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Computer Tips & Tricks

  • SEND TO Menu efficient file handling
  • Make Windows 98 start up faster
  • Add site to Links toolbar
  • Change background of folder window
  • System file checker
  • Make your old graphic cards work properly
  • Change Explorer's focus
  • Eliminate screen flickers
  • Cover your tracks with Document Clear
  • Cancel print job
  • Emergency boot disk
  • Connect by yourself
  • Lose extra fonts
  • Change your mouse pointer
  • Tidy up the registry
  • Flush autocomplete list
  • Use a bitmap image as a 16-color icon
  • Track system file changes
  • Lighten the load with disk cleanup
  • Cut and paste keyboard shortcuts
  • Using Windows key
  • Run a search
  • Intro to Quick view
  • Go back with backspace
  • Restart Windows in a flash
  • Expand and contract folders with ease
  • Skip the Recycle Bin
  • Drag and drop Start menu item on desktop
  • Clean out your System files
  • Shut Down - Not responding
  • Increase Scrollbar size

  • For Efficient File Handling, Add To Your "SEND TO" Menu

    Most Windows 95/98 users know they can send a file to a floppy disk using the Send To menu. To do this, right-click on the file, mouse over Send To and select 3 1/2 floppy. What most PC users don't know is that you can add frequently used folders and applications to the Send To menu. Here's how you can customize your Send To list:

    1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the Windows/Send To folder.

    2. To add an application shortcut, right-click on an empty area of the right pane, select New and click on Shortcut. Click on Browse, find the application you want to add, then click on Open, then on Next, then on Finish.

    3. To add a folder shortcut, find the folder in the left pane of Explorer. You may need to click on the plus signs if it is a subfolder.

    Now, with the SendTo folder contents still displayed in the right pane, use the right mouse button to drag the folder from the left pane to the right pane. Select Create Shortcut Here.

    If you keep all your documents in the My Documents folder, then you should add that folder to the Send To list. This will make moving files from floppies to My Documents and back quick and easy.

    Make Windows 98 Start Up Faster

    To cut the time it takes to start up Windows 98, go to Start/Settings/Control Panel. Double-click System, then click the Performance tab. Press the File System button and select the Floppy Disk tab. Finally, uncheck the "Search For New Floppy Disk ..." box. Now when you turn it on, your system won't automatically search for floppies in your disk drive.

    Add Site To Links Toolbar

    The Links bar usually appears by default under the Address bar. You can add Favorites here for quicker browsing.

    Browse to the page you want to bookmark. Click Favorites, Add To Favorites. In the Add Favorites dialog box that appears, double-click the Links folder under Create In. Click OK, and you're set.

    If the Favorite does not immediately appear in the Links bar, you may have more in the bar than it can display at one time. Click the downward-pointing arrow at the right side of the Links toolbar to see all the sites in the Links folder.

    Change Background Of Folder Window

    When you display a folder's contents inside an open window, by default, you see them against a white background (unless you've chosen a color scheme with a different window color). Bor-ing. As with the Windows 98 desktop, you can apply any image or wallpaper to that window background. But wait, there's more: That background is unique to that folder. If you wanted to, you could apply a different background to every folder on your system!

    Open any folder window you want to customize and select View, Customize This Folder. Select Choose A Background Picture, then click Next. Select any of the files in the resulting list; or click Browse, select an image, and click Open. Click Next, click Finish, and check out that icon backdrop!

    Cure Your Ills With the System File Checker

    When you're having trouble with Windows 98--and who doesn't at some point--you might want to try a little-known utility called the System File Checker. Close all open programs and go to Run in the Start menu. Type sfc and click OK.

    Check the Scan For Altered Files radio button and click Start. SFC will look for files that have been corrupted. If it finds any, you can use it to extract clean versions of the files directly from your installation disk.

    Make Your Old Graphics Card Work Properly

    Older graphics cards often have trouble displaying their colors correctly. Sometimes Windows assigns incorrect display drivers for your card, resulting in only a 16-color display. To fix this problem, try using the Windows default driver to get your card to display 256 colors.

    To change your driver to the default one, go to the Display icon in the Control Panel and click on the Settings tab. Once you're there, look for the Advanced Properties button and click it. After that, go to the Adapter tab and click on the Change button. The Device Driver Wizard will then load. Check the "Display a list of drivers" box and click Next. Check the radio button labeled "Show all hardware." Click on the Standard Display types and then check the model that applies to you. Click the Next button continuously to select your model for use. Restart your computer to see if more colors appear.

    Change Explorer's Focus

    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.

    Eliminate Screen Flickers

    Sometimes a flicker on your screen can be associated with the refresh rate set for your monitor. To adjust your monitor for an optimal refresh rate, go to the Control Panel and double-click on the Display icon. From the display window, click on the Settings tab. Click on the button labeled Advanced Properties. Then click on the Adapter tab to see the refresh rate. Set the refresh rate to Optimal and that should reduce the frequency of your screen's flickering.

    Cover Your Tracks With Document Clear

    Cover your tracks by clearing your Documents menu. Windows 98 provides easy access to recently used documents in the Documents section of the Start menu. However, this lets anyone else using your computer access the files you have just opened. Throw them off your trail by selecting Settings from the Start menu and then Taskbar. From the Taskbar Properties window, select the Start Menu tab. Under the "Documents Menu" heading, click the Clear button. Users attempting to access your Documents from the Start menu will come up empty handed.

    Cancel Print Job

    Just send a bunch of documents to the printer, and now you've changed your mind? Rather than waste all that paper, use the printer queue to cancel what you can.

    Select Start, Settings, Printers, and double-click your printer's icon to display its queue, or list of pending jobs. Right-click the job you'd like to cancel and select Cancel Printing. Immediately, that document disappears from the list.

    If a long document is already in the process of printing, canceling that job will stop it midway.

    Prepare for Disaster with an Emergency Boot Disk

    You should always have an emergency boot disk handy just in case the worst happens. To create one, open the Control Panel and choose Add/Remove Programs. Click on the Startup Disk tab and click the Create Disk button.

    Connect by Yourself

    If you find that the Dial-Up Properties dialog box keeps popping up, whether you're working online or offline, then try this.

    Select Tools, Internet Options, then click the Connections tab to bring it forward. Select Never Dial A Connection. Click OK twice to close all the dialog boxes. This should stop the madness.

    Lose the Extra Fonts

    If you have more fonts than you use, you're wasting precious disk space. To find out how many fonts are on your system, open the Fonts Control Panel (Start/Settings/Control Panel/Fonts). There you'll find a list of all your installed fonts. Double-click a font's name to get copyright info and file size, as well as an example of what the font looks like at sizes up to 72 points. Delete any unnecessary fonts and you'll free up a bunch of disk space.

    Change Your Mouse Pointer

    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.

    Tidy Up the Registry

    The Windows Registry is a database of all your system's settings and software. Whenever a Windows 95 or 98 program is installed, removed, or modified, Windows updates the Registry to reflect the change - or at least, that's how it's supposed to work.

    Real life is less tidy. System crashes, buggy uninstall programs, and plain old bad luck can clutter your Registry, leaving it full of improper associations, bogus lists of installed programs, and all sorts of other junk that can slow down and even crash your operating system.

    If you really know what you're doing, you can clean the Registry with RegEdit (the Windows Registry editor). For most users, though, we suggest a safer alternative: Microsoft's RegClean. This download hunts down and removes bogus Registry entries automatically. It can also reverse any changes you make and restore your previous Registry if something goes wrong. Most uninstallers, such as CleanSweep, also clean your Registry - and do a better job than the free RegClean. Make a routine of cleaning the Registry and Windows 98 will run faster and more reliably.

    Flush Autocomplete List

    To delete individual AutoComplete entries that appear when you're filling out Web forms, just use your cursor keys to select the incorrect entry, then press the Delete key to remove it when the list pops up.

    To clean out the entire list, choose Tools, Internet Options. Click the Content tab, then click the AutoComplete button. Click Clear Forms or Clear Passwords. Then click the OK button twice to save your changes.

    Use a Bitmap Image as a 16-Color Icon

    To use a bitmap image as a 16-color icon, rename the .bmp file to a file with an .ico extension. To do so, follow these steps:

    1. In Windows Explorer, click Options on the View menu.

    2. Click the "Hide MS-DOS extensions for file types that are registered" check box to clear it and click OK.

    3. Locate the .bmp file you want to use as an icon.

    4. Use the right mouse button to click the .bmp file and click Rename on the menu that appears. Rename the file with an .ico extension.

    Windows automatically recognizes that you want to use the bitmap image as an icon. The image is resized to icon size and converted to 16 colors.

    To use the .ico file as an icon for a shortcut, follow these steps:

    1. Use the right mouse button to click the shortcut and click Properties on the menu that appears.

    2. On the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon.

    3. Type the name of the .ico file in the File Name box or click Browse and locate the .ico file.

    4. Click OK and then click OK once more.

    Track System File Changes

    Let the System File Checker track changes in your system files during program installations. This is a good idea for future troubleshooting, and will help facilitate full uninstalls for programs. To run the System File Checker following each install you perform, go to the Start menu and select Programs/Accessories. From there, select System Tools and choose System Information. Once the System Information Utility begins, select System File Checker from the Tools pull-down menu. You can also print out alterations each program makes to your system files forfuture reference.

    Lighten the Load With Disk Cleanup

    Windows 98 stores files in the Recycle Bin and in temporary directories for easier access. However, Windows saves so many files that eventually the waste can outweigh the ease. Speed up your computer and free some hard drive space with Disk Cleanup. From the Start button, select Disk Cleanup from System Tools in the Accessories menu. A pop-up window will appear to ask which drive you want to clean. Disk Cleanup will then quickly scan your hard drive to analyze the drive's wasted space. Once it finishes, the Disk Cleanup window will display the amount of wasted space for each file type that can be cleaned out. Check the boxes next to each file type you want to erase and press OK. The program will prompt you for deletion confirmation and cleanyour machine.

    Cut and Paste Keyboard Shortcuts

    Make cutting and pasting in Windows 98 a snap with keyboard shortcuts. To quickly use the copy command, press Ctrl-C. To easily cut text or graphics, press Ctrl-X. To paste from the clipboard, press Ctrl-V. To quickly highlight the text you want to cut or copy, place the cursor at the start of the first character you want to select and depress the Shift key while using the arrow keys to highlight the selection. You can also quickly navigate through text moving one word at a time by depressing Ctrl and the arrow keys. To undo any command, press Ctrl-Z.

    Using the Windows Key

    Use your Windows key to open a variety of commands quickly. The Windows key, denoted by the Microsoft symbol on recent keyboards, will access the Start menu when it's pressed. You can also depress the Windows key and press the letter E to launch Windows Explorer. The Windows-F combination will launch the File Finder. To minimize all windows, press the letter M while holding down the Windows key. Conversely, you can maximize all windows by depressing the Windows key and pressing Shift-M. To access the Start menu's Run command, simply hold down the Windows key and press the letter R on your keyboard.

    Run A Search

    You can quickly run a keyword search right from Internet Explorer 5's Address bar. Just type a question mark, followed by the word you are searching for, like :

    ? blacksmith

    Then press the Enter key. If your search contains more than one word, you do not need to type an extra question mark. For example, just type:

    ? job opportunities

    The results appear in the main browsing window.

    Intro to Quick View

    Can't remember which files are which, based on their filenames alone? Before you waste precious time opening them all in their native applications, go for the Quick View. Right-click a file, select Quick View, and up pops a preview of that file.

    Don't see a Quick View command? One of two things is happening: Either Quick View doesn't have a file viewer for that file type (we'll show you a workaround for this limitation in an upcoming tip), or Quick View isn't installed on your system. To see if Quick View is installed, right- click any *.txt file, and you should see a Quick View command.

    To install Quick View, pop your Windows 98 installation CD in your CD-ROM drive and open the Control Panel (choose Settings, Control Panel from the Start menu). Double-click Add/Remove Programs, click the Windows Setup tab, and in the list under Components, double-click Accessories. Click the check box next to Quick View andclick OK twice.

    Go Back With Backspace

    Moving backwards couldn't be easier! When navigating through folders, you don't have to click the Up One Level button to return to the previous directory. Flashback faster by simply hitting your Backspace key. You will move up one directory instantly.

    Restart Windows in a Flash

    Do you get tired of waiting for Windows to restart? Sometimes it can take ages to shut down completely, and then you still have to wait for the computer hardware to reset as well. Next time, try holding down the Shift key as you click OK in the Shut Down Windows dialog (with the "Restart the computer?" radio button selected, naturally). Windows will then restart itself without shutting down the entire computer.

    Expand and Contract Folders With the Greatest of Ease

    Windows 95 introduced the Windows Explorer, a nifty interface that displays folders in a vertical list (called a directory tree). Simply click a folder in the directory tree and it will expand, displaying its contents. If you have many folders to expand or contract, however, clicking each item can be more trouble than it's worth.

    Instead, simply highlight the folder (or folders) you wish to control and press either the plus key (+) to expand the folders one level, or the minus key (-) to contract them. You can also use the asterisk key (*) to expand every item within a folder down to the lowest subdirectory.

    Note: You must use the plus, minus, and asterisk keys located on the numeric keypad (usually found on the right side of your keyboard), not the ones located above the numbers at the top.

    Skip the Recycle Bin

    Take care when using this trick, because it does exactly what it says and there are no second chances. When you delete a file, it's normally moved to the Recycle Bin, where it stays until you empty it. To delete a file permanently and bypass the Recycle Bin, hold down the Shift key while deleting the file. You'll get a pop-up window confirming the deletion; if you click Yes, the file is gone for good.

    Drag and drop Start menu item on desktop

    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.

    Clean out your System files

    Find the programs that have added themselves to your system files (whether accidentally or on purpose)--these are the ones that open folders on start-up for no particular reason. The Windows 98 tool called the System Configuration Utility (SCU) will help you find them. To use the SCU, select Start/Run. Type msconfig and click OK. When the SCU appears, click the Win.ini tab, then double-click the Windows folder. Check to see if you can locate the offending app in the "load=" or "run=" line. If not, click the Startup tab and look for it there. You'll be shocked by how many programs load themselves onto your system without you even knowing it. Disable any of these apps in Startup by clicking the check mark beside them in the SCU.

    Shut Down - Not responding

    Sometimes during a Shut Down, the system will hang, and nothing seems to help. You try to change the sound for closing, press every key on the keyboard, and even threaten Windows with physical violence. It just won't finish the Shut Down cycle. You could just turn your computer off, but you risk some real problems by doing that. Try this instead:
    Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the Task screen. This is the menu that displays all of the programs currently running. Sometimes, one or more may come up with a message saying that the system is not responding. End these tasks by pressing the "End Task" button. (Sometimes it's not that easy.) One by one, keep ending tasks until the only one left is Explorer. Now try your Shut Down once again.

    Increase Scrollbar size

    Do you find the scrollbars in your applications and dialog boxes too small to grab onto? Windows 98 lets you make them as big (or as small) as you want.

    Right-click the desktop, select Properties, and click the Appearance tab. Under Item, select Scrollbar, adjust the Size using the up arrow, and watch your change in the preview. When you like what you see, click OK to keep the change.

    Tips provided by CNET Help.com


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