Fixing AOL Problems
by: Jeremy Trogg

This article is primarily written for users of AOL 7.0 and earlier.

There's no doubt about it.  AOL and now AOL/Time-Warner have a pretty good corner on the ISP market with what??? 20 million users and counting?  Sure, AOL has a great front end and many of us grew into the Internet using AOL, even if we don't use them now.   

What is amazing to those coming off AOL is that suddenly, graphics on the Internet suddenly look fantastic.  It's like finally deciding to try on that set of glasses because the world is now in focus again.  Here's why...

AOL reduces traffic on their network by drastically compressing images to a very low quality, without  your permission.  If you are using their internal web browser, you must forbid AOL from doing this to view images appropriately. 

Otherwise, images may appear fuzzy, murky, or blurry.  Changing the compressed graphics setting is not necessary if you are using an external web browser, like Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. Making adjustments to your monitor settings will improve graphics within any browser. 

Follow the simple instructions below and in minutes you will see an improvement in all the web sites you visit. 

AOL Graphics Fix 

1. After you have logged onto AOL, go to the Task Bar at the top of the screen and find the icon button which says "My AOL" and click it. 

2. Click on "Preferences" 

3. Click on "WWW" 

4. Click on "Web Graphics" 

5. Now un-click "Use Compressed Graphics" to disable the compression software that distorts art in the AOL browser.

6. You must close AOL for the changes to take effect. You may restart AOL normally and the images should now be crisp and clear. If not, click here to troubleshoot.

Note: Disabling the graphic compression feature on AOL will increase the time it takes to load graphics. In most cases, load time is increased by seconds, but if you have a very slow modem or connect to AOL during heavy traffic periods, you may find the wait period unacceptable. In which case, repeat the steps above and re-enable Compressed Graphics. 


You followed all the instructions on this page, and your graphics still look distorted? 

The most common problem related to the AOL graphics compression relates to the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. Like a virus, the AOL Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) get inside the Microsoft browser and hijack the ".jpg" and ".jpeg" extensions, converting them to AOL ".x-jp" extensions --distorting the graphics viewed in the Microsoft browser, even if you are not connected to the web through AOL. Fortunately, this does not occur in any of the Netscape browsers.

Here's the fix. 

1. Open the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser, and at the top of the page click "View" 

2. Click "Options" 

3. Click "Advanced" 

4. Click "Temporary Internet Files" (your cache) 

5. Click "Settings" 

6. Click "Empty Folder" which deletes all the temporary internet files in your cache, including the AOL files which have hijacked your system. 

7. Click "View Files" and take a look around to see if there are any nasty AOL files still lurking in the browser. They usually have the green or blue AOL pyramid icon. If you spot any, delete them by hand. 

8. Close all these windows and that should fix the problem. 

Ideal Monitor Settings 

You may be experiencing trouble with web graphics because you have an early model computer with low resolution or low color setting. Most web pages today are optimized for 24 bit color and 800x600 screen resolution. 

On Windows, here's how to check: 

Click the following sequence:

Start/Settings/Control Panel/Display 

Once inside the Display window, click Settings and confirm or change the following settings: 

1. Color Palette = True Color (24 bit or higher) 

2. Desktop Area = 800x600 pixel resolution or larger

3. Font Size = Large Fonts. 

Note: Making adjustments to any of these three settings may involve restarting your computer to allow the changes to take effect.  Even if it doesn't, the screen may go black and jump around a bit.  This is normal and you may also have to readjust some of the items on your desktop.




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