Walt Mossberg

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Keeping Laptop Screens Clean

Here are a few questions about computers I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about cleaning laptop screens, security packages and converting Quicken data.

If you have a question, send it to me at mossberg@wsj.com, and I may select it to be answered here in Mossberg’s Mailbox.

The good news: I just got a laptop. The bad news: I sneezed all over the screen. Yuck! Can you suggest a good way to clean a laptop screen?

Yuck, indeed. It’s best to avoid household cleaners and common rags or cloths or paper products. I advise using a commercial product that includes a liquid cleaning solution and special soft cloths specifically designed for the LCD screens laptops use. These cleaners can also be used on flat-panel TV screens and flat-panel desktop monitors. There are a number of brands, but I’ve had good success with one called Klear Screen, available in stores or at www.klearscreen.com.

The same company makes a product called iKlear, which is for Apple laptops, and a Dell version for Dell laptops, but I assume the products are all basically the same, and this is just a marketing ploy. I don’t believe the screens Apple and Dell use are any different from most others. They all come from a handful of suppliers in Asia.

I recently hooked up to high-speed cable Internet. Up to then I was on AOL and used ZoneAlarm for a firewall and Norton AntiVirus. I would like to have just one security package to worry about. Is this possible?

Yes. Both Norton and Zone Labs make versions that include both a firewall and an antivirus program. But I use the same combination you have been using because I believe ZoneAlarm is a better firewall and Norton is better at catching viruses.

You have indicated that converting Quicken data from Windows to Macintosh can be difficult. I am wondering, just how difficult would it actually be, how would one go about doing it, and whether you think conversion might be any easier in the future after Apple changes to Intel processors?

It’s pretty difficult, partly because the two versions are really entirely different programs with different file formats, and the Mac version has fewer features and supports fewer types of accounts. You can get an idea of how cumbersome the process is, and what kinds of things won’t transfer, at: http://web.intuit.com/support/quicken/2005/win/2159.html. The processor used in the Mac won’t make conversion any easier, unfortunately. That will happen only if and when Intuit invests the money and time to do a truly comparable and fully compatible Mac version of Quicken.

For Quicken users switching to the Mac, I suggest either starting cold turkey with the Mac version, keeping your old Windows machine around just for Quicken, or buying Microsoft’s Virtual PC program. The latter software creates a faux Windows computer inside your Mac where you can run the Windows version of Quicken. This last option is expensive and runs more slowly than Quicken on a real Windows computer, but it does work.

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Because of the volume of e-mail I receive, I can’t routinely answer individual questions by e-mail, or consult on individual problems or purchasing decisions. I read all questions I receive and select three each week to answer in the column.

Write to Walter S. Mossberg at mossberg@wsj.com

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