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June 2001

Windows Assistance

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Calculator Help June 29, 2001
In a previous tip, we showed you how to transform a seemingly simple Calculator into a scientific tool: Select Start, Programs, Accessories, Calculator; then select View, Scientific. Not sure what each of these new buttons does? All you have to do is ask. Right-click any button and click What's This? to display a description of that button (and a keyboard equivalent).
Get System Info On Paper June 28, 2001
Right-click on the My Computer icon and select Properties from the context menu. Click on the Device Manager tab, then the Print button. Select the "All Devices and System Summary" radio button, then click on OK. This will give you more information about your hardware, IRQs, ports, memory usage, devices and drivers than you ever wanted to know. Keep this printout handy for future reference.
Remove Speaker From Taskbar June 27, 2001

See that little yellow speaker in the tray of your Taskbar? If you use it frequently (click it once for volume control), great. If not, there's no point wasting valuable Taskbar space.

To hide this control, right-click the speaker icon and select Adjust Audio Properties. On the Audio tab of the Audio Properties dialog box, deselect Show Volume Control On The Taskbar and then click OK.

Want your speaker back? Open the Control Panel, double-click Multimedia, select the option you just deselected (on the Audio tab), then click OK.

A Missing Send To Command June 26, 2001

Reader writes, "When I use Find to locate files, and then right-click a selection of files in the Find window, the Send To command is missing. How do I return this command to the menu?"

You can't. According to Microsoft, this problem exists if you attempt to access the Send To command with multiple files selected (in a Find window). The only workaround is to right-click one file at a time and select Send To.

Turn Off Scheduled Tasks June 25, 2001

Don't want the Task Scheduler running in the background all the time (and taking up valuable Taskbar space)? Simple -- turn it off.

Select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Scheduled Tasks to open the Task Scheduler. Now select Advanced, Stop Using Task Scheduler. The program's icon will disappear from the tray of your Taskbar, and the scheduler will no longer start when you start Windows 98.

(To turn Scheduled Tasks back on, follow the steps above, but select Advanced, Start Using Task Scheduler.)

Microsoft's List Of Keyboard Shortcuts June 22, 2001

We often receive requests for a listing of all keyboard commands for Windows 98. Microsoft has compiled a fairly extensive list inside its Knowledge Base. Check it out at

Show File Attributes In Detail View June 21, 2001

Want to see file attributes right next to each file, as you could back in the days of Windows 3.x? You can, as long as you have the window in which you're viewing the files set to Detail view.

Open any Explorer window and select View, Folder Options. Click the View tab, and in the list under Advanced Settings, select Show File Attributes In Detail View. Click OK.

The next time you open a folder in Detail view, you'll see a brand new Attributes column on the far right. (You may need to widen the window to see it.) What's more, if you're viewing the folder as a Web page (select View, As Web Page), you'll see the attributes for any selected file on the left side of the window.

The Show File Warning Message June 20, 2001

If you're viewing the contents of your hard drive as a Web page, and you double-click the Windows folder (or the Windows\System folder), you'll see this warning message: "To view the contents of this folder, click Show Files." (Thanks, but if I didn't want to view the files inside, I wouldn't have opened the folder.) Want an easy way to bypass this warning? Don't view your folders as Web pages.

In any folder, deselect View, As Web Page. Then, to apply the setting globally, select View, Folder Options. Click the View tab and then click the Like Current Folder button. Click Yes to confirm, then click OK. Not good enough? In our next tip, we'll show you how to remove these warnings while still viewing your folders as Web pages.

Sort Your Start Menu June 19, 2001

Want to alphabetize a folder inside your Start menu? Assuming you have Internet Explorer 5.0 or beyond installed, it's a snap. Click Start and navigate your way to the Start menu branch you want alphabetized. Right-click any item at this level, select Sort By Name, and all non-folder shortcuts at that level will be sorted alphabetically.

You can also drag an item to where ever you want it in a folder. Select an item, hold down the mouse button and drag the item to it's new position.

Lastly you can Cut & Paste an item from anywhere in the Start Menu.

Display Full Path In Title Bar June 18, 2001

Open any folder window, and you'll see its name in the title bar. Need to see a bit more information there? You can opt to display every folder's complete path right in that bar.

In any Explorer window, select View, Folder Options. Click the View tab, select Display Full Path In Title Bar, and click OK. Now take a look at the title bar of any open folder window (or glance down at its spot on the Taskbar).

Display & Expand Status Bar June 15, 2001

Do you want to show the disk free space information at the bottom of the window -- for example, 180KB (Disk free space: 9.22GB) in Windows Explorer?"

Pull down the View menu and make sure you see a check mark next to Status Bar. If not, select this option to display the status bar at the bottom of your Explorer window. If you still can't see the disk free space information, your Explorer window is too narrow. Hold your mouse pointer over the window's left or right edge, and when the pointer changes to a double-pointed arrow, click and drag to make the window wider. As you do, the free space information will appear in the center of the status bar.

Cut & Paste Instead Of Drag & Drop June 14, 2001

Planning to move some selected icons to a new location, say to a new folder or to the desktop? Don't assume you have to click and drag them all the way there. Instead, try a cut-and-paste operation.

Assuming you've already selected the icons, right-click the selection and select Cut. Poof -- the icons become shaded. Right-click their destination (desktop, folder, wherever), select Paste, and they're right where you want them.

Convert Drive To FAT32 June 13, 2001

In our last tip, we suggested that if your hard drive still uses the FAT16 file system, you might want to convert to FAT32. This new and improved system stores data in smaller clusters, resulting in less wasted space. Assuming the numbers convince you to convert, here's how to perform the operation.

First, find a time when you won't be using your system for a while -- say, three hours. Close any open programs, then select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Drive Converter (FAT32). Click the Details button, read all the pertinent do's and don'ts (for example, don't try to convert a compressed drive), then click Next. Select the drive you're about to convert, click Next, and wait as the wizard makes sure you don't have any incompatible programs installed. Click Next again, and you'll be asked if you want to back up your files before proceeding. If so, click Create Backup and so on (Microsoft Backup will help with the operation); otherwise, click Next. One last Next, and the converter is off and running.

FAT32 Utility June 12, 2001

Does your hard drive still use the FAT16 file system? That means you aren't taking full advantage of your hard disk space, and you should consider converting the drive to FAT32. This new and improved system stores data in smaller clusters, resulting in less wasted space.

If you aren't sure whether to convert, run the FAT32 Conversion Utility, which is available on the Windows 98 installation CD. It'll tell you exactly how much space you'll regain upon conversion.

With the installation CD in your CD-ROM drive, click Browse This CD and then navigate your way to the tools\reskit\config folder. Double-click the Fat32win.exe file, and when the utility opens, select a drive and click Scan. (If you see a dialog box telling you the drive is already a FAT32 drive, you're all set.)

In our next tip, we'll show you how to complete the conversion.

Turn Off Window Animation June 11, 2001

Ever notice that when you minimize or restore a window, you actually see the window-shrinking (or reverse) process? If you're looking to increase performance, remove this "window animation." Your windows will grow and shrink faster than ever.

(Note: This technique involves editing the Registry. As always, we recommend backing up your Registry files -- System.dat and User.dat, hidden files on the root of your hard drive -- before proceeding.)

Open the Registry Editor--select Start, Run, type


and click OK--and navigate your way to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics. In the left pane, right-click the WindowMetrics key and select New, String Value. Type


(to name the new value) and press Enter. In the right pane, right-click MinAnimate and select Modify. In the resulting Edit String dialog box, type


on the Data Value line. Click OK, close the Registry Editor, and restart Windows 98.

Tip-in-a-tip: If you want your window animation back, delete the MinAnimate string (right-click it, select Delete, then click Yes to confirm), or change its data value to 1 (right-click it, select Modify, type 1 on the Value Data line, then click OK).

Always Show Extension For A File Type June 8, 2001

In our last tip, we showed you how to change the icon associated with a file type. Worried that the icon you chose will keep you from recognizing that type in the future? No problem. Windows 98 includes a foolproof way to recognize a file type, regardless of its icon. It's called Always Show Extension.

In any Explorer window, select View, Folder Options, then click the File Types tab. Select a file type under Registered File Types, click Edit, then select Always Show Extension. Click OK twice, and from now on, every file of that type will display an extension (even if you've selected the Hide File Extensions For Known File Types option on the View tab of the Folder Options dialog box).

Change Icon Associated With File Type June 7, 2001

Tired of the boring "text-on-a-page" icon next to your *.txt files? Then change it. In most cases, you can assign a new icon to a file type.

From any Explorer window, select View, Folder Options, and click the File Types tab. Select a type in the Registered File Types list -- in this case, Text Document -- click Edit, and in the Edit File Type dialog box, click Change Icon. (If this command is grayed out, you can't change the icon for this type.) Pick a new icon (or click Browse and find one you like, then click Open), then click OK. Click Close twice.

In our next tip, we'll show you how to always recognize a file type, even if the icon doesn't help much.

Change Mouse Pointer June 6, 2001

Tired of that same boring arrow you see on screen all the time? Or the hourglass? Then change your mouse pointers. You can choose from things like piano keys, a banana, and even a dinosaur.

Open the Control Panel and double-click Mouse. Select the Pointers tab, highlight the pointer you want to change, and click the Browse button. Select a pointer, click Open, and back at the Pointers list, click Apply. Repeat these steps for each pointer you'd like to change. To return to a traditional pointer, select any pointer and click the Use Default button.

(Note: You'll need to install the pointers from the installation CD, if you haven't already. Open the Control Panel, double-click Add/Remove Programs, and click the Windows Setup tab. In the Components list, double-click Accessories. Select Mouse Pointers, click OK twice, and insert the installation CD when asked.)

Use Find To Locate All Executable Files June 5, 2001

Doing a little Start menu or Desktop reorganization? How about using Find to locate all the executable files on your system? Then you can sort through them and select the ones you want to work with (and even drag them from the Find window to a new folder).

Select Start, Find, Files Or Folders. On the Name & Location tab of the Find window, type


on the Named line. Make sure the drive you want Find to search is selected on the Look In line. Click the Find Now button, and Find locates every executable file.

For Best Performance, Defragment June 4, 2001
Want to make sure your applications start as quickly as possible? Defragment your hard drive on a regular basis -- say, once a month. The Disk Defragmenter utility that comes with Windows 98/Me 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 be sure Rearrange Program Files So My Programs Start Faster is selected. Click OK twice to start the operation. (Click the Show Details button to watch what's happening.)

(Note: You can also run the Disk Defragmenter automatically, as part of the Maintenance Wizard. In our next tip, we'll discuss this wizard in more detail.)

Explore a Different Folder June 1, 2001
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.

may 2001 tips