure boxes that have the circuitry needed to run a hard drive as though it were bolted inside the computer case.

For most of us, the answer to your question about whether to upgrade an old drive to NTFS (New Technology File System) is don't bother. While NTFS is hugely superior to the FAT32 system, the improvements mostly affect IT-level administrators rather than we ordinary users known as BCAK (between chair and keyboard).

The biggest difference for most users has to do with fixing drawbacks that make FAT32 (file allocation table) drives run significantly slower when dealing with large files, like 2 gigabyte movies, than does NTFS. On the other hand, FAT32 is faster than NTFS on computers with lots of very small files, like Ask Jim columns and daiquiri recipes.

With today's computer files getting ever larger, it's best to have NTFS but hardly the end of the world if you don't.

Speaking of the end of the world, NTFS can recover from catastrophes such as having the power suddenly fail during a writing operation, while this often causes FAT32 drives to become unreadable.

There are differences that don't concern ordinary users, things like superencryption, built-in file compression and something called data streams that let two specially created programs access the same file at the same time.

Windows XP includes commands that can be used to convert FAT32 to NTFS, and software like Norton Partition Magic 8.0 handles the job safer and faster. To see what I mean about faster and safer, check out Microsoft's explanation of the conversion process by going to http://support.microsoft.com and using the search term 307881, which is the article number in the huge Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Q. Every so often I receive an e-mail captioned "winmail.dat" that my computer cannot open despite having the latest versions of Word, Excel, Explorer, etc.

I have had senders of the message tell me they thought they were sending a normal DOC or XLS document, and they are as baffled as I am. Is there any way to make these "winmail.dat" transmissions readable?

Vern Squires @msn.com

A. Most often this winmail.dat problem sets in when the sender of a note uses Microsoft Outlook and the user works with another e-mail program.

The DAT file format is used to hold file attachments and has long been the bane of many people who don't use Microsoft Office. In your case, however, the fix probably is as easy as setting Microsoft Outlook to be your default e-mail program, and since your PC includes Word and Excel, chances are good that you have Outlook.

For people outside the Outlook cult, the best fix is to ask the sender to resend the message as a single message rather than a series of attachments. Tell the sender to open Outlook and click on Tools and then Options and then click the Mail Format tab in the menu that pops up. By changing the format to text or HTML, the winmail.dat will no longer vex the Outlook user's recipients.

Finally, there is an excellent freeware program called WMParser that will perform the needed conversions on any Windows PC. It's available at www.magicwinmail.net. Click on the Free Download button and then look in the "Useful Tools and Sites" section.

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