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May 2000 

Windows Assistance

 
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Defrag Virtual Memory May 31, 2000

Although the Disk Defrag utility speeds up file access, it doesn't defrag your swap file, which is the file Windows uses as virtual memory. You can get additional performance gains by disabling your swap file, defragging your disk, then re-enabling the swap file. The new swap file will be effectively defragged and therefore faster. To do so, right-click on My Computer and select Properties from the Context menu. Click on the Performance tab, then the Virtual Memory button. Select the "Let me specify my own virtual memory settings" radio button, then select Disable Virtual Memory. Click on OK, then OK again. After defragging your disk, follow the same procedure above, but this time select "Let Windows manage my virtual memory setting."

Turn Off Task Scheduler May 30, 2000

How can I turn off Task Scheduler? I like to run the tasks manually and don't want the Task Scheduler running in the background."

You can turn off Scheduled Tasks entirely using one quick command. First, select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Scheduled Tasks to open this application. Now just pull down the Advanced menu and select Stop Using Task Scheduler. The program's icon will disappear from the tray of your Taskbar, and the scheduler will no longer start when you start Windows 98.

(To turn Scheduled Tasks back on, follow the steps above, but select Advanced, Start Using Task Scheduler.)  

Show The Files Already? Two May 29, 2000

In our last tip, we pointed out that if you're viewing the contents of your hard drive as a Web page and then double-click the Windows folder (or the Windows\System folder), you'll see a warning message and the instructions To View The Contents Of This Folder, Click Show Files. We also suggested that you can avoid these warnings by opting not to view your folders as Web pages.

Not good enough? You can remove those warnings and still view your folders as Web pages. Basically, the warning messages are part of the customization for the Windows and Windows\System folders. Remove the customization and you remove the messages.

Open the Windows folder, locate the folder.htt and desktop.ini files, and create copies of these files in the same folder. (Name them anything you want, such as folder1.htt and desktop1.ini, or just leave them as Copy Of Folder.htt and Copy Of Desktop.ini.) Still in the Windows folder, select View, Customize This Folder, and select Remove Customization. Click Next twice, then click Finish. Repeat these steps for the Windows\System folder and those warning messages won't bother you again.

(Tip: If you ever want the messages back--fat chance, we know -- rename the copies of the folder.htt and desktop.ini files using their original names.)

Show The Files Already? One May 27, 2000

By now you've certainly noticed that if you're viewing the contents of your hard drive as a Web page and then double-click the Windows folder (or the Windows\System folder), you'll see a warning message and the instructions To View The Contents Of This Folder, Click Show Files. Gee Microsoft, thanks for the safety net, but if I didn't want to view the files inside, I wouldn't have double-clicked the folder.

There's an easy way to bypass this warning and view the contents of the Windows folder directly, the first time around: Don't view your folders as Web pages. In any folder, deselect View, As Web Page. Then, to apply the setting globally, select View, Folder Options; click the View tab; click Like Current Folder; click Yes to confirm; then click OK.

Not good enough? In our next tip, we'll show you how to remove these warnings while still viewing your folders as Web pages....  

Fixing ‘File Not Found' May 26, 2000

It's not uncommon in Windows to encounter a "File Not Found" error while booting up. The message indicates that a particular file-usually a DLL or VXD-is missing. Chances are, the file was improperly removed when you uninstalled an application. The file may be gone, but one or more lines in your System Registry or SYSTEM.INI could still be trying to load it. To fix the problem, reboot and note the exact name of the errant file. From the Windows taskbar, select Start/Find/Files and Folders to search for the missing file. If you find it, copy it to your WINDOWS or WINDOWS\SYSTEM folder. If you think you might have moved or renamed a program folder, make a new folder with the old name, and copy the offending file there. Reboot and see if the message goes away.

If you don't find the file, you must find a reference in your Registry or SYSTEM.INI to a program that no longer exists on your system. Use the Registry Editor's search function to find the filename, then use Notepad to open and search SYSTEM.INI for the same file. When you find any references to the file, carefully note where it is and the exact settings in case you have to reinstate it, then delete the references. (Back up your Registry before making any changes.) Also check the WINDOWS\STARTUP folder for any shortcuts that call the file, and delete them.

Good Things In Small Packages May 25, 2000

Are those icons that are cluttering your desktop getting you down? Bring them down to size and give yourself more room. Right-click on the Desktop and select Properties. Click on the Appearance tab, then the Item drop-down menu. Select Icon, then pick a size of 16 (the default is 32). Click on OK. (This works best if you make the words under the icons as short as possible)

Mouseless Moves May 24, 2000

You can move or resize open Windows applications by using only your keyboard. First, press Alt+Spacebar to bring up a menu. Press S, then use the arrow keys to resize the window. Press M and move the window using the arrow keys. Press Enter to keep the window change or Esc to return the window to its previous state.

Oust The Update Folder May 23, 2000

When you install Internet Explorer 5 over Win9x, you'll find a new folder called ‘Windows Update Setup Files’ in your root directory. This folder is filled with setup files that take up between 10MB and 20MB of space on your hard disk. It's a good idea to save them for a while after installing IE5 to make sure it's running properly. That way, you won't have to download the app again if you run into trouble and want to reinstall. After using IE5 for a while without encountering any problems, you can delete these files to regain the disk space.

Registry Refresh Shortcut May 22, 2000

Some Registry changes require restarting Windows before the changes take effect. However, there's a way to reinitialize your Registry and refresh your Desktop without fully restarting the OS. Save your work, then press Ctrl+Alt+Del to bring up the Windows task list. Select the Explorer entry and click on End Task. If the Shutdown screen appears, click on Cancel. After a few seconds an error message will appear. Click on End Task, and Windows Explorer will reload with any new Registry settings.

A Refreshing Change May 19, 2000

Win95 and Win98 don't refresh your view of files and folders as often as you might like. Here's how to make Windows refresh constantly (make sure you back up your system before editing the Registry). Launch the Registry Editor by selecting Start/Run, typing REGEDIT in the Run dialog and pressing Enter. Click on the plus sign next to HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE, then on the plus sign next to System, and then on CurrentControlSet. Select Control, then Update. In the right pane, right-click on UpdateMode and select Modify. Select the 01 reading and change it to 00. Click on OK, exit the Registry Editor and restart.

A Smart Restart May 18, 2000

Sometimes you need to restart Windows to make a settings change take effect. But there's a faster way. Select Shut Down from the Start menu, then press and hold the Shift key when you click on Restart the Computer, then (still holding down the Shift key) click OK. When the screen prompt reads, "Windows is now restarting," you can let go of the Shift key. Performing this action bypasses the boot sequence. More tips.

Eject, Eject! May 17, 2000

Right-click on the CD-ROM icon in My Computer and select Eject from the Context menu to eject the CD from the drive.

Put ‘Open With..’ Everywhere May 16, 2000

You can quickly add the Open With command to the right-click Context menu of all or most icons in Windows 9x. In the Registry Editor, go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AllFilesystemObjects and make a new key called shell. (Do this by right-clicking on the AllFilesystemObjects folder and choosing New/Key from the pop-up menu.) In the shell key, make the new key openas. In the openas key, make a key called command. Now double-click on the Default icon in the command key and, in the Value data field, enter C:\WINDOWS\rundll32.exe shell32.dll,OpenAs_RunDLL %1 and click on OK. Close the Registry Editor. You'll now find the Open With menu item on the pop-up menus of most file and folder objects.

True Maximize May 15, 2000

You already know that clicking on the maximize button (the middle square in the upper-right corner) in an Explorer window (either Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer) opens the window full screen. But if you're running Win98, try pressing F11. The window will go truly full screen, covering even the taskbar, and shrinking the buttons and toolbars of the open window. You can also Auto-Hide the menu by clicking the alternate mouse button with the pointer somewhere on the Explorer menu bar. One of the options is Auto-Hide. Click it. Press F11 again to toggle back to the original window size. (Note: This won't work in most application windows.)

Shutdown May 12, 2000

Win98 shuts down faster than Win95, but it achieves this dubious benefit by pulling the plug on running applications without shutting them down first. If you're uncomfortable with that, disable it. Launch the System Configuration Utility (Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Information). Click on the Tools menu and select System Configuration Utility. Click on the Advanced button and check the Disable Fast Shutdown item.

Replacing System Files May 11, 2000

If a system file gets damaged, you can extract a fresh copy. Launch the System File Checker from System Information's Tools menu. Click on the "Extract one file from installation disk" radio button, type the full file name and click on Start. Type x:\WIN98 (where x is your CD-ROM drive) in the Restore From box, enter the destination in the Save File In box and click on OK.

Speed Up Boot Process May 10, 2000

You can speed up your boot process by telling Windows not to search for your floppy drive. (You'll still be able to use the drive, but Win98 will search for it only when you click on its icon in My Computer.) Go to My Computer/Properties/Performance. Click on File System and the Floppy Disk tab. Deselect "Search for new floppy disk drives each time your computer starts."

The tip involves telling Windows not to search for a *new* floppy drive. It has nothing to do with searching for an existing, permanently installed floppy drive. Importantly, using this tip will not prevent you from booting from a Startup or boot floppy. It disables only the plug-and-play feature that checks for a new drive (useful mainly on portable computers with external floppy drives).

Who Wants To Explore The Start Menu May 9, 2000

Want to change the focus of the Explorer window that appears when you right-mouse click Start and select Explore? It can be done, with a little Registry-editing, but here's the catch: From now on, selecting Explore in the context menu of ANY folder will open Explorer to the folder you specify. If you can live with this limitation, here's the technique, suggested by reader M. Whitco:

Open the Registry Editor: select Start, Run, type

regedit

and click OK. Navigate your way to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shell\explore\ddeexec. In the right pane, right-mouse click (Default) and select Modify. On the Value Data line, replace both instances of '%I' with the path of any folder. (Just be sure to leave everything else intact.) For example, this line might now read [ExploreFolder("c:\ABC Files", c:\ABC Files, %S)]

Click OK and close the Registry Editor. From now on, right-mouse clicking Start (or any other folder) and selecting Explore takes you right to the folder you specified.

(Note: As always, before following these steps, back up your Registry files, System.dat and User.dat. Both are hidden files located in the Windows folder.)

Windows 98 Update May 8, 2000

Microsoft has an automatic online procedure for Windows 98. Select Windows Update on the Start button and you will be sent to the Windows 98 Update Web site. Follow their procedures and your system will be checked out. It is your option as to what you want to download and install. Whatever you select to do the update is done remotely and out of your control. So if you have to reload your Windows 98 and will have to go to the Update site and download and install the updates all over again.

For Starters, A Startup Disk May 5, 2000

Upon installing Windows 98, you're given the option to create a Startup Disk--a disk that, should you ever have trouble starting Windows 98, boots your system and provides some utilities to (you hope) diagnose the problem. If, in your haste to get started with Windows 98 (or because you didn't have a blank disk handy), you opted to skip this step, we recommend you take a minute to make the disk now. You'll be mighty glad to have one, if and when you need it.

First, locate a blank, formatted disk. If you can't find one, a disk that contains some old, useless files will do; just beware that they'll be wiped out in the process.

Open the Control Panel (select Start, Settings, Control Panel) and double-click Add/Remove Programs. Select the Startup Disk tab, then click the Create Disk button. Now just follow along as Windows 98 walks you through the disk creation process. When it finishes, be sure to label the disk and keep it in a safe place. (While you're at it, switch that little plastic tab on the back of the floppy disk to the down position--you'll be able to see through the disk--to write-protect it.)

One-Click Controlling May 4, 2000

What's the most frequently accessed window on your system? More often than not, it's the Control Panel. This window provides one-stop shopping for all of your system settings (not including the Registry Editor, of course). Windows 98 provides easy access to this oft-used window in the Start, Settings menu, but for even quicker access, place a shortcut within arm's reach--either on the desktop or in the Quick Launch toolbar.

To add a Control Panel shortcut to the desktop, double-click My Computer, then right-mouse-click and drag the Control Panel icon out to the desktop. Let go and select Create Shortcut(s) Here. If you'd prefer to have Control Panel access from the Taskbar, follow these same steps but this time drop the icon on the Quick Launch toolbar. (Tip: Don't let go of the icon until you see a black line to indicate where it will end up.)

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