PC World.Top.Windows.Tips

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PC World.Top.Windows.Tips

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call it the clark kent syndrome: Hidden beneath Windows’ mild-mannered exterior lurks an operating system that’s more powerful than a locomotive. Unleashing Windows’ superpowers lets you work smarter, whether you use XP or one of its predecessors. Windows’ many configuration options allow you to over- come the limitations of its one-size-fits-all interface and transform the operating system to fit your work style. These tips will help you get the look you want and the power you need to manage files, pump up performance, and customize Windows to your liking. ...

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1. TECHNOLOGY ADVICE YOU CAN TRUST TM ◆ WWW.PCWORLD.COM ◆ PC WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS >>SPECIAL BONUS COLLECTION
2. C OV E R S T O RY WINDOWS SECRETS smart tips that unleash Windows’ hidden powers—whether you’ve upgraded to XP or not. By Scott Dunn call it the clark kent syndrome: Hidden beneath INSIDE Windows’ mild-mannered exterior lurks an operating 70 File Management Muscle system that’s more powerful than a locomotive. 71 Ten Quick Changes—No Phone Unleashing Windows’ superpowers lets you work Booth Required smarter, whether you use XP or one of its predecessors. 72 Powerful Features Without Windows’ many configuration options allow you to over- the Upgrade come the limitations of its one-size-fits-all interface and 73 Speeding-Bullet Performance transform the operating system to fit your work style. 74 Fixes for XP’s These tips will help you get the look you want and the Super-Annoyances power you need to manage files, pump up performance, 78 The Mighty Morphin’ OS and customize Windows to your liking. 80 Up, Upload, and Away I L L U S T R A T I O N S B Y A L E X G R O S S APRIL 2002 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M 69
4. C OV E R S T O RY like) to list files by that criterion. Click the column heading again to reverse the to figure it out for yourself. In Windows XP, the possible sort criteria listed on the XP, the most useful of which may be the ‘Show in Groups’ option on the ‘Arrange file management. Don’t like it? Simply choose the command again to turn it off. SPEEDING-BULLET PERFORMANCE order. Windows Me and 2000 add a tiny ‘Arrange Icons by’ menu change accord- Icons by’ submenu. Choose View•Arrange ME XP Compress in a Jiffy The ability to CCOMMODATING A MULTITUDE OF OPEN (and resource- arrow to the column that currently sets ing to your settings in the Choose Details Icons by, or right-click inside a folder and compress bitmap images and other large hungry) applications at the same time is the PC equivalent the sort order: An up arrow indicates dialog box, so be sure to read the tip “Give select Arrange Icons by•Show in Groups. files before e-mailing or archiving them is ascending order; a down arrow, descend- Me the Details,” page 70. Windows will arrange the icons in logical a welcome new feature of Windows Me of leaping tall buildings in a single bound. You can give any ing order. Windows XP goes this one bet- ALL Sort It Yourself To arrange a folder’s groupings based on your chosen sort and XP. To compress, or zip, a file or fold- Versions version of Windows an infusion of pep by tweaking its default settings. ter by highlighting the column head or items manually, choose any view except order. For example, if the files are sorted er, right-click in a folder or on the desktop the entire column that controls the sort, List or Details, and then drag and drop by name, the groups will be the letters of and choose New•Compressed (zipped) Fold- Use these tips to make your system a kryptonite-free zone. making it even easier to spot the prevail- items (or groups of items that you select the alphabet. If you sort by date, you’ll get er. Drag files to this folder to compress ing arrangement at a glance. by -clicking them) to get the arrange- groups with names such as ‘Yesterday’, them in the .zip file. If most of the files ALL Tone Down the Effects Your system’s Versions and its submenus, and menus in every ALL The Folder Sort To sort your file and Versions ment you prefer. To keep your files in ‘Last week’, ‘Last month’, and ‘Earlier this are in a single folder, just select the files performance may be bogged down by application. By default, Windows doesn’t folder icons in Explorer views other than nice, neat rows and columns, click the year’. Sorting by size will yield groups or subfolders, right-click the selection, excessive visual effects. To get a perkier show these menus at their maximum Details, right-click inside the folder and View menu or right-click inside the folder named ‘Tiny’, ‘Medium’, ‘Large’, and the and choose Send To•Compressed (zipped) Windows 98, 2000, or Me, right-click the speed. One way to change this is by edit- choose Arrange Icons by—or choose View• and choose Arrange Icons by•Auto Arrange like. It’s no substitute for having a good Folder. Windows will create a new com- desktop, choose Properties, and click the ing the Windows Registry; but it’s much Arrange Icons by—and then select a sort (provided that it isn’t already checked). file-storage system, but distributing large pressed folder named after the first file Effects tab. Begin unchecking items in the easier to install Tweak UI, the free Micro- criterion. Unfortunately, the only way to XP Get With the Group There are many numbers of folders and files into these you selected and will include all the select- Visual Effects box at the bottom of the dia- soft Control Panel icon that allows you to tell how the items are currently sorted is new ways to view a folder’s contents in (somewhat) meaningful bins simplifies ed files and/or subfolders. To add files to log box until you find the right balance of customize many arcane aspects of Win- or remove them from the compressed speed and attractiveness for you. WIN 9X TRICKS folder, drag and drop them as you would If Windows XP becomes sluggish, turn any folder. Naturally, you can rename the off some of the visual fireworks that may POWERFUL FEATURES WITHOUT THE UPGRADE compressed folder by highlighting it, clicking it again (slowly, so as not to open be taxing your screen updates via the Per- formance Options dialog box. Open Con- WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT WINDOWS XP? tion, and it features automatic image resiz- frequently used applications and put them it), and entering the new name, or by right- trol Panel, and if you’re using the default The stability and reliability it brings to Win- ing, a floating image toolbar, and a media on the left side of the Start menu for easy clicking and choosing Rename. Category view, click the Performance and dows 9x and Me machines that crash regu- bar for playing music and video files from access (see “Rework Your Frequent Apps In Windows Me, you may need to in- Maintenance link. Under ‘Pick a task’, larly. If you want the best that XP has to within the browser. IE 6 has the colorful List,” page 78). Though previous Windows stall the compression option from your choose Adjust visual effects. If you’re using offer, there’s no alternative to buying the new XP icons, too, so you’ll be browsing in versions lack this feature, you can achieve Windows Me CD. Pop the CD into the the Classic view of Control Panel, double- OS and, if necessary, upgrading your hard- the latest fashion. More important, it’s free. the same effect—and more—with ANsoft’s drive, and open Control Panel. Double- click the System icon. (Alternatively, you ware. But that doesn’t Multimedia Unlike $20 RunIt shareware utility. RunIt’s pop-up click Add/Remove Programs, click the Win- can right-click My Computer in Explorer mean your old 9x PC Internet Explorer 6, the menus display up to 50 of your most fre- dows Setup tab, select System Tools, and and choose Properties.) Click the Advanced can’t learn any new new Windows Media quently or recently used applications on click Details. Check Compressed Folders, tab, and select the first Settings button tricks. These tips will Player 8 works only each menu. Or have your system display a click OK as many times as needed, and (under Performance). FIGURE 5: TURN OFF THE fireworks for give you some of the FIGURE 4: GET MENUS OF recently with Windows XP—but Favorites menu that shows the programs follow the on-screen prompts. The Visual Effects tab lists check boxes snappier on-screen performance. upgrade effect, with- used, frequently used, or favorite don’t despair. The earli- or documents of your choice. RunIt does ME XP Decompress in a Flash You can for turning individual effects on for more out the upgrade price. apps (and more) with RunIt. er Windows Media Play- not alter the Start menu, but you can decompress files by dragging them out of razzle-dazzle or off for better perfor- dows. Depending on the version of Win- Cosmetics The pre- er 7.x, available at find. launch its menus—and a more sophisticated the compressed folder and dropping mance (see FIGURE 5). The preset options dows you’re using, you may be able to mier desktop theme utility is Desktop pcworld.com/21221, has many of version version of the Windows Run dialog box— them where you like. But if you’re decom- at the top of the dialog box simplify mat- download Tweak UI by itself or as part of Architect, a fabulous piece of freeware that 8’s best features. It lets you apply different from an icon in the taskbar tray (the area pressing all the files in a compressed fold- ters: If Let Windows choose what’s best for a larger set of free utilities called Micro- transforms your desktop icons, pointers, skins, manage your digital audio and video near the clock), via a keyboard shortcut, or er in Windows XP, simply right-click and my computer isn’t already selected, choose soft PowerToys. Go to find.pcworld.com/ colors, and wallpaper with ease, although files, rip CDs to your hard disk (though not with a tiny floating toolbar (see FIGURE 4). drag the folder to the desired location and it and click OK twice. Try this setting for a 20441 to download Tweak UI 1.33 for it can’t change title bars or the taskbar. in MP3 format), listen to Internet radio sta- Visit find.pcworld.com/20581 to download then choose Extract Here. while, and if you’re not satisfied, return to Windows 9x, Me, and NT/2000, and visit Download it at find.pcworld.com/21161. If tions, transfer audio files to portable de- a trial version of the program. To put the decompressed files into a the dialog box and click Adjust for best per- find.pcworld.com/20442 for your free you’d like to try for a quasi-XP look, locate vices, and burn audio CDs. And yes, it’s free. Photo Opportunities Windows XP’s high- new folder, either right-drag the files as formance, which unchecks all the visual copy of PowerToys for Windows XP. a free XP theme from a theme site such as If you don’t like Windows Media Player, try ly touted photo-editing tools still rely on the explained above (XP only), or right-drag options. If you miss some of the excite- Downloading and installing Tweak UI www.themedoctor.com. a third-party media player, such as Real- venerable Paint program. If you’d prefer the compressed folder to the new folder ment, open this dialog box again and ex- on older versions of Windows is tricky. Browsing You can get Internet Explorer One or MusicMatch (you can download something full-featured, try a third-party and choose Extract to launch the Extract periment by turning individual effects on First decompress (unzip) the download 6, which comes with Windows XP, as a free these players at find.pcworld.com/12283). program such as Ulead’s Photo Explorer 6 Wizard (in Me) or the Extraction Wizard one by one until you find a good balance file, and then locate a file called tweakui. download from Microsoft (www.microsoft. Frequently Used Apps Besides having freeware for managing and editing photos (in XP). Using the wizard is faster than between sizzle and steak. inf. (If your system is set to hide file com/windows/ie). This browser gives you obvious visual differences, the new XP (available at find.pcworld.com/22541), right-dragging. Just press once (in ALL Lightning Menus Sometimes Windows Versions extensions, choose Tools•Folder Options in some control over your private informa- Start menu can track up to 30 of your most which has several tools that XP doesn’t. Me) or twice (in XP), wait for decompres- seems like an endless series of menu op- Explorer, and under the View tab uncheck sion to finish, and press again. tions: right-click menus, the Start menu Hide extensions for known file types.) 72 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M APRIL 2002 APRIL 2002 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M 73 5. C OV E R S T O RY Right-click the tweakui.inf file and choose task, but you should log off from the addi- Install. If you’re installing Windows XP tional accounts as soon as the task is com- PowerToys, the installation process is plete. Fast user switching is not an option much more conventional. for Windows XP computers that are con- Launch Tweak UI by double-clicking its nected to a network domain. icon in Control Panel. Click the Mouse ALL Lose Some Color The more colors your Versions tab. Under ‘Menu speed’, drag the slider system displays, the more memory and all the way to the Fast end (see FIGURE 6). processing power it expends to manage FIGURE 6: SLUGGISH MENUS? TWEAK UI Click OK and, with any luck, your menus those colors. If you use an older comput- will help you speed them up in no time. will be a wee bit more sprightly. er system and you’ve already tried dis- XP Slow Down User Switches Unlike previ- abling some visual effects (as described in screen instructions that appear (these vary ous Windows versions, Windows XP lets “Tone Down the Effects,” page 73), you depending on the graphics system). you switch from one user account to may get the performance boost you’re ALL Memory Gain Many people find that Versions another without logging off or shutting looking for by setting your graphics sys- the best way to boost Windows’ perfor- down any programs. This feature is con- tem to 16-bit ‘high color’ rather than 32- mance is by adding RAM. This is espe- venient, but it increases the memory bit ‘true color’ (in Windows XP these set- cially true of machines running in the demands on your system. For better per- tings are labeled ‘Medium’ and ‘Highest’, 300- to 500-MHz range. Make sure that formance, choose Start•Log Off to log off respectively). Right-click the desktop, your PC has at least 128MB of RAM— completely before switching to another select Properties, and click the Settings tab. and preferably 256MB or more. As of this profile. You can still allow multiple ac- If your system is currently set to display writing, a 128MB memory upgrade costs counts to run simultaneously when you 32-bit color, choose the option for 16-bit about$40, but memory is a commodity, or another user needs to perform a quick color and click OK; then follow any on- and prices can change rapidly. XP TWEAKS FIXES FOR XP’S SUPER-ANNOYANCES WHAT’S A SUPERHERO without flaws? Ungroup Your Buttons XP groups simi- would open again the next time you logged These tips help undo some of XP’s worst. lar applications under a single button in the on. Not so in Windows XP. If you miss this Annihilate Annoying Animations To taskbar, forcing you to choose the item from feature, choose Tools•Folder Options in any dump XP’s Search ’toon, open any folder, a pop-up menu. If you would prefer separate window, click the View tab, scroll to the end press to start a search, and at the bot- buttons for each open appli- of the Advanced settings tom of the Search Companion pane on the cation, right-click the task- list, check Restore previ- left, click Change Preferences. At the top bar, choose Properties, un- ous folder windows at of the pane, click Without an animated check Group similar taskbar logon, and click OK. screen character (see FIGURE 7). Either buttons, and click OK. Pulverize Personalized continue with a search or close the window. Bypass the Password Menus In Windows XP’s Wipe out Windows Messenger A nag- Prompt You might not need Classic Start menu (see ging balloon from the tray area of the to enter a password each “A Classic Look,” page taskbar urges you to launch Windows Mes- time you deactivate your 78), the ’personalized‘ senger and sign up for Microsoft’s .Net screen saver. The fix is easy: menus rearrange menu Passport program. To pop it once and for all, Right-click the desktop and FIGURE 7: SEND ROVER items and hide many en- choose Start•Run, type regedit, and click choose Properties. Click the PACKING to unclutter the tries until you click the OK. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Screen Saver tab, uncheck view in XP’s search tool. double-arrow symbol to Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVer- the box labeled On resume, display the entire listing. sion\Run. With the Run folder (called a ’key‘ password protect or On resume, display To get rid of this irksome convention, sim- in Registry-ese) selected on the left, choose Welcome screen (depending on your log-on ply right-click the Start button and choose the MSMSGS icon on the right and press configuration), and click OK. Properties. Click the Customize button, . Click Yes to confirm, and exit the Remember Open Folders In previous and scroll to the bottom of the Advanced Registry Editor. The icon will disappear from versions of Windows, folders and Explorer Start menu options. Uncheck Use Person- the tray the next time you log on. windows you had open when you logged off alized Menus, and click OK twice. 74 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M APRIL 2002
9. HERE’S HOW WINDOWS TIPS with the one to your new More Docs fold- W I N D OWS TO O L B OX er. The /days: switch deletes files older than a specified number of days; change Get the Big Picture ‘3’ to the number of days you prefer. With XFilesDialog Experiment to find the number of days RECENT VERSIONS of Windows let you that works best for you. Don’t forget to resize your Open, Save, Save As, and add the two periods after the number to other file dialog boxes, and change the delete all files older than whatever length list’s view to large icons, small icons, you specify. The /d- switch keeps the pro- details, and so on. But none of your gram from deleting the More Docs folder changes will persist, so you’re forced to if it becomes empty. Finally, if you’re click here or drag there every time you using Windows 2000, replace del with tdel open a dialog box just to get the view you (and the path to the utility, if needed). want. The XFilesDialog utility solves this Final steps: In Notepad, choose File•Save problem, making the file dialog boxes in As, navigate to a folder where you store all applications (except Microsoft Office, FIGURE 4: CLEAR OUT XP’S Start menu batch files (the Windows folder will do), which never conforms to Windows stan- with the Customize Start Menu dialog box. type a name such as “FixMenu.bat” (in dards anyway) look the way you want, Windows 9x, Me, and XP) or “FixMenu. complete with your preferred sort order Automatic shortcuts: To create the batch cmd” (in Windows 2000). Be sure to in- and even a pop-up menu of recently used file that will automatically add shortcuts clude the quotation marks so that to this menu, open Notepad or another Notepad doesn’t add its .txt extension text editor, and on the first line, type the to the file name. Click Save and use command that will copy files from Win- Explorer to find the FixMenu file you dows’ Recent menu to your new folder— just created. Choose it and click Edit for example, xcopy “c:\windows\recent\*.*” •Copy, then navigate to your Start “c:\windows\Start Menu\More Docs” /d /y. Menu\Programs\StartUp folder and Replace the first path in quotation marks choose Edit•Paste Shortcut. With the (“c:\windows\recent\”) with the path to new shortcut selected, choose File• your Recent folder, and change the sec- Properties. Click the Program tab (in ond path in quotation marks (“c:\win- Windows 9x and Me) or the Shortcut dows\Start Menu\More Docs”) to point to tab (in Windows 2000 and XP) and the folder for your new menu. The /d choose Minimized from the Run switch copies your newest shortcuts from drop-down list. In Windows 9x and Me, documents. All for only $15 (I’m in love)! the Recent menu to your custom More make sure Close on exit is checked as well. Download a trial version at find.pcworld. Docs menu, while the /y switch sup- If you have problems, come back later com/15980, or from its creator at www. presses prompts to overwrite files. The and change these settings to keep the xdesksoftware.com/xfilesdialog.html. shortcut updates your custom menu DOS window open while you trouble- when you launch it to show all shortcuts shoot. That will let you read any error gpedit.msc, and press to open in your Recent folder, not just the last 15. messages. Click OK. Group Policy. In the left pane, select User Unlike Windows’ Documents menu, Now Windows will update your menu Configuration•Administrative Templates• automatically adding shortcuts to this and delete old items automatically when- Windows Components•Windows Explorer. menu is easy. Add a line to the text file ever it starts. To update the menu within Double-click Maximum number of recent similar to the one above that copies spe- the current Windows session, choose Fix documents in the right pane and select cific shortcuts to your More Docs menu. Menu from the Start menu, or use either Enabled under the Setting tab. Increase Shortcut removal: Add another line to this Task Scheduler or the Scheduled Tasks the maximum number of recent docu- file to keep your menu size manageable. folder to run the batch file more often. If ments to a number above 15. The menu (TDel must be installed for this tip.) you prefer your new menu to the old Doc- will show only the 10 most recent files of Type del c:\windows\startm~1\moredo~1\ uments menu, hide the old one by fol- any file type—for example, 10 .doc (Word) *.* /days:3.. /d- and press . Note lowing the steps in “Take Charge of Your files—an improvement, nevertheless. that TDel does not support long file Runaway Start Menu” above. names, so your paths must use the abbre- Windows XP Professional Edition’s Find more tips at www.pcworld.com/heres_ viated form (first 6 letters of a file name, Group Policy utility makes it easy to in- how. Windows Tips pays$50 for published minus spaces, followed by ~1, in most crease the size of the My Recent Docu- tips and questions. Scott Dunn is a con- cases). Replace the path in this example ments menu. Choose Start•Run, type tributing editor for PC World. 146 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M FEBRUARY 2002