Charles County Circuit Court
Sharon L. Hancock, Clerk of the Circuit Court
P. O. Box 970
200 Charles St.
La Plata, MD 20646
Phone: 301-932-3241; 301-70-2514
County Information: Formed in 1658
Welcome to the Charles County plats.net system. Below are Frequently Asked Questions to help you use the system to its fullest advantage. If your questions have to do with printing problems, please see the Printing FAQs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - General
Please note that the information contained herein is intended to be strictly an informational resource. The Maryland State Archives does NOT offer or provide technical support for patron's computers, printers, software or any of the products or processes listed below, nor do we promote any particular software over another. Although the Circuit Courts in Maryland's counties have the Prizm Viewer installed on-site, this is not to be construed as a promotion for that product or any product of that, or any other, manufacturer. Please refer to your computer, printer or software manufacturer's documentation or contact the manufacturer for technical support or operational details. The Maryland State Archives appreciates your understanding that we cannot be responsible for troubleshooting individual hardware, software, and configuration issues.
Thank you and we hope you find this page helpful.
What is incorporated in this system?The goal of the Maryland State Archives' Geographical Services program is to capture and identify all plats that exist for Charles County. Future enhancements will include plats recorded in agencies other than the Charles County Circuit Court and selected historical maps from the Archives.If I have the court's filing number, how do I quickly access the plat image?
The main page lists all the primary series from which the plat images and the descriptions were compiled. These include the collections of subdivision and condominium plats as well as the collection of plats from land records. In many cases, more than one copy of a plat filing exists. The source for every image is identifed. Links from the series numbers will take you to a detailed analysis of content, scope, and arrangement of that collection.The main search page for the system has a box for the book and page number, or plat number, as assigned by the Charles County Circuit Court. Entering the citation and pushing the search button will return a table listing all records that matched the search criteria. From this page, you can select the image you want to view by using the link on the far right. This returns a page with more detail about the selected plat and the link to the image file. The link from the image file will open the image within the web browser or in an associated program for viewing tiff and jpeg images.If I do not have the filing number, can I search the system?The "advanced search" feature on the main page will allow you to search the entire collection. You may enter any portion of the title of the plat in the field marked "description." Searches are also allowed against the filing date of the plat, in 'yyyy/mm/dd' format. In either case, the search will return a list of results in small, from the most recent filing to the earliest. You can choose to have the results returned in a different sort order by changing the "sort order" box to an option other than the default. For example, the results can be returned by "Date" (that is, from earliest filing to most recent), alphabetical by "Reference", or alphabetical by "Description."What printing options are available?Court patrons have the option to print either 11" x 17" or large format "to scale" copies, depending on the equipment available in the clerk's office. Patrons who are accessing the Plats.Net system from their homes or offices will need to check with their printer manufacturer to insure that the proper printer drivers are installed to print tiff and jpeg images. The procedure for printing plats on your home or office computer is dependent on the viewing software you are using to view the plat images.Can I enlarge an area of the image for viewing and printing?Yes. Most viewing software programs allow you to zoom in on a particular area of the image. If you are using Kodak Imaging software, you can use the imaging toolbar to zoom in on a particular lot or area of the plat. Zoom in on the portion of the plat that you would like to print. Keep in mind that the resolution of the capture will be limited by the screen resolution, not the resolution of the actual image file.
On any PC that has Kodak Imaging, you can use the following method to print only an enlarged portion of a plat:
1. Zoom in on a particular lot or area of the plat.
2. Hold down both the "alt" and the "print screen" keys.
3. Go to the Start button and open Word Pad under "Programs--Accessories."
4. Now, press both the "shift" and the "insert" keys. The screen capture will appear in the Word Pad window.
5. You can print the image from the Word Pad file. The quality of the image will be limited by the screen and printer resolution.The PLATO workstations at the courthouse have a customized image-viewing software installed on them. This software is called Prizm Viewer v7. A link to this and a freeware image viewer option can be found in the Printing/Viewing FAQ page.The quality of the image I am viewing is not acceptable. What can be done?
In the courthouse, you can select a portion of a page for printing by "marking a selection." To activate Mark a Selection, click either the "Mark Selection" toolbar button. Once Mark a Selection is activated, use the left mouse button to click and drag a rectangle around the area of the image you wish to select. When you release the mouse button, the selected area remains highlighted. To print your selection, click the "Print" toolbar button. When the print dialog box appears, click the radio button for "Selection" under "Print Range."Please use the link at the bottom of the page to send an email to the Geographic Services department at the Archives. Staff there will attempt to capture the image as a direct scan. The new image generally will be available on the system within 24 hours.Is this system available over the Internet?Yes. The World Wide Web address from your home or office is www.plats.net. The website requires the use of a username and password. Access can be granted with the username: plato and the password: plato#There are plats in the system that do not link to an image. Why?
The system over the Internet is identical to the system installed in the courthouse.The Archives' appraisal of the Circuit Court's plat collections identified many unique items that were never transferred to the Archives. As these items come into the Archives custody, they will be added to the system. In the meantime, these entries provide index access to the materials. Some series, such as patents, haven’t been scheduled to be added to the system.When I view the plat image, the background color is a light yellow. How can I fix this?If the plat image background is a light yellow, then the color management option is enabled. In order to view the plat with a white background, you will need to disable color management by following the instructions below.1. Once you've opened the plat image, go to the "File" menu on the toolbar.
2. Under "File" menu, select "Color Management."
3. The box for "Enable Color Management" should not be checked. If it is, simply click inside the box to clear it.
4. Click "OK" to exit the "Color Management" menu.
I am an America Online™ user. How should I configure my system in order to view plats online?
1. Load the newest version of Internet Explorer (5.0 or 5.5) or Netscape Navigator.
2. Start AOL.
3. Minimize the AOL window.
4. Start and then use Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.
5. You should now be able to use PLATO through your AOL connection.
I have upgraded to Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, and now I am experiencing problems in downloading plat images. Why?The Microsoft Internet Explorer Support page at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q303401 states that "Netscape-style plug-ins do not work after you upgrade Internet Explorer" and that the upgrade was designed in this way.I have upgraded to Netscape 7.0 as my web browser, and now I am experiencing problems in printing or viewing plats online. What should I do?
One work-around for this is to right-click on the image link and save it to your local drive. You can then open the image directly from the imaging program on your pc.
In the courthouses and at the Hall of Records, the Archives uses a customized image-viewing software called Prizm Viewer v7. A link to this and a freeware image viewing option can be found on the Printing/Viewing FAQ page.The Archives has not yet tested plats.net compatibility with Netscape versions higher than 4.x. There is a work-around you can use when viewing plats online using Netscape 7.0 as your web browser. Right click on the image link and then choose "open link in new tab" or "open link in new window." This will cause the tif mime type to be sent properly to the helper application.I am prompted for another user name and password, or am asked for authentication when I try to view a plat. This happens even after I've entered the user name and password. What should I do?For Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 and earlier versions, go to Tools --> Internet Options --> Advanced. Scroll to the bottom under Security. You will see a check box for "Enable Integrated Windows Authentication." This setting might need to be changed. Internet Explorer will try to use whatever login it has used before, meaning that it will automatically populate an incorrect password for plats.net. Try disabling this option if it is checked. This should correct the problem. Please note that this may affect other settings on your PC.
The Archives designed the Plats.net System to be used in the Netscape environment. It was made to deliver bitonal Group IV TIFF images of plats over the Internet. Group IV is an industry standard format for bitonal of TIFF images. The majority of the plat images on Plats.net are bitonal tiff images. However, a small percentage of the plats require scanning in grayscale so that we can obtain the best possible image of poorer quality original records. These grayscale images are posted on the system as jpeg image files or tiff image files saved with a jpeg compression.
Plats.net requires image viewing software that supports both JPEG and Group IV TIFF images. Image viewers that support both of these types generally come preinstalled on personal computers. If your computer does not have a viewer installed, you will need to obtain and install such software before being able to properly use Plats.net.
Some of the most common and most frequent questions we receive include:
All of these questions have to do with and can be fixed by doing one or a combination of the following three things:
- Instead of getting an image, my browser shows an icon of a broken piece of film (or other of icon).
- When I click on the image link, no image opens and/or I get an error message. Why?
- The image of the plat is very large, and I am unable to zoom in on the image, or to print the image properly. How can I fix this?
- View Plats.net using Netscape.
- Check to be sure you have an image viewer capable of supporting both TIFF and JPEG images. As long as they support both TIFF and JPEG images, any viewer should work. See examples of image viewers below.
- Make sure your file associations are set so that your system tries to open the images with the proper software/image viewer. Please note that Quicktime, which is an image viewer included on many pcs, is NOT compatible with Plats.net. Please see links below for changing file associations.Examples of image viewers: Irfanview at http://www.irfanview.com/ (freeware) and Prizm (Browser-Based Image Viewer) at http://www.pegasusimaging.com/prizmviewer.htm (for purchase)File association information
There are many other viewers available and can be found by searching at: http://www.download.com/ or http://www.google.com/In order to be able to open images, your computer has to know which program to open them in. Problems arise when either your PC hasn’t been instructed as to where to open these types of files, or it has been instructed to open them in a viewer that isn’t compatible with these specific types of images.Other printing /viewing questions
Below are articles on how to change your associations in two operating systems.
- Microsoft's Article on "How to change file associations in Windows 2000" http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=320033
- Microsoft's Article on "How to change file associations in Windows XP" at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;307859&product=winxpI have upgraded to Netscape 7.0 as my web browser, and now I am experiencing problems in printing or viewing plats online. What should I do?I have downloaded the Prizm image viewer. When I try to open a plat image, all I get is a blank page with a small box in the upper left-hand corner. What is wrong?The Archives has not yet tested plats.net compatibility with Netscape versions higher than 4.x. There is a work-around you can use when viewing plats online using Netscape 7.0 as your web browser. Right click on the image link and then choose "open link in new tab" or "open link in new window." This will cause the tif mime type to be sent properly to the helper application.In all likelihood, you will need to upgrade your Internet Explorer. Please see the two sites below for upgrade information. http://v5.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/v5consumer/default.aspx?ln=en-us0 or http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspxCan I enlarge an area of the image for viewing and printing?Yes. Most viewing software programs allow you to zoom in on a particular area of the image. Keep in mind that the resolution of the capture will be limited by the screen resolution, not the resolution of the actual image file. Please see your viewer’s help files or directions for more instruction.For more information on viewing images online, please visit How to View Tiff & Max Files on the Maryland State Archives website: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/refserv/indexes/html/howtotif.html
In the courthouse, which uses Prizm Viewer software, you can select a portion of a page for printing by "marking a selection." To activate Mark a Selection, click the "Mark Selection" toolbar button. Once Mark a Selection is activated, use the left mouse button to click and drag a rectangle around the area of the image you wish to select. When you release the mouse button, the selected area remains highlighted. To print your selection, click the "Print" toolbar button. When the print dialog box appears, click the radio button for "Selection" under "Print Range."
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