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Windows 95/98 Tips and Tricks Page 4

Extract a file from a Win CD Enable Modem Sound
Missing Taskbar Color Settings
Icon Spacing IP Configuration
Turn off number lock at startup Mute your Modem
Spice up your title bar Delete fonts from your computer
IntelliMouse Wheel Scroll Settings Open My Computer in a dual pane
Speed up your refresh rate Local Favorites Web Page
Wintop - System Utility Use a bitmap image as a...
Track your Internet connection Notepad Word Wrap
Instant Desktop Recycle your floppies
Change default save/open folder Capture Text With HyperTerminal

Escape a Drag and Drop

Drag and Drop Obstruction
Stubborn Icons Changing file extensions
Shutting Down Registry Tool
Set up your Briefcase Rebuild icon cache
Increase Icon Cache Size Locks up in Suspend mode
Belarc Advisor Play your own sounds
Application Jumping Creating new file types
Speed up your ports Menu Speed
Metal Briefcase Create a SafeMode Desktop Shortcut

Use the Information below at your own risk.  See "Terms of Use"

Extract a file from the Win CD

[Windows 95/98] Extract a file from the Windows CD:
  1. Insert the Windows Startup Diskette and restart your computer.
  2. Wait until you see the Startup Menu and choose to proceed with cd-rom support.
  3. The DOS-prompt will be A:\>. Insert the Windows CD, type EXT and press Enter.
  4. You are asked from which directory you want to extract; type X:\WIN9x (replace x with 5 or 8, and X with the letter of your cd-drive, usually E:\ and not D:\ because in this mode D:\ is the virtual RAM-drive, if you have more than one partition, the CD drive letter is higher up the alphabet, according to the number of your partitions).
  5. You are prompted to type the name of the file you want to extract. Type the exact name and extension, for instance explorer.exe. The filename is not case-sensitive.
  6. Now you will have to give the name of the file you want to extract to, usually X:\WINDOWS or X:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM (X being the drive with your Windows folder, almost always C:\). Make sure you know the right location before you extract.
  7. The information you have given will be displayed and you will be asked to confirm it.
  8. After you have confirmed, the file will be traced on the CD. When found, you will be asked to overwrite it. Choose all (type a) and press Enter. 
  9. The file will be extracted and replaced. 

IMPORTANT:  Remember to use the right CD! For instance, if you have Windows 98 Second Edition, you should not use the original Windows 98 CD. New PC's often come with the Windows CD copied to a (hidden) partition on your hard drive, but there should always be a "recovery CD", which you can use the same way as an original Windows 98 CD. 


Enable Modem Sound

Open the Dial-Up Networking folder by going to Start> Programs> Accessories> Communications> Dial-Up Networking. Right-click your usual connection and select Properties. Under General, click Configure under the Connect Using section. From there, you can increase or decrease the volume of the modem. Modem sound settings are saved for each individual Dial-Up Networking connection.


Missing Taskbar

Once in awhile, I get a question from a guest who is complaining that the taskbar has suddenly disappeared. This behavior occurs when you have the auto hide option turned on. You can show the Taskbar again by going to; Start>> Settings>> Taskbar and uncheck the Auto Hide option. 

Or you've manually shrunk the Taskbar down to nothing (by clicking and dragging it downward--most likely by mistake). To fix this; hold your mouse pointer down at the bottom of your screen where your taskbar use to reside. Slowly move the pointer up and down until the pointer changes to a double-pointed arrow, click and drag upward until the Taskbar appears at normal size. 


Color Settings

Windows will display colors in different color pallets.  16 color, 256 color, High Color (16 bit) and True Color (32 bit).  Each of these settings will have a direct effect on your system performance. Using 16 colors is the optimum setting as it will use the least amount of colors to view images, allowing images to load much faster. But, you just simply may not like the way these images appear, so a happy medium for you may be 256 colors. You'll get fairly decent image quality without sacrificing your system resources. For more realistic looking images you can choose the High Color setting (images load much slower). Lastly, you can choose True Color giving you about 16.8 million colors.  This setting is usually used by those in the graphics business. Here's how to change your color settings:
  1. Right-click the desktop, select Properties, and click the Settings tab. 
  2. Click the down arrow under Colors to view your choices. 
  3. Select a setting then click OK.
  4. Restart Windows. 

Note: Making these changes are not permanent, if you don't like the setting you've chosen, just change it back using the same instructions above.


Icon Spacing

If you are not happy with the spacing between your icons on your desktop, this is easily fixed in Desktop Properties.  Right-click on the Desktop and choose Properties. Click the Appearance tab. Under Item, choose Icon Spacing (Horizontal) or Icon Spacing (Vertical), and then increase or decrease the number under Size. When you're finished, click OK.


IP Configuration

When connected to the Internet, you have an IP (Internet Protocol) address. There is a hidden program in Windows 98 that lets you check your current IP configuration any time you're online. To run it, go to Start, Run and type winipcfg into the text field. Click OK and the IP Configuration application runs. Use this to get a 
look at some information (which isn't easily understood) about your TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) connection.


Turn off number lock at startup

If you frequently find yourself turning off the number lock feature when you start Windows (By default, it turns on at startup.).  Then you can save yourself the time by changing the default setting when Windows starts, here's how:
  1. Open Notepad by selecting Start> Programs> Accessories> Notepad and type the following: 

    a 100 
    mov ax,0040 
    mov ds,ax 
    and byte ptr [0017],df 
    mov ah,1 
    int 16 
    mov ax,4c00 
    int 21 

    r cx 
    n NUM_OFF.COM 

    Note: Be sure to have the blank line above "r cx", and be sure to press Enter just once after typing the "q" at the very end of the file.
  2. Save the file in the Windows folder as Numoff.deb. The result will be a file named numoff.deb.txt.
  3. Inside the Windows folder, select the new file, press F2 for Rename, delete the .txt extension, press Enter, then click Yes to confirm that you want to change the extension.
  4. Open an MS-DOS Prompt window (select Start, Programs, MS-DOS Prompt), type; debug $ numoff.deb at the command prompt and press Enter. 
    Note: Replace the dollar sign above with the less-than sign, the one over the comma on your keyboard. Then, type; exit and press Enter to return to Windows. The result is an MS-DOS-based program,, in the Windows folder. 
  5. Finally, add the line NUMLOCK=OFF to your config.sys file. Select Start, Run, type; sysedit and click OK. 
  6. In the System Configuration Editor, select the config.sys window. Type the above line, select File, Save, then close the editor.

From now on, the Number Lock feature will default to off at Startup.

Tip: To undo this setting, remove the NUMLOCK=OFF line from your config.sys file.


Mute Your Modem

Go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, and choose Modems. Select your modem in the upper box and then click Properties. Click the Connection tab and then the Advanced button. In the Extra Settings box, type; 


Note: The last character is a zero, not the letter "O." This modem string setting instructs your modem to remain quiet during the dialing process. Click OK twice and then Close to exit. [Top]

Spice up your Title Bar

To spice up your Active Windows Title Bar, add a nice gradient look to it. Here's how:
  1. Right-click on your Desktop.
  2. Select Properties from the resulting menu.
  3. Choose Appearance.
  4. In the area named "Item:" click the down arrow and select Active Title Bar.
  5. Two colors are shown for this selection, simply change either #1 color or #2 color and your Title bar will have a nice gradient look to it.

Note: You can do the same thing to your Inactive Title Bar.


Delete fonts from your computer

Go to Start> Settings> Control Panel> Double-click on the Fonts Icon. Highlight the fonts you want to delete then navigate up to File and choose Delete.

Note: You can highlight specific fonts by holding down the CTRL key while clicking on the font file.  Or you can select a range of font files by holding down the SHIFT key while clicking on the font files. Or, you can select all of the files with one fell swoop by going up to Edit (in the top navigation bar), and choose "Select all". 


IntelliMouse Wheel Scroll Settings

If you have an IntelliMouse (the mouse with the wheel in the middle)Windows 98 enables you to scroll up and down within a list or window by rotating the wheel forward and back. The default number of lines scrolled is three with each discrete movement of the wheel. To change the default setting, navigate the key string using the Registry Editor: HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/desktop

Create a new string value called WheelScrollLines and set it to the number of lines you want to scroll. You need to restart Windows 98 to enable this effect.


Open My Computer in a dual pane

To open My Computer in a Windows Explorer type view, simply hold down the Shift key and double-click its icon.


Speed up your refresh rate

When your desktop displays many icons in full color, it often takes longer to refresh and reload. To speed things up a bit, try this:
  1. Click on the Display icon in the Control Panel. 
  2. Click on the Effects tab and look for the box that says "Show icons using all possible colors." 
  3. Unchecking this often speeds up the computer. 


Local Favorites Web Page

As handy as your Favorites is, how would you like to be able to create a one click local web page type atmosphere of all of your folders and files on your computer?  Here's how to set that up:
  1. In Internet Explorer, go to File, Import And Export. 
  2. Click Next and choose Export Favorites from the box at the left. 
  3. Click Next again, select the Favorites Source Folder at the top to export 
    all Favorites, and then click Next. 
  4. Choose a location for your bookmarks page from Export To File Or Address and click Next.


Wintop - System Monitoring Utility

This is one of the MS Kernel Toys. It displays information on all devices running. Their CPU usage, threads etc.  To install, extract the file to a temp directory, right click on wintop.exe and select Install. It will install to C:\WINDOWS\WINTOP.EXE. You can then drag and drop a shortcut of the file onto your Quick Launch toolbar for easy access. To read about Wintop prior to downloading go here: Wintop.txt

Download Now
Revision Date: July 3, 1996
File Size: 16,822 bytes
Platform: Windows 9x
Version: Freeware


Use a bitmap image as a 16-color icon

To use a bitmap image as a 16-color icon, rename the .bmp file to a file with an .ico extension. To do so, follow these steps: 
1. In Windows Explorer, click Options on the View menu. 
2. Click the "Hide MS-DOS extensions for file types that are registered" check box to clear it and click OK. 
3. Locate the .bmp file you want to use as an icon. 
4. Use the right mouse button to click the .bmp file and click Rename on the menu that appears. Rename the file with an .ico extension. 
Windows automatically recognizes that you want to use the bitmap image as an icon. The image is resized to icon size and converted to 16 colors. 
To use the .ico file as an icon for a shortcut, follow these steps: 
1. Use the right mouse button to click the shortcut and click Properties on the menu that appears. 
2. On the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon. 
3. Type the name of the .ico file in the File Name box or click Browse and locate the .ico file. 
4. Click OK and then click OK. 


Track your Internet connection

If you are curious about your connection speed (as an example), have the system monitor give you a visual representation of that for you.  Here's how:
  1. Open the System Monitor by going to Start> Programs> Accessories> System Tools> System Monitor.
  2. 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.) 
  3. Choose which kind of information you wish to display in the right box and then click OK. 

System Monitor will begin tracking the information you've selected. 


Notepad Word Wrap

If you do a lot of word processing in Notepad, you will have noticed that your words will travel to the right unendingly.  Notepad acts like this by default.  To change it so that the words wrap at the right edge of the window, simply go to Edit  then select Word Wrap. 

Note:  Once the Word Wrap option is on, feel free to size your Notepad window up or down. Notepad adjusts the text inside so that you can see it all, regardless of the size of the window.


Instant Desktop

To access your desktop icons quickly without having to minimize any existing screens, here's how:
  • Go to Start> Run.  
  • Insert a period (.) into the run command dialog box.
  • Press Enter on your keyboard or click OK.


Recycle your floppies

[Windows 95] If you have some floppies that have tons of useless data stored on them, don't throw them away.  Just recycle them.  Here's how:
  1. Insert the floppy into your floppy drive.
  2. Double-click  the My Computer icon. 
  3. Right-click your floppy drive icon and select Format. 
  4. Select Quick (Erase) and type a label for the disk, if you want (up to 11 
  5. Click OK, wait for a message telling you the operation is complete.
  6. Click OK, then click Close. 

Now all you have to do is stick a fresh label on it and it is good as new!


Instant Desktop Folder Toolbar

You can create an instant toolbar from a folder on your desktop by simply dragging it to any side of your screen and dropping it there. It will now display the contents of that folder.  To reverse this, just right-click on the toolbar, select Toolbar, then click the folder name.

Note: You can do the same thing with the files and folders in Windows Explorer.


Change default save/open folder

If you right click on the My Documents Icon on the desktop and select Properties you can change the target to look somewhere else like the main folder you may use.


Capture Text With HyperTerminal

During a HyperTerminal session, you are able to keep a connection transcript and capture your text.  Here's how:
  1. Select Capture Text from the Transfer pull-down menu during your connection. 
  2. Enter the path of the file to which you want to send the captured text and click the Start button. 

Note: All text transpiring during your session will be saved to the file you specified.

  1. To finish the capture, simply reselect Capture Text from the Transfer pull-down menu and select the Stop option. 
  • If you wish to continue the text capture but want to temporarily pause the capture, simply select Text Capture/Pause from the Transfer menu and re-select the Pause option again when you wish to continue the capture.


Escape a Drag and Drop

If you are moving files around on your desktop (as an example), it is possible to stop the drag and drop operation by pressing the Escape key on your keyboard.  This is extremely useful when you realize that you have made a mistake and by pressing the escape key, it will leave the file exactly where it started.


Drag and Drop Obstruction

If you have ever grabbed something and tried to get it to your desktop only to be obstructed by an open window and have to return the item.  Here is a way to clear the way to your desktop while still holding the item you're dragging:

Drag the item over your system tray and hold it still for a moment, every open window will automatically minimize giving you clear access to your desktop..


Stubborn Icons

If you're having trouble keeping a desktop icon from re-appearing, you can rid it for good using the Windows Registry. 
  • NOTE: As always, prior to making any changes to your registry, make a back up copy first.
  1. Go to Start> Run> type in: regedit [Press Enter]
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\
  3. Click on "+" symbol next to NameSpace to expose its contents.
  4. Under the NameSpace folder, click once on one of the long string names to expose its contents in the right pane. (This will be the actual icon name as it appears on the desktop).
  5. Click each of the string values under NameSpace until you find the name of the icon that you wish to remove from your desktop.
  6. Once you have found the one in question, right-click it in the left pane and choose Delete.


Changing file extensions

Caution should be taken when you change the extensions as you could possibly render the file unreadable.  The application needs to have an extension that can understand its format. But if you're sure you need to change a file extension, here's how:
  1. Open a folder and go to View, Folder Options. 
  2. Click the View tab and uncheck the box that says Hide File Extensions For Known File Types. 
  3. When you rename a file from that point forward, you can type a period and three letter characters to give it a new extension. 


Shutting Down

Most people do not understand the importance of shutting the computer down properly.  There are many tasks that the Operating System performs that are important to the smooth operation of your computer. Below are 3 of the most important.
  1. Windows performs what is called write-behind caching. Write-behind caching speeds up your computer by allowing Windows to write information in memory to the disk when more resources are available.
  2. There are some registry entries that Windows does not make until a shutdown is performed. If you just turn off the computer, these entries will not be made.
  3. If you are a network and have shared resources, performing a shutdown will release those resources, whereas just shutting off the computer will not and leaves the resources hanging.


Registry Tool

If you are ever in need of tons of information about your registry, you can access a huge listing of your entire registry hardware keys by entering a simple run command. Just go to Start, then Run.  Type in: hwinfo /ui [Enter]
  • Registry entries are displayed in green
  • File attributes in magenta
  • Configuration information in brown
  • Error messages in red
  • Warnings are displayed in blue


Set up your Briefcase

If you frequently move files from one system to another you can use a handy Windows feature called "Briefcase". The Windows Briefcase will keep multiple copies of the same files current, so you won't have to spend time figuring out which file is most recent.

To Create A Briefcase:
  • Right-click on your desktop and select New, Briefcase. (If you don't see Briefcase in the menu, you'll need to install this component: Click Start, Settings, Control Panel. Then select Add/Remove Programs, click the Windows Setup tab, double-click Accessories, select Briefcase, click OK twice, and insert your installation disk when asked.) Select the New Briefcase, press F2 (for Rename), type your name of choice, and press Enter.
  • Now just copy any files you plan to work on at another location into the new briefcase, just as you would any other folder: Click and drag the file(s) directly over the briefcase and let go. The files in the briefcase, called sync files, are now linked to the originals.

To Edit Your Briefcase:

  • To edit briefcase files on a floppy disk, pop the disk in the floppy drive of the destination computer and copy the briefcase files to any location on that system's hard drive. (Whatever you do, just don't move the Briefcase off the floppy disk.) Now just go ahead and edit these sync (or linked) copies of the briefcase files.
  • If you've moved your briefcase from the originating PC to a laptop, leave the files in the briefcase and edit to your heart's content. (Don't copy or move the briefcase files to a new location on the laptop or you'll lose your links to the originals.)

Updating Your Briefcase:

  • At the location where you edited the files, place the floppy disk containing the briefcase in the floppy drive, 
    display its contents, right-click the briefcase icon and select Update All. (Note: If you want to change an operation in the Update dialog box, right-click it and select a new operation, such as Skip.) Click Update.
  • Insert the floppy disk in the drive of the originating PC and follow the steps above (right-click the briefcase 
    icon, select Update All, and so on). The original files are now identical to their copies on the second system (where you edited them).
  • If you moved your briefcase to a laptop, updating is only a one-step process: Move the Briefcase back onto the system where the original files are located, right-click the briefcase icon and select Update All, then click Update. (Note: If you created the briefcase right on the laptop, connect the laptop to the originating PC, right-click the briefcase, select Update All, and so on.) Done.


Rebuild Icon Cache

To rebuild the icon cache, do the following:
  1. Right-click the desktop, select Properties, Appearance. 
  2. Set Item = Icon. 
  3. Look at your current icon size. Change it to 48; if it's already 48, change it to 32. 
  4. Click "Apply".
  5. Change your icon size back to the original value. 
  6. Click "OK".


Increase Icon Cache

To increase the default cache size from 500 (which is to small) to 2048.  Download the new registry entry below.  Here's how:
  1. Right-click on the "Download Now" button. 
  2. Select - "Save Target As" from the menu.
  3. Save to your Desktop, view in Notepad (if needed).
  4. Double-click the new icon on your desktop to merge the info into the Registry. 
  5. Reboot.

NOTE: This becomes a new option in Explorer.

Download Now
Windows 98/ME


Locks up in Suspend mode

This known bug will cause your computer to lock up when in suspend mode. The cause seems to be a drive letter being lower case in the SYSTEM.INI.  Here is how to fix this:
  1. Select Start, Run, type msconfig in the Open: box, then press OK
  2. Select the System.ini tab
  3. Click the + sign next to the [386Enh] section to expand it.
  4. Select the line PagingFile= and click Edit.
  5. Change the lowercase drive letter to uppercase.
  6. Click Apply, then OK.
  7. When prompted, restart your computer.


Belarc Advisor

Belarc Advisor builds a profile of your PC. You will see personalized advice on how well software and hardware products will work with your computer, along with a detailed description of your computer profile. All of your PC profile information is kept in privacy on your PC and is not sent to a Web server. This version has been optimized to report more detailed information about your PC. The new version enhances discovery of more system types.

Download Belarc Advisor
Windows 95/98/Me/2000 and NT 4


Play your own sounds

If you are tired of the same old Windows sounds that your computer makes, why not change them.  It is a simple process and if you've ever recorded or downloaded a WAV file, then you have what you need to begin.
  1. Create a directory anywhere you like and call it something like WAV_FILES so that you know what it contains. Save your files here. 
  2. In the Control Panel, select Sounds and Multimedia or Sounds depending on which version of Windows you're using. 
  3. Scan down the list and find something you want to play with. 
  4. Use the Browse button and find your file. 
  5. Click on the WAV file you want to use. 

You can test the sound with the button that looks like the Play button on a VCR. If you like it, then click Apply.

NOTE: Try not to use long files for frequently occurring sounds. What may sound cute initially might get really annoying after the fiftieth time.

Application Jumping

If you are running many applications at one time like many of us do, there is a fast way to jump between applications using the keyboard. Just hold down the Alt key then the tab key. Depressing the tab key again will move the cursor and it will then surround the next application. When you let go of the Alt key, Windows will bring up the application that was last surrounded by the cursor.


Creating new file types

If you have a lot of work documents that you would like to be able to stand out, you can create a different file extension rather than the normal .DOC file format.

Here's how it's done:

  1. Go to Start/Settings/Folder Options. 
  2. Select the File Types tab
  3. Click New Type and the "Add New File Type" box will appear. 
  4. Fill out the description however you want 
  5. In the "Associated extension" box, type 'Work'(or whatever you want). Do not use spaces or periods in the name.
  6. Click the New Button and the "New Action" box appears. 
  7. In the Action box, type "Open" 
  8. Click the Browse button to find the application you want to use to open your files (Word, in this case).
  9. Click Open, and then click OK. 

Now you can select some additional options such as "Enable Quick View" (if supported), "Always Show Extension," and more. You can also choose to change the Icon. OK, all done. Now your new file type will appear in the Folder Options Box.


Speed up your ports

Follow the instructions below to maximize the speed of your ports using the port settings:
  1. Go to Start
  2. Then Settings
  3. Select Control Panel
  4. Choose the System icon. 
  5. Select the Device Manager tab and choose Ports. 
  6. Right-click the Modem's Port and make sure that the following settings exist 

Note: It may not be a bad idea to write down the current settings so if there are any problems, you can change the settings back to there original positions.

  1. Click Port Settings and make sure that the Bits Per Second is as high as possible. 
  2. Make sure Flow Control is set for Hardware. 
  3. Click Advanced and make sure the FIFO buffer is checked. 
  4. Make sure the Receive and Transmit buffers are as high as possible.


Menu Speed

When you click on the Start menu button and begin navigating the Programs, the menu speed can be so fast that you will slip out of one program into another.  Here is how to slow the menu speed:

Using TweakUI (Download here: TweakUI), choose the Mouse tab. Move the slide-bar from Fast to Slow for the Menu Speed option and click Apply.

Note: You may have to readjust the menu speed to get the speed that suits you.


Metal Briefcase

This Registry tweak allows you to change the briefcase icon to a metal briefcase:

Go to Start> Run.  Type in: regedit  [Enter]

Drill down to: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\88{85BBD920-42A0-1069-A2E4-08002B30309D}\DefaultIcon 

Double-click on the right hand panel "Default" value. It should show: syncui.dll,0 change it to: syncui.dll,1

Syncui.dll (located in C:\Windows\System) stores several icons but only 2 of them are briefcases: icon 0 represents the brown briefcase (default) and icon 1 represents the metal (aluminum) briefcase. 

Close Regedit & reboot your computer.


Create a SafeMode Desktop Shortcut

If you would like to create a desktop shortcut that will automatically boot your system into SafeMode when clicked, here's how:
  1. Right click an empty area of your desktop.
  2. Select New>> Shortcut.
  3. In the command line enter this path: C:\WINDOWS\WIN.COM /D:M
    then click Next.
  4. Choose a name for your shortcut. Click Next.
  5. Here, you can select an icon for your new shortcut.
  6. Click Finish.
  7. Right click your new shortcut and select Properties.
  8. Place a checkmark in the box labeled "MS-DOS Mode".
  9. Uncheck the box labeled "Warn before entering MS-DOS Mode".
  10. Click OK.

Now, whenever you need to enter SafeMode, you can easily do this by double-clicking your desktop shortcut.


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