Walt Mossberg

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Transferring Your Web ‘Favorites’

There’s no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.

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 transferring “Favorites” from your laptop to your desktop and converting copy-protected WMA files to play on an iPod.

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.

Q: Can you tell me how to transfer the Internet Explorer “Favorite” Web site addresses from my laptop computer to my desktop computer? Both computers are Windows XP.

Just go to the “Import and Export” command in the File menu of Internet Explorer on the laptop — the machine with the Favorites you want to copy. Select “Export Favorites,” and follow the prompts to save your Favorites as a file. You can name it anything you like, and I suggest you save it to your desktop or some other place where you can find it quickly.

Next, copy this file to the desktop computer — the one you want to populate with your Favorites. In Internet Explorer on this second computer, again click on “Import and Export” in the File menu, only this time, select “Import Favorites.” Specify the file you copied over from the first computer, and all the Favorites it contains should now be on the second machine.

Q: In your recent review of the new Apple iMac that uses Intel chips, you briefly said it couldn’t run the Windows operating system out of the box. Can you elaborate on why that is, and whether Windows will be able to run on this computer eventually?

Apple is now using the same chips in this Macintosh that are used in Windows computers, and it says it won’t do anything to stop people from running Windows on these machines. But you can’t just go to the store, buy a copy of Windows XP, and install it on these new Macs.

That’s because Apple is using some advanced hardware, besides the Intel chips, that differs from what’s typical on Windows machines. This hardware, which helps the computer to start up, is called EFI and is approved by Intel. But it isn’t recognized by Windows XP. Microsoft says the forthcoming new version of Windows, called Vista, will recognize the new EFI start-up hardware when it comes out later this year. But nobody is guaranteeing that Vista will run out of the box on the Intel-based Macs, as there may be other peculiarities of the new Macs that it can’t handle.

In addition, Microsoft’s Virtual PC product, which allowed Windows to run — slowly — on the old Macs by mimicking an Intel chip, doesn’t work on the new machines. It would seem that such a program shouldn’t be necessary on the Intel-based Macs, or at least should be simple to create. But Microsoft says revising it for the new machines would be a big, time-consuming job.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some other company come up with an add-on product that would allow the new Intel-based Macs to run Windows, or Windows programs, at fast speeds, long before the arrival of Vista or any new version of Virtual PC.

With such a product, you might be able to choose to start up an Intel-based Mac in either Windows or the Mac operating system; or run Windows in a window inside the Mac operating system; or run Windows programs in the Mac operating system, without running Windows itself.

Q: I have purchased a substantial amount of music online through services such as MSN and Yahoo that sell files in the protected WMA format. Is there any way to convert this music so it plays on an iPod?

There is a way, but it’s time-consuming and tedious. You’d have to burn all your copy-protected WMA files (the ones you bought from MSN and Yahoo) to audio CDs — the kind that play in standard CD players — and then re-import them into Apple’s iTunes software as MP3s or nonprotected AAC files, manually filling in the tag information.

The iPod can play MP3 files fine, as well as a number of other formats, like nonprotected AAC files. And iTunes can convert nonprotected WMA files to MP3s for use in the iPod. But iTunes can’t convert copy-protected WMAs, and the iPod can’t play them.

* * *

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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