By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1999, The Syracuse Newspapers
Why does Microsoft do such crazy things?
If you use Microsoft Word 97, the standard high-quality word processor for Windows PCs, you already know that Word 97 is brain-dead when it comes to scrolling a document. Grab the scrollbar's main button when you've got a big document loaded in Word 97 and the scrollbar has no idea what you're doing. Unlike just about every other program under the sun, Word 97 has no way to do "live" scrolling. Drag that scrollbar button up or down all you want; all you get is a silly little sign that pops up to tell you what page you'd have been on if Word 97 actually had known how to scroll.
Dumb, right? What's wrong with Microsoft?
Hold on. Not so fast. Word 97 CAN do that kind of scrolling. What's inexcusably dumb is that Microsoft designed Word to do just that -- and then left the function turned off. It's there, but it's disabled You have to turn it on yourself.
Yes, you're reading this right. Microsoft put live scrolling into Word 97 and then turned the function off.
Think about it. This is the same company that hides funny little pictures and sounds (called "Easter Eggs") in its software all the time -- a moving picture of the programmers waving at you, that kind of thing -- so you KNOW Microsoft programmers have time on their hands. They don't have an excuse for doing something half-right. To do something right and then turn the "rightness" off is impossible to fathom.
To activate live scrolling, you need to make a small change to the Windows Registry. Horns should be blasting and rockets should be taking off at this point, because the Registry is not a thing to fool with. If you've never edited the Registry, think three times before you do what I am about to tell you. If you HAVE edited the Registry before, think twice. Messing up the Registry messes up the way Windows works. You can end up very sorry and very embarrassed if you do the wrong thing.
On the other hand, if you follow my instructions you'll do just fine. The secret word is FOLLOW. Do it exactly the way I tell you.
Close whatever programs are running and click the Start button. Then click Run. Type "regedit" (without quotes) and press the Enter key. The Registry Editor will open up. It's the program you're going to use to change the Registry.
Inside the Registry Editor window, you'll see a small icon called "My Computer." Click once on that icon.
Click the Edit menu at the top of the window. Click "Find." Type "programdir" (without the quotes) into the "Find what:" line. Make sure everything box in that little window is unchecked except "Values." Click "Find Next."
The Registry editor will start looking for something. It may take a while to find it. It will then show you a window will many items written at the left and many more at the right. You should see such entries as "BackgroundSave" and "WPHelp" in the right-hand window. (It you don't see them, you're probably looking at the wrong part of the Registry. Press F3 to have the Registry Editor search some more.)
Click your right mouse button in a blank area of the right-hand window. Choose "New," then "String Value." Immediately type "LiveScrolling" (without the quotes, all one word). Immediately press the Enter key, then press the Enter key again. Press the "1" key (without the quotes) and press the Enter key again.
What's you've just done is this: You created a new value in the Registry. The value was called "LiveScrolling." You gave that value a data entry of "1." (Computers speak a kind of on-or-off language. "1" is on and "0" is off.)
Click the close button at the upper right of the Registry Editor's window.
Now run Word 97 and open a document that's long enough to fill at least a couple of pages. Click the scrollbar button and slide it up or down. It now works the way God intended -- and the way Microsoft intended, too.