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Don't waste time trying to troubleshoot computer problems yourself - use Microsoft's automatic 'Fix it' tools instead. Jonathan Parkyn reveals the best 13 fixes


Wouldn't it be great if you could invite a Microsoft technician to come round and fix your PC whenever it went wrong? Well, as it happens, you can do something very similar by using the Fix it Solution Center ( fixit) - a curiously under-publicised area of Microsoft's support website -where you can search for, download and run small programs designed to automatically solve specific problems. You can browse for available solutions to a particular problem by selecting the general area - Windows, Office, Internet Explorer and so on - then choosing the phrase underneath that most closely describes what you were trying to do when the problem occurred. Just click the 'Run now' or 'Fix it,button, choose to run (rather than save) the tool, then click Accept and follow the remaining on-screen prompts.

Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn't produce automatic fixes for every single problem and Windows 8 isn't currently supported at all. But 'Fix it' is still a great way to cure many common computer afflictions, as well as several more obscure es. Here, we show you the most useful fixes available to solve computer problems - make sure you type the Snipca link into your browser bar, not into Google.

Fix a slow PC

Ask any cross-section of computer users what the biggest problem is with their PCs and a great many will complain about the same thing: speed. A slow PC can be a massive pain, dragging its heels on startup, struggling to launch programs and sluggishly carrying out even the simplest of tasks. Often problems of this kind are all but impossible to diagnose too. If your PC feels like it's grinding to a halt, try this fix.

Fix printer problems

Having trouble trying to install a new printer or connect to your existing one? Or perhaps your printer won't produce anything except a hideous blotchy mess, or a series of blank sheets of paper.

Printer problems aren't just frustrating; they can also end up costing you money if you're wasting ink as a result. Running this fix will check for a number possible causes, including driver problems, network printing issues and problems with the Print Spooler.

Fix hardware devices that aren't working or detected

www. snipca. com /11248

When Windows develops problems with an internal or external hardware component - anything from a graphics card to a webcam - you should try checking Device Manager (right-click My Computer and select Manage). But it's unlikely to offer you anything more helpful than an exclamation mark in a little yellow circle. Run this fix instead and it will check for driver problems and try to resolve them for you automatically.

Fix Windows update

Installing the latest updates for your computer is essential if you want to use your PC safely. Most of us set Windows to update itself automatically, but if, for some reason, Windows Update stops working, then your computer could become vulnerable to malware and hackers. If you haven't received any updates for a while or if Windows Update reports errors when you try to run it, then give this fix a go.

Fix a PC that wakes from sleep mode

You may have noticed that your PC has a curious habit of starting up on its own at the same time every day, for no apparent reason other than to annoy you. This only happens to Windows 7 PCs that are put in sleep mode (instead of being shut down fully) and can be caused by a number of different factors. So if you're suffering from a sleepless PC, try both these 'Fix it' tools.

Fix broken Desktop shortcuts

Occasionally, Windows Desktop shortcuts will suddenly throw a wobbly, either producing an error when clicked or just not working at all. This fix will try to repair broken shortcuts, delete unused ones and, in the process, also check that your system time and synchronisation settings are correct.


Fix a spell checker that's not working

Word 2010's spell checker can sometimes develop a quirk where it refuses to identify misspelled words, making the tool somewhat useless. Clicking Spelling & Grammar in the Review tab of the ribbon may also yield a message that claims your proofing tools need to be reinstalled. There can be a number of causes for this, so read through the other methods listed under Resolution on this page and apply the advice here, then run the 'Fix it' tool, which you'll find under Method 5.

Fix winmail.dat problems in Outlook

Have you ever tried to send a file as an email attachment in Outlook only to have the recipient complain that they received a file called 'winmail.dat' instead? This is a common problem for Outlook users - it relates to messages sent using the rich text format and can be difficult to fix. Luckily, this tool fixes the problem.

Fix Excel startup problems

There are so many reasons why Excel 2007 may suddenly refuse to start, such as a corrupted shortcut, a conflict with another program, a troublesome add-in or a Registry problem. Click the link above for solutions to all these causes and more, along with four separate 'Fix it, tools that you can use to apply many of the suggested repairs automatically. If you use other versions of Excel, head to www. for similar fixes.

Fix Word documents that won't open

You can sometimes find yourself faced with a baffling situation in Office 2003 and 2007 where Word documents refuse to open when you double-click them in a Windows Explorer window. One solution is to always open your documents through the File menu within Word itself, but this is far from convenient. Instead, run this fix, which disables add-ins that can cause the problem. Scroll down and click the 'Fix it' button under 'Change it for me'.


Fix Internet Explorer

This tool can diagnose and repair numerous problems that are making Internet Explorer run slowly or crash. It also enables a range of important safety options, including the phishing filter.

Fix Windows Live Photo Gallery

If Microsoft's free photo-management tool is slow, if pictures aren't displaying properly or if it just won't start, use this fix to repair a range of underlying causes.

Fix Windows Media Player

Another multi-fix tool, this time for Windows Media Player. Use it if Media Player won't start or play certain files, or if you're having problems browsing your music or video libraries.

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