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What Microsoft forgot to tell you: Tricks you can do with Windows
technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
Simple gray rule


What Microsoft forgot to tell you: Tricks you can do with Windows


Technofile for Sept. 26, 1999

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1999, The Syracuse Newspapers

Have to reboot? Make it go quickly. Just restart Windows.

You won't find a menu item for this, and you won't find it in the Windows help. Click the Start Button and choose Shut Down. Hold down the Shift key and choose "Restart the computer." If you want to do this totally by keystrokes, do it this way: Ctrl-Esc, U, R, Shift-Y. If you have a Windows key, you can press it instead of Ctrl-Esc. Note that this only works if you have nothing in the main level of the Start Menu that starts with "U." (If you do, rename that item and this trick will work.)

Need to make a quick copy on paper of something vital? Capture the screen and paste it into WordPad, then print it out.

I have registration keys for a lot of programs kept in scattered messages and texts. I've found a much better way to organize them by keeping them on "hard copy" (paper) printouts. I just open the registration box for a program, the one that shows my registration information, and press Alt-Print Screen. Then I run WordPad and press Ctrl-V to paste the image of the registration box into WordPad, then press Ctrl-P to print it.

Need to go to a Web site that's mentioned in something you're reading on your screen? If you're reading a hyperlink, just click on it. Otherwise, copy it and then paste it into your browser's address line.

I'm amazed at how many people miss the second part of this trick. They probably know about the first part the fact that underlined hyperlinks can be clicked to make their browser go to a site but they're forever typing in addresses by hand. Just click once at the beginning of an address and hold the button down while dragging across the text. It will be highlighted. Press Ctrl-C to copy it, then click in the address line of the browser and press Ctrl-V to paste it.

Need to switch from High Color or True Color to 256 colors? Need to change resolution? Two clicks will do it. You don't need to reboot.

This trick works under Windows 98 and, if you have the Power Toys installed, under Windows 95. I'll describe the Windows 98 method. Right click on the desktop and choose Properties. Click Settings, then click Advanced Properties. Click Performance, then click "Apply the changes without restarting." Click OK. Now check off "Enable task bar icon" and "Show settings icon on task bar." (You might see slightly different wording.) Now when you want to change color settings or resolution you can do it by clicking the icon in the Taskbar.

Tired of squinching your wrist with an odd motion just to slide your mouse pointer down to the Taskbar? Put the Taskbar on top.

The Taskbar belongs on top of your screen. Microsoft wanted to put it there but was afraid Apple would complain. The Mac has its menus on top, and Windows would look too much like the Mac. It's a natural motion moving your pointer to the top of the screen, so go ahead and try this. It's easy to move the Taskbar just click on a blank area and hold the button down, then slide it up. But some windows will get partly stuck under the Taskbar unless you run a wonderful fixer called Shove-It. It's available from .

Need to make a quick backup of a file that's too big to fit onto a floppy disk? Send it to yourself.

I've done this too many times to count. Sure, I have all kinds of ways to make backups, but let's say I'm about to install a new Web browser and I'm afraid the new browser might wipe out my bookmarks and other Internet shortcuts. I just zip up the folder that has the shortcuts and e-mail it to myself. I leave the mail alone I don't want to store the mailed file on my hard drive while I'm futzing around and then get the mail later.

Want to make the window you're looking at as big as possible? Slide your mouse pointer up to the title bar and double click.

This works with any window that can be resized. The title bar (the top bar, where the name of the window is) is an easy target. I have a hard time clicking on the tiny resize gadget at the upper right corner of a window it's much too small so I use the title-bar trick all the time. Double click again to make it revert to the size it was before.

Tinkering with your Start Menu every few days? Make things easy on yourself by putting a shortcut to the Start Menu on the Start Menu.

I'm always tidying up my Start Menu. Programs I install invariably stick stuff there in the wrong places. And I'm never satisfied with the way things are organized anyway. So I usually spruce up my Start Menu a couple of times a week. Here's how to put a shortcut to the Start Menu on the Start Menu:

Right click on the Start Menu and choose Open. Hit Backspace. You'll have a window on the screen that lists the files and folders in the Windows directory. Click on the Start Menu folder and drag it over and drop it onto the Start Button. That creates a shortcut in the main level of the Start Menu to the Start Menu itself. Close all those windows.

Click on the Start Menu. You'll see "Shortcut to Start Menu." Click on it. When it opens, right click on "Shortcut to Start Menu" and choose Rename. Give it a decent name such as "Edit this menu" and press the Enter key.


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