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October 2001

Windows Assistance

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Add/Remove Users October 31, 2001

At any time, with Windows XP, you can add users to, or remove users. Open the Control Panel -- select Start, Control Panel -- and from the Category or Classic View, select User Accounts. Assuming you want to add a new user, click 'Create a new account.' Type a name for the account, click Next, choose an account type, then click Create Account.

To remove a user account, click the account under 'Pick an account to change.' Select 'Delete the account,' then choose whether you want to save that user's My Documents files and desktop settings. Click Delete Account to complete the removal.

Remember only the Administrator can add/remove users.

Change Picture for User October 30, 2001

Don't like the picture that appears next to your user name on the Welcome screen? Open the Control Panel -- select Start, Control Panel -- and from the Category or Classic View, select User Accounts. Click your User Account, then select 'Change my picture.' Select a picture and click Change Picture.

Of course, you can use any picture on your system. Click 'Browse for more pictures,' navigate your way to the picture you want to use, select it and click Open. 

Expert Tips October 29, 2001
Microsoft has setup an Expert Zone where you can get advice and tips on using Windows XP. Give it a try. The address is www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertzone.
First New User Becomes Administrator October 26, 2001

When you first install Windows XP the system will create an account name Administrator. As the name implies this account has full administrator rights. If a user has administrator rights they have pretty much total control of the OS. One of the privileges of Administrator is the ability to add/remove user accounts. note: The password that you created during setup is for the Administrator account.

Windows XP will give the first user account that is created by the Administrator the same rights as Administrator. Not only is this first created account given Administrator rights but when you reboot the system you will no longer see the Administrator. Instead you will see the new user accounts you created while Administrator. So who is the administrator? That first new user account you created is the administrator.

So be careful who sets up the OS. They will have control of the OS. Remember those who have administrator rights can add/remove users. 

note: The Administrator account is still there but it has been hidden by the system.

Upgrading Windows: Clean Install October 25, 2001
If and when you decide to upgrade your Windows operating system, there is another option of which you should be aware. Normally when you're upgrading, you probably just insert the new CD and run it. Windows will then change files, alter the registry and make many other changes. This is all well and good, but if you have a PC that has been acting flaky, the last thing you need is an upgrade to the next Windows OS, which will result in even flakier problems.

In this last instance, I always recommend what is known as a Clean or Virgin Installation. This entails completely removing everything from your hard drives, installing the new version of Windows, and then reinstalling applications within the new OS. (Note: This procedure is not for the inexperienced or novice user. If you are uncomfortable with this, consult a professional.)

To perform a Clean install, you MUST back up everything. First, create an Emergency Boot floppy disk. After ! you do so, boot from the floppy disk. Make sure you can access and read your CD or DVD drive with the new Windows version. At the DOS prompt (it looks like this C>), type Format C: /u. The /u means "unconditional" and removes everything. This procedure will completely erase your hard drive. After formatting is complete (this may take a while depending upon the size of your hard drive), install the new Windows OS. When done, reinstall all of your applications and copy all data files to wherever you want them.

Remember, this procedure is not quick, simple, or for the faint of heart. If you have doubts, don't do it! Have a professional do it for you.

Updating Windows October 24, 2001
Windows Update From The Web Want to have the latest and greatest from Microsoft? Then close down all of your applications, connect to the Internet and go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com. From there, Explorer will receive a file that will compare what Microsoft has out there as the latest, and what you have on your PC. Then it will inform you of what you can download. If any of the downloads are labeled Critical, download those first.

You may be required to reboot your PC, so before doing updates, save your work.

Updating Windows October 23, 2001
What is the difference between Upgrade and Update? Upgrade is taking your current software and replacing it with a newer release of the software. Updating is simply keeping your current software up to date with the latest changes.

The most significant difference between the two is cost. Many times, updating software is free. Simply download the latest patches, and you're ready to go. Upgrading may be expensive, but doing so allows you to have the most up-to-date features and abilities that the software has to offer.

So how do you choose whether to update or upgrade your software? Ask yourself the following questions: 1) Does my current software do everything I need it to do? 2) Does my current software do everything I want it to do? 3) Will all my current applications and utilities work with the Upgrade? 4) Is the total cost worth the increase in features? (Upgrade, Time, Application updates, etc.) 5) Would I really use the new features?

If you answered "No" to a majority of the questions, then consider updating your current software. Otherwise, it may be time to upgrade. And whether you're upgrading and/or updating, consider the possibility of downtime, technical difficulties, and compatibility issues.

Using Character Map October 22, 2001
While word processing programs have their own procedures for accessing special characters, in Windows 98 you can retrieve characters for use in any program by using the Character Map utility. This little program allows you to copy characters to the clipboard for insertion into any document. Access the Character Map by going to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Character Map. You can browse the various fonts using the drop-down menu at the top of the dialog box. When you find a character you want to copy, select it with the mouse, then click the Select button and the Copy button to copy it to the clipboard. (You can even select a sequence of characters, if you like, before you click Copy.) Then click Close, return to the program you were working in previously, and press Ctrl-V to paste the character (or sequence of characters) into your work.
Left-Handed Mouse October 12, 2001
Empirical evidence confirms that many computer-related, repetitive-stress disorders come from using the mouse. Having to reach your arm to a mouse pad that might not be positioned properly can cause aching in your arm, elbow, shoulder, and wrist (we're speaking from experience here). If you're in a position where you're using the computer all the time, it makes sense to distribute the wear-and-tear of the mouse to both arms. Using your left hand to work with the mouse can be tough at first, but with a little practice it becomes just as natural as using your right hand.

To help you out, Windows 98 comes with a feature for changing the buttons on your mouse, allowing you to replicate the feel of the right-handed mouse. To switch buttons on your mouse to a left-handed configuration, go to Start, Settings, Control Panel and double-click the Mouse icon. On the Buttons tab, choose the Left-handed setting under Button Configuration. (With a Microsoft IntelliPoint driver, you would click the Basics tab and choose Right Or Upper in the Button Selection section.) Click OK and start practicing.

Installing Printer Twice For Special Settings October 11, 2001
If you routinely print two kinds of documents, each requiring its own printer settings, you've probably found it cumbersome to have to re-enter all the printer properties every time you change documents. You might find it easier to actually install the same printer twice, but with different names and settings. This way, you can simply select the "printer" (actually the group of print settings) that you like the next time you execute your print job.

To install the printer with new print settings, go to Start, Settings, Printers and click the Add Printer icon. Install the printer as you would normally, inserting the driver disk if you have it. When you come to the screen where you name your printer, name it something that differentiates it from your default printer and lets you know what the printer settings are. When you finish, right-click on your new printer and select Properties. Enter the print settings for your new printer icon and click OK. Now, when you want to print using the new print settings, you can just select the name from your program's Print dialog box.

Changing Time Format October 10, 2001
Though most people are fine with the standard time format that comes installed with Windows 98, others prefer another. You can change your time format at any time by going to Start, Settings, Control Panel and double-clicking the Regional Settings icon. Click the Time tab, and then select a Time Style from the drop-down menu.
Changing Desktop Icons October 9, 2001
The standard Windows desktop icons are fine, but they may not be just right for the kind of desktop you have in mind. Remember that you can choose from a handful of alternative icons for your My Computer, Network Neighborhood, Recycle Bin, and My Documents folders. Just right-click on your desktop and select Properties. Click Effects and choose the icon you wish to modify from the box at the top. Click the Change Icon tab and select a new icon from the list (browse to the folder containing the icon files, if necessary), then click OK twice.
Tracking Your Internet Connection October 8, 2001
If you've ever wanted a visual representation of the quality of your Internet connection, you can use the System Monitor in Windows 98 to take a look. Open the System Monitor by going to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Monitor. As you can see, the System Monitor is a graph that displays information of your choosing. To display information about your Dial-up connection, go to Edit, Add Item and click Dial-up Adaptor (you'll need to connect to the Internet first.) Choose which kind of information you wish to display in the right box and then click OK. System Monitor begins tracking the information you've selected.
Enabling Quick View For Specific File Types October 5, 2001
With many types of files, you're given an option called Quick View when you right-click the item. Quick View allows you to get a quick look at something without having to open the potentially cumbersome application associated with it. If you wish to be given the Quick View option for a specific kind of file, you need to designate it as such in the File Types box. In any folder, go to View, Folder Options and click the File Types tab. Select the kind of file you want to use Quick View for, and click Edit. Check the Enable Quick View For box, and then click OK twice.
Starting System In Safe Mode October 4, 2001
If your computer is giving you trouble, and you need to restart it and run some diagnostics programs, you might try starting your computer in Safe Mode in order to minimize any potential hardware or driver conflicts. When you start your computer in Safe Mode, Windows loads only the bare minimum of drivers and hardware devices, so that you can examine and isolate problems with greater accuracy.

To start in Safe Mode, shut down and restart your computer. Then, hold down the Ctrl key (Win98) as Windows loads. Windows 95 users use the F8 key. You'll be prompted to choose a new startup mode. Select 3 to start in Safe Mode. Safe Mode displays your screen in 640 x 480 resolution, and you'll notice that Windows loads much faster without all those extra drivers.

(Note: If you receive a "stuck key" error message, you've probably pressed the Ctrl key too early in the boot process. Try again with slightly more delay.)

Spaces in Commands October 3, 2001
Sometimes in the Run command dialogue box, you must type in a program name that has spaces. For example: Cool Program. However, Windows might not recognize the command, and may attempt to start program 'Cool' -- which results in an error.

To correct this problem, surround the program name with single quotes like this: 'Cool Program' Now, Windows will recognize what it is that you want to do.

Uninstall Problems October 2, 2001
Sometimes, Windows 95, 98, and Me can experience all kinds of problems when you're attempting to uninstall a program. Let's talk about the five ways you can uninstall a program:

1) Go out and just delete the files from your hard drive. - This is a bad solution. There are literally hundreds of places that any program can keep files, registry entries, and such -- and there is no way to tell what kind of damage would be done by simply deleting these files.

2) Use the program's uninstall procedure. - Many programs now come with their own uninstall program that will quickly and effortlessly (yeah, right) remove programs from your computer. The problem? Many of these programs simply don't do a complete job.

3) Reinstall the program! - Yup! You heard me correctly. Sometimes the easiest way to uninstall a pesky program is to reinstall it, then remove it using its own software (or combine this method with #4).

4) Use the Add/Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel. - This is a standard Windows removal tool that actually does a fairly decent job of removing programs from your hard drive.

5) Use a third-party removal tool. - A third party tool (such as Norton Uninstall or Clean Sweep) will be extremely thorough in removing programs. Some software will detect 'orphans,' which are programs to which there is no connection.

How Many Ways To Find October 1, 2001
If you're looking for a file and you're certain it's in a specific folder, you can always tell Windows to search in that folder by selecting it from the Look In field in the Find dialog box (open Find by pressing Windows key+F or F3). Another way to look for a file in a specific folder is to right-click the folder and select Find from the pop-up menu. This launches the Find command with the folder you clicked already loaded into the Look In field. note: for more on Find see Windows Find Folders or Files.

september 2001 tips