QOutlook Express isn't letting me open a PDF receipt I was recently sent. OE called it "unsafe" and said it had "removed access" to that file.

AThis is a case of a well-meaning feature run amok. Several years ago, Microsoft (finally) changed the way Outlook Express handles attached files, blocking users from opening, downloading or running any sort of "executable" content. That term includes programs and also a variety of scripts, all of which can easily hide viruses.

That list of forbidden attachments doesn't include Portable Document Format files, but in this case OE blocked access to one anyway. Microsoft spokesman Darin Linnman wrote in an e-mail that this bug was fixed in the Service Pack 2 update to Windows XP. That, however, can't help this reader, who uses Windows Millennium Edition.

In that case, Linnman suggested another workaround: Select the message with the attachment and hit Ctrl-F to forward it, which will open a copy of the message in a new window. The PDF -- or any other wrongly blocked attachment -- should then be accessed normally from this window.

Another option is to disable OE's attachment-blocking protection altogether: Go to its Tools menu, select Options, then click on the Security tab. Don't do that unless you're sure you -- or anybody else who uses the computer -- won't click on an attached program by accident. Your only defense in that case will be your antivirus software, which may miss a brand-new virus.

Can I use Graffiti on a Treo 650 smartphone?

The Treo 650 includes its own keyboard instead of leaving space on its screen for users to write out characters in PalmOne's Graffiti 2 alphabet. But you can download a free utility, Graffiti Anywhere, that lets you write anywhere on the screen (www.escande.org/palm/GrfAnywhere/).

-- Rob Pegoraro

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or rob@twp.com.