ART files causing headaches


November 19, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I would like an explanation of the difference between certain graphic files. I have a large number of ART files that just don't seem to want to play ball with the rest of my files. I have GIF, JPEG and bitmap files that are easily convertible into whatever program I want to open them with. My ART files will only open with Internet Explorer. I have tried "Customize This Folder" and "Folder Options" to no avail. I would prefer that these ART files open with Image Preview. What's the deal?

America Online sticks to its proprietary ART format for photos with bullheaded resolve, even as Microsoft Corp. refuses with equal stubbornness to make its software recognize these files. The result is that the 30 million or so AOL customers get a highly unsatisfactory experience using the huge wealth of graphic images that are a big part of using the Internet.

Sadly, when an AOL user gives an image the right-click that brings up the "Save As" command for storing Web photos on a hard drive, the option given is as an ART file. Users can click a tiny triangle to the left of the word ART and save an image in the Windows BMP format, but that too is unfavorable because BMP files are huge. The JPG and GIF files are far smaller and more PC-friendly.

An old scan image keeps coming up before my computer boots up. How do I get rid of this?

I must confess that I discovered this same nasty feature in Windows when I once made an overly risque photo my screen saver and then changed it shortly afterward to avoid offending casual onlookers. The next time I booted the machine, with some very proper company looking over my shoulder, the nasty bits came up briefly during bootup, just as it is happening with you.

When my ears stopped burning, I went back and made yet another picture my screen saver and shut down the system. The next time the machine came up, that brief display had changed to the socially acceptable one.

You need to make sure you use whatever software you used to make the unwanted picture the desktop screen saver, and then go through the replacement process, followed by shutdown two times.

James Coates writes for The Chicago Tribune. He can be reached via e-mail at

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