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May 2001

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Secret Files May 31, 2001
If you want to keep files-or even folders full of files-hidden 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 Options from the View menu, click on the View tab and select Show All Files.
Installing MS FAX May 30, 2001

We frequently receive requests asking how to install the old Windows 95 fax capability on a Windows 98 system. Actually, Microsoft Fax is on the Windows 98 installation CD.

Pop the CD into your CD-ROM drive, click Browse This CD, and navigate your way to the Tools/OldWin95/Message/Us folder. To install Microsoft Fax, run awfax.exe.

(Note: According to Microsoft, this utility "requires a Full MAPI Client in order to function, such as: Microsoft Exchange, Windows Messaging, Microsoft Exchange Server Client or Outlook [the full version, not Express].")

Build A Better Backup May 29, 2001
Win98 comes with an improved Backup utility. If you want to use it for automatic backups launched by the Win98 Task Scheduler, you'll need to make a change. Open the Backup utility (Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Backup) and click on the Open button. Click on the Options button at the bottom of the window and open the Report tab. Select the "Perform an unattended backup" option.
Smart Program Management May 25, 2001
You'll increase your chances of getting out of virtually any computer problem if you follow this rule of thumb: Never install a program unless you own it, and have the executable setup file and installation CD or installation floppy disk handy. The same rule goes for programs you download from the Internet: Always save the installer files. Create a folder called C:\Setup, C:\Downloads or C:\Installers and store the setup files in subfolders named for each program and version number. Even better, store them on a second hard drive or partition. You should also copy the Favorite shortcut to the program's Web site to the program's folder. If there's a program serial number or license file, store that too. If you ever have to reinstall your applications, you'll be prepared.
An Ounce of Prevention May 24, 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.

Whither the ScanDisk Files? May 23, 2001
If your PC doesn't shut down properly, Windows will run ScanDisk the next time you boot. If it finds lost fragments, it will delete them for you. Before doing that, however, it asks if you want to save them as files. Unfortunately, it doesn't say where it puts them or what the new files are called. Here's how to find them. Open Tools/Find/Files or Folders and search the root directory for file*.CHK. Typically, the files are named FILE0000.CHK, FILE0001.CHK, FILE0002.CHK and so on. If you're looking to free up disk space, you can delete any old files you find. If you suspect one of these files contains critical data, open it in a text editor. If you see anything that looks important, copy and paste into a new document for safekeeping.
Installing TweakUI May 22, 2001

Win98 comes with a new version of Tweak UI. To install it, insert the Win98 CD; from the opening screen, choose Browse This CD. Navigate to the  \TOOLS\RESKIT\POWERTOY folder. (Some computer vendors do not provide TweakUI on their CDs; if this is the case you can download it from Right-click on the TWEAKUI.INF file and choose Install from the pop-up menu. Setup is done when a Help screen opens. Click on the X in the corner to finish the installation and then launch Tweak UI from the Control Panel.

Double-click on the Tweak UI icon in Control Panel and select the Tweak UI Explorer tab. Check Light Arrow in the Shortcut Overlay section. Deselect the animated "Click here to begin (if room)" and "Tip of the Day" items in the Startup area. And get rid of the prefix Shortcut To on New Shortcuts items in Settings. Click on the Mouse tab and slide the Menu speed slider all the way to the left to make menus appear instantaneously. Then click the Tips button for more Tweak UI tips in Windows Help format. You can make windows snap rather than zoom when you minimize, maximize or restore them. Select the General tab and deselect the Window Animation box under Effects.

Change Quick Launch Toolbar Into Palette May 21, 2001

Do you have so many shortcuts on your Quick Launch toolbar that they aren't all visible at once? For one-click access to all of them, turn this toolbar into a floating palette.

Click the vertical bar on the left edge of the Quick Launch toolbar, drag the entire toolbar to a new location on your desktop, and release the mouse button. And don't worry -- you aren't stuck with that huge resulting window. Resize it as you would any window -- hold your mouse pointer over any corner, and when the pointer changes to a double-pointed arrow, click and drag in either direction. Move the palette to any location on screen, and you've got one-click access to all shortcuts inside.

(Tip-in-a-tip: If you want to make sure your Quick Launch palette doesn't get buried by other windows, right-click its title bar and select Always On Top.)

Just decide you like the toolbar better? In a few quick steps, you can put it right back where it started. Click the palette's title bar and drag it downward until it expands to the full width of the screen (across the top of the Taskbar). Release the mouse button, and the toolbar jumps down to its original form -- but on the right side of the Taskbar.

To move the toolbar next to the Start button, hold your mouse pointer over the bar's left edge, and when the pointer changes to a double-pointed arrow, click and drag the bar to the left. When your mouse pointer is just to the right of the Start button, the Quick Launch toolbar will jump into place there.

(To get everything back in perfect order, you'll need to resize the other toolbars on the Taskbar. As a quick review, hold your mouse pointer over a toolbar's left edge, then click and drag in either direction.)

Change Default Audio CD Player May 18, 2001

Want to change the utility that plays your audio CDs? You won't need to go anywhere near the Registry to make this change. Audio CD is one of the file types in the list of registered types. Just change its association to match the program you want to use.

Inside any Explorer window, select View, Folder Options. Click the File Types tab, select Audio CD in the list of Registered File Types, and then click the Edit button. Select the Play action and click the Edit button. Under Application Used To Perform Action, type the path of the program you'd like to use to play audio CDs, followed by a space and /play. For example, if you wanted to use FlexiCD, you would type

C:\WINDOWS\FlexiCD.exe /play

Click OK, then click Close twice. The next time you pop in an audio CD, your program of choice goes to work.

Undocumented WinAlign Info May 17, 2001

Win98's new WinAlign feature speeds up application launches by placing key files on the fast part of the disk during a defrag; it also rewrites programs so they use memory more efficiently. What you may not know is that only applications that have been specifically designed to work with WinAlign, such as Microsoft's Office programs, are supported by the feature.

You can find out exactly which files are boosted by WinAlign by checking your WINALI.INI file (in C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM). You can try adding programs, DLLs and other files to this list to tell Win98 to "WinAlign" them, but they may or may not work. If you're going to add unsupported applications, first make sure you have a full system backup.

Change Windows Explorer's Focus May 16, 2001

When you select Start, Programs, Windows Explorer, Explorer always opens to your C:\ drive's contents. Is there another folder you'd rather start in? You can tell this, or any Windows Explorer shortcut, to open to your folder of choice.

Right-click Start, select Open, and double-click Programs to reveal the Windows Explorer shortcut. Right-click the shortcut, select Properties, and in the resulting dialog box, click the Shortcut tab.

In the Target line, after the last comma, you'll see your root directory, C:\. Add the name of any folder to the end of that line (for example, it might now read C:\MYFILES or C:\MYFILES\LETTERS after the last comma), then click OK. Now take it for a test spin -- select Start, Programs, Windows Explorer.

Windows Explorer Has Toolbars, Also May 15, 2001

The next time you're going about your business in an Explorer window -- single or double-paned -- take notice of the often-overlooked Toolbar. (If you don't see it, select View, Toolbars, Standard Buttons.) It has buttons for a lot of the commands you might otherwise use your right-mouse button for. Funny thing, too, because a button only takes one click.

See the button with the blue curved arrow? That's Undo. The "X" button mimics Delete. Clicking the hand holding the paper is the same as choosing Properties. On the right, you'll find your View options -- Large Icons, Small Icons, List, or Details. Hold the cursor over any button on the Toolbar, and you'll see a box telling you what it does.

Drag & Drop Start Menu Item On Desktop May 14, 2001

Do you find your desktop handier 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 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 releasing the mouse button, drag it out to the desktop. Release the mouse button, and there's your shortcut.

Install Accessibility Options May 11, 2001

Ever hear of Accessibility options? In case you aren't familiar with them, they're a group of settings that make Windows 98 easier to use. Although these settings were designed for people with disabilities, such as sight or hearing impairments, they can be useful to everyone. There's even a wizard to help you decide which Accessibility options are right for you. In today's tip, we'll show you how to install this wizard and the newest Accessibility option, Microsoft Magnifier. Then, over the next three tips, we'll show you how to use the wizard and this new tool.

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.

Global Folder Viewing Options May 10, 2001

Do you have a 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.

Display Startup Menu At Startup May 9, 2001

In our last tip, we showed you how to access the Windows 98 startup menu during the boot process. If you find yourself pressing Ctrl more often than not, make the startup menu appear automatically every time you start our system.

Select Start, Run, type


and press Enter to open the System Configuration Editor. On the General tab, click the Advanced button, select Enable Startup Menu, then click OK twice. Click Yes to restart your system.

Display Windows 98 Startup Menu May 8, 2001

Back in Windows 95, you saw a "Starting Windows 95" message during the boot process, at which point you could press F8 to display the startup menu. Well, watch your Windows 98 system's boot as closely as you want -- you won't see any such message.

So how do you get to the startup menu? After turning on your Windows 98 system, press and hold the Ctrl key (or F8). Eventually, the startup menu appears.

In our next tip, we'll show you how to start up with the Startup Menu every time.

Size Columns To Fit Widest Entry May 7, 2001

When you view a folder's contents in Details view (select View, Details), some columns of information are probably cut off. (Each cut-off entry is followed by ellipses.) One way to view the hidden information is to resize each column. Or, try this trick: Hold down the Ctrl key as you press the plus sign (+) on your numeric keypad. Instantly, Windows sizes every column to fit the widest entry. (Note: In many cases, you'll need to enlarge the window to see every column of information.)

(Tip-in-a-tip: Pressing Ctrl-+ also shrinks oversized columns to fit the widest entry.)

Disable User Profiles May 4, 2001

In a previous tip, we showed you how to enable user profiles so that multiple users can use different settings -- wallpaper, desktop shortcuts, color schemes, and so on -- on the same system.

When you don't want to use user profiles anymore, you can simply disable them. Open the Control Panel and double-click Passwords. Select the User Profiles tab, select All Users Of This Computer Use The Same Preferences And Desktop Settings, then click OK. Click Yes to restart your system, and user profiles are officially disabled.

User Profiles: Switching Users May 3, 2001

In our last tip, we showed you how to enable user profiles so that multiple users can use different settings -- wallpaper, desktop shortcuts, color schemes, and so on -- on the same system.

Once you've enabled user profiles, it's easy to switch from one user to the next without shutting down the system. Select Start, Log Off [user name], click Yes to confirm, and up pops the Welcome To Windows dialog box. (Type a new user name and password, then click OK.)

Intro To User Profiles May 2, 2001

Are there a number of people who use your system? Can't seem to agree on a desktop color? What you need are user profiles.

In case you aren't familiar with them, user profiles enable different users of the same system to use different settings -- wallpaper, desktop shortcuts, color schemes, and so on. With user profiles enabled, everyone who uses the system logs on using his or her user name and password, and sees only his or her personal settings.

To set up user profiles, select Start, Settings, Control Panel, then double-click Users. Now just follow along to complete the Enable Multi-user Settings wizard. You'll need to select a user name, a password, and the items you want to customize. Click Finish, wait for Windows 98 to set up the new profile, then click Yes to restart Windows (or No to restart later). To set up the next user, from the Control Panel double-click Users, click the New User button, and so on.

From now on, whenever you start Windows 98, you'll get a Welcome To Windows dialog box. Type your user name and password, then click OK. Now go ahead and start customizing. Your changes won't affect anyone else's settings. 

note: check out our article on setting up Windows for the entire family.

Collapse Expanded Folder May 1, 2001
In our last tip, we showed you how to fully expand a folder in the left pane of a two-paned Explorer window. Want to collapse it again? If you simply press the minus sign (-) at the top of the expanded branch, the folders inside will appear to collapse; but the next time you expand that folder, its contents appear fully expanded. So what's the trick? After clicking the minus sign (-) at the top of the branch, press F5.

april 2001 tips