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This material is archived primarily from Email tips distributed to my own home computer friends here in Ocala, dated 2015-2017. Updates to this material are scheduled for CY 2018.

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Letter-Writing Apps

Basic Letter-Writing Apps Making Correspondence Easier

This "tips" email is to help clear up confusion that a lot of computer users may have about doing what should be a simple thing - composing and printing a letter.

Usually when you get replace one computer with another, the newer one is not going to be set up with all the desktop shortcut icons that you're accustomed to using.

Even if those icons are not visible to you, chances are you're computer comes with a basic word processing program or two that you can use for letter-writing.

On Windows system, the two most obvious text editors are Notepad and Wordpad.

On older systems, MicrosoftWorks often was pre-installed on computers

More elegant word processing programs also are available through various "office suite" programs.

First the basics - Notepad and Wordpad should be visible if you find your "All Programs" or "All Apps" list, such as through the lower-left Start icon.

Sometimes these are tucked away under "Accessories" or "Windows Accessories".

Notepad is the simplest of programs - really too simple for most letter-writing. You can choose your font style and font size but that's about all the formatting available.

Notepad is great, however for quick notes. You can copy and paste information in from other documents, webpages and email messages. Even though you lose the formatting and only the text actually gets pasted in, you can Select All in Notepad and increase the font size.

This is a great feature if you want to print an email message in a larger font that's easier to read.

Wordpad is like Notepad except that it has more formatting choices - paragraph justification, centering, picture insertion, bolding, italicizing, underscoring, font color, subscripts and superscripts for example. These features are more than enough for most letter-writing.

If you do a lot of letter-writing, then placing a shortcut icon for Wordpad on your taskbar is a good idea.

Generally, this is a one-time step. Occasionally a Windows update may result in "losing" your icon, but that's not too common. Once you get Wordpad or Word or the like on your taskbar, you're only a single click away from composing a letter.

Most of these programs make it easy to print your letter too. If your letter is composed and ready to go, the look to top left of your screen and click on File, click Print, check to make sure your correct printer is indicated, and click Print again.

There may be slight differences from one program, but this is the typical sequence.

Regarding MicrosoftWorks

MicrosoftWorks is a largely discontinued program, but if you're running a machine with earlier Windows version like XP or Vista, then you may still have Works installed.

The main problem you may have with your Works documents is that they don't convert readily into other programs commonly used today.

If you have old Works letters or documents backed up or saved, there are ways to convert them to programs in more common use on new computers. It just takes some extra steps and a good format conversion program.

If you have a older system and lost your MS Works, there are old disks floating around that probably still might install, but it's worth thinking about doing a backup or conversion of your Works letters or documents if you think you'll be wanting to refer to them in the future.

Now, about the Office suites:

Just recently I emailed out some information on the Office suites available - mainly Microsoft Office, Apache Open Office, and LibreOffice.

These and lesser known software suites each contain their own word processing program as well as other apps such as for spreadsheets, databases, slide presentations or the like. Microsoft Office has MS Word. Open Office and LibreOffice each have a Write program.

As you may know, Microsoft is really pushing its Office 365, which provides both online composing and computer-based composing as a subscription. However, many systems are now being sold with a pre-installed personal version of Office available for free, at least for a trial period.

An Office suite word processor really is designed more for composing documents than for letter-writing, although an Office program can add some really nice features for letters, especially holiday greetings.

Office type word processors typically will include features such as:

Importing or inserting a wider variety of items in your letter

Availability of clip art

Wallpapers and watermarks

Header, footer and pagination

Tables and columns

Bordering and page styles

Margin and orientation options

Footnoting and citation capabilities

Mailing and labeling features including templates

Merge mailing / list merging

Spelling, thesaurus, wordcount, translation options

Editing markup and code-reveal view options

Alternate views

Macros and add-ins from MS Store apps

This is quite a bit of information above, but I hope you'll find it helpful!

To recap one simple point - if you put a shortcut icon for Wordpad or any of your other most often used programs on your taskbar, it's well worth doing.