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Error Messages

Do you panic when you see an error message on your computer screen? Sometimes that message looks so intimidating that you actually forget to read it.

My advice: Read the message first; you can always panic later.

The truth is that many error messages look scarier than they are.

A woman called me recently to say her computer was not working; she was unable to send email. When I sat down at her computer, I saw the error message that prompted the call. It did look quite ominous.

However, below the big red “X” and looming “error” title, the actual message said that the last email contained an invalid email address and could not be sent. The message went on to say that if the offending email address was corrected, that email could be sent.

The woman admitted that she never actually read the message before she called me.

In a similar instance, a friend was trying to update a software program and thought he was doing something wrong as the “update” button was greyed out. When he clicked it, he got an error message that looked so intimidating he decided to cancel the update.

The error message — which did look scarier than necessary — told him he needed to check the “Accept the Terms and Conditions” box before the program would update.

So my message — which I am glad you are reading — is to put your fear of an error message aside, take a deep breath, and read what it says. You might find that it is relatively benign and even gives you the answer you need to move past it.