Q My dad has some really weird thing popping up on his computer when he turns it on, and I can't get rid of it. It says "zHotkey.exe has encountered a problem and needs to shut down." You can click cancel and it's fine until the next time someone starts the PC.

This is making me crazy. Any suggestions?


A Hot-key programs like this one provide shortcuts to PC functions that would normally be activated using a mouse click. The zHotkey.exe "hot keys" control things such as sound volume or media players. But zHotkey.exe is designed for wired keyboards, so using a wireless mouse or keyboard may disrupt it.

To turn off hot-key programs, Microsoft says close all open programs, go to Start and click "run." Type in "msconfig" and click OK. Choose the "startup" tab and uncheck the boxes in front of zHotkey, CNYHkey, Mshotkey or Zkey. Click OK and restart the PC.

Q I accidentally deleted from iTunes the "Recently Added" folder that allowed me to see which music CDs were newly copied. How can I restore it?


A One way to recover the "Recently Added" folder that's normally under "Playlists" is to download and install a new version of iTunes, located at www.apple.com/itunes. Or reinstall your current version of iTunes. In the "downloads" folder on your C drive, click on iTunesSetup. In either case, your songs and data should reappear in the new iTunes.

Q I'm having a problem with the way I sign in to the Windows Live online service. Previously I could sign in once, then check the "remember me" box so I wouldn't have to log in the next time. Now I have to log in every time because the "remember me" box doesn't work. Any ideas? Also, is there a compilation of your columns?


A Your problem is most likely caused by a Yahoo toolbar installer program. The installer adversely affects your computer's registry, where Windows settings and options are stored.

To correct the problem, download a free "registry cleaner" program. You can find several, some of them free, at technical website CNET, which scans downloadable programs to make sure they don't contain malicious software. Find them at tinyurl.com/22k2hd8.

Many of my previous columns are posted on startribune.com. Once on the website, search for my name to find both columns and stories that are listed from newest to oldest. Sorry, but there's no index of topics available.

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander @gmail.com, or write to Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Av., Minneapolis, MN 55488-0002. Include name, city and telephone number.