Windows loads ok but commands don't work HELP

I have a dell Inspiron Laptop running windows XP.This morning I switched it on and everything loaded as normal. However when I put the cursor onto the IE explorer and double clicked nothing happened. Ditto all the other icons. If I click Caps Lock on the keyboard the caps lock light does come on.I cannot access the start menu or anything else(and have tried using USB mouse and touchpad).
Initially, hovering the cursor near some of the symbols on the task bar did bring up the balloon info with what they are but only as it is starting up. The fan seems to be working full on/ overtime if anything.
I have unplugged from the mains and removed the battery.
I'm not sure what else to do- I can't remember how to start in safe mode?
Ideally I'd like to access some of my documents to make a copy of them (the laptop is networked so I'm hoping that my PC might still be able to access the laptop's hard drive) then I can call Dell Tech Support tomorrow.Typicaly I did a fair bit of work yesterday and didn't back it up :(
If anybody has any suggestions or ideas I would be VERY grateful- thanks!

  johnnyrocker 08:13 17 Feb 2008

for safe mode the process is usually continually press F8 during boot up you dont say what your os is and it may be different.


johnny

Thanks- Isn't the OS XP or did you mean something different?

I can't access all the laptop files via the PC network although I appear to be able to copy over some of them- I'd have thought it would be all or nothing?

  johnnyrocker 08:28 17 Feb 2008

os is correct but there are many like win98 ME win 2000 etc hence the question.


johnny

Actually copying over has just crashed the PC :(

  johnnyrocker 08:29 17 Feb 2008

what about opening 'my computer' and selecting tools/folder options?


johnny.

Sorry Johnnie I'm not with you- I wrote:- I have a dell Inspiron Laptop running windows XP
in my first post and you asked what the OS was hence my confusion about whether I'd understood you!

what about opening 'my computer' and selecting tools/folder options?

I can't open anything, I can move the cursor about and click on things but nothing happens- it's really strange
If I click on something the hour glass comes up and stays there nothing happens

  johnnyrocker 08:34 17 Feb 2008

my apologies it is a tad too early;)



johnny.

  johnnyrocker 08:35 17 Feb 2008

is this the same in safe mode? and could you do a system restore?


johnnny.

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