Question:

I am reading an answer you gave regarding the missing menu bar that disappeared on the top after downloading MSIE 7, the new version of the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser. I had the same problem. But I couldn't do what you said, because the option of the Tools menu was not there to generate the drop-down command to restore the words and icons at the top. So, I went back to MSIE 6.

Will I really suffer without version 7? My Internet provider is Comcast, and they are offering the download to 7.- Sharon Pane
Answer: You are typical of those tens of millions of folks with both a licensed copy of Windows and a broadband connection that is always online. This lets the world's largest software company send incessant updates to your computer over the Internet that not only enhance security but make substantial changes to the operating system itself, including the Web browser, which is a key part of Windows as well as the portal to the Web.

While there are options to stop those automatic changes from happening, there are incessant warnings about the undeniable fact that failing to update will make you easy prey for thieves and hackers, not to mention pop-ups and other adware from businesses.

So, you really have to permit those updates if you are going to continue using your Web access. When you agree to upgrades, you get two options. First, you can do a "custom" install, in which you approve what will be done or reject parts of the update. But the options become terribly complex, which presses users to give in and go auto, as you already did to get the version 7 browser installed and then replaced with the old version 6.

Microsoft will even let users go back to the Stone Age - in Internet years - and install version 5. But when you do that with a modern computer and broadband connection, the parade of updates will continue. When you approve updates, your computer gets changed over the months by a nip here and a tuck there until version 5 resembles version 6 and version 6 morphs into the current version 7, unless you are willing to take the risks of ignoring update offers. In short, do not sweat it. You get the bulk of version 7 no matter what you do.

As to that problem of getting 7 to restore the icons and text in the display, here is a fix. Hold down Alt and tap V. That will open the View command hidden by the new browser. Select Toolbars, and then click on Menu Bar.

Getting extensions

to open photos

Q: I keep getting an error message when I click an icon to open a picture. The message says: "This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the folder Options control panel." I can never find a Folder Options control panel, and I wouldn't know what to create there if I did find it. Can you help me, please?- Dave Hawley
A: When things are working, files with the extension .txt will be opened by running the Windows Notepad; files ending in .csv will open in Excel; and picture icons run the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. When these settings get corrupted, Microsoft uses that cryptic and often useless advice to "create an association in the folder Options control panel." Who knows how much consternation has been generated over the years as Windows users were given that confusing advice?

Now let's walk through the steps that you should have been given. Click Start and then Control panel. Open the Folder Options icon. In the tabbed menu that appears, select File Types.

This generates an alphabetical list of all of the file types used by the software on your particular machine. Pictures use file types of .jpg, .gif and .bmp. Scroll down to .bmp in the list, and click on it. Just below the list, you will see an entry showing "Details for .bmp extension." Alongside that entry is a Change button. Click it, and you will get a list of possible programs that can be triggered to open the .bmp file type. You need to select the one for Windows Fax and Picture Viewer.

Repeat for the other image file types, and you will be out of the woods.

Got a question on personal technology? Send a note to Jim Coates at askjimcoates@gmail.com. Questions can be answered only through this column, which originates in the Chicago Tribune.