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Windows XP & Prior  Tips & Tricks
               (Click Tip in list below to see explanation.)

FIND YOUR WINDOWS CD KEY

Find your Windows CD key You can get the CD Key by right-clicking My Computer and choosing Properties. When the System Properties dialog box opens, click the General tab. You'll find the CD Key under Registered User.
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HOW TO GET RID OF WHAT SEEM  TO BE ETERNAL NAMES IN YOUR ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS PROPERTIES DIALOG BOX?

There are two ways to remove programs from the Install/Uninstall tab of the Add/Remove Programs Properties dialog box (the one that appears when you open the Control Panel and double-click Add/Remove Programs).

The first--and easiest--is to use the Tweak UI PowerToy. (See note below for information on obtaining this utility.) Open the Control Panel, double-click Tweak UI, and select the Add/Remove tab. Select the item you'd like to remove from the Install/Uninstall list, click the Remove button, then click Yes to confirm. Repeat these steps for each item you want to remove, then click OK.

(Note: If you don't have the Tweak UI PowerToy, point your Web browser to [ Go There! ] and download powertoy.exe to your folder of choice, such as a PowerToys folder on the des ktop. Double-click this file to extract its contents, then right-click tweakui.inf and select Install. You can now open Tweak UI by double-clicking its icon inside your Control Panel.)

If you don't have Tweak UI you can still clean out the Install/Uninstall list, but you'll need to do a little Registry editing. (Note: As always, back up your Registry files--System.dat and User.dat, hidden files on the root of your hard drive--before proceeding.)

Open the Registry Editor--select Start, Run, type regedit and click OK--and navigate your way to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows \CurrentVersion\Uninstall. In the left pane, with the Uninstall key expanded, right-click any item and select Delete. Click Yes to confirm, and that item is officially off the list. Repeat these steps for each item you'd like to remove, then close the Registry Editor.
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CAN I GET A MENU, PLEASE?

You can use the Shift-F10 keys to open the Microsoft Internet Explorer menu. This a handy way to work with Microsoft Internet Explorer without moving away from the keyboard.
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TO CHANGE THE DEFAULT ADDRESS FOR WINDOWS SOURCE FILES WHEN YOU INSTALL NEW HARDWARE, THE SYSTEM ALWAYS ASKS FOR WINDOWS CD

You can change it to another location using RegEdit. With your backup ready, click Start, Run, type in regedit and press Enter.

For Windows NT:
When RegEdit opens, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\ CurrentVersion.
In RegEdit's right pane, you'll see a key named SourcePath. Double-click its icon and enter into the Edit String dialog box:
    d:\i386 (assuming that D: is your CD-ROM drive) 

Click OK to save your change and close the dialog box. Now choose Registry, Exit to close RegEdit. Restart the computer and the system will now look in d:\i386 for its files.

For Windows 95 or 98
When RegEdit opens, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\ SysDM. In RegEdit's right pane, you'll see a key named SearchLocation Double-click its icon and enter into the Edit String dialog boxd:\win95 (or d:\win98) (assuming that D: is your CD-ROM drive)
Click OK to save your change and close the dialog box. Now choose Registry, Exit to close RegEdit. Restart the computer and the system will now look in d:\ win95 for its files.
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WINDOWS KEY SHORTCUTS

Do you have a Windows key on your keyboard? You may already know that pressing this key displays the Start menu, but did you also know that you can hold it down and press:
  • Windows-E to open Windows Explorer
  • Windows-R to open the Run dialog box
  • Windows-F to open the Find dialog box
  • Windows-F1 to open Windows Help (regardless of program you're working in)
  • F1 by itself to open the current program's Help box
  • Windows-M to minimize all open windows (Shift-Windows-M undo minimize all)
  • Windows-Tab to cycle through the Taskbar buttons
  • Windows-Pause to open the System Properties dialog box
  •  Left and Right Windows keys to open the Start Bar
  • Windows-Break opens the System Properties dialog box
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 USE OPEN WITH TO CHANGE FILE ASSOCIATION

If you frequently open files of a particular type in an application other than the one with which it's associated, it's time for a change. An association change, that is. Change the application with which that file type is associated, so that double-clicking the file opens it in your application of choice.

For example, suppose you prefer to open *.txt files in Microsoft Word instead of in Notepad. So you typically open Microsoft Word, select File, Open, and so on. Now watch this: Click once on any *.txt file in order to select it, then hold down Shift as you right-click this file. In the menu that appears, select Open With. Select the application you'd like to use to open files of this type--in this case, Winword for Microsoft Word--select Always Use This Program To Open This Type Of File, and click OK. Double-click any *.txt file, and it opens in Word automatically (and will from now on)!
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ALT-ERNATE SHUTDOWNS

What command can I use to restart or shut down Windows 95 when the Start button is not available?

You may already know that pressing Alt-F4 closes the currently active window. But what you may not know is that this command is the equivalent of selecting Start, Shut Down IF the focus is currently on the desktop (as opposed to an open window) or IF no windows are open.  So, close all open windows (or place the focus on the desktop), then press Alt-F4 to bring up the Shut Down Windows dialog box. Select an option--Restart or Shut Down--then press Enter.

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STOP DELETED PROGRAMS AND FILES FROM BEING SENT TO THE RECYCLE BIN

Right-click the Recycle Bin desktop item, select Properties, select Do Not Move Files To The Recycle Bin. Remove Files Immediately Upon Delete., and click OK. If you prefer less drastic measures, you can still limit the number of items that wind up in the Recycle Bin, but on a case-by-case basis. To delete an item from your system the first time around (in other words, to bypass the Recycle Bin), right-click the item, then hold down Shift as you select Delete.
(Note: As with disabling the Recycle Bin altogether, you'll still have a small safety net. Even if you have the Display Delete Confirmation Dialog Box option turned off, using Shift-Delete to delete an item still presents you with the Confirm File Delete dialog box.)
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STOP PROGRAMS FROM STARTING EACH TIME YOU START WINDOWS

Can't figure out how to get a program from loading each time you start Windows? There are three places where you can try to stop this annoyance:

The Startup Folde
r
This is the most obvious location for a program reference. Right mouse click on Start, select Open, double clik on Programs, then double click on Startup. If you see a shortcut to the annoying prgoram inside, delete it.

The WIN.INI file Select Start, Run, type "sysedit" and click on OK. Inside the System Configuration Editor, make the WIN.INI window active and look for a "run=" or "load=" line under the [windows] section. Programs referred to on these lines load at startup. If you feel comfortable doing so, remove the reference to the annoying program, and save your change. (If not, have your local computer guru help you. WIN.INI is a very important file and should not be messed with unless you know what you are doing.

The Registry Select Start, Run, type "regedit" and click on OK to open the Registry Editor. Navigate your wat to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RUN. In the right pane, you will find programs that load when Windows starts. Right click on the one giving you grief, select Delete, and close the Registry Editor. (As always, before editing the Registry, back it up. One way is to copy your System.dat and User.dat files to a floppy disk.
Whichever method you used, restart Windows and (in most cases) breathe a deep sigh of satisfaction.
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TASKBAR OPTIONS

Resize If you run sereral programs at once, the buttons on the taskbar shrink as new programs are opened. For larger buttons, so you can fully read their contents, increase the taskbar size by moving your mouse to the upper edge of the bar (until it becomes a double headed arrow) and dragging it upward to increase its size.

Relocate Move the taskbar to any edge of the screen by grabbing and moving it with a simple left button drag and drop.

Close applications To close minimized applications, without having to open them from the taskbar and clicking on their X box, just right click on their taskbar button and select close.

Options A right click on an empty area of the taskbar provides some useful options - Cascade (of your open Windows), Tile Horizontally, Tile Vertically, Minimize All Windows, Undo Tile, and Properties Options such as Auto Hide and others.
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USEFUL COPY AND MOVE OPTIONS

Windows always had inconsistencies in copying and moving files. If you tire of having to watch to see if you have a "+" icon (copy) or not (move), and worrying whether you are copying or moving to the same or another directory - then solve your problems and regain consistency by use of the right mouse button. Jusk click your right button on the file, hold it down while dragging the file to its new location, and then release the right button. You are then presented with the selections to  Copy, Move, or Create a Shortcut at the new location. No more confusion! You do your job and take your pick. Same every time.
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PRTSCR DOESN'T PRINT SCREEN ANYMORE

In the old days, pressing the PrtScr key would literally print your screen, sending the entire on-screen image off to your printer. Not in Windows 95 or 98. Pressing PrtScr (sometimes spelled PrtSc) in Windows 95 sends the screen image to the Clipboard. From there you can paste it into other programs. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
  • If the Clipboard doesn't seem to catch your image, you may have one of those annoying computers that requires you to press Shift + PrtScr.
  • Press Alt + PrtScr to send the current window--the one on top--to the Clipboard instead of sending all the windows on-screen to the Clipboard.
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INTRODUCTION TO TASK SCHEDULER

Ever wonder what that little red, white, and blue icon in the tray of your Taskbar does (the one that looks like a window with a red clock on it)? It means that the Task Scheduler, a utility that runs maintenance routines such as Disk, is currently active. To view the routines currently scheduled to run, double-click this icon. Don't see the Task Scheduler icon? You can open Scheduled Tasks by selecting Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Scheduled Tasks. If you wish to make this utility run whenever Windows 98 starts, select Advanced, Start Using Scheduled Tasks (inside the Scheduled Tasks window).
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DESKTOP AUTO ARRANGE OPTION

How do you keep desktop icons from jumping back into neat little rows every time they try to move them into a unique formation? By default, Microsoft made the Auto Arrange option the default. If you want free-flowing icons, you'll need to turn this option off.
Right-click the desktop and select Arrange Icons. In the resulting menu, you'll see a check mark next to Auto Arrange. Select this option (to deselect it). Back on the desktop, try to relocate an icon. Much better. 
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FLOPPY SHORTCUTS FOR EVERYONE

When you pop a floppy in your floppy drive, how do you access its contents--by using (A) a My Computer window, or (B) an Explorer window? How about C, none of the above. The easiest way to view the contents of a floppy is by double-clicking the floppy drive shortcut you should place on your desktop--that is, if you like to do things the short way.
Open a My Computer or Explorer window, click and drag your floppy drive icon out to the desktop, and release the mouse button. Click Yes to confirm that you want to create a shortcut, and you're done. The next time you want to view the contents of a floppy, just double-click your new shortcut, and you're in. 
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HOW TO OPEN THE SYSTEM CONFIGURATION UTILITY

There is a Windows utility accessible via the Run command that shows you what programs are running, and gives you the ability to enable or disable them. It is called the System Configuration Utility. To open it, select Start, Run, type msconfig and click OK. From there, you can select the Startup tab and disable or enable any programs that start when Windows 98 starts. 
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PLUG AND PLAY DOESN’T WORK RIGHT

When Windows 95 or 98 doesn't play well with new hardware you plug in, you can fiddle with the memory and configuration and try all sorts of other fancy fixes. When none of that works, try removing all the devices from the Device Manager. Follow these steps:

1. Click Start and choose Settings.
2. Select Control Panel.
3. Double-click System.
4. In the System dialog box, select Device Manager.
5. Remove each and every device from the list.
6. Make sure all devices are still plugged in.
7. Reboot the computer.

As Windows starts up, it should recognize all the devices it knew about before, as well as the new one that was giving you trouble. If not, try rebooting again. 

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 VCACHE FOR RESOURCE VICTORY

If your resources are tight, see if your Vcache program is too greedy. Do the following:

1. Click Start and choose Run.
2. Type sysedit and then press Enter.
3. Close all windows except SYS.INI.
4. Find the [vcache] section. (If there isn't one, start one by typing [vcache] on the next line after the [nonwindowsapp] section.)
5. Make sure the MaxCacheSize= line ends with a number that's no larger than half your installed RAM memory, such as no larger than 32000 for a 64K setup.
6. Make sure the MinCacheSize= line doesn't end with a number larger than 4096. If it does, change it to 4096.
7. Save your fixes and quit Sysedit.
8. Reboot your PC.

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ADD AN ITEM TO THE SENDTO LIST

In the Windows Explorer if you right-click a file, you can choose Send To from the resulting menu. You can add an application to that menu.
To add an application to the SendTo folder we will show an example using Notepad.
Click on My Computer then C-Drive, navigate to C:\Windows (or C:\Winnt for Windows NT) and locate notepad.exe. Click on My Computer a second time, then C-Drive. Navigate to C:\Windows\SendTo (or C:\Winnt\SendTo). Open this folder and use the right mouse button to drag the notepad.exe file to the SendTo folder. When you release the button, choose Create Shortcut(s) Here. Now Notepad will appear in your Send To menu.
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ADD A FOLDER TO THE SEND TO LIST

Suppose you have a folder called My Pictures that you use to store all of your scanned photos. Add a shortcut to this folder to the C:\Windows\SendTo folder, and it will appear in the Send To list. In one Explorer window, locate the My Pictures folder. In another, locate the Windows\SendTo folder. Right-click and drag the My Pictures folder directly over the SendTo folder, release the mouse button, and select Create Shortcut(s) Here. The next time you want to send a picture to your My Pictures folder, right-click it, select Send To, and choose My Pictures in the resulting list.
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INVOKE SCREEN SAVER USING KEYBOARD

Open the Windows\System folder, locate the corresponding *.scr file, and place a shortcut to it in your location of choice, such as the desktop. You can now invoke that screen saver by double-clicking the shortcut.
Want even faster access to that screen saver, right from your keyboard? Set up hot key access to the shortcut you just created. Right-click the screen saver shortcut, select Properties, and in the resulting dialog box, click the Shortcut tab. Click once in the text box next to Shortcut Key to place the cursor there, then type the letter you'd like to use in combination with Ctrl-Alt to invoke your screen saver. Click OK.
Now to try it out: From anywhere on your system, press the shortcut key, and there's your screen saver.
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FILE MANAGER IS STILL AROUND

Do you miss your old friend File Manager (from the days of Windows 3.x)? Would you believe you can still run it from within Windows 95 (and even Windows 98)? Select Start, Run, type  "Winfile" and click OK. Who says you can't view two drives side by side? Inside File Manager, select Window, New Window, then select Window, Tile Vertically.
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