Compatible with Windows:

Whether you’re looking for a faster boot time, a prettier desktop or some new tools to play with, Helen Bradley has unearthed 200 tips to do the job, and do it well
Each person will want to customise different settings to optimise their PC too.The business user will want custom desktop icons and a good backup routine.The games enthusiast wants fast graphics and quick response time and the Photoshop user wants fast disk access and good memory management. All of them would like a trouble-free system that doesn’t fail and,if it does, they want to be able to put it back together quickly and easily. We’ve rounded up 200 tips for configuring and customising Windows, and for troubleshooting problems you may encounter. Because Windows XP is the most commonly used OS we’ve concentrated on it but many of these tips are equally applicable to Windows Me and 98.We’ve also included some tweaks specially for Windows 98 and Me users that relate to issues peculiar to these OSes. critical to the smooth running of Windows. Even if you’re confident in your skills in editing the Registry, take a backup before you begin and never change or delete something you don’t understand the use of. It’s simply not smart to wipe out your Registry trying to save 100 milliseconds in start up time today when it will take you the rest of the day to put the mess right! Enough said. It’s time to roll up your sleeves, dust off your wish list of things you always wanted Windows to do and get started tweaking it to fit.


hen you install Windows on your PC you get a ‘one size fits all’installation. It’s then up to you to make OS changes to suit your way of working.These customisations are necessary because the requirements of, for example, a business user who uses QuickBooks and Microsoft Office are different to the user who plays fast-moving games and both have different needs to an art director who uses Photoshop to render images many megabytes in size.

The fine print...
One word of warning before we begin. Many of these tips involve making changes to the Registry which is






Smoother Windows installation
Before you edit the Registry, take a back up of it. Choose Start -> Run -> Regedit and choose File -> Export. From the Export range, click All and type a file name and location for the file, then click Save.



Get going faster
Want to get Windows up and running faster? Then here are some things to try
While it may only take a minute or two for your computer to start up, it often feels like the process takes much longer. To speed things up, consider stripping down Windows. Items on your desktop such as icons and wallpaper consume memory and take time to display. If they’re not needed, remove the wallpaper and replace it with a coloured background, and clean up unused icons by moving them to a Unused Desktop Shortcuts folder on your desktop: right-click the desktop, click Arrange Icons By -> Run Desktop Cleanup


Many programs are installed but are turned off by default.To enable these, from the Control Panel choose Add or Remove Programs -> Add/Remove Windows Components, and enable unchecked or greyed-out checkboxes.


The File and Settings Transfer Wizard saves your settings for moving to a new computer

Before installing new software or making changes to your setup, create a manual restore point by choosing Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore and click Create a restore point.


notified of what updates are available for installing. No bootable CD drive? You can create bootable floppies to use using a tool from Microsoft.Visit http://support. to find more information and links to download the set-up disks.

Tools option and enable the ‘Display on the All Programs and the Start menu’option. To install the Backup utility in Windows XP Home edition (it’s installed already in Pro), locate the file \valudeadd\ msft\ntbackup\ntbackup.msi on your Windows CD and double-click it to run the set-up wizard.



When you change your mind and want to install a Windows update you’ve previously declined to install, choose Control Panel -> System -> Automatic Updates tab and click Restore Declined Updates.


To determine which Windows updates are installed, turn off the Automatic Update feature. Choose Control Panel -> System -> Automatic Updates tab and disable the ‘Keep my computer up to date’option. Alternately, enable it and choose one of the first two settings options to be


When your Windows XP install freezes, remove extra cards (although not your graphics card) and any attached devices and try again. Add the cards and other devices back when the install is complete.


Stop Windows from highlighting newly installed programs by right-clicking Start, click Properties -> Start Menu tab -> Customize -> Advanced tab and clear the ‘Highlight newly installed programs’checkbox.


To add System Administration Tools to your Start menu, right-click the Start menu, choose Properties -> Start Menu tab -> Customize -> Advanced tab. Scroll the Start menu items to locate the System Administrative


One simple way to improve system

If you watch movies or play games on your PC, make sure you’re using the latest version of DirectX.Visit www. to see what the current version is and to find links to download it.


performance is to use Defrag regularly


When installing a device which isn’t Plug-and-Play, choose Control Panel -> System -> Hardware tab and click the Add Hardware Wizard button to step through the required process.


Before moving to a new computer run the Files and Settings Transfer (FAST) wizard to move files and settings to your new computer. Choose Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to run it.Visit http://support. to learn more.


Wizard. Run Defrag to defragment your hard drive so files are faster to access. If you’ve added and removed programs over a period of time, clean up your PC’s Registry using a Registry clean up tool like Registry Mechanic 2.1 from www. Remove any programs that load automatically at startup and which you don’t need or use. You’ll find tips on these pages for paring back your start-up folder and using msconfig and the Registry to locate and disable other programs from running. If things get too slow, consider backing up all your data, settings and device drivers and perform a clean reinstall of Windows.

Add System Administration tools to your Start menu for quick access




When using the Windows Update site you’ll be prompted to enable an Active X control to run. If you’d prefer not to alter your Internet Explorer security settings, add a security exemption for the Windows Update site. In Internet Explorer choose Tools -> Internet Options -> Security tab and click Trusted Sites and then Sites.Type the URL from the Windows Update site into the text area and disable the Require server verification (https://) for all sites in this zone checkbox. Click Add -> OK.

keyfinder.shtml and download the freeware utility Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder. Run it to locate your key and then either print it or save it to a text file so you can reinstall Windows.
When the name of the registered owner of the computer isn’t you and you want to change it, do this using a Registry fix. Open the Registry (Start -> Run, type Regedit and click OK). In the registry, select My Computer then choose Edit -> Find and type RegOwner in the search box.When the entry is located, right-click it, choose Modify and alter it as required.The RegCompany key directly above this is the Company name.





If you’ve lost your Windows XP key, visit www.

Add Windows Update site to your trusted sites and you won’t have to alter security settings

Improved Internet and networking experience
To share a folder on a network, in Windows Explorer, right-click the folder and choose Properties -> Sharing tab. Enable the ‘Share this folder on the network’checkbox, type a name if required and click OK.


Administrative Tools -> Computer Management and then choose Action -> All Tasks -> Send Console Message. Type the message, add any PCs not in the list to the list and choose Send to send it. To configure the Internet Connection Firewall (ICF), in the Control Panel choose Network Connections, select your connection, right-click and choose Properties -> Advanced tab and enable the ‘Protect my computer and network by limiting or preventing access to this computer from the Internet’checkbox.

When you need to know your IP address choose Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt and type ipconfig /all.

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-> System Tools -> System Information and choose Tools -> Net Diagnostics. Click Scan your system and a detailed report about your Windows installation and your network connection will appear. Protect your privacy by stopping Windows Media Player from sending information that identifies your copy of media player to any site you receive data from. Launch Windows Media Player, choose Tools -> Options -> Player tab and disable the ‘Allow Internet sites to uniquely identify your player’option.


Add a My Network Places icon to your desktop by right-clicking the desktop, choose Properties -> Desktop tab -> Customize Desktop -> General tab. Enable the My Network Places checkbox and click OK.


If you receive messages via Messenger from the Internet you can stop this by choosing Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services and double-click Messenger. Click Stop and from the Startup type list,choose Disabled to prevent Messenger from auto loading. Kill Windows Messenger for good by following Microsoft’s instructions for removing it at http://support.


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Send a message to other network users by choosing Control Panel ->

Enable the Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) for each of your connections (broadband and dialup) separately and, if you’re sharing an Internet connection, enable it only on the PC directly connected to the Internet.

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For information about your connection, choose Start -> All Programs -> Accessories

To lock your computer when it is operating in a domain environment, press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] and click the Lock Computer option.To unlock the computer, press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del], and type your password.



Enable the Internet Connection Firewall to protect your computer

Protect your Media Player’s anonymity when you visit a Web site




Configure Windows quickly and easily
To disable the autorun feature, right-click the CD icon, choose Properties -> AutoPlay tab and then disable autoplay for individual file types from the list.

Theme list, choose Windows Classic and click OK. Alter the size of your Windows Recycle bin by right-clicking the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop, choose Properties and alter the percentage.


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Visit typography/cleartype/ to download and run the Microsoft Clear Type Tuning Control to configure Clear Type for your computer.


Add an image to a folder to display when the folder appears in a list displayed in Thumbnail view. Right-click the folder, choose Properties -> Customize tab and click Choose Picture. Select an image and click Open -> OK. Configure the columns which display when viewing a folder in Details view by right-clicking a column header and enable or disable a category in the list. Choose More to see more options.

Enable the sound icon in the system tray and get easy access to your volume controls

To view system files which Windows XP keeps hidden, in Windows Explorer choose Tools -> Folder Options -> View tab and enable the ‘Display the contents of system folders’checkbox.



To add a volume control icon to your taskbar, choose Control Panel -> Sounds and Audio -> Volume tab and enable the ‘Place volume icon in the Taskbar’ checkbox, and click OK.


Set Windows to clear the Pagefile on shutdown for added security by locating the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\ Control\Session Manager\Memory Management key and set the ClearPageFileAtShutdown value to 1. Be warned that shutdown may now take longer.


Change your Welcome screen image by choosing Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts, open your account and click Change my picture. Locate and select a picture to use and click Change Picture or click Browse to use an image on disk.


To add a frequently used program to your Quick Launch toolbar drag the icon on to the Quick Launch area and place it where you want it to appear.


Configure the power button on your PC by choosing Control Panel -> Power Options -> Advanced tab and in the Power Buttons area select what should happen if you press the power button.


Set Windows to show extensions for all known file types so you’ll be able to identify executable files which arrive as email attachments. From My Computer choose Tools -> Folder Options -> View tab and clear the ‘Hide file extensions for known file types’checkbox.


Do you prefer the old Windows Start menu to the new? Right-click the Start button, choose Properties -> Classic Start menu -> Customize to set up your new Start menu.


Add the Address bar to your taskbar to quickly launch programs or Web pages. Right-click the taskbar and choose Toolbars -> Address. Double-click it to open or close it.


To return to the classic Windows interface, rightclick the desktop and choose Properties -> Themes tab and, from the



Make Windows Explorer start like My Computer by right-clicking your Windows



Removing installed components

Many programs don’t appear in the Add/Remove Windows Components dialog. Here’s how to put them there

Open Notepad and choose File -> Open. Navigate to the Windows\inf folder and type the filename Sysoc.inf. Click Open to open this Setup information file in Notepad. Choose Edit -> Replace.


In the Find what text box, type Hide. Don’t put anything in the Replace With box and click Replace All (this removes the word Hide from all the entries and means they won’t be hidden). Click Cancel and then File -> Save and File -> Exit.


Open the Control Panel and choose Add/Remove Programs and then Add/Remove Windows Components. In the dialog many Windows items such as Games and WordPad can now be removed.





Explorer icon, choose Properties. In the Target area after the entry %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe, add this text and click OK:
/n, /e, /select, C:\


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Need to find your SendTo folder? Choose Start -> Run, type SendTo and click OK.


To add a program to the top of your Start menu so it always appears in that position, right-click the program in your Start menu and click ‘Pin to Start menu’.


To empty the list of documents in your My Recent Documents folder, right-click Start, choose Properties -> Customize -> Advanced tab and click the Clear List button.To stop storing items in the folder, disable ‘List my most recently opened documents’. To see what’s in your My Recent Documents folder (you might be surprised what’s there), choose Start -> Run and type %UserProfile%\Recent.You’ll see shortcuts to files you’ve used recently.

To make folders and drives accessible from the Send To menu drag and drop shortcuts to these into your \Documents and Settings\<user name>\SendTo folder.



You can configure Windows Explorer to start looking much like My Computer

Better multiple users management
To switch between currently logged in users, press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] to open the Task Manager and click the Users tab. Right-click the user name to switch to and click Connect.

When you’re making changes that affect your PC’s performance, remember that most can only be made if you’re logged in as System Administrator.

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Choose Control Panel -> User Accounts and choose the ‘Change the way users log on or off and disable the Welcome screen’option. Provided you’re not using a network, you can use Shared Documents to place documents for all users to access. You’ll find it in the Other Places area of your My Documents folder.

Advanced button and select Local Users and Groups: Users. Right-click the user to change, click Properties -> General tab and enable the ‘Password never expires’checkbox. Manage the disk space each user has access to by rightclicking the drive in My Computer -> Properties -> Quota.


Add a Guest account to enable others to use your computer by choosing Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts, click Guest and then Turn On the Guest Account.


To copy a user profile, choose Control Panel -> System -> Advanced tab and click User Profiles: Settings. Click the profile to copy, click Copy To and then select the location to copy the profile to.To allocate permission to use this profile, click the Change button.


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Disable the Welcome screen and replace it with a login dialog for added security.

Stop passwords from expiring in Windows XP Pro by choosing Start -> Run, type control userpasswords2 and press [Return]. Choose the Advanced tab -> Advanced user management:


Protect against losing a password by creating a password reset disk. Choose Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts. Click your account name and choose ‘Prevent a forgotten password’ to start the Wizard.



Implement Fast User Switching

Use Fast User Switching so one user doesn’t have to close down for another to login

To enable Fast User Switching, choose Control Panel -> User Accounts, Change the way users log on or off and enable the ‘Use Fast User Switching’ checkbox.


To ensure the dial-up connection stays connected when Fast User Switching is enabled, choose Start -> Run, type Regedit. Locate the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon.


Right-click in the right-hand pane and choose New -> String Value, type KeepRasConnections, then double-click it and set its value to 1. Restart your PC.





Stay in control of files and folders
Make a compressed folder by right-clicking the desktop and choose New -> Compressed (zipped) Folder.Then drag and drop files on to the folder that appears on your desktop. Options -> Copy Music tab. Adjust the slider to decrease file size or increase quality. When you store all your documents, pictures, music and so on in folders inside your My Documents folder, they’ll be handy for backing up and they won’t be affected by a System Restore.



It’s on the CD
Check out the Windows XP installation CD for extra features
On the XP Home edition CD is a back-up and restore tool NTBACKUP, some extra fonts and the USMT command line components.There’s also the networking protocol NetBEUI that’s included for compatibility with older OSes. Read more about this and learn how to install it, if required, at com/windowsxp/pro/using/ itpro/networking/netbeui.asp. Both CD versions include the Citrix ICA client for



Set the size of the music files you to rip depending on the quality you want


Password protect a compressed folder by opening it and choose File -> Add a Password.Type the password and then again to confirm it and click OK.


button. Enable the Encrypt contents to secure data checkbox. Shortcut renaming a folder or file by selecting it and press [F2].Type the new name and press [Return].

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When you can’t access a file copied from a CD, chances are its Read only attribute needs removal. Right-click the file in My Computer, choose Properties and disable the Read-only checkbox.


the folder.

Add files to a compressed folder by dragging and dropping them on to

When you run the Disk Cleanup tool, select the Compress old files option to compress files you haven’t used in a while to save space.Windows will display these files in a different colour to indicate that they’re compressed.


So you can click a hyperlink in one folder to move automatically to a second folder, create a shortcut to the second folder in the first one. Reset file associations by holding [Shift] as you rightclick a file in My Computer. Choose Open With, choose the program to open it with and enable the ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’checkbox. Adjust the size of music files copied to your PC by opening Windows Media Player and choose Tools ->

Configure how a folder appears by right-clicking the folder in My Computer, choose Properties -> Customize and choose the template to use to display items in the folder, for example documents, photo album and so on.


Encrypt files on a computer running Windows XP Professional by right-clicking the file in My Computer -> choose Properties -> General tab -> Advanced



Rename a group of similar files (such as images downloaded from your camera), by displaying the containing folder in Thumbnails or Details view, select the files to rename, right-click the first, choose Rename and type the name, for example Vacation2003.jpg. All files will be named Vacation2003(1).jpg, Vacation2003(2).jpg and so on.


The Microsoft TechNet Web site includes information about the Support tools on the Windows CD

Improved printing options
Print photos from your My Pictures folder by selecting them, then choose File -> Print to start the Photo Printing Wizard.This enables you to select the printer and layout to use – some printers make it possible to print multiple pictures on to a single sheet.


When you use more than one set of settings for your printer, speed up making changes by installing a second copy of your printer and configure it with the alternate settings.Then instead of changing printer settings each time, select a different printer.


Windows: gain added extras
Play it Bill! Why not track down and play the original Windows start-up music? you can find it at: \windows\oobe\ system32\images\title.wma.

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Locate characters which aren’t on the keyboard by choosing Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Character Map. Choose your font and locate the character. Read its [Alt] keystroke from the bottom-right corner of the dialog.


It’s easy to print your pictures with the built in photo printing wizard in Windows XP

To capture a still image from a video clip so that you can save it as a file, import the clip into Windows Movie Maker and play it. Press Stop at the point to capture, click Take Picture and type a filename.


The Windows Plus pack now comes in two editions, for Microsoft Plus! For Windows and Digital Media Edition (DME). Find more information at PlusHome.asp including a trial download for DME. Choose Start -> Run, type iexpress and press [Return] to run Iexpress 2.0. This handy utility creates selfextracting and self-installing files for


connection to Citrix terminal servers, the program TTPS that enables you to check packet data on an IP network and The Distributed Management Task Force’s Common Information Model v2.5 for computer management. On the XP Professional disc is a phone book administrator and the Windows NT 4.0 Internet Authentication Service. Also on the disks you’ll find a support\tools folder that includes a clutch of tools for supporting Windows XP. There’s a Windows installer file (Suptools.msi) to use to install these Support Tools on your PC. You’ll find a Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, Remote Desktop Client and tools for Remote Installation Server deployments. Visit prodtechnol/winxppro/ proddocs/tools_overview.asp to learn more.







Sending faxes

Did you know that Windows XP has a tool for sending and receiving faxes from your PC? You do now!

Install the fax tool by choosing Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs -> Add/Remove Windows Components, Enable the Fax Services checkbox and click Next to install it.


Choose Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Communications -> Fax -> Fax Console to run the Fax Configuration Wizard. You can now set it up with your details, fax number and modem and decide how you want to handle incoming faxes.


Compose a fax from the Fax Console by choosing File -> Send a Fax and complete the details in the Send Fax Wizard. You can use contact details from your Address book to automate filling in recipient information.


distributing applications and files to others. To access Windows wizards to perform common Windows tasks, choose Start -> Help And Support -> Index and type Wizards to see a clickable list of them.

Stay on top of the desktop


Make your cursor more interesting by changing the pointer style. There’s plenty to choose from, including these rather attractive dinosaurs

To create your own font characters, choose Start -> Run, type Eudcedit and click OK at the first dialog. Use the 64 x 64 grid to create your character. Choose Edit -> Save Character to save it.


Select from a range of mouse pointers by opening the Control Panel and choose Mouse, Pointers tab and choose a pointer from the displayed list.


To edit the contents of your Start menu, right-click it and choose Open or Open All Users. You’re able to add and remove program groups or shortcuts as required, for a more efficient way of working.


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To locate your new character, choose Start -> All Programs, Accessories,

System Tools, Character Map and choose the All Fonts (Private Characters) font. Click your character, pick Select and then simply copy and paste it into your document.

To display a list of recently used documents on your Start menu, in Windows XP Home edition, right-click Start, choose Properties -> Customize -> Advanced tab and enable the ‘List my most recently opened Documents’ checkbox.


To remove the name from a desktop icon, right-click it, choose Rename and hold down [Alt] as you type 255 on the numbers pad and then press [Return].


When a Windows Explorer screen is open, you can set it to toggle it to display at full screen size without a title bar, toolbars or any Windows taskbar by pressing [F11].


They’re small but they can be annoying, so to remove the arrows from your desktop shortcuts, locate the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Lnkfile key in your Registry and remove the IsShortcut value.


Add a shortcut key to launch any program by rightclicking its icon, choose Properties -> Shortcut tab, click in the Shortcut key area and press a key. Windows will add [Ctrl] + [Alt] to it.


Open multiple programs from the Start menu at one time by holding down [Shift] as you click the Start menu – keep it pressed until you’re done opening applications.


Use the tool Eudcedit to create your own custom font characters

Alphabetise your Start menu programs list by choosing Start -> All Programs, right-click any entry in the list and choose ‘Sort by Name’.


Why not display an indicator in the status bar for your broadband or dial-up connection? Choose My Network Places -> View Network Connections, right-click the connection, choose Properties and then enable the ‘Show icon in notification area when connected’ checkbox.






To improve writing performance for a USB Zip drive,from My Computer right-click your Zip drive,choose Properties -> Hardware tab -> Properties tab -> Policies tab and enable the ‘Optimize for performance’option.

Shortcut City
handy 96 Thesework ofWindows key shortcuts make quick many day-to-day tasks
[Windows Key] + [L] [Windows Key] + [U [Windows Key] + [R] [Windows Key] + [F] [Windows Key] + [E] [Windows Key] + [D] [Windows Key] + [M] [Windows Key] + [Shift] + [M] [Windows Key] + [Ctrl] + [F] [Windows Key] + [F1] [Windows Key]+ [Break] [Windows Key] + [Tab] Lock the computer Displays the Utility Manager Run dialog Search dialog (think of it as File Search) My Computer Toggle Desktop on/off Minimise all Windows Restore all minimised Windows Search for computer Displays the Help and Support Center Displays the System Properties dialog Scroll through the taskbar buttons

PC performance enhancements
Speed up your system by disabling showy but time-consuming animations. Choose Control Panel -> System -> Advanced tab, and choose Performance: Settings, then enable the Adjust for best performance option.



To reduce booting time, use your computer’s BIOS setup feature to configure your computer to start up from your hard drive first, and a CD or floppy second.


To speed up the Start menu, locate HKEY_CURRENT_USER\C ontrol Panel\Desktop in the registry and decrease its MenuShowDelay to the delay in milliseconds before the menu displays (100 is a good choice).


No Windows key on your keyboard? Use [Ctrl] + [Esc] instead to display the Start menu.

Enable or disable grouping of files from the same program on your Taskbar by right-clicking the taskbar and choose Properties, select or deselect the Group similar taskbar buttons checkbox and click OK.


Launch your browser with a Web site loaded in it by choosing Start -> Run and type the site’s URL, for example

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Improve performance for background processes by giving them equal time with foreground jobs. Choose Control Panel -> System -> Advanced tab and in the Processor scheduling area select Background services.


For a super-fast, warningfree shutdown, press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del], click Shutdown and hold [Ctrl] as you click Turn Off. Make sure you’ve saved everything first.


Toggle your desktop icons on and off by right-clicking the desktop and choose Arrange Icons By -> Show Desktop Icons.

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Add a custom toolbar to your desktop by rightclicking the taskbar, choose Toolbars and then New Toolbar to configure it. When you have more programs than can display in a single column, the All Programs menu will display multiple columns. Change this to a single column with scroll arrows by right-clicking Start, choose Properties -> Advanced tab and enable the Scroll Programs option.

Force Windows menus to display underlined shortcut keys whenever they are available (and not just when [Alt] is pressed), by right-clicking the desktop, choose Properties -> Appearance tab -> Effects in the Appearance tab and disable ‘Hide underlined letters for keyboard navigation until I press the [Alt] key’. To hear an audible sound when your Caps Lock, Num Lock or Scroll Lock key is pressed choose Control Panel -> Accessibility Options -> Keyboard tab and enable the ‘Use ToggleKeys’ checkbox.

Track your CPU usage from the System Tray by pressing [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] to run the Task Manager and then minimise it so it displays a live CPU usage chart in the System Tray.


View your computer’s performance graphically by choosing Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Performance to see a chart displaying the Pages/Second rate, Average Disk Queue Length and % Processor Time that are indicators of memory, disk and processor performance.



Add other indicators to this chart by clicking the ‘+’icon and choose a Performance object to track and then a counter from the list. Click the Explain button to learn more about what that counter can tell you.



Is your PC running slowly? Check the CPU usage with Task Manager


You can use a .reg file to automatically add a key to the Registry. Simply double-click it to add it.To see what it contains, open it in Notepad.




To enable Hibernate mode for Windows XP, choose Start -> Turn off computer.Then press and hold down [Shift].The Stand By button changes to become the Hibernate button that you can click to hibernate your PC.


As well as the Start Menu you can create your own toolbar to go with it

Enable Hibernation if it isn’t currently enabled by choosing Control Panel -> Power Options -> Hibernate tab, and check the ‘Enable hibernate’checkbox. If the tab isn’t there, your hardware doesn’t support Hibernation.


The Performance chart can be configured to show you whatever performance indicator




If you have 512Mb or more of RAM, stop Windows XP paging to disk for a performance boost. Locate the Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\ SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\ Control\Session Manager\ Memory Management and set the DisablePagingExecutive value to 1.



On Windows XP Professional edition run gpedit.msc from the Run box to access the Group Policy Editor. It enables you to configure a clutch of options that would otherwise require Registry edits.




Use Bootcfg.exe to edit your Windows XP Professional Boot.ini file. Choose Start -> Run, type cmd and press [Return].Type bootcfg /? to see the options available.You can find out more information at ?kbid=289022.


Find and download the free PowerToys for Windows XP at home/downloads/powertoys.asp. These include the very useful TweakUI program that enables you to access system settings that you can’t otherwise alter.


Speeding up your PC isn’t hard, disabling the Indexing Service is one way

If you need to free up room, why not get rid of the software you don’t use anymore?

To select the default Operating System to use on a PC with a partitioned drive, click Control Panel -> System -> Advanced tab, choose the ‘Startup and recovery Settings’button and then Edit.


Speed up your computer by disabling the Indexing service. Choose Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services and disable the Indexing Service.


Still more programs that launch when your PC starts can be found using the program Msconfig. Choose Start -> Run, type msconfig and press [Return]. Click the Startup tab and disable any programs you don’t want to run at startup.


you to get searching faster. Choose Start -> Search and choose Change Preferences -> Change files and folders search behaviour and click the Advanced option. Speed up Windows shutdown by automatically killing applications which aren’t responding. To do this, use regedit to locate the Registry key HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\ Control Panel\Desktop and set its AutoEndTasks entry to a value of 1.


Use the Chkdsk tool to check your drive and fix any errors. Choose Start -> Run, type chkdsk c: /f to check disk C and fix any errors. Use chkdsk /? to learn more.


Free up disk space on your PC to improve performance. From My Computer, right-click your drive and choose Properties -> General tab -> Disk Cleanup. Select the files to remove (including emptying the Trash), and click OK.


Alter the priority for a program up or down by pressing [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] to open the Task Manager, rightclick the program and choose ‘Go to process’. Right-click the process, choose Set Priority and adjust it up or down.


Bypass the Scanner and Camera Wizard and access your digital camera as a drive using My Computer or Windows Explorer.


Check your Start menu for programs which run every time Windows launches. Choose Start -> All Programs -> Startup and remove any shortcuts for programs that you don’t use on a regular basis.


Start any program with a preset priority using the Start command. For example, type ‘start /high calc’in a command prompt to run the calculator at high priority. See www. winxppro/proddocs/start.asp.


Locate programs that you don’t use and consider removing them to free disk space by choosing Control panel -> Add or Remove Programs and choose to sort by Date last used.



Replace the Windows XP default search dialog with one that enables

If you regularly work with large documents, increase performance by increasing your virtual memory size. Choose Control Panel -> System -> Advanced tab and click the




Schedule a task

Keep your computer running smoothly by scheduling clean-up tasks to run at regular intervals

To set up a schedule, choose Control Panel -> Scheduled Tasks, Add Scheduled Task to run the wizard. Click Next and from the list, select the application to schedule.


If the tool isn’t listed, click Browse and locate the executable file on your drive. Most Windows tools are in the Windows or Windows\system32 folder. Select it and click Open.


Type a name for the task and select the frequency to run the program. Click Next and select a time to run the task. Click Next and type your user name and password.





Performance: Settings button -> Advanced tab. Click Change and increase the size allocated. Unless you’re using graphic applications, you can trim your colour display to 16-bit colour and not lose much in the way of visuals but gain some performance enhancements. Right-click the desktop, choose Properties -> Settings and choose Medium (16-bit) colour.

Use the Registry to locate and remove programs which start with Windows but which don’t appear in the startup menu or in the msconfig Startup dialog. Locate the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/ Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/ Run key and remove entries that relate to programs which run at startup and which you want to disable. If you’re unsure what a particular item relates to, don’t remove it, just to be safe.



To find out how long your Windows XP Professional computer has been running, from the command line (Start -> Run, type cmd and press [Return]) type systeminfo and click OK. Read off the System Up Time entry.


Explorer window into the command line window to save typing its name and path. To clear all restore points, choose Start -> All Programs -> Accessories > System Tools -> System Restore and enable the ‘Turn off System Restore on all Drives’option.Then click Apply. Answer Yes when prompted that this will delete all Restore Points.


When you need to run a program from the command line, drag and drop the program from a Windows


Essential Windows troubleshooting advice
Run Windows in compatibility mode when a game or other program requires an earlier version of windows. Right-click the program’s executable file, choose Properties -> Compatibility tab, and enable the ‘Run this program in compatibility mode for…’checkbox. Choose the Operating System that the program is compatible with.

you’re looking for and add to the end and you’ll get results from that site only. When your movies don’t play smoothly, try running an older version of the Windows Media Player. Find Windows Media Player v6.4 on your disk at c:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\mplayer2.exe.

your desktop by displaying it and press [F5]. If your icons continue to display erratically, enlarge the icon cache by locating the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer. Alter or create a DWORD called MaxCachedIcons and set its value to 2048 (Decimal).




Is your drive FAT or NTFS? Find out which by right-clicking the drive name in My Computer and choose Properties -> General tab and read the File system details from the dialog.


When your computer’s clock is wrong, synchronise it with an Internet time server by double-clicking the time on the Taskbar and choose the Internet Time tab. Enable the ‘Automatically synchronize with an Internet time server’checkbox, choose a server and click Update Now.


When you’re trying to delete a file and you receive an error saying a file is in use by another process, press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] to launch the Task Manager, and locate and kill the explorer.exe process.


Undo a driver update by rolling back to a previous driver. Choose Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> Device Manager. Click the device to undo the driver, click Properties -> Driver tab -> Roll Back Driver.


Convert a FAT drive to NTFS by choosing Start -> Programs -> Accessories > Command Prompt and type CONVERT C: /FS:NTFS.The process is one way and can take some time. Find more information and learn some precautions to take before you perform the command at ?kbid=314097.


To start up Explorer again, in the Task Manager, choose File -> New Task (Run...) and type explorer.exe and click OK.


Need help from the Microsoft Web site? Skip Microsoft Search and use Google instead.Type the keywords


If your desktop goes awry and your icons appear incorrectly or they don’t display at all, try refreshing


To check your hard disk for errors, open My Computer, and right-click the drive to check. Choose Properties -> Tools -> Check Now. Select ‘Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors’and click Start.


When a newly installed driver makes your computer stop working correctly, restore your computer to an earlier a prior configuration by rebooting, press [F8] to launch Safe mode and choose the ‘Last Known Good Configuration’option.



If Defrag stops running and never completes, reboot your computer in Safe mode and run it again from there.


Capture a screen shot of an error message to help you identify the problem. Press [Alt] + [Print Screen] and then paste the resulting image into Paint or WordPad and save or print the file for reference.


To trace system or application errors, right-click My Computer, click Manage -> Event viewer and then either Applications or System. Double-click the error to obtain information about it to help you trace the problem



Track down causes of errors by accessing the Event viewer

Stop the reporting of errors to Microsoft by choosing Control Panel -> System -> Advanced tab, Error Reporting and enable the ‘Disable error reporting’option and the ‘But notify me when critical errors occur’checkbox.


Read your file system details from the disk drive properties dialog




Use the program Sysedit to open and edit your system files such as autoexec.bat, config.sys, system.ini and win.ini. Choose Start -> Run, type Sysedit and press [Return]. If it’s missing in Windows Me, you can use msconfig instead.


Windows 98 and Me: specific tips
Back up your dial-up settings by opening your Dial-up Networking folder and drag and drop the file to a floppy or Zip disk – it’s stored as a .dun file.




Change its look
Here are five quick ways to give your computer a visual makeover
Replace the Windows desktop image with a photo you’ve taken. Rightclick the desktop, choose Properties -> Desktop, click Browse to find the image and choose a Position option. You can also use the 173 contents of your My Pictures folder (or any other folder), as a screensaver if you right-click the desktop, choose Properties -> Screensaver and select My Pictures Slideshow > Settings -> Browse to choose the folder to use. Once you’ve set up 174 your slide show or any

Install a subset of the tools in the Resource Kit from your Windows 98 CD by running the file setup.exe in the \tools\reskit folder.Then choose Programs -> Windows 98 Resource Kit -> Tools Management Console.


To bypass checking the floppy drive as your Windows 98 computer boots, right-click My Computer, choose Properties -> Performance tab -> File System button and click the Floppy Disk tab. Disable the ‘Search for new floppy disk drives each time your computer starts’ option.


Use Sysedit to edit a range of Windows files

the ‘Typical role of this computer’list choose the role which best describes what your computer does: Desktop computer, Mobile or Docking station or Network Server. Create a list of files in a folder so you can print it using a DOS command. Open a DOS window and type a command in this format, specifying the directory to list and the text file to store it in. For example: dir c:\windows -> filelist.txt.


Use the program WinDiff from the Resource Kit to compare files – run the program and choose File -> Compare Files. Differences between two files (for example, two copies of your computer’s Registry settings) will be highlighted and you can press [F8] to move from one file to the other.


To start your Windows 98 computer in Safe mode, turn on the PC and hold down [Ctrl] as soon as anything appears on the screen. Keep holding it until the Microsoft Windows 98 Startup Menu appears and choose Safe Mode.



Restart Windows 98 more quickly by choosing Start -> Shut Down -> Restart and hold down [Shift] as you click OK.

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Add the QuickRes icon to your System Tray and use it to alter your display settings. Right-click your desktop, choose Properties -> Settings tab -> Advanced button and enable the ‘Show settings icon on task bar’option and click OK. Click the icon to change your display settings.

You can remove the startup password dialog by opening the Control Panel, choose Passwords -> Change Passwords tab, click Change Windows Password and OK.Type your old password, leave the new one blank and click OK twice. Click the User Profiles tab and enable the ‘All users of this PC use the same preferences and desktop settings’option.The changes take place next time you start your PC.


Download and install TweakUI for Windows 98 from com/ntworkstation/downloads/ PowerToys/Networking/NTTweakUI. asp, then run it by opening the Control Panel and choosing TweakUI.


Optimise your Windows 98 computer by rightclicking My Computer, choose Properties -> Performance tab -> File System -> Hard Disk tab. From


When your computer is running slow, check for memory leakage by closing all open windows, right-click My Computer, choose Properties -> Performance tab and check the System Resources which should be around 80 per cent. If it’s considerably less, restart your PC.


Use the Desktop Items, Web tab to pick a Web page to display on your desktop


Add the Control Panel icon to your Quick Launch toolbar for quick access to it. Open My Computer and drag the Control Panel icon on to the Quick Launch toolbar and answer Yes to the prompt to create the shortcut.


If you’re left handed, set your mouse for lefthanded operation by choosing Control Panel, click Mouse and choose the left-handed option.

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Double-click any font file to see what characters it contains

Use the system file checker to locate system files that need repairing or replacing because they’re corrupt or out of date. Choose Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Information -> Tools -> System File Checker.

other screensaver, you can run it on demand if you create it as a desktop shortcut. Open your Windows\system32 folder and locate the .scr file for your screensaver. Drag a shortcut of it on to the desktop. To change the desktop 175 icons used for tools like My Computer, right-click your desktop, choose Properties -> Desktop tab and click the Customize Desktop button. Click the icon, click Change Icon and select an icon to use. You’ll find more icons by browsing shell32.dll and moricons.dll in the Windows\system32 folder. By choosing the Web 176 tab you can also select a Web page to display in a resizable window on your desktop.





them loading when Windows launches. Configure a folder to display in Thumbnail view by opening the folder in Windows Explorer, right-click and choose Properties. Check the ‘Enable Thumbnail View’checkbox. Open the folder and choose View -> Thumbnails.




Add a new folder to your Start menu to display your Control Panel

Windows 98 Registry checker will check your Registry and back it up for you

Preview the characters in a font by double clicking its icon in the Windows\Fonts folder, or any other folder it is stored in. A dialog opens showing what it looks like.


Programs -> Accessories -> Accessibility -> On-Screen Keyboard. You can now click on keys with your mouse to ‘type’ in any Windows program. To cancel a print job before it is complete, choose Start -> Settings > Printers and double-click your printer’s icon. Right-click the document to stop and choose Cancel Printing.

Configure Windows 98 menus so they cascade rather than scroll by locating the Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\ Windows\CurrentVersion \Explorer\ Advanced. Click in the right panel and create a new string value called StartMenuScrollPrograms. Double-click it and set its value to false.


Start -> Run -> tlocmgr to run it. An icon appears in the System Tray that you can click to set up alternate dialling locations or use the Phone Dialer. If your PC won’t go into standby or suspended mode, use the program Pmtshoot to identify what is causing the problem. Read more about it and download it from http://support


To remove temporary files choose Start -> Find > Files or Folders, in the Named box type *.tmp and click Find Now. Remove all files except those with today’s date.



When programs you’ve already removed from your computer are still listed in your Add/Remove Programs dialog, remove them by locating the Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Uninstall and remove the program’s entry.


To open the Find files dialog with a single click, press [F3] when the focus is on the desktop, an Explorer window, a folder window or even the Taskbar.


Find many of your old favourite DOS tools on your Windows 98 CD in the tools\MSDOS folder. Drag and drop them to your Windows folder to access them from there.


Use the Maintenance Wizard to schedule system maintenance tasks by choosing Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Maintenance Wizard, click Express and then Next. Set the time period, and click Next -> Finish.


Make sure your version of Windows is up to date, at the very least including critical updates, by visiting www. critical/default.asp and follow the links to the Windows Update site.


Improve performance for your Zip drive by choosing Control Panel -> System -> Performance tab -> File System -> Removable Disk tab, check the ‘Enable write-behind caching on all removable disk drives’checkbox and click OK


Always back up your Registry before making changes. Choose Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Information -> Tools -> Registry Checker.This scans your Registry and then offers to make a backup of it.


Locate details for your current TCP/IP Configuration including your IP address by choosing Start -> Run.Type winipcfg and press [Return].

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Create a bootable disk for Windows 98 by formatting a floppy with the system files included. Copy c:\windows\command\scanreg.exe and c:\windows\himem.sys on to it and add the line device=a:\himem.sys to the disk’s config.sys file.


To configure a network for two Windows 98 or Windows Me computers, use the Home Networking Wizard by choosing Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Communications -> Home Networking Wizard.


When a Windows 98 program window goes missing, press [Alt] + [Spacebar] to display the window’s system menu, press [M] to select move and use the arrow keys to get the window back.


Although there’s no Copy button in the Help window in Windows Me, the feature is still there if you select text and right-click.


If the drive space maximisers, DoubleSpace and DriveSpace are installed in your C:\windows\ command folder (Dblspace.bin and Drvspace.bin) remove them to stop


Check for devices that have not started and may cause problems with your system by choosing Start -> Run, type ASD and click [Return] to run the Automatic Skip Driver program. You can opt to skip devices causing problems next time you boot your PC. Manage Dial-Up Networking connections on the road using the Telephony Location Manager: choose

To restore your Registry if your computer won’t start, use your boot disk then change to your C: drive and type the command scanreg\restore.You’ll get a choice of backed-up Registry files to restore to.



Add a Control Panel folder to your Start menu by right-clicking Start, choose Open, right-click on the folder background and choose New -> Folder, then type this and press [Return]:


Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069A2DD-08002B30309D}


To see the keyboard on the screen in Windows Me, choose Start ->


We think that we’ve printed enough tips here to get Windows into tip-top condition, but if 200 tips aren’t enough for you then try out the cover CD-ROM and the toolkit. You’ll find a further 50 tools so that you can get even more out of your PC.