A reader writes: "I am trying to clear some space on my hard drive. I have My Documents folders with 6 gigabytes of data in three places. Is this taking up 18 gigabytes on my hard drive or just..."

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I am trying to clear some space on my hard drive. I have My Documents folders with 6 gigabytes of data in three places. Is this taking up 18 gigabytes on my hard drive or just the same 6 gigabytes labeled in three places? Can I delete two of them to free up 12 gigabytes of space? Which two should I delete? Does it make any difference?

— Joe Campbell


Hmmm. Better hold off on hitting that delete key. The paths for those folders you described (which I didn’t put in this column to save space) indicate those are unique document folders.

Sounds like you’ve had different users at different times or else you’ve reconfigured your user accounts. When you do so, Windows automatically creates a new My Documents folder for storing files used by each person.

Before deleting the folders, you’d want to check the files inside and see if there are any you want to copy or move.


Until about the end of July I was able to get a marvelous, almost miraculous, chart through MSN Money.

I could compare up to nine funds at a time, and the fund lines showed small “D’s” for distributions. With nine funds, one could zoom in to see just 2004 values or zoom out to cover values from 1999 through today.

MSN updated something, and I have been unable to find that very valuable charting system again. Instead, I get inferior charts they say I can “customize,” charts with little detail in long straight lines between highs and lows, which I find completely useless.

My questions: How can I get those good charts back? Or how can I contact MSN to let them know how poorly I consider their “improvement”?

— Spencer M. Higley, Edmonds


MSN is an online Web site rather than an application stored on your computer, so I’m afraid there’s no way to get the charts back if Microsoft has eliminated them.

If you want to give them a piece of your mind, however, you can do so. Just go the MSN home page and select the Feedback item at the bottom right of the screen.


I’m running Windows XP Pro and Office 2003. I installed Windows XP SP2 and have had no problems with it. However, I used to use Windows Messenger to check my Hotmail inbox. Now when I click on my e-mail inbox, it goes right to my Outlook account.

Is there a way to configure which e-mail account Windows Messenger considers to be my e-mail inbox?

— Tom Kittridge, Duvall


Yes, there were some changes made in Windows Messenger with version 4.7.3 and above. First, Windows Messenger will automatically use whatever e-mail program is specified as your default e-mail program in Internet Explorer. (Which kind of assumes you’re using that Web browser, doesn’t it?)

To change your default e-mail program in Internet Explorer, go to the Tools menu and select Internet Options then the Programs tab. You can specify Hotmail as your default program. If you do, when you go to Inbox in Windows Messenger, it will take you to the Hotmail site, though it will not sign you in. You’ll have to do that manually.

The second change with version 4.7.3 of Windows Messenger is that add-ins, such as those supporting Hotmail sign-ins, are no longer supported.

Don’t forget, however, you can use Outlook 2003 to check the Hotmail inbox. Just go to the Tools menu in Outlook and select E-mail accounts, then set up a new account specifying Hotmail as the service.

Finally, you can download and use the MSN Messenger program, which will work fine with Hotmail.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.