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September 2000

Windows Assistance

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An Easter Egg In October September 29, 2000

Here's an Easter Egg you might want to check out: 

Right-click the desktop, select Properties, and click the Screen Saver tab. Under Screen Saver, select 3D Text, then click the Settings button. Type


on the Text line and click OK. Watch the preview screen (on the Screen Saver tab) or click Preview, and you'll see the names of famous volcanoes!

Use The Windows Key September 28, 2000
You can use the following keyboard shortcuts with a Microsoft Natural Keyboard or any other compatible keyboard that includes the Windows logo key.
To do this Press this
Cycle through buttons on the taskbar Windows+Tab
Display Search for Files or Folders Windows+F
Display Search for Computers Ctrl+Windows+F
Display Help and Support Windows+F1
Display the Run dialog box Windows+R
Display the Start menu Windows
Display the System Properties dialog box Windows+Break
Open My Computer Windows+E
Minimize or restore all windows Windows+D
Undo minimize all windows Shift+Windows+M
Fast Start Menu Scrolling September 28, 2000
If your Start menus in Win95 are too big to fit on the screen, the menus spill over into adjacent space and create a real mess. The good news is Win98 cleans that up a bit by hiding excess parts of overgrown Start menus and making the excess available with scrolling arrows. The bad news is scrolling is slow. You can speed it up dramatically with an undocumented keystroke: Press and hold the Ctrl key while you scroll.
Explore A Different Folder September 27, 2000

The Windows Explorer normally opens to your C: drive, but you can make it launch with the contents of any folder you want. Go to your Windows Explorer shortcut, right-click and select Properties. Open the Shortcut tab. Edit the entry in the Target field to read explorer.exe /n , /e , <drive:\path\folder> , where <drive:\path\folder> is whichever folder you want to first see when Explorer launches.

Windows Me users can add Windows Explorer shortcut to the Start menu by using the above command syntax.

Hide All Items On The Desktop September 26, 2000

If you are a person that generally uses the Start menu to access all your programs and would prefer your desktop to be free of icons, use this setting to hide all of the items on your desktop.  To set this option, go to:


Edit/create the value NoDesktop (DWORD value) and set the value to "1" (without quotes) to hide the desktop icons, or "0" to display the desktop icons.

Slow, But Sure, Shutdown September 25, 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 Click on the Advanced button and check the Disable Fast Shutdown item.
Install 3D Pinball On Win98SE September 22, 2000

Reader M. Buelow writes, "A while back, you showed us how to install the 3D Pinball game (from Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95) on a computer loaded with Windows 98. The technique does not work for Windows 98 SE. Is there a way for it to be done? My children and their children will appreciate it, as will I!"

The technique is a bit different (and easier) if you have Windows 98 Second Edition installed. Pop the Windows 98 SE installation CD in your CD-ROM drive, click Browse This CD, and navigate your way to the tools\mtsutil folder. Inside, you'll find Pinball.exe. Double-click this file, click Yes to confirm that you want to install 3D Pinball, then follow along to complete the installation. (You'll need to insert the Plus! for Windows 95 installation CD and enter your CD-ROM drive letter.) If you see a Plus! for Windows 95 message offering to run the setup, close it. 

WinMe: You probably have it installed this very minute. Check in the Accessories/Games folder. If not go to the Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Windows Setup > Games. Click on the Details button and check Plus! Games. Ok to install.

Windows Me Text Files On The CD September 21, 2000

WinMe Tip: There are several text files not loaded onto your hard drive during the install that could be of interest to you. An example is the display.txt file we discussed in a previous tip. Another handy text file is TIPS.txt. These text files are located on the WinMe CD at /add-ons/Document/textfile.

You can view these files in your browser by opening the readme.htm file that is also on the CD at /add-ons/Document/textfile or go to /add-ons/Documents/ and open welcome.htm and get access to the text files plus additional documents.

Multi-Monitor Works Only With Compatible Graphics Cards September 20, 2000

All ready to hook up more than one monitor to your Windows 98 system? True, Windows 98 supports multi-monitor display (the ability to display your desktop on up to nine--yes, nine--monitors), but only if you're using compatible graphics cards. That includes any new graphics cards AND the one that's already in your system.

For a listing of PCI and AGP cards that support multiple monitor display, open the Windows folder and double-click Display.txt. Inside, you'll find a Multiple Display Support section. Even better, point your Web browser at a revision of this same document.

Remove Dial-Up Icon September 19, 2000

You know that little icon that appears in your Taskbar tray every time you establish a dial-up connection? It doesn't have to be there. If you'd prefer to reserve that space for other, more useful icons, feel free to ditch it.

Select Start, Programs, Accessories, Communication, Dial-Up Networking, and in the Dial-Up Networking window, select Connections, Settings. Deselect Show An Icon On Taskbar After Connected and click OK. The next time you go online, that icon is nowhere in sight.

(Note: You can always check the status of the connection from inside the Dial-Up Networking window. Simply right-click your connection and select Status.)

Window Me: Dial-Up Networking has been moved to the Control Panel.

Windows 98/Me Web Help September 18, 2000

Windows 98 To get to Microsoft's Support Online, open Windows 98 Help (select Start, Help), click the Web Help button at the top of the window, then click the Support Online link at the bottom of the right pane. (At this point, Windows will attempt to establish a dial-up connection, if you aren't online already.) Now just select an option on the Highlights For Windows 98 page.

(Note: If you're using Windows 98 Second Edition, notice the Support Highlights For Windows 98 Second Edition link on the right side of the page.)

Windows Me To get to Microsoft's Support Online (Now called Ask Maxwell,) open Windows Me Help (select Start, Help,) under More Resources click the Search Online Support button. (At this point, Windows will attempt to establish a dial-up connection, if you aren't online already.)

Why The Startup Disk Changes Your CD-ROM Drive Letter September 15, 2000

In our last tip, we showed you how to use the Windows 98 startup disk to reinstall Windows 98 (via CD) from the command prompt: Turn the system off; pop the startup disk in your floppy drive; turn the system back on; select Start Computer With CD-ROM Support; press Enter; when the A:\ prompt appears, insert the Windows 98 installation CD in your CD-ROM drive and type


where X is your CD-ROM drive plus one letter (in most cases); and press Enter.

Wondering why your CD-ROM drive letter usually changes? After you
choose a startup option, config.sys loads a 2MB RAMDrive that contains a number of tools useful in diagnosing common problems. In most cases, this drive assumes your CD-ROM drive's letter. (Note: To confirm the letter used to represent this RAMDrive, watch the screen during the boot process.)

(Tip: To view the contents of the RAMDrive, at the command prompt, type

dir X:

where X is, in most cases, the former letter of your CD-ROM drive; then press Enter.)

Use Startup Disk To Reinstall Win98 From CD September 14, 2000

In our last tip, we pointed out that the Windows 98 startup disk includes real-mode CD-ROM drivers (so that you can access your CD-ROM drive from a command prompt). To create a startup disk, open the Control Panel, double-click Add/Remove Programs, select the Startup Disk tab, click the Create Disk button, and so on.

Now the question is, how do you use the startup disk to access your CD-ROM drive? Let's assume you can't start Windows 98, and you've decided you want to reinstall it using the installation CD. Turn the system off, and with the startup disk in your floppy drive, turn it back on. In the list of startup options, select Start Computer With CD-ROM Support, then press Enter. When the A:\ prompt appears, insert the Windows 98 installation CD in your CD-ROM drive and type


where X is your CD-ROM drive plus one letter (in most cases--see the next tip for details). For example, our drive is E, so we would type


at the A:\ prompt. Press Enter, and the Windows 98 setup will begin.

For our third and final tip in this series, we'll explain why your CD-ROM drive letter typically changes when you use the Windows 98 startup disk.

Win98 Startup Disk Has Real-mode CD-ROM Drivers September 13, 2000

To create a Windows 98 startup disk (a disk that, should you ever have trouble starting Windows, boots your system and provides utilities to help diagnose the problem): Open the Control Panel, double-click Add/Remove Programs, select the Startup Disk tab, click the Create Disk button, and so on.

We should point out that one of the best features of this disk is its inclusion of real-mode CD-ROM drivers. In other words, if you determine that reinstalling Windows 98 (via CD) is your best chance at recovery, you can do that -- right from the command prompt. (With Windows 95, you had to add real-mode CD-ROM drivers to your startup disk manually -- not the easiest thing in the world to do!)

In our next tip, we'll show you how to use your startup disk (and the Windows 98 installation CD) to reinstall Windows 98.

Defrag Multiple Drives September 12, 2000

In our last tip, we suggested that you defragment your hard drive on a regular basis -- say, once a month--to ensure that your applications start quickly. And what if you have more than one drive on your system? Defragment them all in one fell swoop.

Start the Defragmenter as usual -- select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter -- but instead of selecting a single drive, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list (in the Select Drive dialog box) and select All Hard Drives. Click OK, and you're off! 

For Maximum Performance, Defrag September 11, 2000

Want to make sure that when you select a program in your Start menu, that application starts as fast as possible? Be sure to defragment your hard drive on a regular basis -- say, once a month -- using the Disk Defragmenter. The version of this utility that comes with Windows 98 will rearrange your program files for optimum performance.

Select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter, and select the drive you want to defragment. Now click the Settings button and select Rearrange Program Files So My Programs Start Faster, if it isn't already selected. Click OK twice, and let the defragmenting begin!

Find Missing Windows September 8, 2000

Has a folder or program window mysteriously moved off your screen? It can happen for several reasons-the most common is that you've recently changed your video resolution. Right-click on the taskbar, select either the Cascade Windows or Tile Windows (Horizontally or Vertically) option, and the window will magically appear (you may need to resize your windows). krill note: This trick has saved me many times while repairing Windows workstations.

Change Printing Order September 7, 2000

When you have a number of documents in your printing pipeline, you can rearrange the print queue (except for the document currently being printed). Choose Start/Settings/Printers and double-click on the printer whose queue you want to manage.

Shred The Documents Menu September 6, 2000

You can disable the Documents submenu on Win98's Start menu. A quick Registry edit removes the Documents menu and the C:\WINDOWS\RECENT folder altogether. First, back up your Registry files - C:\WINDOWS\USER.DAT and SYSTEM.DAT - before making any changes. Next, launch RegEdit and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer. 

In the right pane, right-click on the background and select New/Binary Value. Type NoRecentDocsHistory and press Enter. Double-click on the new icon and enter 01000000 in the Edit Binary Value dialog box. (Note: RegEdit automatically inserts three spaces into the value). Click on OK. Add a new NoRecentDocsMenu binary value entry and follow the same steps. Close RegEdit and restart Windows. To reverse the tip, delete the two new binary values you added, or change both values to 00000000.

Build Your Own 'Show Desktop' September 5, 2000

If you accidentally delete the Show Desktop shortcut from the taskbar's Quick Launch toolbar, you can restore it by going to C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch. Create a new text file with the following contents:


Save the file as SHOWDESKTOP.SCF. This will restore the shortcut.

krill note: If you have more than one user logging onto the system then you will find Quick Launch data under 
C:\WINDOWS\Profiles\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.


Specify Path To Source Files September 1, 2000

If you have loaded the files from your Windows CD locally or on the network, use this setting to stop the prompt which asks you to put in your Windows CD when loading new options.  This setting will redirect the system to look in the directory where the files are loaded instead of automatically looking to the CD-ROM drive. To set this option, go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup.

Edit or create the value "SourcePath" (String Value) and set the value equal to the path where the Windows files are stored. Important: All directory names must follow DOS naming rules (8.3.)

Note: This tip provided by