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February 2001

Windows Assistance

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New Route To DOS Boot February 28, 2001
Win98 changes the way you boot to a DOS prompt. Hold down the Ctrl key while your PC is booting. This takes you directly to the Boot Menu, including Safe Mode and "Boot to command prompt only."
Speedup Boot Time February 27, 2001
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 File/Properties/Performance. Click on File System and the Floppy Disk tab. Deselect "Search for new floppy disk drives each time your computer starts."
How To Open System Configuration February 26, 2001

A Reader writes, "I once read that there is a Win 98 utility accessible via the Run command that shows you what programs are running, and gives you the ability to enable or disable them. I tried it once and it worked great. Do you know the command to punch into the Run dialog box?"

We suspect that you're referring to the System Configuration Utility. To open it, select Start, Run, type


and click OK. From there, you can select the Startup tab and disable or enable any programs that start when Windows 98 starts.

Drive Maintenance February 23, 2001

Maintain your hard drive by performing these steps at least monthly, in this order:

1.) Delete all files and folders with dates older than one week from C:\WINDOWS\TEMP.

2.) Purge your browser's History and Internet cache files.

3.) Run ScanDisk. Select the Standard radio button and enable Automatically Fix Errors. Click on Advanced and, under Log File, pick Replace Log; for Cross-Linked Files, select Delete; click Free under Lost File Fragments; under Check Files For, check "Invalid dates and times;" and disable "Check host drive first," unless you've compressed your hard drive.

4.) Empty the Recycle Bin.

Run Through Desktop Icons Fast February 22, 2001
It's hard to find an icon on a Desktop that's cluttered with dozens of them. Here's a quick way to locate the one you're looking for-all you need to know is the name under the icon. Click anywhere on the Windows desktop and press the first letter of the icon's label. Windows will highlight the first icon it comes to beginning with the letter -- if that's not the one you're looking for, keep pressing the letter and watch the highlight as it cycles through the matching icons.
Get To The Device Manager Fast February 21, 2001

If Windows insists you start in Safe Mode, or if you're having some kind of hardware conflict, you want to make for the Device Manager fast. The trouble is, it's hidden away under Control Panel's System option, or in a right-click menu under My Computer [see below]. To load it quickly, hold down the Window key on a 104-key keyboard and press the Pause/Break key. This brings up the System Properties box; click on the Device Manager tab, and you're there.

editor's note: You can also use the right-mouse-button on the My Computer icon and select Properties. Click on the Device Manager tab. What's so slow about that?

Why Is The DUN Folder On the Start Menu Empty? February 20, 2001

A reader writes, "I remember a Windows 95 tip for creating a cascading DUN folder in my Start menu. I tried it in Windows 98, but the only thing that shows in the Start menu is '(Empty).' Is there something else I have to do?"

First, let's review the technique. To create a cascading DUN (dial-up networking) folder, right-click the Start button, select Open, and in the resulting Start Menu window, select File, New, Folder. Type exactly


(to name the folder), then press Enter. (Tip: There's no space between the period and the opening bracket.)

The result? An empty folder. The trick is, you need to add items manually by dragging them over from the original folder and dropping them inside the new one on the Start menu. A little bit of extra work, but the end result is worth it.

Avoid Connect To Box During DUN Connection February 19, 2001

In our last tip, we showed you how to turn on Dial-Up Networking's Redial option, so that if a connection cannot be made the first time, DUN will keep trying for you.

While you're there, check out the settings at the top of this dialog box. Tired of seeing the Connect To dialog box every time you establish a connection manually (by double-clicking the connection inside the Dial-Up Networking dialog box)? Assuming you always want to connect using the username and password from the last successful connection, deselect Prompt For Information Before Dialing and click OK. The next time you establish a connection manually, that Connect To dialog box will stay out of sight.

Turn DUN's Redial Option On February 16, 2001

Ever try to establish a DUN (dial-up networking) connection, only to wind up with a message telling you the line is busy? Frustrating, to say the least, but what's even more frustrating is that you have to keep trying the connection manually. By default, DUN's Redial option is turned off.

If you want DUN to keep dialing the number for you, in the event that a connection cannot be made, open My Computer, double-click Dial-Up Networking, and select Connections, Settings. On the General tab of the resulting dialog box, select Redial and set the corresponding options (number of retries, and so on). Click OK, and say good-bye to all that unnecessary redialing.

Make DUN Connect Automatically February 15, 2001

A number of readers have had problems with Dial-Up Networking (DUN) suddenly not establishing a connection automatically whenever their browser starts; when that happens, you have to establish the connection manually. (A big pain in the hard drive, we agree -- it happened to us.) Apparently, this trouble can start after certain third-party products are installed.

One solution involves some Registry-editing. (Note: As always, back up your Registry files -- System.dat and User.dat, hidden files on the root of your hard drive--before proceeding.)

For details, point your Web browser at

Fast Moves February 14, 2001
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.
Now Where Is That Browse Setting? February 13, 2001

In the days of Windows 95, you could choose to browse the contents of folders -- for example, a folder inside a folder inside a folder -- in one window or many. And you could change this setting right on the Browse tab of the View, Options dialog box of any Explorer window. While it may seem that this setting has been removed from the newer OS, it hasn't. You just have to look a little harder to find it.

From inside any folder or Explorer window, pull down the View menu and select Folder Options. Select the last setting under Windows Desktop Update, 'Custom, Based On The Settings You Choose,' then click the Settings button. Under Browse folders as follows, select either of the two options, depending on your preference, then click OK twice.

(Tip: Once you've changed this setting, you can do exactly the opposite -- for example, open folders in separate windows, even if you've asked to open them in the same window -- on a per-case basis. Just hold down Ctrl as you double-click a folder.)

The Path Is . . . February 12, 2001
Here's a trick for finding out the path of a file: Launch the Run command dialog (Start/Run), clear the Open box by hitting the Backspace key, and then drag and drop the file of your choice into the Open box. Windows will type the full path of the file into the box.
Good Things In Small Packages February 9, 2001
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)
Find Fast February 8, 2001
Sometimes simple tricks are the most useful. If you want to search for a file and you know roughly where it is, just right-click on the folder it's in and select Find from the Context menu (or F3 from the keyboard, or Windows Key+F from the keyboard.) Find will search the folder and all the subfolders within, based on the search criteria you specify.
Come A Little Closer 2 February 7, 2001

In the previous tips, we showed you how to install the Accessibility options new to Windows 98 -- the Accessibility Wizard and Microsoft Magnifier. Now we take a closer look at the Magnifier's options.

For starters, you aren't limited to the size or location of the Magnifier. Hold your mouse pointer over the edge of the magnified area, and when it changes to a double-pointed arrow, click and drag up or down to adjust its size. To move this bar to another area of the screen, click and drag it to any location on screen (as a floating window) or to any of the screen's four edges. Similar to the Taskbar, the bar will snap into place along any edge.

All of the remaining Magnifier options can be changed from inside the Magnifier dialog box. Restore this window, if it isn't already, then take your pick of options. For example, you might select Invert Colors to provide some contrast between your screen and the magnified view. Or, if you don't want the Magnifier's focus to follow the mouse, deselect Follow Mouse Cursor. The Magnifier will still follow your keyboard commands and the cursor. When you're finished selecting options, click OK to minimize the Magnifier dialog box. (Remember, don't click Exit unless you want to turn it off altogether.)

Come A Little Closer 1 February 6, 2001

In a previous tip, we showed you how to install the Accessibility options new to Windows 98 -- the Accessibility Wizard and Microsoft Magnifier. Now we zoom in on Microsoft Magnifier, a tool you can use to enlarge any area of the screen -- just like a real magnifying glass!

To launch Microsoft Magnifier, select Start, Programs, Accessories, Accessibility, Magnifier. A bar appears at the top of the screen displaying everything under your mouse pointer in a magnified (2 times) view. To change the contents of this window, simply move your mouse around the screen. Assuming you don't want to change any options (we'll discuss these further in our next tip), click OK to send the Magnifier dialog box to the Taskbar.

When you're finished using the Magnifier, maximize its Options window, then click Exit. (Alternatively, right-click its Taskbar item and select Close.)

(Tip: If you use Microsoft Magnifier frequently, place a shortcut to it somewhere that's easily accessible, such as the desktop or the Quick Launch toolbar.)

Accessibility Wizardry February 5, 2001

In our last tip, we showed you how to install the Accessibility options new to Windows 98. Now, we show you what the Accessibility Wizard can do for you -- in a nutshell it determines which Accessibility options are right for you.

Select Start, Programs, Accessories, Accessibility, Accessibility Wizard. In the resulting dialog box, click on the smallest text you find comfortable to read. Click Next twice (assuming you don't want to change any of the options along the way -- if you do, go ahead and change them), then in the Set Wizard Options box, select each of the four statements that applies to you. Click Next, and the wizard will now ask you some questions, depending on which of the statements you selected. For example, if you indicated that you have a hard time using the keyboard or the mouse, you'll be asked if you want to press each key of keyboard combinations one at a time.

Continue pressing Next until all questions are answered, and at the end of the wizard, click Finish. The wizard will now apply the appropriate settings as necessary.

Accessing Accessibility February 2, 2001

Did you know there's a wizard that will help you decide which Accessibility options are right for you? Probably not, because it isn't part of the default installation. In case you aren't familiar with Accessibility options, they're a group of settings that make Windows 98 easier to use. While these settings were designed for people with disabilities, such as sight or hearing impairments, they can be useful to everyone.

In today's tip, we'll show you how to install this wizard. Then, over the next three tips, we'll show you how to use the wizard and the newest Accessibility option, Microsoft Magnifier.

Open the Control Panel -- select Start, Settings, Control Panel -- and double-click Add/Remove Programs. Click the Windows Setup tab and wait as Windows 98 checks your system for installed components. (Depending on your system, this may take a few minutes.) Under Components, select Accessibility, then click the Details button. Select Accessibility Tools, click OK twice, and insert your installation disk when asked. Click OK again, and wait until Windows 98 finishes copying the files it needs.

Itching to see what that wizard has to say? More in our next tip....

Put Your Screen Saver on Hold February 1, 2001
Here's the fastest way to temporarily disable your screen saver (if you're defragmenting a drive or doing something similar). Click on the Start button and bring up the Start menu. When the menu is up, your screen saver won't launch.
January 2001