Helpdesk Baruch College

Ask HTG: Batch Resizing Photos, Exporting Outlook Express Messages, and Cleaning a Filthy Keyboard

Once a week we share some of the reader emails we’ve answered with the greater HTG readership. This week we’re looking at how to batch resize photos, exporting Outlook Express messages from XP to Windows 7, and cleaning a filthy keyboard.

Easy Batch Photo Resizing

Dear How-To Geek

Love your newsletter (which I’ve been receiving now for several months)—Several useful articles there for an non-technical guy like me.

Here’s an issue I’d love some help with. I take lots of photos during my travels and email the better ones to friends and family. I haven’t purchased a program like Photoshop, because I’m just travelling with a netbook (which i love).

In a previous version of Yahoo mail, they had a neat web application that automatically reduced the size of files from large (say, 2 MB) to email thumbnail size of about 100 KB. In the latest update of Yahoo, they removed that function.

Do you know of an application that i can download for free from the internet that will do that in batches (not one-by-one)?


Shutterbug Travelin’

Dear Shutterbug,

Photoshop would definitely be overkill for your needs (and a bit taxing on your netbook’s resources for that matter, also). There are plenty of applications you can use to achieve your end but not many of them provide the start-to-finish functionality that having the resize function embedded right in your email client does. If you want to, as closely as possible, replicate that experience we’d recommend installing Picasa on your netbook. Picasa is a robust photo organizer that sports a built-in email client. You can very easily select the best photos from your spread, compose an email to your friends with the photos attached, and have Picasa resize the photos to your preferred size before sending (640×480 is a common selection but you can go smaller). Picasa integrates with Gmail and with your default email client on your machine—thus if you want to continue using Yahoo! Mail you would need to configure a lightweight client like Mozilla Thunderbird to use Yahoo! Mail.

Alternatively you can simply export and resize the photos using Picasa and manually add them to your Yahoo! Mail or (and this is a speedier option) use Picasa’s Web Albums function to upload your photos to a web-based photo album and share the link with your friends. There are other ways you could approach this particular problem but since Picasa is free, fantastic at organizing photos, and makes it super easy to crop/edit/resize/export/upload, you might as well kill all the birds with one stone.

Exporting Outlook Express Messages

Dear How-To Geek,

My sister has just got a new Windows 7 PC. She would like her emails from Outlook Express on her old XP machine available (even just viewable), how can I do this as easily as possible?


Upgrade Brother

Dear Upgrade,

The first thing you need to do is to fire up the old XP machine and export the Outlook Express messages. You can follow Microsoft’s tutorial here to do so. When you’re done with that you’ll have a bundle of files you can transfer to the new machine. On the new machine you can then import the files into Windows Mail (the Outlook Express replacement in Windows 7), we’re going to reference another Microsoft tutorial here to complete the import process from Outlook Express to Windows Mail.

How to Clean a Filthy Keyboard

Dear How-To Geek,

Here’s my situation: I spilled a bottle of soda on my keyboard. The keyboard, miraculously, still works. The only problem is that it’s a sticky mess. I don’t want to throw a perfectly functioning keyboard away just because it’s sticky but my attempts to wipe it down seem to have made it worse. What do I do?


Sticky Fingers

Dear Sticky Fingers,

We’ve written about several ways to clean a keyboard. It sounds like you’re going to have to go right for the major technique: using your dish washer. Hit up our guide to safely cleaning your keyboard in the dishwasher here. For anyone dealing with a dirty keyboard (but not a keyboard soaked in soda pop) we’d recommend checking out our keyboard cleaning guide here—no disassembly or dishwashers necessary.

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