You can download some of the files I write about quickly and easily by choosing the links listed here. You'll also find files in each group that
I haven't mentioned in my newspaper columns. I've added them because they could be of interest to readers and non-readers alike. You'll notice a heavy bent toward Microsoft's Windows 95 here, largely because of my own tastes. Please don't flame me with arguments about PCs vs. Macs.
Windows 95 updates links from Microsoft
Batch file project: Programming examples and useful DOS batch files
MPEG Layer 3 audio samples
Windows 95 interface enhancements
- Microsoft's "unofficial" (and free) Power Toys permit extraordinary user control over many aspects of the Windows 95 interface. This downloadable file includes Tweak UI, the single-most-important add-on utility for any Windows 95 user. Caution: The version of Tweak UI in this collection is outdated if you use Windows 98. The Power Toys in general still work under Windows 98, but you need the newest Tweak UI if you have Windows 98 or if you have Windows 95 and Internet Explorer 4. Choose this link to download the
Power Toys collection.
- Just as important for many users is Microsoft's free Kernel Toys, which add functions to the Windows kernel. (The kernel manages all 32-bit operations.) These aren't as essential to casual users, but you'll be glad you picked up this free set of utilities. Choose this link to download the Kernel Toys collection. (Yes, they work fine under both Windows 95 and Windows 98.)
- File Manager is useless under Windows 95, unless, of course, you don't mind losing all your long filenames and don't care about having nothing for your right mouse button to do. Get an outstanding replacement without paying a cent. It's the free Servant Salamander. (Pay no attention to the name!) Choose this link to go to the U.S. mirror of the Servant Salamander home page.
- Still struggling with Zip files? Don't be a dumdum. There is only one method of handling Zips that can turn all Zip files into
folders or keep them as files, your choice. It's Zip Magic, the improved version of my favorite file utility, Zip Folders. The program is outstanding,
and I endorse it completely. (I put my money where my mouth is, too.) Zip Magic works with Windows 95 and Windows 3.x, and can be downloaded from
the Zip Magic (Mijenix Software) site.
Bug fixes for Windows 95
- Why didn't Microsoft fix the goofy bug in the Windows 95 File System Properties control when you set the Hard Disk option? It's accessed by right clicking the My Computer icon, then choosing Properties, then Performance, then Hard Disk. You can choose one of three settings. They are Desktop, Mobile and Network Server. The Mobile and Network Server settings are useless, because the code in the Windows 95 Registry for those two settings is totally munged. It is reversed. Not just swapped one to the other, but reversed within the setting for each entry so that the bits that are set in the Registry make no sense. The fix is easy, and Microsoft tells how to do it on one of its Web sites. But make things easy on yourself;
use the Technofile Registry fix instead. It installs the correct settings. Choose this link to download the file-system cache fix. When you receive this file, right-click on it, then choose Merge. (Put the file anywhere; it's not used once the fix is made.) NOTE: This fix is not needed if you have Windows 95B or Windows 98. Right click on My Computer and choose Properties. If you see a "B" in the version number, you have 95B. If you see a "98," you have Windows 98.
- The Windows 95 Registry fills up fast with useless stuff. Fix it easily with RegClean, a Microsoft utility that checks the Registry and takes out references to programs and files that don't exist any longer. It also corrects references to stuff that's been moved. Hard to believe that it can do this, but it can. It's also very safe, since it creates a restoration file each time it runs. Just right click on this new file (it's a REG file) and choose Merge if you want to restore the Registry the way it was before RegClean ran. A little-known feature of RegClean is its auto mode, which runs the program, makes any corrections and exits immediately. Use that mode to have RegClean automatically do its thing each time your computer starts up. (Just put a shortcut to RegClean, using the appropriate command, described below, in your Startup folder.) That command is D:\path\RegClean.exe /A /L (with the "D:\" representing the correct drive and the "path" representing the proper location of RegClean, of course). Note: Microsoft has a Web page that will help you fix problems you may encounter with RegClean. Choose this link for help with RegClean problems. Choose this link to download RegClean version 4.1a. Note: This version fixes problems RegClean had with Internet Explorer 4.
What's in Windows 98?
- Windows 98 is an improved version of the standard Windows operating system. Choose this link for more information on Windows 98 (and Windows 95, too!).
Tips and help for Windows 95 users
- Who messed up my screen? Maybe it was always a little off. Here's your chance to use two very-high-quality images to get those
screen settings just right. You'll find versions in the three most common resolutions. Choose this link for Images to help
adjust your display.
- An easy way to save a backup copy of the Registry in Windows 95? No problem; Windows 95 actually does that for you. But how
about a way to save up to nine copies of the Registry and to be able to restore any one of them with a key press? That's what
you'll get if you download Savereg, a series of three batch files I've written to automate the process of saving an incremented
series of Registry files and restoring one of them at any time. (The problem with the way Windows 95 handles backups of the Registry is a familiar one
to many users: Windows saves a copy of the Registry each time you do a full reboot, so if you boot up, wreck the Registry, boot up again and again
wreck the Registry, Windows will restore your bad copy from the previous bootup.) Save yourself a lot of grief and save your Registry in up to nine
versions by choosing this link for my Savereg utilities.
- Disk utilities that make your life easier? Yes, and they're relatively simple batch files written by yours truly that integrate
into the Context menu of your disk drives. You'll find Checkup.bat, which provides a right-click Scandisk option; Compress.bat, which
puts the Windows 95 Compression Agent on the right-click disk menu; Defraggr.bat,, which gives you right-click access to disk defragging from the disk-drive
icons, and Dfragall.bat, which provides a way to defrag all installed disks with one click. Choose this link for my Diskbat
- DOS 7 is the built-in command interpreter for Windows 95. Surprise of surprises, it isn't much different from DOS 6, and it's
able to use standard AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files. (You can often leave them out, but you're better off having them.) But Microsoft quietly
enhanced the CONFIG.SYS commands in DOS 7. Choose this link for tips from Microsoft on the latest CONFIG.SYS
- The Windows 95 Internet cache has some wonderful features. But purging itself of all the executable files and all the archived ZIP
files that you've downloaded (and placed in a separate folder) is not one of them. But there's no need to have all those duplicates cluttering up
your cache and wasting space (remember, you've already stored those files separately). All you need is Prune-it, a batch file from the Technofile's
own collection. (That means I wrote the batch file, in case I'm hitting a blank here.) Choose this link to download Prune-it,
the Windows 95 cache controller. Note: Click on the link with your right mouse button and do a Save As! Don't run the file; download it.
- Toss those cookies! Pick up a free Internet cookie controller. It's used daily here at the Technofile's headquarters,
and you'd be wise to run it, too. You can view cookies, delete any of them, or just watch them grow and multiply. Choose this link to download Cookie Master, the Windows 95 Internet cookie controller.
- Browsing more than one site at a time just got easier. As a response to a reader request, I've created a Windows 95 batch file
that starts up Internet Explorer in up to four windows, with up to four separate sites. It won't work with Netscape Navigator unless you edit the
batch file (an easy thing to do). Choose this link to download Browse, the Windows 95 auto-loader for Internet Explorer.
(Please click on the link with your right mouse button and do a Save As! Don't run the file; download it.)
- Want to move a program from one location to another?
Under Windows 95, that can be a chore. Make the task easy with an outstanding freeware utility from PC Magazine called COA, for Change
of Address. What COA does is amazing. It locates any INI files that contain references to the program you're moving, alters any Windows 95
Registry settings for the program and even updates all the shortcuts (on the Start menu or anywhere else) that refer to the program. I use it here
at the Technofile headquarters, and would not want to work without it. Choose this link download COA
for Windows 95.
- Create and keep track of hotkeys in Windows 95 the easy way with the Hotkey Detective, which appears to be
the only freeware program that is able to track down all the keyboard shortcuts you've created and put them into a list that you can read on the screen
or print out. Hotkeys make Windows 95 an outstanding operating system for anyone who wants to launch programs or open folders without reaching for
the mouse, and they're simple to create. But until now there's been no way to keep track of them. I use this program nearly every day, and even
have a hotkey assigned to it so I can call it up with a quick key press. Choose this link download PC Magazine's Hotkey
Detective for Windows 95.
- 2001 Windows tips? I didn't count them, but I the number sure seems accurate from my perusal of the TechWeb site, where you
can get help and advice on all versions of Windows in addition to all the tips (also for Windows old and new). Choose this link to go to the TechWeb site.
- Got your calculator handy? Here's a way to get your Windows 95/98 calculator to pop up with a simple right-mouse click, using the New menu. I developed this trick after looking at the way Windows 95 handles the context menus. So far, I haven't seen this trick from any other source, so I'll take the credit. (Send $600 million, please. I don't want to be as rich as Bill Gates, but I'd like $600 million.) Download the file using the link, then place it somewhere (it doesn't matter) and right click the file and choose Merge. Choose this link to download the right-click Calculator trick. Note: Make sure you use the right mouse button to select the link and choose Save As. Then you can merge the file later.
Excellent file-and-e-mail find applets for Windows 95 users
- Stop wasting your time trying to locate files or news-group messages on the Internet. And stop trying to guess what someone's e-mail address
is. Use a Ferret to find them fast. I use the Ferret finders all the time. I think you'll be hooked, too. Choose this link to go to a page where you
can download the Ferret Internet find applications.
At last, a worthwhile Windows 95 cache manager for Netscape and Internet Explorer
- Why didn't Netscape or Microsoft think up a way to let you explore your browser's cache? Why should all those files in the cache be so mysterious?
Luckily, there's a great new way, courtesy of the Cache Explorer, which comes in Netscape and Internet Explorer versions. I've found this
program absolutely essential. Choose this link to go to a page where you can download the
Long-filename support for File Manager in Windows 95
- I found an add-on for File Manager that turns it into a real competitor for the Windows 95 Explorer. It allows File Manager to display and copy long filenames, so you can work with File Manager instead
of Explorer without losing those LFNs. Nothing's perfect, of course, and the documentation that comes with this utility explains why you'll have a few limitations. But the overall improvement is Class A all the way. Choose this link to go to a page where you can download LFN
support for File Manager.
Replacements for Notepad in Windows 95
Fancier icons in Windows 95
- An easy way to change the Windows 95 system icons (the ones that represent the main folders and objects) is to use the icons in Iconpack,
a free set of 3D icons inspired by the svelte icons from Apple's pre-release Copland operating system for the Mac. Everything is automatic; an installation
program changes the icons for you, and you can easily revert to the standard icons. These are the icons used on Big Daddy, the PC at my country estate
where all my columns are written. (The "country estate" is poetic license, but it's an acre of peace and harmony.) Choose this link to go to the site where you can download
A much-needed (and free) enhancement for HyperTerminal
- Windows 3.x came with Terminal, an amazingly inadequate excuse for a modem terminal program. I'd like to say no one used it, but I've had
to help hundreds of hapless Terminal users over the years. Windows 95 made up for Microsoft's gross insensitivity with HyperTerminal, a superbly interfaced
modern modem application ... in most ways. HyperTerminal's faults begin to grow on you (like warts, maybe) after you start using it. That's the
bad news. The good news is that there's a much better version of HyperTerminal, straight from the original programmers, and it's yours free. Choose this
link to go to a page where you can download HyperTerminal Private Edition. (As of August 1998, the improved HyperTerminal had been upgraded again. Don't miss it!)
Powerful, no-cost image-manipulation tools designed for Windows
- Microsoft asked Wang Software (now called Eastman Software) to develop the basic fax-viewing software that comes with Windows 95. After Windows 95 was released, Wang continued to improve its product, and Microsoft made a vastly more powerful version of the Wang Imaging program available from the Microsoft Web site. Unlike any other image-manipulation software, Wang Imaging integrates tightly into the Windows 95 operating system; it becomes as much a part of Windows as Windows itself. Choose this link to go to the Eastman Software page where you can download the latest version of Wang Imaging for Windows 95
A simple and powerful privacy tool for Windows 95
- Keeping children out of the files you need for your IRS records or away from Web software that could lead them into uncharted territory can be a big problem, but it's easily solved with the free utility CryptExt, a small and unobtrusive enhancement to the Windows 95 context menu. The
context menu appears whenever you press the right mouse button on an icon for a file or other object, and was designed to add specific functions to the primary menu system. CryptExt (for "cryptography extensions," I suppose) lets you encode any file with a right mouse click so that no
one can read it or run it. Decrypting is just as easy. You can set or change the required password at any time. Choose this link to go to the CryptExt home page.
File-transfer (ftp) programs for Windows PCs and Macs
Using a Web browser to shuttle files from one computer to another is a waste, especially since any good ftp program can do the same thing faster while taking up a lot less memory. If you haven't used ftp, now's the time to learn it. You'll be glad you did.
- The best ftp application for Windows? My vote goes to CuteFTP, available in versions for Windows 3.x and Windows 95. It's powerful, very easy to use, requires almost no setup and multitasks happily with everything else that's going on. (Even the Windows 3.x version multitasks superbly. If you have at least 4 megabytes of RAM, you'll probably find the Windows 3.x version able to download files from three or four sites at a time.)
I've used CuteFTP for a long time, and wouldn't consider leaving my home page without it. Choose this link to go to the CuteFTP home page.
- CuteFTP uses drag-and-drop techniques in the more-or-less standard way, but the LeechFTP takes everything much further. It works in the background, can connect multiple times to the same server, lets you drag and drop anything into our out of its own windows, and is free. Choose this link to go to the LeechFTP home page.
- Fetch is an award-winning ftp program for the Mac. We use Fetch at the newspaper for file transfers are are very happy with it. Choose this link to download Fetch
Alternative news servers for all users
I'm often asked if I have a list of news servers that allow anyone to log on and download Usenet news feeds. I have something even better. Here are two links that provide updated lists of free news servers. The first is a list of servers rated by speed (in table form, so don't use this link if your browser is old), and the second is the NewzBot home page, where you'll find more links and information about free servers.
Windows 95 utilities
Symentec, parent of the Norton series of utilities for Windows, has trial versions of its software. Take a look, but don't forget to note the download file size! Choose this link to go to the Symantec Trialware page.
Enhancements for Windows 95's Exchange e-mail
Exchange is the e-mail-and-fax program that is built into Windows 95. It's wonderful and terrible. (Only Microsoft knows how to get those two features into the same program.) Do yourself a favor and fix it. First, get the updated version of Exchange from Microsoft. (This link is a long list of Windows updates, so make a shortcut to it and save it!)
Personal Information Managers for Windows 95
- I've seen and tried many PIMs for Windows 95. Some of them are poorly designed, and others seem to have been ported from old Windows 3.1 code without any thought about the way Windows 95 really works. I used to have only two favorites: Time & Chaos and Digita.
But now that Microsoft has released Office 97, I've added Microsoft Outlook 98 to the list of best PIMs. Outlook 98 integrates into the way I work better than any other PIM, and it is far ahead of all the others in the way it seamlessly fits into Windows 95. Time & Chaos is powerful, adaptable, works very well over a network, handles a huge database of contacts or calendar entries easily, is well supported and costs less than $50. Choose this link to download Time & Chaos.
- Digita, on the other hand, has the best interface of any PIM you can find. (You'll find it a joy just looking at the way it shows your calendar entries and phone numbers.) It's also inexpensive, but can't match Time & Chaos
in other ways. If you aren't going to need to use a PIM over a network, Digita is worth a good look. (The latest version has artificial intelligence for time and date entries, and registration is free.) Choose this link to download Digita.
3D screen savers for Windows 95
Microsoft did the right thing by making sure old Windows 3.1 screen savers would work under Windows 95. But if you're using one of those tired old Win 3.1 screen savers or if you have collected a few boring Windows 95 screen savers, you need to get your PC a life.
- The most impressive is the Organic Art 3D screen saver, which uses Microsoft's new DirectX and Direct3D technology. You literally have to see the screen savers in this collection to believe me when I tell you that DirectX and Direct3D make all other PC methods of showing graphics immediately obsolete. They're part of Microsoft Plus! 98, which costs about $40. I pulled the previous version of the Organic Art screensaver off my site because it was not compatible with later versions of DirectX.
Best graphics display utility for Windows 95
- The best? Did I say that? Yes, there is a "best" in this category. I'm not talking about image editors or catalogers or Web-page image-map editors or anything of that sort. I'm talking about a program that quickly displays images. Hands-down the best is ACDSee, a veteran of the Win 3.1 days that was reborn as a powerful and flexible Win 95 program. It installs (and uninstalls) perfectly, handles most file types, allows you to view, move, copy, delete, rename (and so on) from within the program, is exceptionally fast, and can launch your favorite graphics editor with an Alt-E keystroke. There's more, of course. It's shareware, and doesn't cost much. Choose this link to go to the ACDSee site, where you can download ACDSee (or its simpler cousin, PicaView) for both Windows 95/98 and Windows 3.x.
An image cataloging system you won't want to be without
- The development of a common, powerful operating-system platform for PCs has encouraged hundreds of developers to create software that can arrange,
preview and catalog images. There are many good image-cataloging programs, and you may already have tried a few or received one free with a CD-ROM
you bought. But my favorite remains the ever-improving Thumbs+ from Cerious Software. It works well on a stand-alone computer or on networked
systems, knows how to handle practically every graphics format, includes a very competent image editor, can create immense catalogs (15,000 images?
No problem!) and even catalogs non-image items such as fonts. Good news for Mac users: A Mac version is now available, too. In its Windows
versions, Thumbs+ is available in Win 3.x and Win 32 (Windows 95 and NT) flavors. And it gets superb support from Cerious Software and doesn't cost
much. (There's more, too, but I want to get to the address!) Choose this link to go to the Cerious Software site,
where you can download Thumbs+ or get more information. (The manual is even online, so you can read it without doing any downloads.) If you
care about children, please go to Ashley's Mandlebrot Page, which is linked from the main Thumbs+ page. Ashley, the autistic daughter of
the founder of Cerious Software, is an example for all of us.
Screen capture utility for Windows 95
- Hey, don't spend money on a screen-capture program. Here's a good free one, called Capture. Choose this link to download Capture.
Fun stuff for Windows 95
- Make your PC sound like a typewriter. Sound crazy? No, it sounds just like that old Royal! Choose this link to download Typewriter.