Annoyed users can bar Adobe's self-download

Ask Jim

Plugged In

December 28, 2006|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

I recently updated to Adobe Photoshop 4 and am wondering how to stop it from taking over from my Nikon camera software when I try to download new photos from the camera. It seems as though the Nikon software starts OK, but then Photoshop tries to take over, and my computer either slows to a crawl or hangs up.

-Bob Buskey,

I, too, have been greatly perturbed when I installed Adobe's Photoshop Elements and found it kicking in uninvited every time I plugged a camera into a USB or FireWire port. I am a huge fan of Photoshop Elements for photo tweaking, but like you, I hated it when the program kicked in every time a camera or memory card was connected to the computer.

Adobe folks tell me that most people like this feature, since it does such a fine job of organizing images by dates, keywords, date and time taken, and keyword tags, thus making it far easier to find stuff.

There is a way to disable the feature or, if you'd prefer, enable it. Open Photoshop Elements alone, with no image in it, and then select the Organizer module from the list of options that comes up first. Select Edit in the first Organizer display and then Preferences and finally Camera or Card Reader. There you will find an option to switch on or off the automatic downloader feature.

I have a Dell desktop with Windows XP that is only about two years old. I keep getting messages that my virtual memory is too low. Why am I getting these messages?

-Arlene Freedman,

That warning usually gets displayed when the computer has too many programs running at the same time, so you may be able to avoid this warning simply by running less stuff at the same time.

When the amount of memory being used in the main memory chips, called random access memory, exceeds the RAM capacity, the computer uses a special "page file" on the hard drive to handle stuff for some of the programs that have overloaded things.

The slowdown is dramatic, because moving data about on RAM chips happens at the speed of light, while even the fastest hard drive is far slower.

An obvious fix beyond running fewer programs is to buy more RAM chips for the computer.

It is interesting, to me at least, to note that some programs are memory hogs that tell the computer they are going to need much more memory than they actually need. So you might want to experiment a bit to find the biggest consumers of random access memory.

To do this, type Control +Alt + Delete to call up the Windows Task Manager. There you will find a running graphic display showing how much memory gets used at any given time.

There also is a tab on that display called Processes that shows how much memory each item is using. It's usually easy to figure out which program uses which process, so you can plan accordingly.

Beyond that, there are settings for how large a file Windows can create, which can be changed to sometimes improve speed. But keep in mind that no matter how big you make hard drive space for virtual memory, it will still run slowly.

To change these settings in case there is at least some help, click on Start and Control Panel and then System. Open that control panel and click on the Advanced tab and then open the button for Performance.

This gives you a display of your current virtual memory, and there is a Settings option that will let you change the size of the page file that holds the data.

The computer will suggest numbers for that page size, and there is little gained by making the thing larger than the suggested number. But, if the actual number is smaller, then type in the larger suggested number.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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