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August 2000

Windows Assistance

 
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Track Install Changes August 31, 2000

Find out exactly what a program does when you install it by using the System File Checker's log feature. After installing a program, open the log by launching the System Information utility (Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Information), choosing System File Checker from the Tools menu, clicking on the Settings button and then on the View Log button. The log will tell you exactly which files were added to your computer and which were updated with a newer version.

Windows Key Shortcuts August 30, 2000

We frequently receive requests for a listing of Windows key shortcuts. So without further ado... Press:
Windows-D to jump to the desktop (minimize all open windows)
Windows-E to open Windows Explorer
Windows-F to open Find
Windows-L to log off Windows
Windows-M to minimize all open windows (or Shift-Windows-M to undo this command)
Windows-R to open the Run window
Windows-Break to open the System Properties dialog box
Windows-F1 to open Help
Windows-Tab to cycle through the Taskbar buttons 

Use Desktop Themes Icons To Dress Up Shortcuts August 29, 2000

Did you know you can use any icon that's part of a desktop theme to represent any shortcut on your system? All it takes is a trip to the Themes folder.

Right-click the shortcut to which you'd like to apply a new icon, and select Properties. On the Shortcut tab, click the Change Icon button, then click Browse. Navigate your way to C:\Program Files\Plus!\Themes, and there you'll see all the icons that are part of desktop themes. (Note: Some themes may be contained in separate folders within the Themes folder. If so, open any one to reveal the icons inside.) Select the icon you want to use, click Open, then click OK twice (to close all open dialog boxes). And enjoy your new shortcut!

Show Window Contents While Dragging August 28, 2000

In a recent tip, we showed you how to turn off the somewhat dizzying menu and window animation that's built into Windows 98: Right-click the desktop, select Properties, click the Effects tab, deselect Animate Windows, Menus And Lists, then click OK.

One effect we don't recommend turning off is the Show Window Contents While Dragging option (also on the Effects tab), which displays your entire window as you drag it across the screen. With this option turned off, clicking and dragging a window displays only an outline of the window in motion--the actual window stays in place until you release the mouse button. 

(Note: If your system is lacking in graphics capabilities, and you find that turning off this option enhances performance, by all means turn it off.)

Use ScanDisk August 25, 2000

Data fragments, bad sectors and other disk anomalies accumulate with surprising speed. Run ScanDisk's Standard Inspection once a week to correct these deficiencies before they become major problems. You'll find it in Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools. Occasionally run the Thorough Inspection to look for physical defects on the surface of the drive. ScanDisk will be able to repair many problems.

Stuff Your Start Menu August 24, 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.

Change Your Name August 23, 2000

When you install Windows 9x, it asks for your name. From that point on, the computer recognizes the entered name as the official registered owner.

Here's how to change it: Launch the Registry Editor (regedit). Drill down to and click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version. In the right pane, find the RegisteredOwner entry and double-click on it. In the Value Data box of the Edit String dialog that pops up, change the name to whatever you wish and click on the OK button. To change the company name, repeat the procedure for the RegisteredOrganization entry.

Note: This tip is for users who are familiar with the Registry Editor 

Check Your Registry August 22, 2000

Win98 comes with a handy way to check your Registry for errors. Launch the Microsoft System Information (MSI) utility from Start/Accessories/System Tools/System Information, then select the Registry Checker from the Tools menu.

Turn off Menu and Window Animation August 21, 2000

In Windows 98, menus and windows don't just appear, they ROLL onto the screen. (To quickly see what we mean, right-click the desktop or select a minimized Taskbar item to restore it. Fancy, eh?) If you're like us, you find these special effects fun the first time around, but only dizzying after that. To turn them off, right-click the desktop, select Properties, and click the Effects tab. Deselect Animate Windows, Menus And Lists, then click Apply or OK.

Check Your Registry August 18, 2000

Win98 comes with a handy way to check your Registry for errors. Launch the Microsoft System Information (MSI) utility from Start/Accessories/System Tools/System Information, then select the Registry Checker from the Tools menu.

Dump Ugly Folders August 17, 2000

Windows 9x doesn't make it easy to change the look of Desktop folders, but here's a simple solution: Instead of right-clicking on the Desktop and selecting New/Folder, create the new folder somewhere else (My Documents, for example), then right-click on the folder, drag and drop it to your Desktop, and choose Create Shortcut(s) Here from the Context menu that appears. You can now customize the shortcut's look by right-clicking on it, choosing Properties, selecting the Shortcut tab and clicking on the Change Icon button. Win98 adds an icon palette for added customization options.

File Right August 16, 2000

If you have some kind of mysterious executable file (EXE, DLL, OCX) on your system, right-click on it in Explorer, select Properties and click on the Version tab. This displays the version resource inside the file (if it has one), which normally includes the name of the company that created the file, the product the file is associated with, and the file's version number.

Know Your Resource Limits August 15, 2000

The handy System Resource Meter resides on the taskbar and tracks System, User and GDI resources. The more applications you have open and running, the more system resources are gobbled up. To install Resource Meter, go to the Control Panel and choose Add/Remove Programs. Under the Windows Setup tab, double-click on Accessories (System tools for Win98) you'll find the System Resource Meter there.

Multicolor Title Bars August 14, 2000

Hey, want to see a neat trick? Right-click the desktop, select Properties, and in the Display Properties dialog box, click the Appearance tab. In the dropdown list under Item, select Active Title Bar. To the right of that option, you'll see two settings: Color and Color 2. Use them to select two different colors (or change only one color), then check out the title bars in the preview area! They fade from one color to the other. Cool, eh? When you find a color combo you like, click OK to keep the change.

(Note: You can also select two colors for the Inactive Title Bar component.) 

Color Control August 11, 2000

You may already know how to change colors in Windows: by right-clicking on the desktop, selecting Properties, clicking on the Appearance tab and either selecting one of the existing themes or modifying the elements by clicking on them in the example window and changing the colors below. But you should also note that if you select your own colors, you can click the Save As button and name your own custom theme. You can save as many custom themes as you like.

Reorganize Your Start Menu August 10, 2000

You can permanently move any item on your Start menu (with the exception of the "hard-wired" items, such as the Documents or Programs menu labels) simply by dragging and dropping the item to the new Start menu location of your choice.

Launch Apps From Your Browser August 9, 2000

By default, Windows 98's Find feature (select Start, Find, Files Or Folders) is not case sensitive. In other words, you can simply type a filename or some text that you know appears in a document (in all lowercase or all uppercase), and Find will track down all instances of that search criteria -- caps or not.

However, if you ever want your search to be case sensitive, you can do that, too. Complete your search, making sure to type the text or filename exactly as you'd like to find it. Then, before clicking Find Now, select Options, Case Sensitive. Now when you complete the search, Find will uncover only those files that exactly match what you typed.

(Note: Case Sensitive remains selected for all future searches until you deselect it.) 

Launch Apps From Your Browser August 8, 2000

Presumably, you've got your favorite applications on the Start menu, so they're just two clicks away. Here's how to make them only one click away: Right-click on the Start button and select Open from the Context menu. Select all the shortcuts you want, and drag and drop all of them onto the Links toolbar.

Fast Move August 7, 2000

When you use Win9x's Send To feature (right-click on the item, then select Send To from the Context menu) to place something on a floppy disk or on a drive other than your C: drive, the file is copied. To move it, hold down the Shift key while clicking on the Send To item. 

Clear Control Panel Clutter August 4, 2000

If your Control Panel is cluttered with icons you don't need, clean it up. In the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory, you'll find a corresponding CPL file for each Control Panel item. Move the ones you don't want to a safe place on your hard disk. When you open Control Panel, those icons won't appear.

The X-files August 3, 2000

If you want to keep files-or even folders full of files-from prying eyes, just right-click on each file and select Hidden in the Attributes box at the bottom of the Properties dialog. To see the files you've hidden, double-click on My Computer, select View/Options, click on the View tab and select Show All Files.

Install 3D Pinball from Win95 Plus! CD August 2, 2000

Although we've run this tip before, we continue to receive e-mail from people wondering how (or if) you can use 3D Pinball on a Windows 98 system. The answer is yes, provided you follow this exact technique:

First, copy the pinball.inf file from the Windows 98 installation CD to any location on your hard drive, such as the desktop. (Pop the CD in your CD-ROM drive, assumed to be D; click Browse This CD; and you'll find this file inside the tools\mtsutil folder.) Replace the Windows 98 CD with the Plus! for Windows 95 CD, then click Cancel (to close the dialog box stating that Plus! cannot be removed). Right-click pinball.inf (on your hard drive), select Install, and you're done. You can now play the game by selecting Start, Programs, Accessories, Games, Space Cadet Table

Making Two-Paned View the Default August 1, 2000

Do you frequently right-click a folder and select Explore to view the folder's contents in a two-paned Explorer view? How would you like any folder you double-click to open in a two-paned view automatically? All you have to do is change the default action of folders.

In any open folder window, select View, Folder Options. Click the File Types tab, then select Folder under Registered File Types. Click the Edit button, then select Explore in the box under Actions. Click the Set Default button, and Explore will now appear in bold to indicate that it is the default action. Click Close twice, and the next time you double-click a folder, watch as it opens in a two-paned view. To open a single-paned folder window, right-click it and select Open.