Stump the Geeks

How to fix a jumping cursor

CorrespondentJuly 11, 2011 

Q: I'll be typing an email or a document, and after a while, the cursor (and the letters I'm typing) will jump to another place. It's very frustrating as you can imagine. I have an antivirus that I run regularly so I don't think it's a virus but maybe it is. Is there a software program I can run on my computer that might take care of this, or is this something I need to take to the Geek Squad at Best Buy or another place like that? I'm using Vista and this computer (an Acer) was purchased about 2008.

E.H., Raleigh

A: This is a problem I've had occasionally, and I know how frustrating, disruptive and inefficient it is to have your cursor jumping all over the screen while you type.

First, Jeremy Behrens, an IT consultant in Audubon, N.J., suggests that you make sure you aren't hitting the trackpad as you type. Try installing a USB mouse and disabling the trackpad within the pointer settings. You can find them by clicking on the icon that looks like a trackpad in your system tray at the bottom right of your screen.

You also can consider installing Touch Freeze, a free program that disables your touchpad while you're typing. Find it here: http:// touchfreeze.software.informer .com .

If those solutions don't work, Paul Rosenberg, owner of Love Your Computer in Chapel Hill, has a different approach. He surmises that this problem is most likely being caused by a defective keyboard, not any virus or problem with Vista. The keys send bad input and the cursor jumps around, he said.

Keyboard replacement on laptops is fairly routine, he said. A replacement keyboard averages $60 or so plus installation time, but it is worth having it done by a technician, Rosenberg says.

Handling a PDF

Q: When I receive an e-mail with an attached PDF, I download and save to a Word file. Then when I try and open that document I get a message that this cannot be opened as it is a bad or damaged file. Why is this?

L.B., Richmond, Ontario, Canada

A: The trick is to save the PDF download as a PDF file, rather than as a Word file. You can then download the free Adobe Reader software to allow you to view the file. Find it at get.adobe.com/reader.

Password matching

Fred Gerkens of Chapel Hill wrote in with a response to my recent column about fixing incorrect autofill entries. His suggestion: At least on some programs, when you retype the correct password in the form, the browser will recognize the mismatch and ask if you want to remember that username/password combination.

Send technology questions to stumpthegeeks@newsobserver.com. Please include your name, city and daytime phone number. Sorry, we can't answer every question.

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