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Installing and Removing Programs

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Installing and Removing Programs

In This Chapter

  • Picking programs your computer can run

  • Finding out whether your computer has room for a new program

  • Installing a program in 10 minutes or less

  • Running CD-ROM programs

  • Getting rid of programs you don't use

For me, the term "install" triggers flashbacks to the weekend I spent installing our new water heater. I envision misplaced tools, lost parts, leaking pipes, and a badly bruised ego.

Although installing a program is typically less traumatic, the process can have similar, unforeseen problems. For instance, you might pick up the wrong version of the program—the Macintosh version rather than the Windows version. Or the program might have a quirky installation routine that doesn't install all of the components you need.

This chapter is designed to help you avoid the most common pitfalls, deal with unexpected problems, and successfully install your new programs.

Buying Software That Your Hardware Can Run

Even the most experienced computer user occasionally slips up and buys a program that his or her computer can't run. The person might own a PC running Windows and pick up the Macintosh version of the program by mistake. Or maybe the program requires special audio or video equipment that the person doesn't have.

Program? Application? Software?

Throughout this book, I use the terms "program," "application," and "software" interchangeably. These terms all refer to the instructions that tell a computer how to perform specific tasks.

Before you purchase any program, read the minimum hardware requirements that are printed on the outside of every software package to determine whether your computer has what it takes to run the program:

  • Computer type Typically, you can't run a Macintosh programon an IBM-compatible computer (a PC or personal computer that runs Windows). If you have a PC, make sure the program is for an IBM PC or compatible computer. (Some programs include both the Macintosh and PC versions.)

  • Operating system Try to find programs that are designed specifically for the operating system you use. If your computer is running Windows 98, don't buy a program developed for Windows 95. (Although Windows 98 can run most applications designed for Windows 95, Windows 98 might have problems running some Windows 95 programs.)

  • Free hard disk space When you install a program, the installation routinely copies files from the installation disks or CDs to the hard disk. Make sure your hard disk has enough free disk space, as explained in the next section.

  • CPU requirements CPU stands for central processing unit. This is the brain of the computer. If the program requires at least a Pentium processor and you have a 486 processor, your computer won't be able to run the application effectively.

  • Type of monitor All newer monitors are SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array) or better, and most programs don't require anything better than SVGA. Some games and graphics programs require a specific type of display card, such as a 3D card or an advanced video card.

  • Mouse If you use Windows, you need a mouse or some other pointing device. A standard Microsoft two-button mouse is sufficient. Some programs have special features you can use only with an IntelliMouse.

  • Joystick Although most computer games let you use your keyboard, games usually are more fun if you have a joystick. Digital joysticks are the current trend.

  • CD-ROM drive If you have a CD-ROM drive, it usually pays to get the CD-ROM version of the application. This simplifies the program installation, and the CD-ROM version might come with a few extras. Check for the required speed of the drive, as well.

  • Sound card Most new applications require sound cards. If you plan to run any cool games, use a multimedia encyclopedia, or even explore the Internet, you'll need a sound card. Some applications can use the old 8-bit sound card, but newer applications require a 16-bit or better sound card, which enables stereo output.

  • Amount of memory (RAM) If your computer does not have the required memory, it might not be able to run the program or the program might cause the computer to crash (freeze up).

Use the Tearout Card

Before you go shopping for programs, tear out the Savvy Software Shopper's Form at the front of this book and make some copies of it. Use the forms to record each program's minimum hardware requirements.

You can find out most of what you need to know from the System Properties dialog box Hold down Alt and double-click My Computer to display the System Properties dialog box, as shown in Figure 10.1. The General Tab displays the operating system type and version number, the type of processor, and the amount of RAM. Click the Device tab and click the plus sign next to a device type to view the make and model number; for instance, click the plus sign next to Display Adapters to determine the type of video card that's installed.

Figure 10.1 The System Properties dialog box can tell you a lot about your computer.

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