How to show file extensions in Windows

December 9, 2009 at 9:38 AM • by John Lueders

The default setting on Windows is to hide file extensions for know file types.  For instance, if you have a Word document ‘My Story.docx’, it will appear as ‘My Story’ without the ‘.docx’ file extension.  Not knowing the file extension leads to more confusion than good, in my opinion.  Let’s all show our file extensions, shall we.

How To Steps

  1. In Windows XP, Vista, 7, open up ‘My Computer’.  Windows Vista looks like the below image, notice that there are five files, three are Word documents, and two are Excel spreadsheets.
  2. Click on ‘Organize’ and then ‘Folder and Search Options’.  (see red circle below)windows-file-refresh
  3. Click ‘View’ and then uncheck the ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ checkbox and click
  4. After the screen refreshes with your new setting, the screen will look like the

Notice that you now see the file extensions of the five files above.  You can see that the three Word documents have different file types.  One is a ‘.doc’, another is a ‘.docx’, and the last is a ‘.rtf’.  They all open in Word, but they are different.  For instance the ‘.docx’ file is the current file extension of Word 2007 and is sometimes unreadable by older versions of Word, if they computer did not yet install the compatibility pack from Microsoft.  Click here for the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats.

Showing file extensions can also help in securing your computer.  Please see this AskAboutTech blog post for more information.

How to install a new font in Windows

June 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM • by John Lueders

To really personalize my printing projects, I will oftentimes search my list of fonts and select the one that looks the most aesthetically pleasing for the job, after which I will adjust the color and size until it is just right.  I have customers who print envelopes by using a larger calligraphy font for the names on the first line and a smaller, more legible font for the address.  This is partially why Elm Software developed PrintJobs in the first place – to customize the ways in which you print information.

But what if you like a font that is not on your computer?  Elm Software offers a variety of free fonts available via download.  If you would like to use fun, new fonts for your own upcoming printing projects – invitation envelopes, mailing labels, room layouts, reception tent cards – use the following information to properly install these fonts on your computer.

Before we discuss the steps needed to install a font on your computer, let’s discuss where fonts live.

Where fonts live

Fonts reside in a folder on your Windows computer.  This folder is usually at C:\Windows\FontsSometimes it is C:\Winnt\Fonts.  Fonts installed on your computer appear in this folder and are usable by any program on your computer – Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PrintJobs, Tabula Rasa, etc.  The image below shows my Fonts folder on my Windows Vista 64-bit computer. 


Let’s say you are working on your computer, and you open a Word document that was created on another computer in Calibri font, but your computer does not have Calibri.  Your computer will automatically select the closest approximation of Calibri to display the text, such as Arial or Verdana.  If you are e-mailing a document (to be printed) that contains a unique font, either turn the document into a .pdf or be sure that the end computer has that font already installed.  Otherwise, your print job may not end up looking like how you want it to look.

Installing fonts

  1. Visit, locate the desired font and click the download button.
  2. Save the zip file to your desktop.
  3. Unzip the contents of the zip file to your desktop.
  4. Go to your desktop and find the font file(s) and right-click and select ‘Copy’ from the popup menu.
  5. Open 'My Computer' and navigate to your fonts folder. Example: C:\Windows\Fonts
  6. Right-click in the ‘Fonts’ folder and click ‘Paste’.
  7. An 'Installing Fonts' dialog window appears.
  8. Upon completion, your fonts will be installed and ready to be used by all applications.


Install some new fonts today!

Free screen capture tools

June 20, 2009 at 11:12 PM • by John Lueders

I often need to capture a screenshot or a part of a screen when I write emails or work on a help file.  This post is dedicated to two different ways to capture a part of your computer screen.

Free methods

1)  The ‘Print Screen’ button is on everyone’s keyboard and not widely used or known.  The ‘Print Screen’ button is towards the top right of your keyboard.  When you press the ‘Print Screen’ button, your entire computer screen is captured and saved in memory and ready for your use.  You can paste (Ctrl+V) the image into a Word document just to try it out.
Below is my image obtained by pressing ‘Print Screen’…click on it to see the entire image.

1a) Often, ‘Print Screen’ in itself is too much…you do not usually need the entire screen captured.  That is why I recommend using the ‘Alt+Print Screen’ key combination.  This captures only the active window.
Below is my image of the active window (Windows Live Writer which I use to write this blog)…click to see the image.


2) If you have Vista, you have a free screen capture tool called ‘Snipping Tool’.  This tool lets you capture any part of your screen by using a selection rectangle.

To find it…Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Snipping Tool, if you do not see it there…

To activate it…Go to Control Panel and open Program and Features. In the task pane on the left, click Turn Windows features on or off. If necessary, click Continue when prompted by User Account Control. Scroll through the list of features, check the box next to Tablet PC Optional Components, and click OK. This adds a new folder under Start, All Programs, Accessories, named ‘Tablet PC’ that contains the ‘Snipping Tool’ as well as other Tablet PC programs.  I then add the ‘Snipping Tool’ shortcut to my ‘Quick Launch’ bar on the bottom by dragging and dropping a shortcut to the bar on the bottom.



Here is my ‘Snipping Tool’ on the my ‘Quick Launch’ bar.
The image below was captured using the Snipping Tool…just to show that is truly helpful.  I even did the blue highlight circle…it truly is a helpful and easy tool to use…and it is free with Microsoft Windows Vista.


Outside of these free methods above, there is a program called Snag-it by TechSmith that is truly excellent and costs $49.95.

There are others, but the free screen capture methods above, plus the purchasable Snag-it should provide you with a good starting point in the screen capture world.

Stop using Internet Explorer 6

April 1, 2009 at 12:49 PM • by John Lueders

We are joining the collective voice among website designers to advise our website visitors to stop using Internet Explorer 6 and upgrade to Microsoft’s most recent version…Internet Explorer 8.  Internet Explorer 6 is not compliant with today’s modern design concepts.  Basically, it doesn’t interpret the HTML ‘code’ correctly and will not show a webpage the way it was intended.  For example, this blog’s page header should look nice in all new browsers. In Internet Explorer 6, the menu above will render as text and will not look right at all.

We recommend that your download Microsoft’s newest browser, Internet Explorer 8.  It is solid (and actually faster than I expected).  Some of the more important features that you will get by upgrading are:

  • Security improvements and fixes.
  • Better rendering support for websites.
  • Enhanced privacy options.

We also recommend having a second or third browser installed on your computer.
Some options are:

By upgrading your browser, you will have a better experience surfing the web.


Below is our Google Analytics pie chart showing our visitor’s browsers by percentage. You can see that 60% of our visitors use Internet Explorer and 30% use Firefox, all other browsers take up the remaining 10%.

Google Analytics Browser Pie Chart

Further evaluation of this information shows that 22% of Internet Explorer users use IE6.  This actually means that 10% of all visitors to our site use Internet Explorer 6.  As time goes by, this number of Internet Explorer 6 users will decrease to 0%…the goal of this post is to simply help this process along.

Google Analytics IE Pie Chart

For additional reading about Internet Explorer 6, checkout this post by Scott Hanselman.
Also Google, ‘stop internet explorer 6’.


Please upgrade your browser today!

Resolution to Windows Vista Desktop not refreshing correctly

March 24, 2009 at 10:10 AM • by John Lueders

On some Windows Vista computers we have had some feedback about the screen acting inappropriately...the windows start button will show mostly white space...icons will not be clickable, basically things will not look right.

This is an known issue by Microsoft.

Microsoft has a fix for this behavior.

Please see the Microsoft Help and Support page about this issue:

To bypass the information and go directly to the hotfix page:


1. You will first need to validate your copy of Windows.  Click the ‘Continue’ button, circled below.


2. To run the validation tool, click ‘Continue’ (circled below) and then paste the code into the validation code textbox and click the ‘Validate’ button.


3. After validation, you will see the screen below with a ‘Download’ button and install the update from Windows.


4. After the update is installed, reboot your computer…Windows Vista should work as expected.

Using the Windows Vista File Explorer

March 17, 2009 at 11:08 AM • by John Lueders

When I am on the phone with a customer, we usually need to look at files on the customer’s computer. I usually say “Right-click on the Windows button and click ‘Explore’”.  By right-clicking on the Windows button (The ‘Start’ button for XP users) you will see a popup menu like the below image. 


Click ‘Explore’…this opens your File Explorer window. (see below)

This view is usually hard for customers to navigate.  The Favorite Links is not always helpful, we need to get to their ‘C:’ drive where all the files truly exist.


Then click the ‘Folders’ bar. (look at red arrow above)


Click the little icon (shown by the red circle above).
This minimizes the folders in your user specific folder.  We need to get to the C: drive…this is our goal.


Now we are looking at the computer’s folders.
You can see that under the ‘Computer’ icon, there is our ‘OS (C:)’.
This ‘OS (C:)’ is where all of your computer files exist…this is the place to be.


Elm Software recommends (and installs by default) all of its products in the C:\Elm Software folder.
This is where you will find information on all of our software products.

Shortcut Tip:  To open your file Explorer with your keyboard you can:
Press-hold the Windows button and the letter ‘E’.
The Windows button is usually between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the bottom left of your keyboard.

How to run Windows programs on Mac computers

February 17, 2009 at 12:22 PM • by John Lueders

All of Elm Software’s products are designed for Microsoft Windows.  With that said, you can run our software (or any Windows based software) on newer Macs that have Intel chips and run Mac OS X.   Below are three possible solutions to allow Windows programs to run on your Mac.

Parallels and VMWare Fusion are approximately $79.95 USD.  They sometimes run rebate promotions bringing down the price by $20 USD or so.  Visit Apple and do a search for either Parallels or Fusion and you will see their current promotions.


Parallels and VMWare Fusion are, in my opinion, better than Bootcamp because of the experience.  Parallels and VMWare Fusion add an icon to your Mac dock.  Clicking on the icon brings up a window showing ‘Microsoft Windows’ (like the image below).  This is faster and very easy.


Bootcamp is a free solution from Apple.  Bootcamp allows you to use Windows on your Mac but you have to either start your Mac using the Mac operating system or the Windows operating system.  This is less convenient than the two options above but is free.

Also, with all three solutions you will need a Windows CD (XP or Vista are recommended).

Going forward, I hope that our software will be able to use open source efforts like mono-project to make windows based software easier to run on Macs and Linux computers….but for now the above is what we recommend.  Hope this helps.

Windows Installer Clean Up Utility

January 30, 2009 at 2:26 PM • by John Lueders

Sometimes Windows is unable to uninstall a program from the ‘Add/Remove Programs’ or ‘Program and Features’ (for Vista users) list.  In these situations, Microsoft has a free download to help remove the program from the ‘Add/Remove program’ list.  Note this does not uninstall the program from your computer, it just removes the information from the ‘Add/Remove Programs’ list in your computer’s Control Panel.

Product information page:;en-us;290301

The download link is on the page above.

When installing you will see Microsoft Office in the installation…this makes it feel like it is for Office products only.  This is not the case, it can remove any program’s installation information from your computer.




This is what the program looks like when it runs…just select the program that is not uninstalling and then click ‘Remove’.

This program is great when you need it.

Please use it with caution.

How to easily create PDFs, for free

January 13, 2009 at 9:45 PM • by John Lueders

This post is for everyone who wants to create PDFs…the PDF solutions below are easy and best of all free.

Solution #1

In our new program Tabula Rasa Professional Edition, you can draw event design/layouts.  To get these drawings to a PDF, we recommend that you download a free PDF print driver.  The best free PDF print driver that we have come across is by CutePDF.  The free download is small (1.54 MB) and easy to install and has no spyware or popup screens of any kind.

This is the full url:

After the CutePDF driver is downloaded/installed, you will see ‘CutePDF Writer’ as an option in your available printers list.


Select ‘CutePDF Writer’ and click ‘OK’…you will then be prompted to specify where the pdf is created on your computer.  Note: CutePDf does not place advertisement watermarks.

We recommend this technique for printing out Tabula Rasa Professional Edition canvas drawings so that they are easily sent to your clients, vendors, site coordinators.  This solution works for every program that you own that has the ability to print.

Solution #2 for Office 2007

Microsoft has made available a free 2007 Microsoft Office Add-in that saves documents to PDF.
Just click the link above and download and install.
After it is installed, you will see a ‘PDF or XPS’ option in the ‘Save As’ pop-out menu.


This add-in adds this ability to the following eight Office programs.

  • Microsoft Office Access 2007
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007
  • Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2007
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007
  • Microsoft Office Publisher 2007
  • Microsoft Office Visio 2007
  • Microsoft Office Word 2007

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