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500 Tips
Windows 3.x

Alarming Apps

If you find that some non-Windows applications go to sleep in the background and never execute (or execute very slowly), wake them up by decreasing the IdleVMWakeUpTime parameter in the [386Enh] section of your SYSTEM.INI file. It will force timer interrupts after the specified number of seconds has passed, even if the app doesn't use timer interrupts, and it may speed up response. The value of this entry is rounded down to the lowest power of two (such as 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64). The default is 8.

Restricted Access Area

Don't change the [boot.description] section unless you know exactly what you're doing. It contains a list of strings describing the devices you can change when you run Setup. If you change these entries, you won't be able to use Windows Setup to update drivers to newer versions.

Type Casting

Some keyboard problems can be solved by editing the Type setting in the [keyboard] section of the SYSTEM.INI file. If the entry is blank or missing, Windows sometimes incorrectly selects a default type based on the system BIOS. Windows may select an 84-key type when the keyboard emulates 101 keys. Valid settings are 1 (83-key, IBM-PC type), 2 (102-key, Olivetti), 3 (84-key, IBM AT-type) and 4 (101/102 key extended AT-type).

Shell Game

You can have Windows start up with any Windows program in the place of Program Manager by setting shell=[program name] in the [boot] section of SYSTEM.INI.

Working With a Net

If you have problems running Windows from a network server, reduce the CachedFileHandles number in the [boot] section of SYSTEM.INI. That parameter sets the number of executable DLL files that can remain open at one time. Some networks have an upper limit on how many files can be open at one time. If that limit is lower than Windows default 12, trouble ensues.

A Comfortable Environment

Snafus with default paths and prompt strings in non-Windows apps, may be remedied by increasing the CommandEnvSize setting in the [NonWindowsApp] section of SYSTEM.INI. That specifies the space COMMAND.COM reserves to store pathnames and other environment variables. The default value used by Windows is the environment size specified with the /E parameter in the Shell= line in CONFIG.SYS for DOS versions 3.2 and later.


If there are certain lines in your system files that you don't want to execute, but you also don't want to delete, disable or "remark" them. Type the word REM followed by a space in front of lines in CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, and a semicolon followed by a space in front of lines in WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI files.

A Loss of Character

Add this line to the [386Enh] section of SYSTEM.INI if you're losing characters received by your modem: COMxbuffer=2048, where "x" is the number of the COM port supporting the modem.

Upwardly Mobile Icons

You can increase the vertical space between icons to allow more room for titles, or decrease the space to tightly pack your icons. Set the IconVerticalSpacingParameter in the [Desktop] section of the WIN.INI file to the number of vertical pixels desired between the lower edges of stacked icons.

Switch Your Swap to a Speedier Drive

If you've added a faster disk drive, put your swap file on the new drive. You just specify the drive and directory for the file on the Swapdisk= line in the [NonWindowsApp] section of your SYSTEM.INI file.

ProgMan Protection

You can disable many of the features of Program Manager. At the end of the PROGMAN.INI file, create a section called [Restrictions]. In the section add any or all of the following lines: NoFileMenu=1 (to remove the File menu and disable command hotkeys), NoRun=1 (to prevent anyone from selecting Run from the File menu), EditLevel=4 (to disable altering program groups and icons), NoSaveSettings=1 (to disable automatically saving settings) and NoClose=1 (to make it impossible to close Windows except by rebooting).

Guilt by Association

Sometimes if you try to associate a file extension with an app in File Manager, the Browse button is dimmed. When that happens, Windows is accusing the extension of being a program. You can eliminate that misinterpretation by deleting the extension of the file from the Programs= line in the [Windows] section of your WIN.INI file.

No Dice for DOS Prompt

Eliminate the eight-line help message that is displayed when you start a DOS prompt running under Windows by adding the line DOSPromptExitInstruc=Off in the [386Enh] section of your SYSTEM.INI file.

Task Master

Double-clicking on the wallpaper or pressing Ctrl+Esc brings up Windows' Task Manager. You can alter that behavior to bring up a different program by changing the TASKMAN.EXE line in the [Boot] section of your SYSTEM.INI file so the parameter equals the name of the program you wanted.

Bigger Box for DOS

You can increase the number of screen lines from 25 to 50 for the DOS box by placing SCREENLINES=50 in the [Non-WindowsApp] section of your SYSTEM.INI file.

Printing's a Drag

You can print files by dragging-and-dropping them onto the minimized Print Manager icon. If you'd like Print Manager to appear minimized automatically when you start Windows, add PRINTMAN.EXE to the Load= line of your WIN.INI file.

DOS Mouse

No mouse support in your DOS apps under Windows? To enable mouse support for non-Windows apps, check the entry MouseInDosBox= line in the [NonWindows-App] section of the SYSTEM.INI file. The default value is 1 if an MS-DOS mouse driver that has the extension COM or SYS and supports using a mouse with a non-Windows app is loaded. The value 0 disables mouse support.

Load Limits

Your WIN.INI file's Run= and Load= lines can each handle 127 characters. Overcome this limit by creating icons in the StartUp group instead. If you want a program to run as an icon, click on the Run Minimized box for its PIF file.

Instant WIN-ner

Want Windows to load automatically when you turn on your PC? Just add WIN as the last line in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

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