How to maximize iPad memory

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q.  I love my iPad, but I was wondering if there are programs running in the background that slow things down, like in my PC. Is there such a thing?

A.  When you launch iPad apps, they do run in your iPad's memory, somewhat similar to a desktop or laptop computer. When you move from app to app, each preceding app remains open, so it's a good idea to periodically close them to free up memory.

To do this, double tap the Home button, which will cause a bar, called the Task Switcher bar, to appear that displays all running apps. Press and hold the first app icon until it starts to jiggle and a little red circle appears. Tap each little circle to close each app, one at a time.

Bonus Tip: As its name implies, the Task Switcher bar can be used to switch between open apps. With the bar displayed, simply tap an app (how poetic!) to access it. Swipe the screen downwards or press the Home button to remove the bar. For even more life-altering iPad tips, check out

Q.  I copied a Microsoft Word file from my old computer to my new one. On the new computer it opens in Notepad format. How do I get the new computer to open it in the original Word format?

A.  Right-click the file you want to open and select Open With from the menu that appears. Select Microsoft Word from the list of programs, and click to place a check in the box to open all files of this type with Word in the future. 

Q.  Can I make a shortcut to Web pages I visit frequently and save them on a flash drive? When I’m using someone else's computer, I would like to have access to the sites I visit the most.

A.  When you save Web sites to your Favorites or Bookmarks folder, you are creating a shortcut to each site. You can then copy your Favorites folder to a flash drive, or you might want to consider using an online bookmark manager such as My Bookmarks ( or Google Bookmarks (

Both are free, and both enable you to keep your Favorites online so you can access them at any time, from any computer with Internet access. After registering, simply go to either site, log in, and you will have full access to all your bookmarks in one centralized location, thus avoiding the need to transfer them to a new computer, flash drive, or other storage media.

If you want to save your Favorites to a file for use on a flash drive, the specific steps vary depending on the browser you're using, but click File, look for the Export option, then follow the on-screen prompts.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week

This site serves up literary teasers for Twitterers. Twice a day the first sentence of a book is posted, without the author's name or book title, but with a link to so readers can review the source of the excerpt. Literary teasers can also be received by email, RSS reader, on your Google home page, by cell phone, and I suspect soon your toaster. Interesting and curiously addictive.

Where’s My Refund?
According to this site, the Internal Revenue Service is desperately seeking taxpayers who are due refund checks worth more than $100 million that were returned as undeliverable. (I'm thinking “desperately” is overstating it.) A Web tool on this site enables taxpayers to check the status of their refunds, which average $950. You will need to provide your Social Security number and amount of refund due as shown on your tax return.

Mr. Modem publishes the weekly "Ask Mr. Modem!” computer-help newsletter at and “Mr. Modem's Top 50 Computing Tips” series at