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PC Tips n' Tricks

Let's say you need to sneak out of the office for a few minutes. When you leave your PC, your screensaver will kick in after a few minutes so anyone who walks by your cubicle will know you haven't been around. You don't want the boss to notice, do you? So, here's how to create a free screensaver that displays spreadsheets and other company-related files or images, so it looks like you just stepped away!

Here's what you need to do.

The first step is to pick one document, spreadsheet, or anything that you'd like displayed on your screen when you're not around.

Better yet — choose more than one spreadsheet and have the screensaver cycle through it every few minutes so it looks like you've returned to your desk and now you're working on something else!

After you've selected your document/file of choice, you need a way to turn it into an image file, such as a .jpg. .bmp., .tif, and so forth. The easiest way to do this is to download one of the hundreds of "screen capture" programs available on the Internet. All these let you press a predetermined series of keys (called a hotkey) to take a snapshot of what's on your computer screen. It then saves it as an image file to your hard drive.

Screen capturing programs include the popular HyperSnap DX, Screen Capture, or the free Screen Hunter Free. You can find a whole bunch of these programs by going to http://www.download.com and typing "capture" or "screen capture" in the search window. Some imaging programs such as JASC's Paint Shop Pro also have a built-in screen capturing function.

After you've taken a snapshot of a Word file or spreadsheet, drag and drop it/them into your My Pictures folder using Windows Explorer. It is found inside your My Documents subfolder, usually found in the Documents and Settings folder.

Copy or move the image of your spreadsheet program or any other work-related file into your My Pictures folder. This is the first step to creating this sneaky screensaver.

After this is completed, go to your desktop (the screen you see when Windows first boots up) and anywhere on the background/wallpaper, right-click and select Properties. This brings up the Display Properties dialog box. Now, select the third tab, Screen Saver.

Click the option labeled My Pictures Slideshow and you'll see your image displayed in the little window here. If there is more than one selected, you will start seeing them rotate. Here, you can choose how long each photo should stay on the screen before going to the next one.

But wait — you still need to tweak the settings to get going.

Click the Settings tab. Drag the first slider all the way to the right so that your images change every three minutes (the maximum time allowed in this free screensaver). If you only have one image saved to the My Pictures folder, ignore that slider. Now drag the second slider all the way over to the right so that your image will be displayed at full screen (as if you were really using it).

Now, uncheck both Show File Names and Use Transition Effects Between Pictures as these options might ruin the realistic effect. Leave all the other settings alone. Click OK, and then click Apply and you're good to go!

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