Ask Rick 2009 & Houston We Have a Problem 09



Ask Rick 015, 05/01/09, Houston 012 10/01/09


Group Therapy

I am trying to send messages to a group of people in my contact list, but I cannot find any way of doing this. The Help function has an entry explaining how to do it but I've looked at all the possible options but cannot find anything anywhere.

David Splitt, by email


I’m guessing that you use Outlook Express to send emails (more details are always helpful…), in which case all you have to do is highlight the contacts you want to send the email to by holding down the Ctrl key and click each one in turn. Release the Ctrl key, right-click one of the highlighted entries and select Action > Send Mail and this opens a blank message window with your contacts entered into the To:  box. Don’t leave it like that though because everyone will see everyone else’s email address. Highlight the contents of the To: box and drag it into the Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy) box. Put your own email address in the To: box, before you click Send.


If you need to send messages to the same group on a regular basis select New > Group from the Address book menu and follow the prompts to select the contacts you want to include. When you open the New Message window simply Click the To: or Bcc icon, select your Group from the list and click the Bcc>> button, and as before send the ‘top’ copy to yourself.



A Brighter Outlook?

I use Outlook as my email client on my home (Vista) PC and my (XP) netbook. I have no trouble with my email at home, but whilst visiting my son, and at other locations, I find that, although I can receive POP3 email, sending mail via the SMTP server is not possible. The server reported various errors, some too long to write down or remember! I can access my ISP’s webmail page and send messages that way but this takes time. I suspect that this is deliberate on the part of the ISP either to discourage spammers or to increase Internet time purchase (cynical, aren’t I?).


I have checked all my settings and the netbook sends mail via Outlook at home on my own network. My ISP does not answer questions on this, saying ‘their servers are fine’! Is it possible to send email via Outlook from other locations?

Alun Thomas, by email


Yes it is but first it may help to know a little about how email works. The system most of us use is based on two sets of technical standards or protocols. Messages are sent back and forth across the Internet, between ISP’s server computers, using the SMTP or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The email ‘client’ program on your PC (i.e. Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail etc.) or email device (phone, organiser etc.) uses POP (Post Office Protocol) to fetch messages from your ISP’s mail server computer.


When you collect your messages the email program dials up your ISP’s POP server (the address is usually something like ‘’), and logs on using your password and you can do this anywhere, using any Internet connection.


When you send a message it has to go through your ISP’s SMTP server (e.g. This is fine when you are at home or in the office but when you are out and about, using a wireless or LAN connection you won’t be able to connect because your email program is set to the wrong SMTP address for the ISP you are using, so it will be rejected. This is for security reasons and to prevent Spam, so most server administrators do not allow messages not originating from one of their own customers to be relayed through their servers. The simple solution is to change your email program’s SMTP server address, which should be available from whoever is in charge of administering the hotspot, otherwise visit the service’s website.


However, that’s sometimes easier said than done so here’s some workarounds. You can use a paid-for relay service, like smtp2go (, which provides you with a SMTP address that you can use anywhere. You can install an SMTP server program on your PC though because these are frequently used to send Spam you may find your messages are blocked; if you want to experiment try Free SMTP Server (, but don’t expect too much… My preferred method is to use Google Mail (Gmail), enable POP3 access then you can set up an account in your email program and use Gmail’s SMTP server to send messages using any available Internet connection.  



My Word

Whenever I open a new page in Word on my PC (XP SP3 with Office 2003) the font is always set to Times New Roman and the ruler down the side is almost 2-inches from the top, wasting a lot of space – and even more at the bottom of the page. OK, so it doesn’t take long to change the font and the ruler setting, but having to do it on every new document is annoying. I have spent a lot of time investigating all the options in Word without finding any way to change the default settings, hopefully you know the answer.

G Lee, by email


To change the default font and its attributes all you have to do it go to Format > Fonts, set your preferences then click the Default button in the bottom left hand corner of the dialogue box. I think the ‘ruler’ setting you are talking about are the Top and Bottom Margins. If so you’ll find the adjustments by going to File > Page Setup. Once again make your changes, click the Default button and they’ll be remembered when you open a new document.




© R. Maybury 2008 0912

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