Stifle the Desktop Cleanup Wizard

Ask Mr. Modem!

Q. When I start to type the current date into Microsoft Word, the date auto-completes, but it's an incorrect date. What is causing this and what can I do about it? Thanks, Mr. M.

A. When you begin to type the current date into a document, Word thoughtfully suggests the full date, thus saving you a few exhausting keystrokes.

If an incorrect date appears, it's typically a result of the way Word establishes its dates. When you first start the program, Word retrieves the system date from Windows and stores that date in its auto-complete memory. This is the date that appears when you start to type a date into your document. The date is only retrieved from Windows one time, at the start of your Word session. If you leave Word open past midnight, the auto-complete date will not update on its own. It will continue to reflect the date when your Word session began.

To resolve this, close then reopen Word, and the auto-complete date will be refreshed and corrected.

Q. I'm seeing a little pop-up that continually asks if I want to remove Desktop icons that aren't used. It's annoying. If I want to remove any Desktop icons, I can do that myself. I don't need to be harassed by Windows. How can I stop this from occurring?

A. That's the well-intentioned, but frequently intrusive, Desktop Cleanup Wizard rearing its ugly head. To disable it, right-click anywhere on the Desktop, then click Properties > Desktop tab > Customize Desktop button. Remove the check mark beside "Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every __ days," then click OK. You won't be pestered by the prompt in the future.

Q. What is a codec? I tried to view a video, but a message appeared that said I was lacking a certain codec?

A. A codec is a little program that allows a computer to play compressed or encoded video or audio files. Codecs are often used in videoconferencing and streaming media applications. They are usually an invisible part of the computing experience, right up until the point that you have a problem or receive a message of the type you described.

The word codec is a combination of COmpressor-DECompressor or COder-DECoder, depending who you ask. If you ask me, I'd said, What difference does it make? Coder Shmoder. Who cares?

If a codec is needed, visit the Support area on the Web site of the program being used when the message appears, and you will usually be able to download any required codec, or go to for additional information.

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Mr. Modem publishes "Ask Mr. Modem! each week, featuring PC tips, tricks, and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit