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Yes, Windows is Dumb: A few tricks

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

Excerpted from
Yes, Windows Is Dumb
Easy Ways to Master Your PC
Copyright © 1997, Al Fasoldt


A few little tricks Microsoft didn't tell you about 

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1997, Al Fasoldt

Impress your friends with your inside knowledge of Windows with these three little tips. I'm passing them along in no particular order.

  • Restart Windows without shutting down your PC and rebooting.

You know that little box that shows up on your screen when you choose Shut Down from the Start Menu? Looks like the only way to restart your system is to shut down and start up again—in other words, to reboot and come back up.

But that's not necessary in nearly all cases. If Windows gets messed up some way and you need to reboot, you probably only need to restart Windows. There's a hidden option in the dialog box that comes up on your screen when you choose Shut Down.

The option is activated only if you do a Shift-click on the "Yes" button when you choose "Restart the computer" from the dialog box. Pressing Shift-Y or Shift-Enter won't work, even though "Y" and the Enter key activate the default for the dialog, which is the "Yes" button. You have to hold down the shift key and click.

  • Fix those stupid "AM" and "PM" labels in the Taskbar's Tray area.

You already know that the time is shown in the Tray (unless you've turned it off, in which case you may have forgotten how to turn it back on; right click on the Taskbar and choose Properties to see the option). The display has "AM" and "PM" in capital letters, without periods.

I prefer "a.m." and "p.m." on my PC, so I changed the way Windows shows the label. This feature is built into Windows but doesn't work right on many PCs (because of a bug in Windows), so don't be surprised if you make the change and it doesn't stick. I tried changing the label to something really long, such as "morning" and "evening," and Windows cooperated, but showed me that I could only get one more character to fit after the word "evening.")

Here's how to change the label. Open the Control Panel and choose "Regional Settings." Click the Time tab. You'll see a place to type in your own text for what Windows calls the "AM symbol" and the "PM symbol." Type whatever you want. Windows will remember the last few settings, so you can us the drop-down list to get back to a previously saved label.

Apparently, the change does not stick on the first version of Windows no matter what. After you reboot, the original setting might appear. If you have the patched version of the original Windows, the change has a better chance of sticking; Microsoft tried to make a fix, and it's on one of the patches you applied. (You DID patch your version of Windows, right? If not, don't waste more time; do it now.) If you have Windows 95B, the time labels should stick. (Right click on My Computer and choose Properties to see the version number of Windows. If you see a "B," you have 95B.)

  • Save the whales. Oh, heck, just save your screen.

Here's one Microsoft DID tell you about but in far too subtle a way. If you want to save any part of your screen (or the entire screen image) as a file so you can view it later, send it to someone by e-mail or call it up into an image editor and manipulate it, do this:

  1. Press Alt-Print Screen to capture the current window or dialog box.
  2. Press Print Screen to capture the entire screen.

Windows makes an image and places it in the clipboard. You can view the image by pasting it into anything that accepts Windows images—Paint, WordPad, Microsoft Word and many others. (There are thousands of programs that allow you to paste images into them.)

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