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December 2001

Windows Assistance

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Details Everywhere 2 December 28, 2001
Details View
Details view with Tasks Sidebar. Details of your files and folders in Tasks sidebar.

You can also view file details from the new Explorer Bar (sidebar) called Tasks. This Taskbar has three basic task: File and Folder Tasks, Other Places Tasks, and Details Tasks.

Details Everywhere 1 December 27, 2001
File Details Pop-up
Pop-Up Information

In our previous tip we showed how to view additional file details from Windows Explorer. You can also view the details form any Windows Explorer view. If no details are present, like with Icons view, the details can still be viewed by holding your pointer over a file in question and in a short moment the file's details will popup.

Expanded Details Available December 26, 2001
Choose Details
Choose Details

With previous versions of Explorer there were only four details available. With the Windows XP Explorer many more are available. If you're using Microsoft applications exclusively then you'll love all the new details for your viewing pleasure. To select details go to View -> Choose Details. Then just check the details you require. Note: Changes affect the current folder only.

For more information about the Windows XP Windows Explorer go here.

Locating Icon Files December 21, 2001

Recently, we showed you how to change the icon used to represent the My Computer, My Documents, My Network Places and Recycle Bin items on your desktop, or any shortcut. Don't like the choices you see after clicking the Change Icon button? Finding other choices is a bit tricky, but worth the effort.

Click Browse, and you're presented with a dialog box (supposedly) full of icon files. Unfortunately, files that actually contain icons are hard to identify (other than those you can see right in the file list). So you can do one of two things: Select them one at a time and click Open to see what's inside; or go directly to one of these two files -- C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\pifmgr.dll or C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\shell32.dll -- and save yourself the trouble!

Once you know the icon file you're after, navigate your way to that file, click Open, select an icon and click OK. Click OK one more time to close the Properties dialog box.

Make Your Own Restore Point December 20, 2001

By default, restore points are created at regularly scheduled times, or before certain programs are installed. But you can also create your own. If you're about to make some substantial changes to your system, you may want to create a restore point, so you can go back if something go wrong.

To create a restore point, select Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore. Select Create a Restore Point and click Next. Type a restore point description, then click Create. Once the new point is created, click Close to exit the wizard or Home to create another.

Ctrl-Tab To Rotate Through Tabs December 19, 2001
If you're in a dialog box that includes multiple tabs -- for example, the Display Properties dialog box -- you know that you can move from one to the next by clicking that tab with the mouse. But did you also know that you can rotate through tabs using your keyboard? Press Ctrl-Tab to switch to the next tab, or Ctrl-Shift-Tab to move to the previous tab.
Stick A Pin In Those Balloon Tips December 18, 2001
Search Preferences to Disable Balloon Tips Search Preferences - Don't show Balloon tips
[above] To show the Balloon tips go to Search Preferences and double-click Show Balloon tips. [above] To hide Balloon Tips go to Search Preferences and double-click Don't show Balloon tips.

One of the more irritating helpful ideas within Windows XP are those Balloon Tips. Balloon tips pop-up EVERY time you try to do anything. Is there anything you can do at the Start menu that won't bring up a balloon tip? Probably not. Well we finally found the source. Believe it or not we had to go to the Search utility [F3] and double-click Search Preferences. Now just click on Hide Balloon tips. That's it. To show Balloon tips just click Show Balloon tips.

Screen Saver To Welcome December 17, 2001
Customize Desktop pane
[above] The Customize Desktop pane.

In the previous tip we explained how to enable/disable standby modes from going to the Welcome screen prior to resuming. Now we will help Mr. Pournelle stop Windows from displaying the "You have unused icons on your desktop" message from appearing.

Hint: We already showed the window that has this option in a previous tip. You remember which one? The tip was about changing icons. Review the tip to learn where you can disable the above message.

In short we pop-up the Properties pane for the Desktop and select the Desktop tag. Then we click on the Customize Desktop button. Now we can uncheck the Desktop cleanup option.

Screen Saver To Welcome December 14, 2001
Screen Saver Tab
[above] Screen Saver tab
Screen Saver Power Standby Password
[above] Screen Saver -> Power Options

In the December 3, 2001 issue of Chaos Manor Jerry Pournelle encountered a feature he wanted to disable but didn't know how. I'll let Jerry explain the feature:

Some "features" I could do without. Whenever the Home Edition machine goes to sleep, waking it shows the desktop for a moment then I am taken to a screen with several user icons, and required to choose one. This doesn't take long but it's annoying as anything. If I want to log in as a different user I will tell the silly machine: It doesn't have to make me choose every time. I suspect there's a way to change this "feature" but I haven't found it. Chaos Manor, Dec 3, 2001

Basically what he is encountering is Screen Saver displaying the Welcome screen whenever you wake-up Windows. To disable this feature pop-up the Desktop shortcut-cut menu and select Properties (that Big Tip again.) Now click on the Screen Saver tab and uncheck On resume, display Welcome screen. Each account has this option. 

Wait, there's more. You also have the option of displaying the Welcome screen whenever the system resumes from a power standby. Only Administrator accounts can change this option. This means it will affect all accounts. To disable this feature pop-up the Desktop shortcut-cut menu and select Properties (that Big Tip again.) Now click on the Screen Saver tab, click the Power button, and select the Advanced tab and uncheck Prompt for password when computer resumes from standby.

editor's note: Mr. Pournelle is always complaining that Microsoft ignores security and here is a security feature and now Mr. Pournelle is complaining about Microsoft's security features. Can't have it both way Mr. Pournelle.

Changing Icons December 13, 2001
Customize Desktop pane Change Icons
[above] The Customize Desktop pane. [above] The Change Icon pane.
Yesterday I mentioned a search query: change start menu icons. I stated I couldn't find a way to change Start Menu Icons. Well I did. While researching the tip I planned for today I came upon a way to change some of the Icons. From the shortcut menu for the desktop select Properties. [remember the Big Tip]  Select the Desktop tab. Now click the Customize Desktop button. Now just select an Item and click the Change Icon button. Select the desired Icon and click OK.
The Big Tip: Shortcut Menu, Properties December 12, 2001

Looking through the list of recent searches at Windows Assistance was this item: change start menu icons. Well I went to the Start menu and tried to change the Icons. I couldn't. But I did realize that I always did my investigations in a similar manner. That procedure became the Big Tip.

Here's the Big Tip: Whenever you are trying to figure out what you can do with a certain item, such as change it's Icon, you only have to pop-up the shortcut menu for that item and select Properties. That's it. Shortcut Menu. Properties. If you never, ever remember anything else you have learned about Windows never, ever forget this tip. I'll repeat it for you: Shortcut menu, Properties.

Right about now you are saying to yourself: Self, what is a shortcut menu? Just so happens Windows Assistance has a page just on the shortcut menus. Enjoy!

What Works With Windows XP December 11, 2001
Find the products that work best with Windows XP. Windows Catalog showcases the hardware devices, software programs, and computers that work best with Windows XP. From cameras and printers to games and anti-virus software, Windows Catalog lets you browse the best products available for Windows XP.
Virus Protection In Outlook Express 6 December 10, 2001

Microsoft added a security setting to Outlook Express 6: Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus. Instruction on using this security setting in Outlook Express 6 review this document: Using Virus Protection Features in Outlook Express 6.

Windows Assistance found that Outlook Express 6 as part of Windows XP Professional has this security option enabled. But be on the safe side and check for yourself. Go to Tools -> Options -> Security and verify Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus is checked.

Important: If you forward a message with a blocked attachment then you will be able to open or save the attachment. It is important for users to recognize that grayed-out attachments are not safe to be opened and, users should be deleting, not forwarding an email with a grayed-out attachment.

Is Your Information Safe Online? December 7, 2001
Test your potential privacy perils. In a super-connected world where e-mail can be sent while taking a rush-hour cab ride, deals can be clinched during cocktail hour with computer in hand, and courting is condoned via chat room, you need to know that the info you send and receive online is safe. Microsoft has put up this short multiple choice questionnaire to determine the level of online security that fits your computing habits and personality.
User Account Equals Limited Access December 6, 2001

As we explained in our last tip Users should have limited access to the Windows XP system. When you installed Windows XP the default account type is Administrator. Administrator accounts has access to everything. Your first task after installing Windows XP is to create a User with limited access. See past tips on adding user accounts and the administrator accounts.

In short - never browse the Internet with an Administrator account. Always use a firewall product. For many users ZoneAlarm from Zone Labs works well. And always use a anti-virus utility.

User Mode To Browse The Internet December 5, 2001
Never browse the Internet as Administrator. Always sign-on as a standard user with limited rights. These limited rights exclude modifying any part of the Windows XP system. This will add an extra layer of security while you are open to the world. It will also prevent any virus from modifying Windows XP.
Home or Pro Tips December 4, 2001

One of the problems with Windows XP is creating tips that work with both versions of the OS. Having both Home and Professional versions running on separate machines just to verify a tip will work on both is not in the works at Windows Assistance.

For a list of tips for the Home edition check this page at Microsoft. Microsoft has no tips page for the Professional edition but it does have a page of accessibility tips just for the Pro edition. I suspect that most, if not all, of the Pro accessibility tips apply to the Home edition as well. 

Then there are the Windows XP tips at the Windows XP Expert Zone.

Run As ... December 3, 2001
Run As command dialog.
Utility Manager Run As Administrator

In the previous tip we explained how to disable Narrator whenever you start Utility Manager. If you noticed our example the option to disable Narrator was grayed (itself disabled.) In short you couldn't disable Narrator

But wait there is a way and you can do it right from the current user. The problem is you need Administrator rights to disable Narrator. If the current user doesn't have Administrator rights but does know the username and password for the Administrator then you can start Utility Manager using the Run As command and sign-on with as user that has Administrator rights. 

Go to the Utility Manager shortcut in the All Programs Menu. Right-click Utility Manager and from the shortcut menu select Run As. Select the user with Administrator rights and input the correct password. Once the Utility Manager loads you will be able to disable narrator.

 November 2001