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Windows 98 Main Index 1 | Windows 98 Index II | Windows Me | Windows XP | Updated 09/09/03

 

SETTING THE CLOCK TO MILITARY TIME

A reader who works in the armed forces asked if it was possible to view the Windows 98 clock in military time. You know, "0800 hours" and all that Colonel-Potter-type stuff. Sir, yes sir! Just go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, and double-click Regional Settings. Click the Time tab and under Time Style, choose HH:mm:ss. Finally, click OK to exit.


A SHORTCUT FOR WINDOWS EXPLORER

On those occasions when you have to open the Windows Explorer, you don't have to go to Start, Programs to get there. You can just press Windows Key-E to open Explorer at any time.


HOW TO GET RID OF THE SHORTCUT ARROWS

A reader wrote in asking if it was possible to get rid of the shortcut arrows for his desktop shortcuts. It is, but the safest way of doing so is by using the TweakUI program. This free program is available at free download sites like  Beats the heck out of searching through the somewhat arcane System Registry.

http://download.cnet.com/

and it gives you a bit more control in customizing your Windows interface. Once you've downloaded TweakUI (make sure to get version 1.33), just open the program and go to Explorer. Click the None button under Shortcut Overlay and then click OK to save changes.


CLEARING THE WAY FOR A DRAG-AND-DROP

Have you ever grabbed something and started dragging it only to find that your destination is obscured by an open window? Here's a little trick that will help in these situations. Continue to hold the item you're dragging, and move it over your system tray. Keep it still for a second or two, and every open window automatically minimizes, leaving you an open desktop.


GETTING TO THE WINDOWS FOLDER WITH THE RUN COMMAND

If you're the type of user who regularly tinkers in his or her Windows file, you know what a pain it is navigating to the Windows folder via the mouse. Well, using the Run dialog box, there's a lightning-fast way to open the Windows folder. Go to Start, Run. Type ..

(that's two periods) in the Open box and click OK. The Windows folder pops open for you instantly.


PUTTING FIND ON YOUR QUICKLAUNCH TOOLBAR

If you like, you can put the Find command on your Quicklaunch Toolbar so it'll be available with a single mouse click. First, open Find by going to Start, Find, Files Or Folders. Here you'll want to set up the Find parameters so they'll be most useful to you, selecting the drive or folder you think you're likely to be looking in. Then select File, Save Search and an icon with the search criteria appears on your desktop. Simply drag this icon to your Quicklaunch Toolbar and your Find command is always easily accessible.


OPENING THE WINDOWS ADDRESS BOOK FROM THE RUN MENU

Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express actually make use of a small Microsoft program called Windows Address Book to store contact information. You can access Address Book at any time by choosing Start, Run, typing wab, and pressing Enter.


GETTING RID OF MULTIPLE USERS

Our last tip showed you how to clear the Windows Password box to avoid having to log in to Windows whenever you start your computer. If this tip didn't work for you, your computer might be setup for multiple users. If you're the only person using your computer and you don't need different sets of saved preferences, you'll want to change this setting. Go to Start, Settings, Control Panel and open the Passwords icon. Then click the User Profiles tab and click the All Users Of This Computer Use The Same Preferences And Desktop Settings button. Click OK to exit and save changes.


GETTING RID OF THE WINDOWS PASSWORD

A common question here is how to get rid of the Windows password every time you start your computer. If you're the only user, having to press Cancel every time your computer starts is a real pain. Fortunately, it's easy to turn off the Windows password. Go to Start, Settings, Control Panel and open the Passwords icon. Then click the Change Passwords tab and click the Change Windows Password button. Make sure all three fields are completely blank and click the OK button to save changes.


Q. Question & Background:
I Accidentally deleted all files in Quick Launch. How do I get the Quick launch bar back?

A. First of all, rest assured that the Quick Launch Bar is one of windows 98's better features and very much adaptable.  See Bo tips:
Use the Explorer Quick Launch bar to store your Apps,
RE-CREATE SHOW DESKTOP SHORTCUT FROM SCRATCH

Before doing anything, be sure that you have no applications running. Close out all windows before attempting to enable this feature. Once all windows have been closed, restore the Quick Launch Bar by

  1. Right mouse clicking on any empty part of the taskbar.
  2. From the menu that pops up select TOOLBARS.
  3. From that list select QUICK LAUNCH.
  4. Your Quick Launch bar should now be restored.
  5. Once done you may wish to compress the bar so that only a few icons are showing.
  6. To the right of the icons you will notice a double arrow to the right of that will be a || bring your mouse pointer over the || until the pointer turns to a double arrow pointing right and left. Hold down on your left mouse button and drag the bar to your left until it is of the desired length.
  7. You can access the icons that are not showing by left mouse clicking on the double arrow.

PERFORM AUTOMATIC TUNE-UPS

With all the utilities in Windows 98 to help you tune up your system, remembering to run them can be a chore. You'll want to take advantage of the Windows Maintenance Wizard to automate the task. To open this Wizard, choose Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Windows Maintenance. To let the wizard walk you though the steps to customize the tune-up, choose "Change my tune-up settings or schedule" (you won't get this option the first time you run the wizard; you'll go directly to the next step). In the resulting dialog, you must select either the Express or Custom setup option. Unless you're in a big hurry, Custom is the better choice, because it gives you much more control over the details.

In addition to scheduling tune-ups for your system, you can use the Windows Maintenance Wizard to force an immediate tune-up. Choose Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Windows Maintenance, select "Tune up my computer now," and click OK.


USING THE ESCAPE KEY TO STOP A DRAG AND DROP

If you're moving files or folders around on your desktop, you can always stop a drag-and-drop operation by pressing the Esc key before you drop the file or folder. This is useful if you're moving a folder and you suddenly realize you didn't mean to. Pressing Esc leaves the file exactly where it started, without you having to put it back in exactly the right place.


I f you like to have each folder open in its own window but hate having to close each and every one of those windows when you're done, here's a quick tip to tidy up the clutter. Simply hold down the Shift key while clicking the Close icon in the final folder's top-right corner. This closes the folder and all its parent folders.

You can use this trick at any level in the folder hierarchy. For instance, if you open the following series of folders:

My Documents\Correspondence\Current Year\Personal\Family

you can close all five folders by Shift-Closing the Family folder. Alternatively, you can leave the Personal and Family folders open while closing the other three by Shift-Closing the Current Year folder.

By the way, if you want to change the way Windows displays folders, you can access the folder options in Windows 95 by selecting Options from the View Menu in any folder window, then clicking the Folder tab. In Windows 98, select Folder Options from the View Menu, click Settings on the General tab, and adjust the options. In Windows Me, select Folder Options from the Tools Menu and choose the appropriate options in the General tab.


The icons in my Quick Launch bar seem to change every now and then. Same thing happens in Windows Explorer and on the desktop. Why, and what can I do about it?

A:This usually happens when the icon cache in Windows 95, 98 or Me isn't updated properly or if your icon cache is too small to handle all the icons. The cure varies depending on the cause of your particular problem.

  1. Restart Windows in Safe mode. To do so, in Windows 95, reboot, press F8 when you see the Starting Windows 95 message, and choose Safe Mode from the Startup menu. In Windows 98 and Me, reboot, let the computer complete its Power On Self Test (POST) then immediately press and hold down the Ctrl key and choose Safe Mode from the Startup menu.
  2. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the Windows folder. Locate the ShellIconCache file, right-click it and choose Delete from the pop-up menu.
    Note: If you can't locate ShellIconCache, you'll need to set your folder options so you can view hidden files. In Windows 95, select Options from the View Menu in Windows Explorer, click Show All Files, and click OK. In Windows 98, select Folder Options from the View Menu, click the View tab, click Show All Files and click OK. In Windows Me, select Folder Options from the Tools Menu, click the View tab, select Show Hidden Files And Folders and click OK.
  3. Reboot your computer and let Windows load normally.
  1. Click Start, Run, type regedit in the Open box and click OK to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Double-click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, then Software, then Microsoft, then Windows, then CurrentVersion.
  3. Click the explorer key to display its contents on the right.
  4. Right-click in the right pane and choose New, String Value. Name the new value MaxCachedIcons and press Enter.
  5. Double-click MaxCachedIcons, type 2000 in the Value Data box and click OK. You can set this value to anything from 100 to 2000; 500 is the default value.
  6. Close the Registry Editor.

MAKING SURE WINDOWS KNOWS YOUR MONITOR

If you ever notice any kind of irregularities in your monitor display (such as faint vertical lines), you might try double-checking to make sure that Windows knows what kind of monitor you have. There's always that chance that when your computer was first set up, the person doing so didn't bother to specify the monitor type. Right-click on the desktop, choose Properties, then click the Settings tab.


CHECKING SWAP FILE SIZE WITH THE SYSTEM MONITOR

Using System Monitor you can get a visual representation of your Internet connection (See below). You can also use this utility to get an idea of the size of the swap file your system uses. The swap file, remember, is an area on your hard disk that Windows uses to shuffle memory back and forth into RAM. By using a swap file, Windows can run programs that exceed the capacity of the machine's physical RAM. The tradeoff, of course, is that it takes time to swap files back and forth to your hard disk, and this slows performance.

To see how large your swap file is at any given time, first open the System Monitor by going to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Monitor. Then go to Edit, Add Item and choose Memory Manager in the left window. In the right window, choose Swapfile Size and click OK.


TRACKING YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION

If you've ever wanted a visual representation of the quality of your Internet connection, you can use the System Monitor in Windows 98 to take a look. Open the System Monitor by going to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Monitor. As you can see, the System Monitor is a graph that displays information of your choosing. To display information about your Dial-up connection, go to Edit, Add Item and click Dial-up Adaptor (you'll need to connect to the Internet first.) Choose which kind of information you wish to display in the right box and then click OK. System Monitor begins tracking the information you've selected.

To see how that connection is made and where it is routed, try this DOS command
Tracert


Trace your internet connection in DOS

If you have been wondering how your internet connection is going, why it takes so long to connect to that location, or was ever curious where that connection was leading you, try this little know DOS command:

To invoc Trace Certificates do the following:

  1. Click on the Start button

  2. Select the RUN command

  3. Type COMMAND in the open box

  4. When the DOS box opens type
    tracert followed by the command string for example:
    tracert www.zdnet.com
    Will give you a list of servers needed to connect your computer to the server at Ziff Davis website, "ZdNet"

  5. Hit your enter key

  6. Here is an shor example of my server connection (tracert www.zdnet.com)
    2 301 ms 250 ms 255 ms 208.221.74.193
    3 250 ms 267 ms 265 ms bbr1-s410-uni.ctel.net [208.221.72.157]
    4 299 ms 279 ms 261 ms bbr2.ctel.net [208.221.72.130]
    5 310 ms 279 ms 267 ms Serial4-1-1.GW1.BOS1.ALTER.NET [157.130.4.25]
    6 292 ms 267 ms 268 ms 123.ATM3-0.XR1.BOS1.ALTER.NET [146.188.176.234]
    7 313 ms 292 ms * 191.at-1-0-0.XR1.NYC9.ALTER.NET [152.63.16.202]
    8 298 ms 279 ms 268 ms 0.so-2-1-0.XL1.NYC9.ALTER.NET [152.63.23.137]
    9 303 ms 292 ms 304 ms POS6-0.BR1.NYC9.ALTER.NET [152.63.18.225]
    10 336 ms 278 ms 277 ms a6-0-1.nycmny1-ba1.bbnplanet.net [4.0.6.141]
    11 294 ms 279 ms 279 ms p7-0.nycmny1-br1.bbnplanet.net [4.24.6.229]
    12 330 ms 292 ms 290 ms p4-0.nycmny1-br2.bbnplanet.net [4.24.6.226]
    13 325 ms 279 ms 280 ms p5-0.nycmny1-nbr2.bbnplanet.net [4.24.10.85]
    14 304 ms 279 ms 315 ms p6-0.bstnma1-br1.bbnplanet.net [4.24.6.49]
    15 349 ms 279 ms 280 ms p6-1.cambridge1-nbr2.bbnplanet.net [4.0.6.245]
    16 336 ms 279 ms 268 ms p3-0.cambridge1-nbr1.bbnplanet.net [4.0.5.17]
    17 304 ms 290 ms 280 ms p1-1.camcolo-dbe1.bbnplanet.net [4.0.5.161]
    18 316 ms 279 ms 292 ms p5-1-0.cambridge1-colo1.bbnplanet.net [128.11.19
    4.122]
    19 326 ms 291 ms 292 ms www.zdnet.com [205.181.112.65]

    Trace complete.

    With all of this, it's a wonder we can connect at all

Transversly, if you would like a little more detail, try a PING. Use the same commands to get to a DOS box only this time type
ping and hit enter. We will use the same address as before (ping www.zdnet.com)

Pinging www.zdnet.com [205.181.112.65] with 32 bytes of data:

Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Request timed out.

Ping statistics for 205.181.112.65:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 0, Lost = 4 (100% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 0ms, Maximum = 0ms, Average = 0ms

You will recieve the numnber of hops it takes to get to your connection and the list of seervers it passes through to get there

To exit the DOS box type exit and hit your enter key.


TURNING OFF WINDOWS SCRIPTING HOST

You've probably heard that certain kinds of destructive viruses (such as the notorious ILOVEYOU virus) act on your computer by including commands to be executed in Windows Scripting Host. Windows Scripting Host is the Windows equivalent to the old DOS batch file. The Scripting Host allows you to run a series of actions in Windows with a single command, once you understand the relatively arcane Windows scripting language. To turn it off, go to Start, Settings, Control Panel and open Add/Remove Programs. Click the Windows Setup tab, then double-click Accessories. Uncheck Windows Scripting Host (if it's checked), then click OK to save changes. Note that some programs make use of Windows Scripting Host features and may not work properly if you turn the feature off. Test your favorite programs directly after turning off Windows Scripting Host to see if you might have conflicts.


Rename the Recycle Bin - Recuires Registry Edit

(Note: As always, we recommend that you first back up your Registry files--User.dat and System.dat, hidden files on the root of your hard drive.)

First, open the Registry Editor by going to Start, Run and typing

regedit

Then navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}.

It will take a while to sort through that long list of numbers. They are in order, though, so that helps. Once you're there, select ShellFolder. Double-click the Attributes key in the right pane, and change the value from 40 01 00 20 to 50 01 00 20. (Note: As you can see, you only have to change the 40 to a 50.) Click OK, then close the Registry Editor and right-click on your Recycle Bin. You'll now see Rename as one of the options.


GETTING RID OF THE MODEM ICON

If you really like to have a lean and mean system tray, you can set up your Dial-Up Networking not to display the modem icon when you're logged on. First, open Dial-Up Networking by going to Start, Programs, Accessories, Communications, Dial-Up Networking. Right-click on your usual Internet connection and choose Properties. Click on Configure in the Connect Using section, and click on the Options tab. Uncheck the box that says Display Modem Status in the Status Control section and click OK twice to exit.


Remove the " Documents Menu from the Programs | Documents" menu ~ Requires a Registry Edit.

(Note: As always, we recommend that you first back up your Registry files--User.dat and System.dat, hidden files on the root of your hard drive.)

First, go to Start, Run and type

regedit

to launch the Registry Editor. Then navigate to

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Right-click on the white space in the right windowpane and select New, DWORD Value. Name this value NoRecentDocsMenu. Double-click it and then change the number in the Value box to 1. Close RegEdit and restart Windows; the Documents menu will be gone. If you ever want to add it back, you can just navigate back to the same place and change the value to 0.


CHANGING FILE DESCRIPTIONS

When you view a folder in Details view in Windows 98 (which you can do at any time by going to View, Details while in a folder), one of the columns is called File Type. If you like, you can edit these file type descriptions, perhaps to give yourself more information when looking through folders. Just open a folder, go to View, Folder Options, and click the File Types tab. Select any registered file type from the window on the left and then click the Edit button. In the Description Of Type box, you can enter your own text. When finished, click OK twice to exit.


CHANGING A COMPUTER'S OWNER INFORMATION

Don't you hate the fact that your used computer identifies someone else as the registered owner? Whenever you install new programs, you're always prompted with the previous owner's name. It's frustrating. Well, as long as you're comfortable editing the Registry, you can easily change the ownership information. (Note: As always, we recommend that you first back up your Registry files--User.dat and System.dat, hidden files on the root of your hard drive.)

To change the owner information, first go to Start, Run and type

regedit

Press Enter to open the Registry Editor. Navigate to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

In the right pane of the CurrentVersion key, you'll see values named RegisteredOrganization and RegisterdOwner. Just double-click these, enter the new information, and click OK. Close RegEdit and you're done.


TURNING OFF WINDOW ANIMATIONS

Windows takes the liberty of animating all sorts of on-screen processes. When you minimize a window, for instance, a very brief animation shows the window getting smaller until it disappears. These animations are meant to provide clues as to what is happening on screen, but you can speed up your computer's operation a tad by getting rid of them. To get rid of window animations, right-click on the desktop and choose Properties. Click Effects and uncheck the box that says Animate Windows, Menus And Lists. Your computer will look a little "off" at first, but once you get used to it, you'll probably enjoy the extra speed.


RENAMING A FILE OR FOLDER WITH A KEYSTROKE

There are several ways to rename files and folders when browsing your computer, but the fastest may be just to select the file or folder and press F2. The cursor moves to the naming window without your having to fiddle around with more mouse clicking.


RIGHT-CLICKING FROM THE KEYBOARD

Here's a handy keyboard trick that's good for opening contextual menus without using the mouse. Just have your file or folder highlighted on screen, then press Shift-F10 to simulate a right-click from the keyboard. From there, you can use the arrow keys and the Enter key to select something from the pop-up menu.


OPENING MY COMPUTER IN DUAL-PANE MODE

If you want to browse your computer in dual-pane mode (the typical view for Windows Explorer), you can do this quickly. Just hold down the Shift key while double-clicking the My Computer icon.


It bares repeating:

CHANGING A FILE ASSOCIATION WHEN OPENING

The standard way to change the application associated with a certain kind of file is to open a folder and go to View, Folder Options, File Types. It might be easier to change file associations just by changing how you open a file. If you hold down the Shift key while right-clicking on a document, you are given an option called Open With. Select this and then choose the program you want to open this particular kind of file with in the future. Check the box that says Always Use This Program To Open This Type Of File before clicking OK, and the file association changes.


It bares repeating:

ADDING AN APPLICATION TO SEND TO

When you right-click on a file or folder, one of the options in the pop-up menu is the Send To submenu. Normally, you use Send To to create shortcuts or move files around. But you can put an application in the Send To folder as a way to open files. For example, let's say you want to use Notepad to open certain kinds of files. By putting a shortcut to Notepad in the Send To menu, you can right-click on a file and select Send To, Notepad to open it.

To add Notepad to the Send To menu, go to C:\Windows and find the Notepad.exe file. Right-click on it and choose Send To, Desktop As Shortcut. (On some systems, the option appears as Desktop (create shortcut).) Then select your new Notepad shortcut and press Ctrl-X to cut it to the clipboard. Now go back to the Windows folder and find the Send To folder. Paste the Notepad shortcut in the Send To folder and Notepad becomes a Send To option. You can do something similar for any program in Windows.


SPRUCING UP YOUR DESKTOP: USING A PATTERN INSTEAD OF WALLPAPER

If you get tired of having either images or solid colors on your desktop, try using a pattern instead of Wallpaper. These patterns have been around Windows since 3.1, but it's probably been a while since you used one. Right-click on the desktop and select Properties. Select None for Wallpaper, and then click the Pattern button. Choose from one of the patterns (you can tell they were named by computer geeks--one of them is called "Waffle's Revenge") and click OK.


GRADIENT ADDS SPICE TO TITLE BAR

Let's face it: Everyone gets bored with the look of his or her desktop eventually. One cool little tweak that gives your title bar an interesting look is to assign it two colors. Windows automatically creates a nice gradient along the top of all your windows. To try using two colors for your title bars, just right-click on your desktop and select Properties. Click the Appearance tab and under Item select Active Title Bar. Normally, both Color and Color 2 are the same. Choose a different color for Color 2, and your title bars will have a nice looking gradient.


SAVING COLOR SCHEMES

Our last couple of tips highlighted some ways to vary the appearance of your desktop. Another way to alter your computer's look is to choose your own color scheme in the Appearance tab (right-click on the desktop, select Properties, and click the Appearance tab). You can highlight each of the desktop's elements under Item and choose various sizes, colors, and fonts to make it look any way you like. It's nice to know that once you've spent all that time customizing your desktop, you can save your scheme so you can refer to it later. Just click the Save As button and give a name to your settings. Later, you can access these settings under Schemes, the same way you would the factory settings.


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