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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in laterlife

June 2011

Getting the most from your computerYou can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.

Jackie has also written the books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s. 

Every day computer activitiesVia Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her 

Or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too..

View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers


June 2011

A FREE alternative to MS Office

Most of us need to use a word processor, and many also need programs such as spreadsheets, databases or presentation software. Until recently, the only really reliable suite of programs has been MS Office, and I have always used this.

Yet there is a FREE suite that is really worth a try if you are thinking of buying or paying for an update to your commercial software. It is Open Office and you can download it from .

The advantages, apart from the price, are:

  • You can save files as MS Office compatible versions if you want to
  • The toolbars and menus are so similar, it will take only a few moments of thought to work them all out

What you get in the suite of programs is:

Writer – word processing
Calc – spreadsheet
Base – database
Impress – presentation
Draw – drawing tools (the shapes and colour palettes etc. found in Word)
Formula – for equations

To see the similarities with familiar MS Office programs, here are the word processing toolbars and menus:

Open Office main toolbars

You can see how easy it is to find:

• Open
• Save
• Print
• Cut, Copy and Paste
• Format Painter
• Undo
• Find
• Font type (Times New Roman)
• Font size (12)
• Bold, Italic and Underline
• Align Left, Centre, Right, Justify
• Print preview

As it is a free program, it cannot be as sophisticated as a Microsoft product costing hundreds of pounds, but give it a try if you want to save money.


Copying emails into folders

I have recently learned that, if you want to store email messages in your main computer folders, it is very easy to do this. Not many people will want to, as you will probably already have a set of labelled folders in Outlook Express, but it does mean that you could keep copies of any correspondence on particular items in the same folder as other related documents.

Once the emails are in the folder, just double-click the name to open the message.

To copy the messages into a folder:

1. Restore down your Outlook Express window so that you can see the desktop behind it.
2. Open the folder receiving a copy of the messages on the desktop so that it is visible.
3. Select all the messages and, using the right mouse button, drag them into the folder.

drag emails

4. Let go the mouse and select the "Copy" option.
5. The messages will appear inside the folder and will show a little envelope icon.

emails inside folder

Viruses and other problems

Q: I recently had a virus and wanted to run my anti-virus program but it was blocked. Is there any way round this?

A: This is such a common and irritating problem and is quite hard to solve. However, here is my 5-point plan to run a one-off scan and remove hard-to-shift programs:

Before you get a virus:

1. Download the free version of Malware Bytes from . The free version is not the normal virus checker running all the time in the background but is used by most people for one-off scans and removal of viruses.
2. Once it is installed, update it and do this on a regular basis to keep it useable.

Malware update

Update regularly


Once you get a virus or spyware interference:

3. Close down your computer and then start it up again. As SOON as it starts to load, press the key F8 at the top of the keyboard and keep pressing it until you are offered the chance to start up in Safe Mode.
4. In this Mode, viruses and spyware shouldn't be able to run, and many anti-virus checkers are also blocked, but you may be able to open Malware Bytes and start a scan.
5. If you can do this, you may need to do it several times. Keep repeating the process until you have cleared your computer and can open up and work again normally.


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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

It includes both one off articles and also associated regular columns of a more specialist nature such as Healthwise, Gardener's Diary, our regular IT question and answer section called YoucandoIT and there's also 'It could be you' by Maggi Stamp laterlife's counsellor on human relationships. 

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