Read works files in Word

It’s practically painless to convert those old Works files to Word. And we had plenty of reader feedback on passwords.

Give me the old things in a new way

Recently, I set up a brand-new computer with Windows 10 on it, transferred the customer’s files over from the old computer, and installed Microsoft Office. I clicked on a document expecting it to open in Word 2016.

Well, just heck.

The old computer was so old that all the documents had a .wps extension, which means they had been created in Microsoft Works.

Back in the day, Works was less expensive than Office, having a stripped-down feature set. Some computer manufacturers included Works at no (or minimal) cost on computers.

The program finally came to the end of its life in 2006, but apparently, there are people out there still using it on older computers. That’s fine until you get a new computer and a modern version of Microsoft Office.

I have read that Office 2016 includes a built-in converter for those files. I have yet to find it.

The good news, though, is that you can convert those old files to a modern format so Word 2016 (or 2013, or 2010, or 2007) can read them.

The safest and easiest way to do that, especially if you have a lot of files, is the Microsoft Works 6-9 Converter. As the title suggests, it will convert documents created in Works 6, 7, 8, and 9 to a format modern versions of Word use.

Download the converter (decline the extra programs), follow the instructions on that page to install it, and then double-click on any of your .wps files.

Wait, what? You get a message that says Windows can’t open this file. Don’t worry.

  • Click on Select a program from a list of installed programs
  • In the Open with box, select Microsoft Word
  • Place a check in the Always use this program… box
  • Click OK

Now, when you double-click any of your old .wps files, they’ll open in Word.

But wait, there’s more.

You want to Save as a Word document when you close the file, and you want to use the Word (.docx) version in the future.

Once you know the conversion for a document was successful and you have the new version you can archive or delete the old .wps file to keep things up to date and tidy.

How do you keep track of your passwords?

Last week, I asked you to share your password tracking system, and you sent some great suggestions.

In addition to the programs I mentioned in that column, “Neil” suggested Keeper. Keeper promises simple, elegant password management across all your devices, and offers different pricing plans for individuals, families, and businesses.

Keeper offers a 30-day free trial.

Some of you record your passwords in address books or in books made for recording passwords. “Bob” writes:

Most of the office supply stores sell a small password book by At A Glance, order by part number:
80-500. It is about 3.5 X 6 inches and has an alphabetical format. It used to be a phone/address format but they have updated it to this password iteration.

Here’s a link to that site.

Several people wrote about using Excel spreadsheets. Some of those people password protect the spreadsheet; others wanted to know how to do that!

To put a password on any Excel spreadsheet:

  • Open the workbook in Excel
  • Click on File | Info | Protect Workbook | Encrypt with password
  • Enter the password you want to set
  • Click OK (You’ll see that now a password is required.)
  • Save the file!

From now on, you’ll be prompted to enter the password. Several readers pointed out that their spouses and/or executors know the password. Excellent!

A faithful reader shared his system for setting and remembering passwords:

  • Pick a permanent word, example KElowNA
  • Add spaces to get: _____KEl__owNA__
  • Add permanent symbols: #@___KEl^%owNA*&
  • Put first three letters of the site you are signing into in the remaining three blanks

Thus for Telus, you get [email protected]^%owNA* and Amazon, [email protected]^%owNA*&,  etc.

Viola: an easy to remember framework that is individual to each site, that is a totally nonsense word.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to write, including the gentleman who suspected I was using social engineering to try to crack his passwords. I’m not.

Whatever your method, please keep track of your passwords.


Be prepared

Save yourself pain and suffering when things go wrong by taking precautions while things are going right.

We’ll talk about backups in another column, but you should do two things immediately.

Create Recovery Media

If your computer will start Windows, you will *probably* have access to built-in tools that can help you recover from problems.

But if Windows won’t start, the only way you’re going to get to the tools is with an actual Windows installation disc or with a recovery drive that you’ve already created.

This is not a backup (which you should do often); it’s a toolkit to recover your computer from serious failures. Make your recovery drive when you first set up your computer.

You don’t have to do that again until you complete a major Windows upgrade. (Did you upgrade your computer from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10?

You need to create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive. Did you upgrade your Windows 10 to the latest version? You need to create a new Recovery Drive.)

In Windows 10:

  • Type recovery into the Search box.
  • Click on Create a recovery drive.
  • Answer Yes to any User Account Control prompts you might get.
  • The Recovery Media Creator opens, offering a brief explanation and a choice. Put a check in the box that says Back up system files to the recovery drive.
  • Put a flash drive into a USB port, and then click Next. (You will likely need either a 16 GB or 32 GB flash drive. The Recovery Media Center will tell you.)
  • You’ll see a warning that everything on the drive will be deleted, and it will be/ So, make sure this drive has nothing on it you want to keep. If you have more than one external drive plugged in, make sure you’re selecting the one you want to use as a recovery drive. When you’re ready, click Next.
  • You’ll get another warning. When you’re ready, click Create.
  • This will take some time. When the drive is ready, you’ll be notified. Click on Finish.

Safely remove the drive, label it, and store it someplace where you can get to it in an emergency. Helpful hint: If your computer is a laptop, take the recovery drive in the bag with you.

Are you still running Windows 8.1? Your instructions are here

Windows 7 was different. You need a system repair disc. See this Microsoft article.

Keep track of your passwords

Every day, someone tells me passwords are confusing. Every. Single. Day.

I already know that. That’s why I write them down. A friend put this sign on my Facebook page:

My short-term memory is terrible. And so is my short-term memory.

That’s also why I write them down.

People. Please. Write down your passwords. Write down what each password is for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen scraps of paper in a pile.

Each scrap has a password on it, but no clue what the password is for.

There are plenty of programs and browser extensions and systems that will keep track of your passwords for you. Each of those has a learning curve.

The easiest system I’ve found that does not involve learning anything new is a piece of paper and a pencil. You can get as fancy as you want. You can get as simple as you want, too.

Try something like this:

  • WHAT FOR           SIGN IN                      PASSWORD                 NOTES
  • Email                     [email protected]      Perfectst0rm                 Changed May 2015
  • Facebook              [email protected]      IllNeverTell
  • WiFi                       My_Network                Ph0neh0me2n1ght      Home network
  • Bank Account        124586499064739     UnderTheMatre$$       Chequing

Do you also want an app to manage your passwords? Each has its strengths and weaknesses; keep going until you find something you like.

And while you’re experimenting — Write down your passwords

When you find a program, you like — Write down your passwords

Here are some password management tools:

If you want a worksheet like the one above, you can download it here.

How do you keep track of your passwords? If you have a system you like, please send email to  [email protected] and let me know if I can share it.

Fixing Facebook

Everyone has strong feelings about Facebook. Either you were dragged kicking and screaming into Facebook by your grandkids, or you can hardly tear yourself away.

One thing most people agree on, though, is that Facebook News Feeds look like someone threw spaghetti at the wall to see if it’s done.

Social Fixer for Facebook

Even once you’ve adjusted your Privacy Settings, so you’re not oversharing and your Notification Settings so you’re not bombarded with sounds and email, Facebook still looks like a mess, and it’s easy to click on something you don’t really want to click on.

We can fix that

I’ve been using the Adblock Plus browser extension for about a year now.

It’s good at blocking most of the annoying ads, but sometimes that’s just not enough. I found Social Fixer for Facebook about a month ago, and I’ve been impressed with it.

It’s not just a blocker (although it does some of that). You use it to customize how you view your Facebook News Feed.

Useful Social Fixer features:

Make Facebook always show Most Recent Stories first. Facebook itself randomly puts the feed back to Top Stories. Selecting the Most Recent Stories option in Social Fixer seems to prevent those random changes.

Filter our and organize posts. Yes. You can filter out stories on topics you just don’t want to look at anymore. Use any of the filters built in to Social Fixer or simply create your own.

Want to hide “People you might know”? Enable the filter. Were you sick and tired of reading (or skipping!) posts about a certain election? You could have hidden them by enabling a filter.

Want to get rid of “Sponsored Posts”? Enable that filter.

Show the correct time of a post. Some of us think “an hour ago” isn’t helpful. We’d rather see and exact date and time, and Social Fixer lets you toggle this off and on.

Show or hide entire sections of the page. Don’t like the section on the right with the adds? Yes. You can hide that.

Anonymize posts. Most people don’t care about this, but when I take a screen shot of my Facebook page to put in this column or show someone, I try to take out personal information about other people.

This means I edit the screen shot. But Social Fixer suppresses profile pictures and changes the name associated with the post.

There are more things you can turn off and turn on again until you get your Facebook looking the way you want it to. Get Social Fixer here.

It will recognize what browser you are using and give you a download for the correct browser extension.

Social Fixer hasn’t broken my Facebook, my Firefox browser, or anything else on my computer. It hasn’t slowed anything down, either.

Social Fixer is Donationware. It’s completely free to use. No features are disabled in the free version, but the developer asks you to contribute if you like the program.

Migrate your Flickr photos to Google Photos

Last week’s column about the security breach at Yahoo showed how to migrate your email and contacts from Yahoo mail to Gmail. A colleague asked, “Should I be concerned about my Flickr account?”

Yes! Flickr is part of Yahoo, and you use the same user name and password for both. If you have lost all faith in Yahoo’s ability to keep your information safe, you can migrate your Flickr photos to Google Photos.

Yahoo hasn’t made it easy, though. You need to find the photos you want to migrate, download them as a .zip file, “unzip” them, and then upload them to Google Photos. The folks at CNET have a detailed procedure, here.

You might want to work with Google Photos a little bit before you kill off you Flickr account. It’s a great product, but there’s a learning curve.

Here's what you should do

Mouse not responding! Yahoo hacked! Here’s what to do.

My mouse doesn’t work! What should I do?

Everyone has this question at some point. If your mouse is unresponsive try these fixes until you find the one that works.

For a wireless mouse:

  • Check that it is turned on.
  • Check that the transceiver is all the way plugged in to a USB port.
  • Try it in a different port.
  • Replace the mouse batteries.
  • Turn the computer completely off and turn it on again
  • Replace the mouse.

For a mouse that plugs into the computer:

  • Plug it into a different USB port.
  • Turn the computer completely off and turn it on again.
  • Replace the mouse.

If your mouse works, but it’s too quick or slow or jerky, go to the Control Panel settings for Mouse and adjust the settings. If you have a Logitech mouse or a Microsoft mouse, there is software to give you more control over your mouse.

My Yahoo account was hacked! What should I do?

Last September, Yahoo disclosed roughly 500,000 accounts had been hacked in 2014. That’s a lot of accounts!

But wait… there’s more.

Mid-December, Yahoo announced in the just learned that in 2013 over one billion accounts were hacked.

If you still have a Yahoo account, you received an email from Yahoo with the notice of the data breach and some instructions on how you can secure your account. Find more detailed information here.

To summarize, Yahoo recommends:

Change your passwords, security questions and answers for any other accounts on which you used the same or similar information used for Yahoo

  • Review all your accounts for suspicious activity.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited communications asking for personal information or referring you to a web page asking for personal information.
  • Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails.
  • Consider using Yahoo Account Key which eliminates the need to use a password on Yahoo.

Two announcements of huge problems within three months was too much for some people.

If you want out of Yahoo completely, take some comfort in knowing that it’s easy to migrate your contacts and even your email messages to a (Google) Gmail account.

First, create a Gmail account if you don’t already have one. And for heaven’s sake, don’t use the same password you’ve been using for Yahoo.

Once your Gmail account is up and running, you can start moving your information out of Yahoo Mail and into Gmail.

  • Open your Gmail account in any browser
  • Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner
  • Click on Settings | Accounts and Import | Import from another address
  • Enter your Yahoo email address and choose what you wish to import
  • Click on Start import

You’ll see a notice near the top of your Gmail window saying the Import process is underway and that it might take a long time.

It might, if you have a lot of mail and/or contacts. When the Import completes, you’ll see a notice informing you of that.

You’ll also see that Gmail created a nice label for you with your Yahoo email address. You’ll find all your imported messages there. How awesome is that?

There are a few things you should do before you delete your Yahoo account completely:

Notify the contacts you actually want to hear from of your new Gmail address.

If you receive any bills or newsletters at your Yahoo address, notify the senders of your new address, and make sure you’re getting the information in your Gmail.

If you’re doing any online banking or looking at credit card information tied to your Yahoo email, change to your Gmail there.

If you’re using your Yahoo email as your Microsoft Account, make completely sure you’ve changed that to your Gmail.

That’s tedious and moderately complicated. Follow the steps outlined here.

When you’re ready to delete your account, follow the instructions here.

Happy 2017! Stay safe!

More Getting Along With Your Computer articles

About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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