How to clean a touchscreen

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. Is there a proper way to clean a touchscreen, such as my smartphone has?

A. Any device with a touchscreen, such as an iPod, iPad, smartphone, and even some cameras, can get pretty grimy from all the finger contact. To clean a touchscreen, turn off the device, then wipe it with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth designed for this purpose. Don't use a paper towel as it can destroy the screen's polarizer, which will adversely affect any image displayed. Use an up and down cleaning motion, as opposed to a circular motion, which can leave faint scratches. And be gentle! You're not trying to clean bugs off a windshield.

For particularly smudgy, crusty, food-stained screens -- which begs the question, “What the heck have you been doing?” -- spray a non ammonia-based glass cleaner onto the cloth, not directly on the screen, then gently wipe. Brillo pads? Definitely a no-no.

Q. I can never find files after I download them. Is there some trick to this that I'm not understanding?

A. Jot down or note the name of a file, then download to the Windows Desktop. In that way, the file is front and center on your Desktop after the download concludes, and you can then decide what you would like to do with it.

If, despite that sage advice, you download a file and can’t recall where you put it, your computer's Start > Search feature can locate the file by name. If you don’t remember the name of the file, you can enter the file type or even any of its contents and search for it that way.

To access Windows 7's Advanced Search, where you can also search by additional criteria, launch Windows Explorer and click the little magnifying glass icon to the far right of the Search field. A drop-down menu will appear that includes the ability to search by file size, as well as date modified.

Q. Is it possible to copy and paste using the iPad?

A. You can copy and paste text within an application (app) and between apps. Here's an example how you might copy text from one document to another in your iPad Notes app:

First, launch Notes. If you don't have any notes written, create one by typing some sample text so you have something to copy. (Duh!)

Touch and hold your finger over a word in your note. When the Select/Select All pop-up menu appears, select Select. (Oh, the cleverness of the word play!) The text will appear highlighted and surrounded by dots connected to lines. Tap and drag the dots so the highlighted area is exactly what you want to copy, then tap COPY.

Tap the + button to create a new note, then tap an empty area to display a pop-up menu with the PASTE command. Tap PASTE to insert the copied text.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week

Stuff People Write on Money
On occasion, most of us have received cash from an ATM or in change, only to discover that some doofus has written on it. This online album displays notes, lottery numbers, moustaches and unusual hairdos scrawled on the presidents, among other quasi artistic renderings.

Statistics about population growth, the environment and other large-scale topics can, because of their sheer magnitude, seem abstract and even unfathomable -- or what we called “mind-blowing” during what I can remember of the '60s. This site presents statistics, some frightening and some amusing, such as the current Earth population, the rate of forest loss, the number of bicycles produced annually, the amount of money Americans spend on perfume, and many other numbers you can cite in order to amaze, astound, and annoy your friends and family members.

Mr. Modem publishes "Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks, and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit