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Word Art is a great tool to put graphics in text

Question: I am having trouble with the Word Art tool in Microsoft Word that lets one create sophisticated lettering. When I create one of these elegant text graphics designs, there is a problem moving them. They get attached to the text surrounding them, and when you move the Word Art, all of that text follows with it.

I have been using word processing and layout software functions for a dozen-plus years and have never once wanted an inserted graphic element tied to the text. This is more than annoying.

- Judi Elliott

Answer: Helping you solve this problem delights me, Ms. E., because it also lets me tell other readers about the sweet things one can do with this Word Art tool that Microsoft has so successfully hidden inside Word.

With Word Art, even a klutz like me can create headlines and other special text that comes in zillions of colored fonts and can be made to swirl into a circle or wave like a flag or drop down the page instead of roll across. These elements can be tweaked in other ways, such as clicking a corner and stretching the text long and narrow or short and fat. This great but hidden tool lets those who find it turn out blow-your-socks-off text tricks.

To find Word Art, open Word and click on View and select Toolbars. There, you will find a long list of hidden features, including Word Art and my favorite, Word Count, that creates a little box at the top of the display that I can click to instantly get the current count and keep peace with editors.

As to your problem, Ms. E., start by creating a Word Art item and giving it a right-click. That brings up a set of options, including Format Word Art. Clicking that brings up a box that has tabs for several items, including one called Layout. Open Layout, and you get choices about what to do with the text when the graphic is moved, such as wrapping the text or putting the image to the left, right, etc.

Select the icon with a dog pictured on a field of text that closest matches your work. Now click on the Advanced button just below the list of dog icons. In the display this summons, you will find a Picture Position tab. Open that tab, and you'll find a check box to stop or start moving the text when the picture or Word Art is dragged by the mouse.

Question: After reading your comments about Web browsers, I installed the Firefox browser and will be experimenting with it. However, I have a problem. If I get up and leave the computer for a short period, when I come back, there is a small window right in the middle of the screen that reads as follows:

"Error: could not find the macromedia flash."

What can be done to eliminate this?

- Jim Mavridis

Answer: There are two possibilities for your cranky browser that seems to resent it when you step away for some moments of peace and quiet. You either have a screen-saver that is trying to open a corrupted .swf format file, or you haven't installed the full collection of browser plug-ins for Adobe Macromedia animations based on this .swf or Shockwave Flash format.

Change screen savers and see if that helps: Move the mouse cursor onto the desktop and give a right-click, then select Properties from the menu. There, you will find a box with tabs, including one for Screen Saver. There, you should change the setting to None.

As to the second possibility, I suspect lots of folks are encountering this kind of confusion because Adobe offers not one but two player programs, and most of us probably should have both.

So, fire up Firefox and go to www.adobe.com. You will find a prominently displayed link to the Adobe Flash Player, and if you look further down the page, you will find the Shockwave Player. Download and install both of these, and your error messages will disappear.

Got a question on personal technology? Send a note to Jim Coates at askjimcoates@gmail.com. Questions can be answered only through this column.

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