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January 2002 Windows Assistance
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Create Compressed (Zipped) Folder January 31, 2002
Send To Compressed (zipped) File

Windows XP includes a compression utility, Compressed (zipped) Folders, for archiving files and folders. This feature saves hard disk space by storing data in compressed form, as *.zip files.

To create a compressed folder from existing files or folders right-click the selected files or folders and select Send To, Compressed (zipped) Folder. The Zipped folder will inherit the same name as the orginal file or folder. If you are compressing a group of files or folders the zipped file will inherit the name of one of the files. How Windows XP decides to name the zipped file is unknown to Windows Assistance. To create an empty Zipped file - from the Explorer menu bar select File->New->Compressed (zipped) Folder. Rename the folder.

To add files or folders to an existing zipped folder, drag them inside. Store the zipped folder anywhere you want, or send it off to someone else as an e-mail attachment. A recipient can unzip the file using any unzipping utility.

Chain Hotfixes January 29, 2002
Microsoft has released a command-line tool named QChain.exe [57KB] that gives you the ability to safely chain hotfixes together and to assist with hotfix installations without requiring multiple reboots. For information about Qchain.exe, including download, check Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q296861.
Security Check January 28, 2002

Microsoft released an update to the Network Security Hotfix Checker Tool (HFNetChk) it first released in August last year. The new version now includes support for Windows XP.

The tool can be used to assess patch status for the Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, and Windows XP operating systems, as well as hotfixes for Internet Information Server 4.0 (IIS), Internet Information Services 5.0 (IIS), SQL Server 7.0, and SQL Server 2000 (including Microsoft Data Engine [MSDE]), and Internet Explorer 5.01 or later.

You can download this (command line) tool from Microsoft [255KB].

Open Choices January 24, 2002
File Types tab
Edit File Type

Scenario: You search the Web everyday looking for good reads. You save those good reads to your local system for later reading. Now that you are ready to read the days downloads you go to My Recent Documents and select an article to read. Only problem is that every time you open an article it is done in a new instance of the browser. Depending on the number of articles you could end up with a lot of open browser windows.

Solution 1: Select a document, right-click and select Open In Same Window.

Solution 2: When you right-clicked the document one of the list of choices is in Bold letters. The Bold item is the default action. When you left-click a document the system selects the default action. For those HTML documents it is to start In A New Window. We need to change the default action to Open In Same Window. To do this first open Windows Explorer. From the Tools menu select Folder Options. Select the File Types tab. Browse down the list of file types until you reach HTTP Documents. There may be two listings: One for HTM and another for HTML. We will perform the same actions on both types. Double-click HTTP Document. Click the Advanced button to edit the File Type. Now select Open In Same Window and click the Set Default button. Ok, OK, Ok or some number of OK buttons. Now when you double-click a HTML document it will open in the current or existing Browser window.

Q Article Qucikly January 23, 2002

In our last tip we mentioned two KnowledgeBase articles. Their ID was Q310312, and Q253597. Q253597 was the one that gave us the information we needed to use the setup for Disk Cleanup. Did you find the article at

For this tip we will describe a way to get that KnowledgeBase article and never use your Web browser. Here's how: Start Help for Windows. In the Search box put the Q number. Double-click Set Search Options. Uncheck everything BUT Microsoft KnowledgeBase. For the product select All Microsoft Search types. Lastly check Search In Title Only. Now go back to the top and start your search. The Help Search should return only one item. That item should be the Q article we specified. Cool. note: Must be online for this to work.

If you don't want to uncheck everything but Microsoft KnowledgeBase then your search will take a little longer but not by much.

Disk Cleanup More or Less January 22, 2002

Disk Cleanup has been around a while. For Windows XP go to My Computer and right-click the disk you want to clean and select Properties. Under the General tab click Disk Cleanup. That's it. Or is it?

Fred Langa discussed Disk Cleanup in a recent newsletter and showed how to get the Disk Cleanup Setup page. This gives you the ability to specify what you want Disk Cleanup to remove. Interesting.

WindowsAssistance searches Windows XP Help and finds nothing about Disk Cleanup Setup. We then go to Microsoft Support and do a search for Disk Cleanup. We needed to specify a product so we selected Windows XP. We found a KnowledgeBase article, Q310312, that discussed Disk Cleanup in Windows XP. No mention of any setup.

We then returned to Microsoft Support and did the same search except we specified Windows 2000. The search returned a different KnowledgeBase article, Q253597. The article DID discuss using Disk Cleanup setup. Following the instructions in this article we were able to customize Disk Cleanup for Windows XP.

Lessons learned. For most utilities that are included with Windows there is more than meets the eye. And searching Microsoft's KnowledgeBase it is best to be flexible. Lastly, we inadvertenly did a search of Windows XP Help while online and Help returned several KnowledgeBase articles none of which answered our question. It was only after going directly to did our search return good results.

What Is The Application Key? January 21, 2002
Do you have an Application key on your keyboard? (It looks like a mouse pointer highlighting a menu command.) Think of it as a right-mouse equivalent. With any item selected, click the Application key to display that item's context menu. Or if the focus is on the desktop, click the Application key to 'right-click' the desktop.
What Is NTFS? January 18, 2002
Disk Management

For those who move up from Windows 9X to Windows XP we have a new disk formating method to get used to. NTFS or NewTechnologyFileSystem. Should you convert to NTFS or stay with FAT32? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using NTFS.

For this tip we are going to be a little lazy. First we used the Windows XP Help system to search for NTFS. One of the topics returned is titled Choosing between NTFS, FAT, and FAT32. Give this topic some of your time. It's a starting point. Second go to Scott Finnie's web site and read the January 17, 2002, Vol. 2, Issue No. 19 of his newsletter. He has some interesting info and additional links to more information about NTFS.

Is your computer already setup with a NTFS partition? To find out you can go to the Computer Management console. We mentioned this utility in our last tip but didn't tell you how to access it. From My Computer right-click to get the shortcut-menu and select Manage. Once the Computer Management console opens select Disk Management - it's under Storage. Viewed in all their glory are the disk partitions.

Disk Defragmenter January 17, 2002
Disk Defragmentor
Disk Defragmentor Analyze Report

For windows 2000 Pro users the Disk Defragmenter will have a familar look and feel. For windows 9X users it's all new. After using the defragmenter on both a NTFS and Fat32 partitions we found it to be faster than the 9X versions. We also noticed that when you're deframenting the C: partition the program wouldn't restart itself everytime the system burped. The new view for past Windows 9X users is also a big improvement.

What's not new is how to start Disk Defragmenter. For old Windows 2000 Pro users you can go to the Computer Management Console and start the Defragmenter from there. Or you can go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Systems Tools -> Disk Defragmentor. And finally you can start the defragmentor from Windows Explorer: right-click a partition, select Properites, Tools tab, click the Defragmentor button.

Just Delete It, OK? January 16, 2002
Recycle Bin Properties Page

The Recycle Bin is there to protect you from deleting files and folders by mistake. Because of the Recycle Bin we find it redundent to ask us if we really want to delete a file or folder before it goes to the Recycle Bin. We perfer to have it go directly to the Recycle Bin. Don't ask, just delete it.

Open the Recycle Bin. Right-click anywhere in the Bin. Select Properties (Hey, the Big Tip!) At the bottom of the Global tab uncheck Display delete confirmation dialog. Now files and folders will go directly to the Recycle Bin.

Each user or account has the option of getting the confirmation dialog or not.

Create A Boot Floppy Set To Start An Installation January 15, 2002

Win2KPowerUsers is one of the weekly e-mail newsletters we receive. It is written by Serdar Yegulalp, once a columnist. His most recent letter talks about his efforts to get Microsoft to release a bootable floppy set for Windows XP installation. This feature had been removed from Windows XP and Serdar was trying to convinced Microsoft to put it back into Windows XP.

Microsoft was convinced and there is now a download available at Microsoft Support. It is a 4MByte download and to create the set requires 6 formated floppies. If you have experience with Windows 2000 Pro you are familar with this utility.

We at WindowsAssistance perferr to do a clean install but that isn't possible for us because our CD-ROM isn't bootable. So having the floppy boot utility would have been appreciated. Now that the utility is available our next WinXP install will be from start floppy.

Adding Items To Quick Launch January 14, 2002

My favorite tool added to Windows 98 is Quick Launch. Just one-click and away they go. The problem has always been adding items to Quick Launch. We have now settled on one method. Simply put we drag items from the Desktop to Quick Launch. If the item isn't on the Desktop, say it is in the Start Menu, then we copy the item then paste a shortcut to the desktop. Once on the Desktop drag to Quick Launch. You then can delete the item from the Desktop (the item remains in Quick Launch.)

When you drag an item to Quick Launch you will get a vertical bar that represents where the item will be placed in Quick Launch. Move the bar to where you want the new item placed.

Moving items around in Quick Launch is done just as you would drag an item. The black vertical bar will show where the item will be placed.

Remember there is always 10 ways to do anything in Windows. Another method is from the Start button->Explore.

Give Me My TweakUI January 11, 2002

WindowsAssistance uses TweakUI, loves TweakUI, can't live without TweakUI. View TweakUI.

Most areas of TweakUI are applied on a per-user basis. Some settings are system wide and can only be changed from an Administrator account.

  1. Turn off Ballon Tips. Taskbar
  2. Keep programs from showing up in the Most Often Used list. Like ALL of them. Taskbar -> XP Start Menu
  3. To improve the mouse sensitivity by decreasing the time the mouse has to be over an object before the mouse is detected. Mouse -> Hover
  4. Uncheck everything in General.
  5. Increase speed at which menus pop-up or open. Mouse
  6. Get rid of the Shortcut to text whenever we create a shortcut. Explorer
  7. There are several special folders, like My Documents. Their folder location can be change with TweakUI. My Computer -> Special Folders

To get Tweakui go to Microsoft and download PowerToys today. TweakUI is part of PowerToys.

More Than A Task Manager January 10, 2002
Task Manager

Task Manager is more that a listing of currently running apps. It is also a monitor of system operations. You can examine running applications and processes, view CPU and memory usage, LAN traffic as a percent of maxium throughput, including modems, when in use, and get a list of current users.

To start Task Manager from the Taskbar, right-click and select Task Manager. You can stretch out the pane to show a longer timeline.

From the Performance tab, default view, you can observe processor usage, and check memory usage. Page files are that memory that is swaped to disk.

If you want to view your internet connect throughput then select the Networking tab. You and view bytes received, send or total. The scale for percent of usage, by default, is set to Auto Scale. Therefore the scale will change depending on usage. Auto Scale can be turn off from the Optins menu.

For a quick view of what is going on inside Windows XP Task Manager works well. Get familar with it.

Sending Plain Text or HTML Mail January 9, 2002

Outlook Express allows you to send email as plain text or HTML. HTML is text formated for reading in a browser such as Interet Explorer. The default setting in Outlook Express is the send mail formated as HTML. Not all mail readers will know that the incomming message is formated as HTML and treat it as plain text. Not good.

To change this setting, and many others for Outlook Express, go to the Tools menu and select Options. For sending options select the Send tab. Click the Font button. Now you can change the text format from Html to Plain Text.

While you're here check out what else is available. For instance under the Read tab you can select the font style and size (small, medium large) for reading messages. Take the time to select a font that is easy for YOU to read.

Sorry Private January 8, 2002
ie60-privacy.jpg (51213 bytes)
Internet Explorer Privacy Tab

In the previous tip we showed how to enable/disable AutoComplete for Web addresses, forms, and passwords.

Another area that you can control is Cookies. You can limit who can leave cookies on your computer. Cookies are small files that Web sites leave on your computer and can be later read by the site or whoever left the cookie. One big problem with cookies is that 3rd parties such as also leave cookies on your computer so they can track your travel through the web.

The Privacy tab gives you the ability to restrict who can leave cookies on your computer and also restrict or block the use of personal identifiable information. We set the privacy level to Medium. We may try Medium High. The higher you set your privacy the greater the risk that Web sites will restrict your ability to visit the site.

AutoComplete Equals Hacker's Delight January 7, 2002
Internet Explorer 6.0 AutoComplete options.

The AutoComplete feature saves previous entries you've made for Web addresses, forms, and passwords. Then, when you type information in one of these fields, AutoComplete suggests possible matches. Internet Explorer 5.5/6.0 Help

Saves passwords? No way. To make sure Internet Explorer 5.5/6.0 isn't saving passwords go to Tools >> Internet Options >> Content tab and click the AutoComplete button. Check those options that you want to make available to the happy hackers of the world. 

You can also clean out the Forms and Password histories. Do it! Frequently.

Screen Saver Is Bliss January 4, 2002
Bliss Screen Saver

Remember when you were a kid, lying on your back in a big grassy field and watching the clouds roll by? It was pure Bliss.

Gee, for me Grassy Field brings back memories of the 60's. Oh well, each to his own Bliss. For the purely digital kind in the form of a screen saver click over to Microsoft and get the Bliss screen saver. Happy Dreams.

Microsoft & Security January 3, 2002
Microsoft is trying. How hard is the big question. Anyway here is a starting point. From here you can jump to Windows Update or get security patches. Also check out the section called 'What do I need to now about ...' Remember: It all comes down to You.
Windows Key Shortcuts January 2, 2002

Do you have a Windows key on your keyboard (it has the flying window logo on it)? Here are some keyboard combos that may come in handy:


  • Windows-E to open Windows Explorer 
  • Windows-F to open Find 
  • Windows-M to minimize all open windows (or Shift-Windows-M to undo this command) 
  • Windows-R to open the Run window 
  • Windows-F1 to open Help 
  • Windows-L to log off 
  • Windows-Tab to cycle through the Taskbar buttons 
  • Windows-Break to open the System Properties dialog box 
  • Windows-D to display the desktop (press it again to get your windows back.
December 2001