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January 2001

Windows Assistance

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Fastest App In The West January 31, 2001

Listener asks, "When I read one of your tips that I want to keep around for future use, I do a quick cut-and-paste into WordPad. How do I install WordPad on my Taskbar -- as opposed to a desktop shortcut -- so it's more easily accessible?"

There are two options you may wish to consider. The first is to create a hot key for WordPad, so you can open it at the press of a keyboard combo. Right-click the shortcut you use to open WordPad and select Properties. Click the Shortcut tab, then click inside the text box next to Shortcut key. Type the letter you'd like to use in combination with Ctrl-Alt to open the program, for example, W (Windows 98 fills in the Ctrl-Alt part). Click OK, and from now on, pressing Ctrl-Alt-W opens WordPad.

Your other option is to add a WordPad shortcut to your Quick Launch toolbar (the row of icons to the right of your Start button). Click and drag your current WordPad shortcut down to this toolbar between two existing icons (or on either edge of the bar). A black line will appear to let you know you've chosen an acceptable place to create a shortcut. Let go, and you now have Taskbar access to WordPad!

(Tip: Use the above techniques to create quick access to any of your favorite applications.)

A Refreshing Change January 30, 2001

Win9X doesn'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. 

note: Don't forget the F5 key.

Launch Folders At Startup January 29, 2001
You already know you can put programs and documents in your StartUp folder to launch things at startup, but you can also put folders in there. Just follow the normal procedure: Right-click on the Start button and select Open, double-click on the Programs folder, then the StartUp folder. Now drag the folder of your choice into the StartUp window.
Restart Windows January 26, 2001

Earlier in the week we talked about methods to restart Windows. Here's another.

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.

Put 'Open With' Everywhere January 25, 2001
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.
Disable AutoRun January 24, 2001

I've probably used this tip in the past but it is one of the more asked questions. So by popular demand here it is again.

AutoRun plays CDs as soon as you put them in the drive. If you don't like this feature, you can turn it off. Right-click on My Computer, select Properties and select the Device Manager tab. Find your CD-ROM drive on the list, then double-click on it. Select the Settings tab and deselect Auto Insert Notification.

If you have Tweak UI installed you can selectively disable AutoRun for either a Data CD or Audio CD. Go to the Paranoia tab and your choices are under Things That Happen Behind Your Back.

note: For the Tweak UI method to work you must have Auto Insert Notification enabled for the CD-ROM.

Another Reboot Option January 23, 2001

You can create a shortcut icon that will automatically reboot Windows. In the Command line, or Target field, type:

C:\WINDOWS\RUNDLL.EXE user.exe,exitwindowsexec

Name the new shortcut Restart Windows.

Warning: This shortcut restarts your system without confirmation, so only double-click on it when you're sure that's what you want to do.

Reboot Options January 22, 2001

The most efficient way to reboot Windows 9x is the old standard-choosing Restart from the Shut Down Windows dialog box. But there are other ways to reboot if you want to temporarily extend a session before rebooting. You can press Shift while clicking on OK on the Shut Down Windows dialog box for a slightly quicker reboot. 

If you're networked, you can use the "Close all programs and log on as a different user" entry. Under Win98, that's the Log Off (Your Computer's Name) option on the Start menu. 

Another shutdown method is to press Ctrl+Alt+Del (once), select the Explorer item in the Close Programs box and click on End Task. You may immediately see the Shut Down Windows dialog box, and if you do, choose Cancel. Wait for a few more moments; a confirmation dialog box should come up. Click on End Task. The Windows shell will quickly close and then relaunch.

What Was That Number? January 19, 2001

Need to look up someone's phone number or other personal info in your Address Book? Assuming you use Outlook Express (or another program that uses the Windows Address Book), there's no need to open up your whole e-mail program. The Windows Address Book can function on its own. Just select Start>>Programs>>Internet Explorer>>Address Book, and your list of contacts appears onscreen. Now select from the Address Book Menu Edit>>Find People [Cntrl-F] and perform your search.

You can also go directly to the Find People dialog box from Start>>Find>>People and your Windows Address Book will be the default object. Just input any part of a name, address, e-Mail, phone, or other and up pops a list of people.

You can also make life easy and put the Address Book in the Quick Launch toolbar.

Find Files January 18, 2001
Because I use the telephone line to connect to the Internet I prefer to download articles and then read them at my leisure. I keep them in a separate folder.

My problem is viewing just the htm files when I open the folder using Windows Explorer to find an article. Can't do it. You have to view all files in the folder. You can sort by file type but you still have to move down the list to the the htm files. The solution -- Using the Find utility (Search in Windows ME.)

Open Windows Explorer to the folder that holds the files. Now open the Find utility by pressing the F3 key. Notice that the folder name is already in the Look In: field. In the Named: field type the data you are searching for. For my htm files I input *.htm (You will find files with the html extension as well.) Now click on the Find Now button.

Now you have just the htm files listed (Or any file whose file extension starts with htm.) It gets better. In the Find utility menu bar select File>>Save Search. This will place a shortcut on your desktop. Now you can click on this shortcut to get the Find utility and then click on the Find Now button to get an updated search of the folder.

You can also save the results of a search. Go to the Find utility menu Options>>Save Results. You should now have a check mark next to Save Results. Perform your search. Now you can save the search and it's results by going to File>>Save Search.

Know Your Window Rights January 17, 2001
Did you know that many of the options available through menu commands in an Explorer window are also available in the right-mouse context menu? Right-click a blank area inside an open window and check out the resulting list. There, you'll find most every command from the View menu (except Folder Options and the three toolbar commands). In addition, you'll see a couple of favorites from the Edit and File menus. Hey, why waste all that energy clicking on an exact menu command when you can right-click anywhere in a window and accomplish the same thing?
Start With A Desktop Shortcut January 16, 2001

Do you find your desktop a handier place for shortcuts than the Start menu? Then create shortcuts to your oft-used Start menu items on the desktop. Whereas in Windows 95, this operation required you to right-click Start, select Open, and so on..., now you can copy a shortcut using a simple click-and-drag operation.

With all open windows minimized, click Start and navigate your way to a favorite shortcut, such as Start, Programs, Accessories, Paint. Click the item you want to turn into a shortcut (here, Paint), and without letting go (or else you'll open that item), drag it out to the desktop. Let go, and there's your shortcut!

All For One & One For All Folder Viewer January 15, 2001

Do you have a very favorite way of viewing a folder's contents -- for example, always as a Web page and always the Large Icon view? Rather than set these options every time you open a new window, set them once and be done with it. Windows 98 will apply your view options globally (unlike Windows 95, where you had to reset these options constantly).

Open any Explorer window and select View, Folder Options. Select the View tab, click the Like Current Folder button, then click Yes to confirm. Every window you open from that point forward will look the way you want it to.

Dr Who 2 January 12, 2001

In our last tip, we introduced Dr. Watson, a Windows 98 troubleshooting utility that takes system snapshots to help diagnose problems. A nice feature of this utility is that it takes a snapshot automatically when a system fault occurs. But Dr. Watson has to be running in order to take a snapshot.

To be sure that Dr. Watson is running all the time, place a shortcut to Windows\Drwatson.exe in your Startup folder (likely in C:\WINDOWS\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp). From now on, this utility will load whenever Windows 98 starts.

Dr Who 1 January 11, 2001

Have you been experiencing system faults? Before you call a Windows 98 support technician, call Dr. Watson. Dr. Watson is a troubleshooting utility that takes system snapshots of the present state of your system that may be able to help solve a problem.

Select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information. In the System Information window, select Tools, Dr. Watson. Click the Dr. Watson icon that appears in the tray of your Taskbar, select Dr. Watson, and wait as this utility generates a system snapshot, resulting in (you hope) a diagnosis of the problem.

(Tip: To view nine tabs-worth of details captured by the snapshot, select View, Advanced View.) Name and save the log file. You now have a great resource for that support technician you're about to call.

Local Yokels January 10, 2001

In our last tip, we pointed out that you can go from an Explorer window to a Web page by typing its URL in the Address bar. Windows 98 goes the other way, too. Let's say you're browsing the Internet in an IE 4.x window and you suddenly need to locate a document on your hard drive. Pull down the Go menu, select My Computer, and instantly, you're local. Navigate your way to the folder you need, as you would inside any other Explorer window.

With Explorer 5.x go to View >> Explorer Bar >> Folders. Or View >> Go To >> Docs for the My Documents folder.

(Tip: To jump directly to a folder other than My Computer, type the folder's path on IE Address bar, then press Enter.) 

Blame It On The Management January 9, 2001

Have you noticed that when you leave your system for a while--say, 15 minutes or longer--your screen goes black? (How could you not notice?) This isn't some new low-budget screen saver. It's just Power Management doing its job. By default, the feature powers off your monitor after 15 minutes of inactivity. Press any key or move the mouse, and your monitor comes to life again (after what can seem like a long delay).

Of course, if you find this feature a hindrance, you may wish to turn it off altogether or increase the delay time before the monitor powers off. Open the Control Panel (select Start, Settings, Control Panel), and double-click Power Management. To prevent the monitor from powering off altogether, click the down arrow next to Turn Off Monitor and select Never. To increase the delay, select a new time in this same list. Either way, click OK, and the new setting will be applied to the current power scheme.

(Tip: Use the Turn Off Hard Disk list to adjust the delay before which Windows 98 powers off your hard drive.)

Have Address Bar, Will Travel January 8, 2001

You may already know that you can get to the Internet by typing a Web address on the Address bar of any Explorer window. But did you also know that with a little tweaking, the Taskbar will perform the same function? Just add the Address toolbar to the Taskbar.

Right-click a blank area on the Taskbar, select Toolbars, and in the pop-out menu, select Address. Presto -- there's your Address bar. You now have Internet access on screen at all times. No open windows necessary!

(Tip: As with any toolbar, to resize the Address bar, hold your mouse pointer over the vertical bar at the toolbar's left edge, and when the pointer changes to a double-pointed arrow, click and drag in either direction.)

Shutdown Lockups January 5, 2001

Some hardware devices are not compatible with the way that 98 just 'yanks the plug' when it shuts down your system and may cause a system lock-up, forcing you to do a cold boot. One work-around for this problem is to disable the fast shutdown mode.

Select Start, Run, type

msconfig

and click OK. On the General tab, click the Advanced button, select Disable Fast Shutdown, and click OK twice. Restart your system, and the next time you shut down, your troubles may be solved. I have found that by disabling the fast shutdown, you really don't lose much speed at all -- not even half a second. Hope this helps some of you out there." 

According to Microsoft, another common cause of these shutdown lock-ups is a damaged Exit Windows sound file. To determine whether or not this file is causing the problem, disable it.

Inside the Control Panel, double-click Sounds to open the Sounds Properties dialog box. In the list under Events, select Exit Windows. Click the down arrow under Sound, select None, then click OK. (Alternatively, you could turn your sound scheme off altogether by selecting No Sounds in the list of Schemes.)

Now try shutting down Windows 98. If the problem is gone, leave the Exit Windows sound disabled, or use the Sounds dialog box to select a new sound. (A third option is to try reinstalling the sound that was causing the problem.)

It's Not My Default January 4, 2001

Since upgrading to Windows 98 or ME, all my apps want to open and save files to the My Documents folder by default. I don't want everything there. How do I make it stop?

Unfortunately, you'll need to change the default directory of each application by hand. (Fortunately, you'll only need to do it once.) In many cases, an application provides this capability. For example, in Microsoft Word, you can change the default directory as follows: Select Tools, Options, click the File Locations tab, select a file type, click Modify, navigate your way to the folder of your choice, and click OK.

If an application doesn't offer this feature (WordPad is a good example), you'll need to change the default directory at the Windows level. Locate the shortcut you use to open the application (most likely in the desktop or Start menu), right-mouse-click it and select Properties. Click the Shortcut tab, type the path of the desired default directory in the "Start in" text box, then click OK. From now on, as long as you use this shortcut to open the application, your selected default will stick.

(Note: In a given work session, if you navigate your way to another folder inside the Open or Save dialog box, that folder will remain the "default" until you switch to another or close and re-open the application.)

That Document List Just Got Bigger January 3, 2001
Did you just select Start, Documents . . . only to discover that the file you wanted to open has been bumped from the list? Don't worry, you can access all of your files from the Documents list -- that is, assuming you store your documents in the My Documents folder (a pretty big assumption, we realize). Inside the Documents list, select the very top command, My Documents. Instant access to all your data files.
Give Your Desktop Icons A Makeover January 2, 2001

You can change the icons for specific desktop icons -- namely, My Computer, My Documents, Network Neighborhood and the Recycle Bin (full or empty) -- from the Effects tab of the Display Properties dialog box. (If you used Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95, you may remember that this option was available from the Plus! tab of the same dialog box.)

To open the Display Properties dialog box, open the Control Panel and double-click Display; or right-mouse-click the desktop and select Properties. Click the Effects tab, select the icon you'd like to change, and click the Change Icon button. Select a new icon, click OK, then repeat these steps for each icon that you want to change. When you're finished, click OK to apply the changes to your desktop.

Note: If you don't see an icon you like in the Change Icon dialog box -- for example, you won't see any choices for My Documents -- click the Browse button, navigate your way to another icon file (such as Windows\System\Shell32.dll or Windows\System\Pifmgr.dll), select an icon, click Open, then click OK.

December 2000