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March 2001

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Shrink The Start Menu March 30, 2001
If you add a lot of shortcuts and folders -- say, more than seven -- to your Start menu, an arrow appears at the top so you can scroll up to the entries that don't fit on screen. To avoid all that cumbersome scrolling, make your entire Start menu smaller. Right-click a blank area of the Taskbar, select Properties, select Show Small Icons On Start Menu, then click OK.
Windows Backup: Password Protection March 29, 2001

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Microsoft Backup, a utility that allows you to create backups of important files, such as data files. 

If a number of people use your system (and Microsoft Backup), you'll probably want to protect your important backup jobs from unwanted changes. On the Backup tab, select the job you want to protect, then click the Options button in the lower-right corner of the window. Click the Password tab, select Protect This Backup With A Password, and type a case-sensitive password of up to eight characters. Press Tab, type the password again, then click OK.

One more thing: Don't forget to write the password down somewhere. Now no one can back up files to, or restore files from, this job without the password.

Windows Backup: Running Totals March 28, 2001

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Microsoft Backup, a utility that allows you to create backups of important files, such as data files. 

As you're selecting files, folders, and drives for a particular backup job, you may wish to see a running total (size-wise) of the items you've selected so far. Select View, Selection Information, and watch the resulting dialog box for file and byte estimates.

(Note: This option is not available from within the Backup Wizard. To bypass the wizard and create a backup job manually, open Microsoft Backup, click Close, and use the options on the Backup tab.)

Windows Backup: Invoking Wizards March 27, 2001

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Microsoft Backup, a utility that allows you to create backups of important files, such as data files. 

If you find yourself inside the Microsoft Backup window wishing you could use the wizard to create a new backup job or restore files, don't waste time exiting Backup and reopening this utility to make the wizard appear. You can invoke the wizard at any time. Inside Microsoft Backup, pull down the Tools menu and select Backup Wizard or Restore Wizard; or click the Backup Wizard or Restore Wizard icon.

Windows Backup: Restoring Files March 26, 2001

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Microsoft Backup, a utility that allows you to create backups of important files, such as data files.

Now that you've got this backup file (*.qic), how can it help you? Scary thought, but let's suppose your system just crashed and you lost all your data files. Once--or should we say, if -- you get the system up and running again, select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup. Select Restore Backed Up Files, click OK, then select the location of the *.qic file you want to restore (for example, a tape or zip drive). Click Next, and the wizard will walk you through the rest of the restoration process. Now imagine if you hadn't backed up those files...

Windows Backup: Updating Backup March 23, 2001

In the first tip in this series, we introduced Microsoft Backup, a utility that allows you to create backups of important files, such as data files.

Assuming you've followed the steps from the previous tip to create a backup job, you now have a backup job in the form of a *.qic file -- we'll call it MyBackup.qic. As your data files change, or as you create new files, you'll want to update this backup to reflect these changes. (Creating a new job every time is too time consuming.)

Select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup; select Open An Existing Backup Job; and click OK. Choose the backup you want to update and click Open. Next to What To Backup, select New And Changed Files, then click Start. Microsoft Backup will now do exactly what you've asked--back up only new or changed information.

In our next tip, restoring files from a backup job...

Windows Backup: Intro March 22, 2001

We frequently receive requests for tips on backing up data files -- you know, all those files that took hours to create and that you'd be devastated to lose? (Two words: Disasters happen.) Back by popular demand, and in the spirit of the New Year (what better time to start good backup habits?), here's our multipart series on Microsoft Backup.

Microsoft Backup has been improved significantly since the less-than-perfect version that was part of Windows 95. First, it's a Seagate Software product; second, it has a wizard to walk you through standard backup procedures; and third, it supports SCSI tape drives. (The old one didn't.) Watch how easy this utility is to use:

Suppose you want to back up your data files (which, of course, are all neatly filed in a main Data Files folder, divided into subfolders). Select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup. Choose Create A New Backup Job and click OK. Select Backup Selected Files..., then click Next. In the left pane, click to place check marks in the boxes next to the folder(s) and/or drive(s) you want to back up -- in this case, the C:\Data Files folder--then click Next. Leave All Selected Files selected, then click Next and set a destination for the backup (such as your tape backup). Click Next two more times, name the backup job, and click Start.

When Microsoft Backup finishes doing its thing, you'll see a message telling you the operation is complete. Click OK twice.

(Note: To bypass the wizard, open Microsoft Backup, click Close, and you'll find all of the options included in the wizard right on the Backup tab.)

In our next tip, updating an existing backup job...

Windows Update March 21, 2001

As any Windows user knows, Microsoft is forever releasing downloads for Windows 98 -- bug fixes, patches, add-ons, and so on. There are so many that it can be impossible to keep track of what you do and don't have. Fortunately, there's Windows Update to help you make sense of it all. (Actually, you have no choice -- Windows Update is the only way to download updates to Windows 98.) This "online extension of Windows 98" will check your system and let you know what you need to install.

Select Start, Windows Update, and complete the steps necessary to go online, if you aren't already. Alternatively, point your Web browser at

Click the Product Updates link, and after a few minutes, you'll see a list of all components not yet installed on your system. (To view installed items as well, click the Show Installed Updates button.)

Look through the list -- particularly the Critical updates, which appear first. Select those you'd like to install, click the blue download arrow at the top or bottom of the screen, then click the Start Download button.

Play Favorites with Programs March 20, 2001
Do you have a few programs that you use far more than any others? If so, you can make those programs more quickly accessible. The improved Disk Defragmenter in Windows 98 can gather the program files you use most often and move them to the faster parts of your hard disk. To run Disk Defragmenter, click Start and select Programs/Accessories/System Tools and then select Disk Defragmenter. Click on the Settings button and make sure that the option labeled "Rearrange program files so my programs start faster" is selected. Click OK twice to begin defragmentation.
Just Say No March 19, 2001
When you hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete, you'll see a list of what's running on your system. Chances are, you'll discover drivers and programs running that you don't need or want. To find out, launch the Win98 System Configuration utility by typing msconfig in the Run command line and pressing Enter. Click on the StartUp tab and deselect the items you think you might be able to live without. Click on OK and reboot. note: You can always go back to msconfig and select items that you deselected if you find that you do need an item to run at startup.
Tweak UI For Windows 98 SE March 16, 2001

Windows 98 SE CD does not include Tweak UI, a utility we frequently discuss in these tips. Microsoft says, "A version of the program is included on the original Windows 98 CD-ROM." (Roughly translated, borrow the files from a friend?)

An even better solution is to download this utility from the Net. It was recently made available for download at PC World.

(Note: Be sure to download, not tweakui.exe.)

Cool Close Trick March 15, 2001
You can close a bunch of open programs, folders and documents all at once in Win98 and IE 4.0: Press and hold the Ctrl key, click on the taskbar icon of each program you want to close, then right-click on any one of them and select Close from the Context menu.
Return Filched File Types March 14, 2001
Ever encounter an application that designates itself as the default program for a file extension previously owned by another program? The quickest way to get out of this jam under Win9x is to find an example of an incorrectly associated file. Click on the file once to select it, then hold down the Shift key while you right-click on it. Choose Open With. Select the correct program, check the "Always use this program to open this type of file" box and click on OK. Or, if you don't find the program, click on the Other button and navigate to the correct program on your drive.
No More Space Warning March 13, 2001
Constant warnings about low disk space on your Win98 PC can be annoying, especially if they refer to your host drive on a compressed disk. To get rid of the warning, open Disk Cleanup (Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools) and click on the Settings tab. Deselect the check box labeled "If this drive runs low on disk space, automatically run Disk Cleanup," then click on OK.
Before You Del That DLL March 12, 2001
If you've ever wondered which DLL files a program uses, here's how to find out: Right-click on the executable file and select QuickView. In the QuickView file, find the Import Table category. You'll see a list of DLLs the file uses, with additional details below the name of each DLL.
Task Scheduler: Disable Entirely March 9, 2001
Double-click the Task Scheduler icon, and in the resulting window, select Advanced, Stop Using Task Scheduler. Close the Scheduled Tasks window, and this utility will no longer run at startup.
Task Scheduler: Disable Tasks March 8, 2001

In the first tip in this series, we introduced the Task Scheduler, a utility that runs maintenance routines, such as ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter, according to a specified schedule.

Is there a task in the list you'd like to disable without deleting it entirely -- so you don't have to re-create it if you decide to use it again? Inside the Scheduled Tasks window, right-click the task and select Properties. On the Task tab, deselect Enabled and click OK. Back in the Scheduled Tasks list, you'll see the word Disabled in the Schedule and Next Run Time columns for that task. (To enable the task again, go back and select the Enabled option.)

Want to disable every task in one fell swoop? Right-click the Taskbar's Task Scheduler icon and select Pause Task Scheduler. (To turn it back on, right-click the icon and select Continue Task Scheduler.)

Task Scheduler: Changing Tasks March 7, 2001

In the first tip in this series, we introduced the Task Scheduler, a utility that runs maintenance routines, such as ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter, according to a specified schedule. 

You can also modify the settings for any task in the list. Right-click the task you'd like to change and select Properties. In the resulting dialog box, use the settings on the Schedule And Settings tab to adjust the task's behavior, then click OK. Repeat these steps for each task you'd like to modify, then close the Scheduled Tasks window.

Task Scheduler: Adding & Deleting Tasks March 6, 2001

Our last tip, we introduced the Task Scheduler, a utility that runs maintenance routines, such as ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter, according to a specified schedule. 

Want to customize the task list? To add a new routine to the list, click the Add Scheduled Task item, click Next, and wait as the wizard compiles a list of options. Select an application, such as Disk Defragmenter, click Next again, and follow along to set up a schedule for the task. Click Finish, and the new task appears in the Scheduled Tasks window. Repeat these steps for each task you'd like to add to the list.

To delete a task from the list, right-click it and select Delete. When you're finished adding and deleting tasks, close the Scheduled Tasks window. Then, as long as Windows and the Task Scheduler are running at the time for which tasks are scheduled, this little helper will run them for you.

Task Scheduler: Intro March 5, 2001

Ever wonder what that little red, white, and blue icon in the tray of your Taskbar does (the one that looks like a window with a red clock on it)? It means that the Task Scheduler, a utility that runs maintenance routines such as ScanDisk, is currently active. To view the routines currently scheduled to run, double-click this icon.

Don't see the Task Scheduler icon? You can open Scheduled Tasks by selecting Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Scheduled Tasks. If you wish to make this utility run whenever Windows 98 starts, select Advanced, Start Using Scheduled Tasks (inside the Scheduled Tasks window).

In our next tip, we'll show you how to add and delete scheduled tasks.

Create Wordpad Template March 2, 2001

If you frequently use WordPad to do your word processing, you're probably getting tired of formatting every document (changing the font, typing the same heading, and so on). Does this thing come with templates or what? The answer is no, but that doesn't mean you can't make one. Just take a few minutes to do the formatting once, and you'll have an instant time-saver.

Open WordPad and make all the formatting changes you'd like to include in your template -- for example, you might change the font and point size of the text. (Tip: Type at least one character and then assign these settings to it.) When you're finished, save the file in a convenient location using a name such as "template.tpl."

Now instruct Windows to open any file with a .tpl extension in WordPad. Open Windows Explorer and select View, Folder Options. On the File Types tab, click the New Type button. Next to Description Of Type, enter a description, such as "WordPad Template." Next to Associated Extension, type


Click New, and in the Action box of the New Action dialog box, type


Under Application Used To Perform Action, type WordPad's path, such as

C:\Program Files\Accessories\Wordpad.exe

Finally, click OK three times to close all open dialog boxes.

Ready to try it out? Double-click template.tpl and it opens in WordPad, complete with all your formatting. (Tip: Be sure to save it under a new name before creating a new document from the template.)

System Resource Meter March 1, 2001
To keep an eye on Win98 system resources, make sure the System Resource Meter is installed. Run Add/Remove Programs from Control Panel, and select the Windows Setup tab. Click on System Tools and then Details; check the box for the System Resource Meter and click on OK twice to install it. When you run the program, a resource usage gauge will appear in the System Tray.
February 2001