Smart fixes for your printing, e-mail, audio hassles

Save on costly printer ink, handle leftover Registry junk, and defeat a common Outlook annoyance. Plus: two cool volume-control tools.

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 Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\Outlook.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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Steve Bass

PC World (US online)
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