Minimize desktop clutter

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. My Windows Desktop is a mess. I need to get rid of some icons, but which ones can I safely remove?

A. Icons are representations of programs and other objects such as files and folders. Not all icons represent the actual physical location of programs represented. This particular breed of icon is known as the shortcut, and it's a good idea to periodically thin the iconic herd. Shortcut icons always display a small arrow in the lower left-hand corner. You can safely delete any shortcut icon without deleting its underlying program, file or folder.

If you attempt to delete an arrowless icon, you will receive a warning that you are about to delete a program or the object itself, not a shortcut to it. If you ignore the warning and discover that you deleted an important document or program, when you regain consciousness, go to the Recycle Bin where you can retrieve it by right-clicking the item and selecting Restore.

Default Desktop icons, which cannot be removed, generally include (depending on the version of Windows ) Computer, Network Neighborhood, Documents, and the always popular Recycle Bin.

Q. When I'm visiting Web sites using my iPad, is there any way I can save an image? I know that I can right-click and save when I'm using my computer, but I'm trying to use my iPad more, in hopes of ultimately replacing my computer with it. Thanks, Mr. M.

A. You're in good company. Millions of people purchase iPads with an eye towards replacing a desktop or laptop computer. While that may be appropriate for some users, not everyone who uses a computer will find that the iPad is a suitable replacement. But if you primarily use your computer for email and visiting Web sites, viewing videos, maintaining a calendar, and other similar functions, the iPad should fit the bill quite nicely. Even if it won't replace a PC, iPads are great fun. I have two of them and use them daily.

To answer your specific question, when viewing a Web site on your iPad, if you find an image you would like to save, tap and continue pressing (called “tap and hold”) the image. You will be prompted to save it to your iPad, where it will then appear in the Photos app.

Q. I have a 1 GB flash drive with 16 photos on it. Used space shows 752 KB, and free space is 959 MB. How many of the same size photos can I put in the remaining free space?

A. I had to hose off my slide rule for this one, so let’s do the math: If you have 16 photos that consume 752 KB (kilobytes) of space, that's an average of 47 KB per photo. (752 divided by 16.)

959 MB (megabytes) equals 959,000 KB. If we divide 959,000 KB by 47 KB per photo, approximately 20,400 photos can be placed on the remaining 959 MB of free space. Happy snapping!

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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 www.MrModem.com.