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June 2000 

Windows Assistance

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Recycle Bin Prompt? June 30, 2000

If your Recycle Bin prompts you with the Are You Sure? message whenever you put something in it -- even after you've unchecked the "Display delete confirmation dialog box" option in its Properties screen -- here's a fix: Place a shortcut to the Recycle Bin in your C:\WINDOWS\SENDTO folder. To send something to the Recycle Bin without receiving the warning, just right-click on the file or folder and choose Send To/Recycle Bin.

Direct Route To Documents June 29, 2000

Add a folder to the Start menu that holds all the documents you use frequently. Right-click on the Start button and choose Open. Then right-click on the folder background, choose New/Folder and give the new folder a name, like Hot Docs. For permanent documents in other folders, drag and drop shortcuts into the new folder. Or just copy or create new documents right in the Hot Docs folder. Either way, all you'll have to do is click on Start and open the Hot Docs folder to access your most important files.

Keyboard Shortcuts for ToggleKeys June 28, 2000

In our last tip, we showed you how to turn on ToggleKeys, so that you'll hear a tone whenever you press the Caps Lock or Num Lock key: Open the Control Panel, double-click Accessibility Options and, on the Keyboard tab, select Use ToggleKeys.

Want to be able to turn ToggleKeys on and off from your keyboard? After following the steps above, click the Settings button next to the Use ToggleKeys setting. Select Use Shortcut and click OK twice. The next time you want to silence ToggleKeys -- for example, if the person working next to you needs a little peace and quiet -- hold down the Num Lock key for five seconds. You'll hear a tone to indicate ToggleKeys has been turned off. To turn this feature back on, hold down Num Lock for five seconds, then click OK to close the ToggleKeys dialog box. 

Playing Sound When Caps Lock/Num Lock Are Pressed June 27, 2000

Do you want your Caps Lock and Num Lock keys to play a sound when you press them, so you don't suddenly find yourself typING IN ALL CAPS or typing numbers instead of paging up and down? Then call upon ToggleKeys.

Open the Control Panel and double-click Accessibility Options. On the Keyboard tab, select Use ToggleKeys, then click OK. From now on, pressing Caps Lock or Num Lock (or Scroll Lock) plays one of two sounds (depending on whether you're turning the button on or off).

(Note: If you don't see Accessibility Options in your Control Panel, you need to install it using your Windows 98 installation disk. Inside the Control Panel, double-click Add/Remove Programs. Click the Windows Setup tab and, under Components, select Accessibility. Click the Details button, select Accessibility Tools, click OK twice, and so on.)

In our next tip, we'll tell you about a keyboard shortcut for turning ToggleKeys on and off.

Connect SCSI Devices Without Restarting June 26, 2000

SCSI hardware such as scanners and tape backup devices often require you to reboot your system before using them. But sometimes you can force Win9x to recognize such devices right after you plug them in. Right-click on My Computer and choose Properties. Click on the Device Manager tab, make sure the Computer entry is highlighted and click on the Refresh button. The device should appear under its appropriate heading in Device Manager.

Briefcase Helps With Data Backups June 23, 2000

Reader J. Emler writes:

"I don't think Windows Briefcase gets the attention it deserves, so I would like to share my use for it. I have a CD rewriter that I use to back up data files. I use Briefcase to make sure the files are kept up to date.

"Every directory that I want to back up to CD has a duplicate copy in a briefcase on a rewriteable CD (that I leave in the drive). I have shortcuts to each briefcase in a desktop folder. At the end of the day, I open the folder and double-click each shortcut. The corresponding briefcase opens up and tells me if it needs updating. Very handy! I never have to worry about whether or not I remembered to back up a data file."

Little Known Keyboard Command #2 June 22, 2000

To restore the default column widths in the Details view of any folder window and many program or applet windows, press Ctrl and the plus sign (+) key on the numeric keypad.

Little Known Keyboard Command #1 June 21, 2000

To expand all the subfolders of a selected drive in Windows Explorer, press the asterisk (*) key on the numeric keypad (this could take a while if the directory has lots of folders in it). But watch out-there's no easy way to collapse them again.

Taskbar's Auto-Hide Option June 20, 2000

Do you find that no matter where you place your Taskbar (on any side of the screen), it's in the way? If desktop real estate is at a premium, keep this bar out of sight entirely until you need it.

Select Start, Settings, Taskbar & Start Menu. Right-click a blank area of the Taskbar and select Properties. On the Taskbar Options tab, select Auto-hide, then click OK. Click anywhere on your desktop and watch as the Taskbar shrinks from view. If and when you need the Taskbar, hold your mouse pointer over the side of the screen where it's hiding (you'll be able to see its edge), and the Taskbar rises to the occasion.

Alt-Tab Trick June 19, 2000

In a previous tip, we mentioned that you can press Alt-Tab to switch among open applications. Here's a quick review: Press and hold down the Alt key as you continually press Tab (or Shift-Tab, to move in reverse) to rotate through all open windows (represented by icons in a gray box). When the window you want appears highlighted, release the Alt key.

If you find yourself frequently switching back and forth between two windows in any given work session, there's a shortcut you should know about: The last window you switched to using the Alt-Tab method is always the one that appears first in that gray box. Point being? All you have to do is press Alt-Tab once to switch to the other window. Press Alt-Tab to switch back again, and so on. You don't even need to look at the screen!

Show Hidden Files June 16, 2000

When you view a folder's contents in an Explorer window, do you want to be sure that you're seeing EVERYTHING inside? Open any Explorer window, select View, Folder Options and click the View tab. Under Advanced Settings, select Show All Files (under Hidden Files), if it isn't already selected, then click OK. The next time you open any folder window, Windows will reveal all.

(Note: Typically, "hidden" files are so important that the developers opted to keep them out of reach. In other words, don't mess with a hidden file unless you really know what you're doing.)

Win98 Remembers File Selection June 15, 2000

If you're in the middle of selecting a number of files (for example, holding down Ctrl as you click each file) and someone interrupts you, don't fret that you'll have to start the file selection process over again. As long as you don't click inside that window (the one where you were making the selection), Windows 98 will remember the selection for you.

Just do what you have to do, and when you're ready to get back to work, restore or switch back to the "selection" window. Hold your mouse pointer over any of the previously selected items, and the entire selection reappears like magic.

(Note: This tip works only if you have your desktop set to act like the Web -- in other words, you can select a file by holding your mouse pointer over it.)

In Search Of A Help Topic June 14, 2000

Can't seem to find the Windows Help topic you need in the Index? Maybe you and Microsoft just aren't on the same wavelength in terms of how the topic should be listed. Try searching by keyword instead.

Inside Windows Help (select Start, Help), click the Search tab and type a keyword, such as 'modem'. Click List Topics, and Windows will display all topics that include that word (not just in their index listings, but in the topics themselves).

Still can't find the answer you're looking for? Chances are it isn't in Windows Help.

Edge-to-Edge Help June 13, 2000

If you're navigating your way through Windows Help and come across a fairly long topic, chances are you'll want to expand that window to a full-screen view. Then, you can view as much of that topic as possible at once and avoid all that unnecessary scrolling.

But wait. Want a true full-screen view of that topic? Before maximizing the Help window, click the Hide button (in the upper-left corner). The entire left pane, including the Contents, Index, and Search tabs, disappears. Maximize that window now, and Help extends from one edge of the screen to the other.

A Handy Reference June 12, 2000

Two tips ago, we pointed out that each button in the Windows 98 Calculator applet (Standard or Scientific view) has a keyboard equivalent. To view this equivalent, right-click any button and click the What's This button. What we forgot to mention is that you can print a list of all Calculator keyboard equivalents to use as a reference (at least until you commit them all to memory!).

Open Calculator and select Help, Help Topics. On the Contents tab, select Tips And Tricks, then select Use Keyboard Equivalents Of Calculator buttons. Inside the Calculator Help window, select Options, Print, and with Print The Current Page selected, click OK. Adjust your printer options, if necessary, click OK one more time, and there's your list.

(And just by the way, you can use this command -- Options, Print to print any Windows 98 Help topic.)

Memories . . . June 9, 2000

Just complete a calculation (in the Windows 98 Calculator), the result of which you'd like to insert into another? Don't waste time writing it down. Store it in memory, so you can insert it into the next equation at the click of a button.

With the number you'd like to store in memory displayed in Calculator, click the MS button. (An M appears in the gray box above all the 'M' buttons.) Now go ahead with the other calculation, and when you need to insert the stored number, press the MR button.

(Tips-in-a-tip: To clear the number in memory, press the MC button. Or, press MS to overwrite the number in memory with the currently displayed number. To add the currently displayed number to the one in memory, press the M+ button, then press MR to display the result.) 

High School Math Refresher June 8, 2000

In our last tip, we showed you how to transform a seemingly simple calculator into a scientific tool: Select Start, Programs, Accessories, Calculator; then select View, Scientific. Not sure what each of these new buttons does? All you have to do is ask. Right-click any button and click What's This to display a description of that button.

(Tip-in-a-tip: Did you know you can navigate the Calculator without any help from the mouse? Right-click any button, select What's This, and below its description, you'll see a keyboard equivalent.) 

Calculator Science June 7, 2000

When you need to do some fancy calculations, do you write off the Windows 98 Calculator in favor of a more advanced method (like that old pocket model in your desk drawer)? Actually, Calculator packs a lot more punch than you'd think.

Open Calculator -- select Start, Programs, Accessories, Calculator -- and select View, Scientific.

Web, Classic, Or In  Between? June 6, 2000

In our last tip, we showed you an easy way to switch between single- and double-click icons: Open an Explorer window; select View, Folder Options; and select Web style (for single-click icons) or Classic style. We also pointed out that there are other settings that go along with the Web style or Classic style desktop. For example, choosing Web style places an underline under each icon title. If you want to combine settings from both of these desktop styles, select the third option under Windows Desktop Update, Custom, Based On The Settings You Choose; then click the Settings button.

You'll now see the Custom Settings dialog box, where you can pick and choose your settings. For example, if you've selected the Web style desktop, but don't want all your icon titles underlined, select Underline Titles Only When I Point At Them. Select any other settings, as desired, click OK, then click Close. 

Single Or Double Click? June 5, 2000

Do you prefer to activate your icons with a single-click, like a Web page link, or with a double-click, as you've always done? Regardless of your preference, Windows 98 makes it easy to switch back and forth.

Open any Explorer window (single- or double-paned), select View, Folder Options and take a look at the options under Windows Desktop Update. Select Web Style if you prefer the single-click approach. Or, to stick with the classic double-click, choose Classic Style. Click OK, and Windows applies your choice immediately.

There are other settings that go along with the Web style or Classic style desktop. For example, choosing Web style places an underline under each icon title. In our next tip, we'll show you how to combine settings from both of these desktop styles....

Cascade Control Panel June 2, 2000

This is an oldie but goodie. Control Panel is a frequently used folder in Windows, but Microsoft hasn't made it as easy to access as it should have (well, they do in Windows 2000). But in about 30 seconds, you can make Control Panel cascade from your Start menu simply and easily. That means you'll be able to open Add/Remove Programs, for example, without having to open or later close the Control Panel folder. And with this tip, even if programs add Control Panel applets, they'll show up automatically in the cascading menu. Or another way to say that is that it updates dynamically.

This is also very easy to set up. Leave this tip on the screen to save time.

Highlight the whole line below (but not the trailing blank space) and then press Ctrl+C to copy it.

Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}

Right-click the Start button and choose Open.

Right-click anywhere on the background area in the START MENU folder and choose New/Folder. Highlight the New Folder label, and press Ctrl+V to paste the long name you copied.

Press Enter. Open the Start menu to see the new cascading Control Panel. Another great way to access frequently used Control Panels is to just make shortcuts of individual applets on Start, your Desktop or wherever you need them.

An interesting side note: Windows 95 users can copy and paste the special Control Panel filename from the TIPS.TXT file found in their WINDOWS folders. Microsoft removed this tip from the Windows 98 TIPS.TXT file for unknown reasons. I've never, ever heard of this one causing a problem. It works on Win95, Win98 and SE, NT4 and Win2000.

Stuff the Start Menu June 1, 2000

When you "add a folder" to your Start menu by dragging and dropping it onto the Start button, you're really just adding a shortcut to the folder. It's usually better to put the actual folder there instead of a shortcut. The Start menu is just a special folder in the Windows folder called, unsurprisingly, "Start Menu." If you put folders that contain your documents into this folder, you gain three advantages. First, what you see on the Start menu is always correct; delete a folder, for example, and it disappears from the Start menu as well, while a shortcut would remain. Second, actual folders appear on the Start menu as cascading menu items, whereas shortcuts to folders just open the folder on your Desktop when selected. And finally, the Start menu is always available, even if your Desktop is packed with clutter.