Walt Mossberg

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Using a Disk-Partitioning Utility

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

I have a 3-year-old PC, which has a single physical hard disk divided into a small C drive that is almost full and a larger D drive that has lots of empty space. I know I can move stuff from C to D, but how can I either merge these hard drives or somehow make D the automatic destination for files I download?

You can merge the drives into one larger C drive, or redistribute space between them, by using what’s called a disk-partitioning utility — a program that rearranges the space on the hard disk without erasing your files. One I have tested and found that works well is called Partition Magic and is sold by Symantec.

Short of doing that, you can change the settings in programs you use to download or save files so that they store the files on your roomier D drive. Not every program has such a setting, but many do. These settings are usually found in the options or preferences sections of the software. For instance, in the latest version of the Firefox Web browser, go to the Tools menu, select “Options,” and, under “Main,” in the Downloads section, you can specify a folder on your D drive where it says “Save files to.”

In your review of the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, you praised its ease of downloading books, but criticized the hardware design. You seemed to prefer the design of the Sony Reader, which costs $100 less, but said it offers fewer books. If you had to choose between them, which would you pick?

Neither is a compelling product. However, putting aside price as an issue, I would choose the Kindle, despite its design problems. The Sony is slimmer, sturdier and, unlike the Kindle, it isn’t prone to accidental button-pushing. But Amazon’s device can download books directly, without the need for a PC. Sony’s can’t. And Kindle’s online catalog of compatible titles is 90,000 books, more than triple the number Sony offers.

Unless you absolutely crave an e-book reader now, I’d suggest waiting for a system that’s better than either. However, if you’re going to invest $300 or $400 now in a device to read electronic books, you would likely want the one with the widest selection of titles and the quickest, easiest downloading process. And that’s the Kindle.

I use Outlook Express for my email. I have been getting a lot of offensive junk mail I’d rather not even view for a moment. Is there a way to delete incoming mail in Outlook Express without having to first view the contents?

You can avoid automatically viewing the contents of your email in Outlook Express, and many other email programs, by turning off the preview feature. In Outlook Express, click on the View menu, then select “Layout…”, and uncheck “Show Preview Pane.” Then, click OK. After that, you will have to manually open each message to view its contents.

However, you may have to open some emails anyway in order to decide whether to delete them, since spammers often use deceptive sender names and subject lines that make it hard to decide if they are worthy of deletion. So, you might consider installing an antispam program.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online free at the new All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

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