This tip involves something I do so often, it's become second nature. However, the other day as I struggled with yet another errant piece of software, it occurred to me that not everyone may know what to do when a particular piece of software on your computer just plain stops working or "locks up."
One of the joys of using newer operating systems like Windows XP is its ability to let you open a lot of different software products at one time. Now we all sort of take this capability for granted, but back in the early days of computing, you opened one piece of software. When you were done, you closed it and opened another piece of software. But now, with enough memory, you can have literally dozens of programs open all at once, so you don't have to spend all that time opening and closing. With just a click, you just move back and forth.
However, with all that activity, it should come as no surprise that sometimes something will go awry. The good news is that unlike in the bad old days, with Windows XP, you don't have to shut down the entire machine to fix the problem. Now you can shut down just the offending program. The trick is to press three keys. Hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys and press the Delete key.
This key sequence opens the Windows Task Manager. Click the applications tab and you see a list of all the programs that are running. If one has stopped, it usually says "Not Responding" next to it. Click to highlight the program and then click the End Task button.
Usually, Windows will shut down the program and everything else will remain fine. However, in some cases, the program refuses to go away. In that case, close all your open programs and choose Start|Turn Off Computer.