Save family's memories lost in PC change


January 09, 2003|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I saved cute things spoken by my grandson in Word Pro. Recently my son gave me a new computer with Windows XP. He took the hard drive from my old computer and added this to the new one. I was able to open all files, but when I open my grandson's words they look like another language. Can I fix this?

If you are using Microsoft Word 2000 or 2002, there is a frequently overlooked command that will fix you right up and restore those precious family memories with very little pain.

If not, the fix is a bit less salubrious but still efficacious. Sorry, the spell-checker in Word always makes me go for those overblown words.

Anyway, there is a command under the File/Open menu in Word for Recover Text from Any File. You can use this to point to those old Lotus Word Pro files with your grandson's quotes and extract the bon mots from all that garbage, which actually is the formatting codes that are used for things like font sizes, headers, footers, etc.

If you lack Word, you also can drill down to the actual words nestled among the mass of computer rubbish using the Word Pad text editor built into the Windows XP operating system.

To find the Word Pad, click on Start, then Programs, then Accessories and finally click the Word Pad icon. Here, too, click on File and Open but pick the All Files choice to open. Then, just scroll through all the junk, and you will eventually find clusters of readable text that are the actual words. Just paint them with the mouse cursor, copy them and then paste them into a fresh Word Pad file, and you'll have a pretty clean version of the information you desire.

James Coates is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached via e-mail at

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