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Welcome America On-Line User

The information on this page may improve your experience of images on this and all other Web sites.

Because you are using AOL, graphics and photographs on this site may look blurry to you, unless you have previously turned off AOL's special built-in image compression.

Look at the image below (an 1837 lithograph from the Second Seminole War). It should appear sharp with a range of colors. If this or other images on the Web routinely appear blurry or discolored to you, then read the following information to adjust your AOL preferences. It takes about 20 seconds to adjust.

First, if you care to know, here is an explanation of the problem

AOL software is unique in that it automatically compresses jpeg images, causing many jpegs to look blurry or have black lines. AOL does this to speed downloading time and to save bandwidth on its systems. The result is that AOL users do not see the internet as clearly as the rest of the world. And for all of this degradation, you get only a minor decrease in download time, like a quarter of a second on an image such as the one above. 

Even worse, once you're logged on through AOL, it doesn't matter whether you use the AOL browser, Internet Explorer, or any other browser on your computer. They will all receive AOL's low-quality, compressed images.

To correct this problem

You only need to do two simple things:

1) Turn off the image compressor in your preferences.
2) Clear your cache of old, compressed images.

Follow these simple steps:

Once you've logged on to AOL, and the AOL screen is loaded (the one with all the options like e-mail, travel, news, etc.) follow these steps:

  1. Click on either "My AOL" or "Members" ("My AOL" is the better choice if you have a recent version of AOL software)
  2. Click on "Preferences"
  3. Click on "WWW"
  4. Deselect the image compression option-- you want to uncheck the box that says something like, "Do you want compressed images for faster downloading?" Whatever it says, remove the check, answer NO. Make sure your image compression option is TURNED OFF.

That's it! Go to the second task below.

This is important because even after doing the above, when you revisit pages you've already been to, your computer will still have old, crummy images and you will continue to see them until you clear your image cache (your computer's load of temporary Web images). To clear your cache (on a pc -- Macintosh users consult users manual):

  1. Click the "Start" button
  2. Choose "Settings"
  3. Choose "Control Panel"
  4. Click the icon "Internet" (probably a little blue "e" with a hammer and wrench)
  5. In the "General" tab (which is probably the tab it opens with), look for the area which says "Temporary internet files" and click the button that says "delete files."
  6. When the next screen comes up, choose "OK." This will not erase stored e-mail messages, bookmarks, or address lists.

That's it! Welcome to the Web the way it is supposed to look.

Note: if your AOL software is configured to save the cache files in another directory, and you still see blurry images, hit the "Reload" button when visiting a Web site page that you've already been to. If you still have trouble, contact AOL technical support . 

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