Learning the ‘right’ magic for your computer

FI-Log-On-With-Larry-SchneiderDear Larry,

Suddenly, my toolbars seem to be disappearing. My Word toolbar with the fonts is gone and so is the toolbar that resides at the bottom of my screen. What’s going on, and how do I get them back? —L.P.


Dear L.P.,

All it takes is an inadvertent click or drag of the mouse and, voilà! Suddenly, you’re a magician when you never intended to be. And this kind of disappearing act can be very frustrating to the average user, especially when they have things in a fashion they are used to on their computers.

Fortunately, you can be just as skillful at making things reappear as long as you know the right sleight of hand, or in this case, sleight of finger. Indeed, the solution to this conundrum dates back to my very first Log On with Larry column, almost nine years ago.

Clearly, a review is in order.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do? The answer is right-click. More specifically, right-click on an object to get help on manipulating or altering that object. In this case, help comes in the form of a pop-up menu of actions you can take on the item you right-clicked.

Let’s start with the missing toolbar in Microsoft Word. The menu bar (File, Edit, View, etc.) sits immediately below the title bar. Below that, you usually find the Standard toolbar, containing toolbar buttons for creating, opening, saving, and printing documents, and so forth. You happen to be missing the Formatting toolbar, which contains the font and font size along with the bold, italics and underline buttons.

By now the way to restore your toolbar should be apparent. Simply right-click anywhere on the toolbar or menu bar, for that matter, and up will come a pop-up menu of toolbar choices. Those that are checked are currently displayed while those unchecked are hidden, waiting for just the right moment to make themselves known.

But since your Formatting toolbar is missing, no doubt there’s no checkmark to the left of the word “Formatting” in the pop-up menu. Simply click on this menu choice, and your toolbar will be back just the way you left it.

Now if you’ve been paying attention, you should be able to write the rest of this column. You want to know how to make the (“Quick Launch”) toolbar on your taskbar (at the bottom of your screen) come back. Now you know.

Right-click on a blank portion of the taskbar (don’t right-click on a button or some other item that’s residing on the taskbar — that’s another object altogether, which will generate its own pop-up menu). You should see choices like Open Folder, Toolbars, and Cascade Windows. Since you want one of your toolbars back, click the Toolbars option, then click Quick Launch (or Links, depending on your computer) to get your toolbar back.

How do you empty the Recycle Bin? Right-click it. How do you change the time in the bottom right corner of your screen? Right-click it. How do you delete or rename an icon? Right-click it. How do you make a change to your Windows desktop? I’ll let you guess on this one. Yup, you got it. You right-click it.

And how do you pull a rabbit out of a hat? Well, that’s a subject for another column…

This is Larry Schneider, logging off.


Larry Schneider is the owner of Accent on Computers, a Greenwich-based consulting firm — now in its 15th year of business — catering to individuals, businesses and professional offices. PC and Mac services include computer setup, training, troubleshooting, virus resolution, networking, Internet, database, and programming. Call 203-625-7575, visit Accentoncomputers.com or send email to [email protected]

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