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The buzz on Microsoft Office 98 has become a deafening roar of approval: Office 98 is a vast improvement over previous versions. But given the abundance of features, it's not surprising that the suite is still experiencing growing pains. If you're an Office user, or thinking of becoming one, learn how to protect yourself from the bugs you may encounter-before one of them bites you.

Problem If you want to uninstall Office 98, one of your options is to use a utility called Remove Office 98 (located in the Administration Tools folder). This program does a clean sweep, removing virtually all traces of Office 98 files from your disk. Unfortunately, it can get overzealous and move your entire System Folder to the Trash. According to Microsoft, this can happen only if an MS Library file named Microsoft Office 98 somehow winds up in the System Folder instead of in the Microsoft Office folder. Regardless, numerous users have run this utility and had their System Folders vanish before their eyes.

Solution Fortunately, only version 1.0 of the utility is prone to this disaster. More-recent copies of the Office CD-ROM ship with version 1.1, which fixes the bug. If you have version 1.0, be sure to download the 1.1 upgrade from Microsoft's Web site (see "Bookmarks").

Problem If you ever need to convert a PowerPoint 98 file to an earlier version of the program, simply selecting the appropriate translator from the pop-up menu in the Save dialog box should work. If your file is a relatively large one, however, you may get a "Memory full" error message when you try to convert the file.

Solution Surprisingly, increasing PowerPoint's memory (in the Get Info window) won't help. To get the conversion to work, you need to increase the memory of another utility, PP Translator 8-4 (which turns out to be the one that does the actual conversion). You'll find it in the Translators folder (Microsoft Office 98: Office: Translators).

Problem Saving a Word 98 document usually works without a hitch. But Word may occasionally refuse to save your document, claiming you have too many files open. Mysteriously, Word 98 will stand by this claim even if the document you're trying to save is the only open file.

Solution Save the file in Word 6 format. Next, quit Word 98 and reopen the document. You should now be able to save it in Word 98 format. This solution is less than ideal if the document contains formatting unique to Word 98 and that can't be converted, but at least it lets you save the text.

Since the problem seems to be related to the proliferation of work files Word creates when you repeatedly save an open document, turning off Word's Fast Save option should help. To do this, select Preferences from the Tools menu and then clear the Allow Fast Saves check box in the Save tab.

Problem Word 98's Insert Picture command lets you embed graphics in a Word document. The problem, particularly if the file contains several graphics, is that the images can suddenly disappear; in their place is a red X, dubbed by its victims "the Red X of Death."

Solution Whatever you do, don't save the file! If you do, all the graphics will be lost and you'll have to reinsert them. Instead, quit Word, select Get Info for the Word application, and increase the Preferred Memory size-give it as much as 30MB if you have enough memory. The X's are unlikely to reappear. (Microsoft is working on a permanent fix.)

Problem In Word 98, typing option-I followed by shift-E should produce a capital E with a circumflex mark over it ( Ê , a character not often used in English but common in other languages). If you try this, however, you'll probably get a space where the letter should be.

Solution Select Preferences from the Tools menu. From the Nonprinting Characters section of the View tab, deselect All (if it's selected), make sure Spaces isn't selected, and click on OK. The Ê should magically appear.

Problem Open a Word 98 document in any text editor, such as Bare Bones' BBEdit (select Any File from the pop-up menu in BBEdit's Open dialog box to list Word files). Now scroll through the document. If your experience is typical, you'll find extraneous text that's invisible when you're viewing the document in Word. This text comes from other, usually deleted, files on your hard disk. Why worry about this? Because if you send these files to users who know how to make the extraneous text appear, you could be revealing confidential information.

Solution Microsoft's Office 98 Unwanted Data Patch squashes this bug. By the way, this problem isn't unique to Word; it can occur with any application that uses Microsoft's OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) technology, which allows applications to share data.

Problem In Mac OS 8, you can access contextual menus by holding down the control key when you click the mouse. Office 98 has its own built-in contextual menus that override the Mac OS contextual menus that would otherwise appear. But if you've installed Contextual Menu Enabler-an extension needed by some contextual-menu software, such as Apple Data Detectors-it trumps Office 98, and you're back to the Mac OS menus.

Solution If you want the Office 98 contextual menus but want to keep the Enabler installed (for use with other applications), go to the Help menu and select the Turn Off Contextual Menus option for the Office application. This option appears in the Help menu when you install Apple Data Detectors 1.0.2 or later.

January 1999 page: 96

Office 98 places many files in the System Folder's Extensions folder. Like anything else on your disk, these files can become corrupted, or installers for other applications that use some of the same files may replace them with newer or older versions. In either case, the result may be that Office applications no longer launch. If you can identify the likely problem file, you can use this generic fix.

1. Move the file from the Extensions folder in your System Folder to the desktop.

2. Delete the Microsoft Component Library file from the Extensions folder.

3. Start any Microsoft Office 98 program. The First Run install process begins, and the missing extension file is replaced with the uncorrupted version from Office 98.

A known instance of this problem involves Adobe Photoshop 5: it installs OLE Automation 2.06, which prevents Office 98 applications from working. One solution is to install Photoshop, move the Automation 2.06 file from the Extensions folder to the Photoshop folder, and then install Office 98.

If you've already installed Office 98, remove the OLE Automation and OLE Library files from the Extensions folder and then install Photoshop. Move OLE Automation 2.06 to the Photoshop folder, and launch Word 98 to get the First Run application to reinstall the removed files.

Patches To download the Microsoft patches mentioned in this article, go to Microsoft's Known Issues Web page.
And if you've moved up to the latest OS, you'll also want to download the Office 98 Updater for Mac OS 8.5.

Microsoft Support For other information on Office 98 problems, search Microsoft's Knowledge Base.

Beyond Microsoft If you can't find what you want at Microsoft's site, try one of the numerous independent Web sites, including my own MacFixIt.

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