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Perchance to Dream

I am often asked about the difference between “sleep” and “hibernate,” and whether either of these choices is preferable to “restart” and/or “shutdown.”

Let’s look at what each does and when to choose them.


Shutting down instructs your computer to systematically close all open programs, turn off the operating system, and power off the whole machine. To use the computer again, you will need to press the power button and then wait until the machine boots up.

You might shut down your computer if you are not planning to use it for an extended period of time.


The “Restart” option is much the same as the “Shutdown” option but it saves you one step: pressing the power button to turn the computer back on. Telling the computer to restart tells it to systematically close all open programs, turn off the operating system, and power off the whole machine. Once the computer is off, it will begin the startup process in a few seconds on it’s own, without your input. You will still need to wait until it fully boots before you can use the machine.

You most often have to restart your computer after installing software updates; some updates will not take effect until the system reboots.You might also choose to restart the computer if your computer exhibits strange behavior and nothing you do seems to help. Very often, the problem will correct itself in the rebooting process.

Sleep (also called “Standby” in Windows XP)

When you put your computer in “Sleep” mode, the screen goes dark and the computer rests in a low-power state. How you wake it back up depends on your type of computer:

  • If you have closed the lid on a laptop, you need only open the lid to wake it up.
  • You might press the spacebar
  • You might press any key
  • You might move the mouse or touch the touchpad

When your computer wakes up, you will see on the screen those images/programs you were using when you put the machine in sleep mode. In only a second or two you can resume working from where you left off.

You typically put your computer to sleep during the course of the day, perhaps while you are traveling, and often overnight when you wish to quickly resume working from the place you left off.

Hibernate (Windows only)

The “Hibernate” option is a hybrid of “Shutdown” and “Sleep:” it powers the computer all the way down, but remembers what you were last doing. While it is not using any power, you do not have to wait for the computer to boot from the beginning before you can get back to work. This takes a slighter greater toll on your computer than does “sleep,” but it will save power if you have limited battery life.

My recommendations:

  • Use the sleep mode most often so you can resume working right away
  • Restart your computer about once a week or so, and when an update demands it
  • Shut down your computer when you do not plan to use it for an extended period of time

I hope this helps.

A Hug for the Holidays

Ahhh … the winter holidays. Time to take a break from your busy life, rejuvenate, and get ready to start a new year.

Perhaps while you are in year-end mode, you might give your computer — and of all your electronic devices — a chance to rejuvenate as well. They work hard all year too.

Computer TLC?

You are probably thinking that “the darn thing is just lucky I haven’t tossed it out the window this year.” Hmmmm.

Here’s a list of things you might do to smooth over any hard feelings:

  • Shut down your computer and unplug it from its power source. (Do the same for your monitor if is has a separate plug)
  • While it is unplugged
    • Clean your monitor with a dry cloth or lint-catching duster (never spray anything liquid directly onto the screen)
    • Clean the crumbs out of your keyboard (a can of compressed air works great)
    • Remove all the dust and lint from the fan behind the computer
    • Wipe down the mouse
  • Plug everything back in, power the computer back on, and let it boot completely before using it
  • Delete your cookies and temporary internet files (Windows Internet Explorer 8: Start Button > Internet Explorer > Safety > Delete Browsing History)
  • Delete your cache (Mac: Safari > Empty Cache)
  • Empty your Trash/Recycle Bin
  • Perform the updates that you keep clicking off, especially Windows updates, Adobe updates, and Microsoft Office updates.
  • Restart your computer (one or more of your updates might require a restart anyway)

For your other devices, power them off completely and reboot them as well, clean the fingerprints off of the touch screen and the case/cover, and upgrade the apps you have (if updates available) or discard the apps you don’t use.

You might find that your computer and all of your electronic devices work a little better. At least they will be cleaner!

Happy holidays to my ITmail group. I hope you all enjoy the fun of the season. I’m around if you need me.

Save vs Save As

Why does saving documents cause so much frustration? Create a name for your document and tell the computer where you wish to save it. Seems simple. I believe that frustration is fueled by the all-too-confusing “Save As” option.

If you understand the difference between “Save” and “Save As,” you will not only work more efficiently, but also be more organized.


The “Save” command is for saving one document that you are working on and wish to keep. Soon after you open a new document, you should save it. When you click the “Save” command for the first time you are asked what you wish to call the document and where you wish to save it. Be thoughtful here; these choices will help you find your document later.

When you click the “Save” command after the first time — presumably after you update the file’s content — you will not be asked anything. The computer will understand that you mean to commit your recent changes to the existing document and will do it for you. Thus far, you have only one document in only one location.

Save As

The “Save As” command is exclusively for making a copy of an existing document. When you click “Save As,” you will be asked to name the new document (a different name from the original name) and to choose where to store it.

When might you use the “Save As” option?

  • If you are considering making some substantial changes to your document and wish to keep a copy of the original in case you don’t like the changes. (Of course, if you prefer the changes, you can always delete the original document and use the new one).
  • If you are sending the same document to more than one recipient and only a few items — perhaps the name and salutation — will change. Make a copy of the original document and modify only what needs to be changed. (See example below).
  • If you are designing a card, poster, invitation, etc. and you are not sure which variation (color, font, wording, layout) you or your committee might prefer. Save one, make a copy, make some changes, save it as a copy, make some other changes, etc. Present all the variations and spark some conversation.


You are in charge of your Thursday tennis game for the next few months and you create a schedule that lists the dates, players, phone numbers, and who brings the balls. You click “Save,” name the document “Thursday Tennis Schedule Fall 2011,” and store it in your “Tennis” folder. Anytime you update the schedule, you click “Save” to retain the changes.

If, halfway through the season, your friends ask you to organize the next season as well, you can open your “Thursday Tennis Schedule” document, click “Save As,” and name the new document “Thursday Tennis Schedule Spring 2012.” The format, names, and phone numbers are already in place. Just change the dates and move the players as needed. Don’t start from scratch if you don’t have to.

Use the “Save” command on a regular basis to be sure your most recent work is preserved. Use the “Save As” command on an occasional basis to make a copy of your document for a specific purpose.

And, no matter how many documents or copies you have, please remember what you named them and where you stored them!

Forward Thinking

Another email about email.

People love to talk with me about email. They especially love to tell me what bugs them about it. There is a lot to be said for proper email etiquette.

We’ve talked about capital letters, reply vs reply-all, blind copies, and what to do with unwanted email. Today’s email topic: how to forward emails without annoying your recipients.

1. Resist the urge to forward everything you get to everyone you know

Not everything is “amazing,” “incredible,” or “hilarious.” The more generic emails you send, the more likely your recipients are to delete them without reading them. Eventually your friends will miss an email you really need them to read. Use some discretion.

2. Hand-pick your recipients

Share cute dog pictures with your dog-loving friends, but not with everyone else. Only forward political, religious, controversial, and even humorous content to those you know share your views. Appreciating your readers individually goes a long way.

3. Delete the list of addresses that precedes the email you are forwarding

When you click “forward,” not only are you forwarding the content of the email, you are also forwarding all of the information about the original email: who sent it to you, when, and who else received it. This could be many many people. And, if before you received it, the email had been forwarded many times to many people each time, there could be “pages” of addresses to scroll past before seeing the intended content. To delete all of this extraneous information, click to “forward” the original email, and then highlight everything up to the message content. Press the delete key to erase the selection.

4. Copy the person who sent you the original email

Often in personal and business email — where timely communication about a specific topic among a select few is vital — it is appropriate to copy the person who sent the original email so they are aware that you forwarded it and to whom.

Proper email etiquette demands “forward” thinking. Now you know.

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