QWhen I click on Web addresses in Outlook Express, my browser does nothing. Why is that?

AWindows has forgotten your browser's existence in one of two ways.

The first can happen in any version of Windows: The default-browser settings get scrambled, leaving Windows clueless about what program should open Web links from other programs.

If you run Microsoft's Internet Explorer, go to IE's Tools menu, select "Internet Options . . . ," click the Programs tab and click the check box next to "Internet Explorer should check to see if it is the default" (it should be blank at first). Then restart IE.

If you use Firefox (my recommendation), go to its Tools menu, select Options and click the "Check Now" button under the "Default Browser" heading.

The second malfunction, according to Microsoft, is confined to Windows 98 Second Edition and earlier releases. In this case, the system forgets what program should open Web-page files.

Go to the Start Menu, click Programs and select Windows Explorer. Hit that window's View menu, select Folder Options and click the File Types tab. Scroll down that list of files until you see a set of entries beginning with "URL." With each of those, click the "Change . . ." button and click "Browse" in the next window to navigate to your browser -- usually a branch of the C drive's "Program Files" directory.

An article on Microsoft's site has more on this problem; visit support.microsoft.com and search for article number 177054.

I use Gmail instead of my Verizon DSL e-mail account, but Windows keeps opening the Verizon-supplied mail program when I click on e-mail links on the Web. How can I get the link to launch Gmail?

Download and install Google's free Gmail Notifier program (toolbar.google.com/gmail-helper/), then right-click its icon at the bottom right corner of the screen and select "Use Gmail for Internet mailto: links."

-- 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.