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2,001 Tips
Windows 95

Be a Leftist

You already know that when you drag an object to or from the desktop using the right mouse button, you're given the option to Move, Copy, Create Shortcut or Cancel when you let go of the button. If you don't want to use the right mouse button (or you don't have one), you can accomplish the same thing by pressing and holding Ctrl+Shift, and using the left mouse button.

Your Disk Toolbox

Most of us use the Start menu to find ScanDisk, Disk Defragmenter or Backup. But there's a better way. In My Computer, right-click on a drive and select Properties. Click on the Tools tab. Here you'll get information on the last time you performed each operation, with launch buttons for each.

Better Backup

Win95 shipped with a backup utility that was not quite ready for prime time. Fortunately, Microsoft now offers a free update that fixes several known bugs in the original utility. It's faster, too. Download it from the WinMag Free Win95 Software page at http://www.winmag.com/win95/software.htm.

Put Things in Context

By right-clicking on folders, documents, programs and desktop objects, you can bring up the Context menu for that item. Using the Context menu, you can invoke the Properties dialog, as well as do file management tasks.

Good Memories

If you ever want to know what's happening with your system's use of memory, just select Start/Run and type MEM.

You Send Me

If you've put lots of destinations into your SendTo folder, you may want to organize them into cascading menus. Open the SendTo folder, which you'll find in the Windows folder. Select New/Folder, then place your shortcuts in the new folders.


Your Win95 CD contains a utility called LOGVIEW.EXE in \OTHER\MISC\LOGVIEW, which lets you view and edit your SCANDISK, CALLLOG, MODEMDET and NDISLOG files. These files can be helpful when you're troubleshooting some parts of your system. You can move LOGVIEW onto your hard disk, or just leave it on the CD.

Before You Lift a Finger ...

When you drag and drop a file, it's moved, copied or given a shortcut, depending on where you're dragging it from and dropping it to. The easiest and safest way to tell what it's going to do is to look at the lower- right corner of the icon you're dragging, right before you let go of the mouse button. A plus sign means the file will be copied. An arrow means you'll create a shortcut. If you see nothing, the file will be moved.

Copy My Move

If you press and hold the Ctrl key while you drag and drop a file or folder on the same storage device (say, from one location on your hard disk to another), the object is copied to the new location.

Get with the Program

If the object you're dragging and dropping is a program file, Windows will go ahead and create a shortcut in the new location by default.

A Clean Slate Is Great!

Whether your PC is brand new or three years old, there's probably unnecessary muck in your WINDOWS folders and Registry that's slowing things down. When you first buy a PC and every year thereafter, you should reformat your hard disk and start over. But before you do, make sure you have a full system backup and all your application installation diskettes or CDs, plus a Win95 boot disk that contains your CD driver (if you don't have the CD Driver, you can't install Win95 from a CD). It's also a good time to visit your PC vendor's Web site and grab all your hardware's updated drivers. But before you do any of this...

Get System Info on Paper

Right-click on the My Computer icon and select Properties from the context menu. Click on the Device Manager tab, then the Print button. Select the "All devices and system summary" radio button, then click on OK. This will give you more information about your hardware, IRQs, ports, memory usage, devices and drivers than you ever wanted to know. It would be a good idea to keep this printout handy for future reference.

Easy File Associations

There's an easy way and a hard way to change file associations. Here's the easy way. Click on a document to select it, then hold the Shift key while right-clicking on it and select Open With from the context menu. In the Open With dialog, make sure there's a check mark in the "Always use this program to open this type of file" box, then double-click on an application in the Choose window. Warning: Once you've done this, the box will be checked by default next time the dialog comes up.

Forget Your Password?

If you forget your Win95 password, just hit Escape at the password box, bring up the MS DOS Prompt and enter dir *.PWL at the WINDOWS directory to find your PWL files. Delete the one with your name in front of it. Restart your system and enter a new password when prompted (Win95 will ask you to verify it).

Pay No Attention To the Man Behind the Curtain!

Temporarily remove the Win95 screen that pops up during bootup by pressing the Escape key. You'll see what's going on behind the Win95 curtain.

Multiple File Associations

Normally, when you double-click on a document type, the system tells Windows to open the document in a specific application. Here's how to expand your options. Double-click on My Computer, select View/Options and click on the File Types tab. Choose the document type you'd like to open in other apps in the Registered File Types list. Click on Edit, then on New. Click on the Browse button to choose an application. Type something like Open in name of application in the Action field. Click on OK, Close, then Close again. Now, whenever you right-click on that document type, you'll see the option you typed in.

Get Familiar with Your Faces

Print out all the fonts on your system by opening Control Panel, double-clicking on the Fonts icon, then on the font of your choice and clicking on the Print button. You should do this for each of the fonts you want to take a good look at.

ScanDisk Disaster

The Windows 95 Resource Kit contains the following gem: "To remove long filenames from removable disks, include the drive letter with the command; for example, scandskw /o a:" However, it doesn't mention that this will automatically strip long filenames from the hard drive as well.

More BMP Icons

Any bitmap file can serve as an icon, and it doesn't have to be moved, resized or renamed. From within any shortcut's Change Icon dialog box, click on the Browse button, select All Files from the Files of Type box and double-click on the BMP file of your choice.

Be a Control Freak

If you're always launching Control Panel to fiddle with your system settings, make your life a little easier by putting Control Panel on your Start menu. Drag CONTROL.EXE from your WINDOWS folder and drop it on your Start button.

Free Net Utility #1

Win95 ships with a free Internet utility called IP Configuration that lets you check out all the vital stats of your Internet setup. Launch Start/Run and type WINIPCFG, then click on the More Info button.

Just Take a CAB

If you're like us, and like to install, uninstall and reinstall Win95 components often"and if you have 34MB to burn"copy all the CAB files from the Win95 folder of your CD to a folder on your hard disk. When you install components, from Control Panel's Add/Remove Programs item, click on the Windows Setup tab, select the components you want to add, click on the Have Disk button and just point it at the new folder that contains your CAB files.

Free Net Utility #2

Win95 also ships with a DOS program called Tracert that traces an Internet connection so you can see where the packets are hopping over the Net. Launch the MS-DOS Prompt window and type TRACERT followed by the Internet location (say, http://www.winmag.com).

Disable Call Waiting

If incoming phone calls disconnect you from your online sessions, you probably have call waiting. To disable it, open the Control Panel, double-click on the Modems icon and select Dialing Properties. Choose the code that disables call waiting on your phone line. Shred Files Without a Mouse Hold down the Shift key when you press the Delete key to delete a file instead of sending it to the Recycle Bin.

Cascading Control Panel

Place a cascading Control Panel menu on your Start menu by right-clicking on the Start button and selecting Open. Create a new folder and give it the following name: Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}

Call Up Dial-Up Networking Folder

You can place your Dial-Up Networking folder and its contents on the Start menu by adding a folder with this name: Dial Up Net.{992CFFA0-F557-101A-88EC-00DD010CCC48}

Pick a Printer Pronto

And likewise with your Contol Panel/Printers item. Give the file the following name: Printers.{2227A280-3AEA-1069-A2DE-08002B30309D}

Bail Out! BAIL OUT!!

If you're halfway through a drag-and-drop operation and change your mind, just bang on the Esc key to bail out.

Take a Look at Your Hardware

Right-click on your My Computer icon and select Properties. This tabbed dialog is your hardware's Rosetta Stone. By exploring the various tabs and items, you can find out about all the devices installed on your system, as well as your memory and port settings.

No Questions Asked

If you use the ERASE *.* command in an MS Command Prompt window, it asks you if you're sure, and you have to answer Y or N. Here's an undocumented Win95 feature: By omitting the period and simply typing ERASE **, it deletes the contents of the folder"no questions asked. This is great for batch files, which you want to run without human intervention, or whenever you don't want to be bothered by questions.

Maximize and Restore

Double-click on the title bar of any application, document or folder windows to toggle between maximized and restored states.

Close Minimized Apps

Right-click on the Taskbar buttons of minimized applications and select Close from the menu to exit them quickly.

Be a Copycat

Ctrl+C copies the currently selected file, folder, text or picture to the Clipboard.

A Cut Above

Ctrl+X cuts the currently selected file, folder, text or picture to the Clipboard.

Quick Setup

If you're like us and install a lot of software, save yourself some time by creating shortcuts on your desktop to A:\SETUP.EXE and A:\INSTALL.EXE.

It Pays to Paste

Ctrl+V pastes the contents of the Clipboard"files, folders, text or pictures"to the currently selected object.

Get a Quick Start

Dragging any application or document onto the Start button will place that item on the Start menu.

Survey Your Properties

Bring up the Properties dialog fast by holding down the Alt key and double-clicking on the object of your choice.

Out With the Old

Win95 could very well be loading your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files unnecessarily. It will do so if it thinks you still need them. To find out if you do, make backup copies of each, and make sure you have an emergency boot diskette handy. Change the name of CONFIG.SYS to CONFIG.OLD by right-clicking on the file (you'll find it in the root directory of your hard disk), selecting Rename and typing in the new name. Now, shut down your system and restart. If everything works, then do the same with your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

Start Menu Secret

Here's how to put top-level Start menu items in the order you want and also launch them with keystrokes: Right-click on the Start button and select Open. Rename each item by placing a number in front of it. Now you can open the Start menu by pressing Ctrl+Esc, and launch a program by pressing its associated number.

Win95 Etiquette

It's enough to make Miss Manners Mad! Those ill-behaved Win 3.x apps sometimes just don't mind their manners in Win95. Fortunately, Win95 comes with a handy utility that forces good behavior. Select Start/Run and type MKCOMPAT. Bring the heel to heel by selecting File/Choose Program, then clicking on the behaviors you'd like to induce.

The Secret Icons

Whenever you change an icon, you'll be offered the default source of icons. It's a file called SHELL32.DLL that lives in the Systems subfolder of your Windows folder. But there's another file hidden in the System folder called PIFMGR.DLL that contains Win95's secret stash of cool icons.

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