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Windows Tips and Tricks
Last updated: 9/24/03

Also, see our Windows FAQs.

Do you want to see what is going on behind the Windows XP and 2000 splash screens? When Windows first starts up it displays a screen with the Windows logo known as the splash screen. To see what is going one behind it use notepad to edit the C:\boot.ini file (to see the file listed, you may need to set your Windows Explorer, Tools, Folder Options, View to see hidden files and folders, and to unhide protected system files). You'll see a line that looks similar to this:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

Add a space and /SOS to the end of the line so it looks like this:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect /SOS

The boot.ini file can also be edited in Windows XP by right-clicking My Computer, Properties, Advanced, Startup and Recovery, Edit.

Here's a quicker shortcut to the Windows 9X/Me/2000/XP System Properties (submitted by Doug Gould)...  Press the Pause/Break key while holding down the Windows Logo key.

A quicker shortcut to the Windows Explorer (submitted by Nigel MacGeorge).  Press the key with the Windows logo on it, together with the "e" key. This will immediately launch the Windows Explorer.  Use the Windows key and "i" and you immediately launch the Internet Explorer (the second one didn't work on my computer with Windows Me and IE 6.0--Larry).

How to get at the Windows 9X System Properties in Two clicks (submitted by Martin Halvorson).  Right click My Computer on your desktop and Select Properties from the menu.  Actually, it may take more clicks to get at My Computer.  In Windows 98 just click the Show Desk Top icon on the System Trey (next to the Start button).

How to Get at the Windows 9x Display Properties in one click.  Right-click any bare spot on your Desktop and Select Properties.

The Windows 9X Start button is bigger than it appears...  Click any bare spot on your Desktop with your mouse and the Start menu will pop-up.

How to avoid processing the config.sys and autoexec.bat files when booting Windows 9X.  (This is useful for trouble-shooting.  For example, use it if Windows doesn't get past the Splash screen when booting-up.).  Hold the Shift Key down while Windows boots.

How to shut-down a non-responding program without shutting-down Windows 9X.  You don't need to turn-off your computer to clear a misbehaved program/frozen Window.  Hold the Ctrl and Alt Keys down and press the Delete Key (once!), select the non-responding program and Click the End Task button.  If the program does not shut-down after reasonable period of time, repeat the process.  Clicking Ctrl-Alt Delete twice will shut-down Windows and reboot the computer.

How to make a shortcut on your desktop to for shutting down your PC (submitted by "deerslayer").  Right click, choose new shortcut and type in this
C:\WINDOWS\RUNDLL32.EXE user.exe,exitwindows. Make sure you name it properly, if you click on it by mistake it will shut down. I do not recommended for PC's with small chidren's access)
To put it in your start menu choose start, settings,task bar and start menu the put the above command in.

TweakUI.INF (submitted by Matt Thyng).  There's an incredibly handy utility on every Win98 disc called TweakUI (User Interface). Do a filesearch for TweakUI.INF on the CD, and then right click on it and choose "Install". The program will be installed in your Control Panel, and lets you customize Windows, including Icons, startup/shutdown screens, clearing various caches automatically, etc. Very handy for any type of user.

Built-in Back-up.  Windows 9X includes a very good backup program which many users do not know about because it isn’t included in the “typical” Windows installation. To install it, Click Start>Setting>Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs>Windows Setup>System Tools>Details>OK>OK. I use the program to back-up customer hard disks and to back-up my own data to my NT file server. If you are installing a new hard disk, keep that old hard disk, if it works, install it on the Secondary IDE port with your CD-ROM, and use MS Backup (which is really a program developed by Seagate Software) to do disk-to-disk backups of your critical user data. I include My Documents, my FrontPage web sites, graphics, C:\WINDOWS\FAVORITES, C:\WINDOWS\COOKIES, and a few others. Altogether, its about 240 Mbytes of data and it takes only a few minutes to run, and is a heck of lot faster than a tape drive or even a Zip drive. The program will also work with Zip and Tape drives. It is very easy to restore individual files from previous backups. I have found it to be very reliable. I would be happy to answer any questions about it.

How to Fix a Windows 98/98SE Frozen (Locked-up) Splash Screen.  You just upgraded Windows to Windows 98 and it freezes at the Windows 98 splash screen (the screen with the big flag on it)… Many things can cause this problem, but a frequent cause is an anti-virus program. If the hardware is in fact not locked-up by another problem, such an IRQ conflict, you can quickly determine what is causing it by pressing the Esc key to display DOS screen behind the splash screen. McAfee, in particular, causes this problem and it is a memory problem with DOS-based scan.exe, which is executed upon boot-up by a line in the autoexec.bat file. To fix it, press the F8 key just as windows starts to boot (or hold the Ctrl key), select boot to the command prompt from the resulting menu, edit the autoexec.bat file:
C:\>edit autoexec.bat
In the following line: C:\PROGRA~1\NETWOR~1\MCAFEE~1\SCAN.EXE C:\
Exit, save, and reboot.
Other virus programs may be displaying a menu under the splash screen and waiting for you to make a selection. To fix the problem choose the option which allows the anti-virus program to update affected files.

How to Make Exploring Easy.  If you are like me, you use the Windows 98 Windows Explorer frequently. Are you tired of Clicking Start, Programs, scrolling up or down the menu, and clicking Windows Explore to fire-it-up? You could right-click (click the right mouse button) Start followed by Explore, but that still isn’t fast enough for me. So, put it on your Quick Launch toolbar on the Start Menu, which is immediately to the right of the Start button in most Windows 98 configurations. A simple way to do that is click Start, Programs, right-click the Windows Explorer shortcut, select copy, right-click your desktop, and select Paste to put the shortcut on your desktop. Next, click and hold the mouse button over the shortcut, drag it with the mouse, and drop it in the desired position on Quick Launch toolbar. Now, the Windows Explorer is one click away. You may want to remove the shortcut from your desktop… Just right click it and choose Delete. I also put shortcuts to my most used programs on the Quick Launch toolbar (and remove the View Channels shortcut by right-clicking it and Deleting).

Q.  What versions of Windows support USB?

A.  You need Windows 95 versions OSR2, 2.1, or 2.5 or Windows 98 for USB.  The OSR versions require the USB supplement.  You can obtain the supplement and answers to additional USB questions at the USB Workshop.

I'll try to add to this as time goes by.  If you want to contribute, please post a message in our Operating Systems Forum, where you will find solutions to many problems.  Larry

Also, see our Windows FAQs.

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.