Plus: enlarge tiny fonts in IE and improve Outlook scheduling

This article appears in the August 06 issue of PC Advisor, available in all good newsagents now.

Annoyed enough by Windows that you’re thinking of switching to Linux or a Mac? Hang in there – I‘ve got solutions to four more hassles sent in by readers.

The Hassle: Windows Installer comes up at the oddest times – often when I’m starting Word or Outlook. If I uninstall the program Windows is trying to install, the installer will choose another program to attempt to reinstall the next time I open Word. Any fixes?

The Fix: I suspect that a previous installation went kaput. Running Microsoft’s Windows Installer CleanUp Utility clears the litter from the previous application’s installation, while leaving intact all data files that were created with the application.

The Hassle: I recently installed a program. Now when I browse the web with IE (Internet Explorer), I can’t read the characters on some pages. They’re so small, they appear as tiny rectangles, not letters. I have tried everything I can think of, but the font size doesn’t change.

The Fix: In IE, choose Tools, Internet Options. On the General tab, click the Accessibility button and confirm that ‘Ignore font styles specified on web pages’ is checked. Another quick trick: hold down the Ctrl key and use your mouse scrollwheel to enlarge or shrink fonts and images. Use the Shift key to move IE forwards or backwards one page.

The Hassle: To add a week-long event to Outlook’s Calendar, I have to click the drop-down ‘Start time’ and ‘End time’ menus in New Appointment and find the right dates. Is there an easier way?

The Fix: I think the Microsoft developers were dozing at the wheel when they designed the Calendar entry dialog box. When I enter a holiday (note to editor: not nearly often enough), I use a little-known Outlook shortcut. In the Calendar view, select the first day of the weekly event you want to add. Then hold down the Shift key and click the last day of the event. Right-click any portion of the highlighted area and choose New Appointment. Voila! The start and end dates are automatically entered.

The Hassle: I upgraded to a fancy Microsoft keyboard because I liked its extra buttons. But the dual-function function keys default to special use. I have to click a keyboard button to get regular function keys every time I restart the PC. Can you offer any solutions?

The Fix: Download, unzip and run the F Lock Key utility that matches your keyboard model. The utility makes a Registry change that remaps your keyboard; the next time you boot, your function keys will act properly. And don’t worry about making matters worse: F Lock Key comes with an undo function.