[ Go to 2,001 Tips Table of Contents ]

2,001 Tips
Windows 95

Root Around

To keep shortcuts to your favorite folders handy, set up permanent shortcuts that open a "rooted Explorer" view with your folder at the topmost level of a hierarchical tree. Right-click on the shortcut, select Properties and then the Shortcut tab. Place your cursor at the beginning of the Target field and add C:\windows\explorer /e,/root, (include the final comma) to the beginning of the command line. By double-clicking on the new shortcut, you'll get an Explorer window, with the folder you selected at the top.

What Color Is Your Desktop?

What better way to express your sense of taste"or lack thereof"than by customizing the look of your desktop? Select Control Panel/Display or right-click anywhere on your desktop and select Properties. Now change your desktop pattern, wallpaper, screen saver or color scheme to whatever your heart desires.

You Know Where to Send That

When you right-click on most objects, you'll usually see a Send To option. This offers you a number of locations you can send the item you've selected. The default locations are useful, but why not throw your own favorites in there? Just open the SendTo folder in the Windows directory, or select Run from the Start menu and type sendto. Anything you put in the SendTo folder (preferably shortcuts) will then appear on the Send To menu.


Create a shortcut to a printer by opening the Printers folder (Settings/Control Panel/Printers) and dragging a printer icon to the Desktop. You can then drag documents onto the shortcut and print instantly. You can also put a printer shortcut in your Send To folder so printing is always a right-click away.

Send It to the Desktop

Moving files to the desktop is a good way to keep them in sight, but a pain when your desktop is covered by open windows. A simple workaround is to create a shortcut to the Desktop folder in the Send To folder. Now, whenever you right-click on an object, the Desktop will appear in the Send To menu.

Return to Send To

If you keep finding yourself adding new items to the Send To menu, save some time by creating a shortcut in the menu that points to the Send To menu. Just open the Send To folder, located in the Windows directory. Right-click in the folder and select Create New Shortcut. For the shortcut pathname, just type sendto. This seemingly recursive action lets you add in your favorite folders on the fly.

Desktop on Top

If you like to work on your applications full-screen, but still want to get at your desktop icons quickly, this tip's for you. Create a shortcut to the Desktop folder"you'll find it in your Windows directory"and put it in your Start menu. You can also keep the folder continuously open and minimized on your Taskbar simply by minimizing it. The folder will stay there through all your reboots, as long as you never close it.

Get Right to the Root

You can pop up rooted Explorer views on the fly by creating an option for them in the right-click menu for folders. Edit the action list for the Folder file type, as in the previous tip, and create a new action called Explore from Here. For the application path, type C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE /E,/ROOT,%1. You can also set this up automatically with Microsoft's Power Toys, available on WinMag's Web site.

Carpe DOS

Here's a way to bring up DOS windows faster. Follow the same steps as in the previous tip to bring up the action list for the Folder file type and create an action called Open MS-DOS. In the Application Used to Perform Action field, type C:\WINDOWS\DOSPRMPT.PIF. Now, right-clicking on any folder will bring you to a DOS prompt, with the folder you selected as the current directory.

Exploit Explorer

You probably find the Windows Explorer view more useful than the default window view, so why not make Explorer the default? Bring up the View/Options menu from any folder within Explorer, go to the File Types tab and double-click on Folder in the list of registered file types. Select explore from the list of actions and click on the Set Default button. Double-clicking on a folder will now bring up Explorer, every time.

A File With a View

For a light-and-fast file viewing utility, check out Quick View, which ships with Windows 95 (you won't see it if you opted for a typical Win95 install). By default, Quick View only pops up as an option for certain types of files, so if you change a TXT file extension, Quick View will no longer show up as an option. But you can enable QuickView for any file type you want by going to View/Options in any folder window and selecting File Types. Select the file type you want to change, click on the Edit button, and check the box marked Enable Quick View. You can also put Quick View in the SendTo folder to view any compatible document on the fly.

One-Click Wonder

If you always refer to the same documents, and they're compatible with Quick View, create a shortcut that will open them with Quick View instead of the default application. For each file you want to set up, create a shortcut to the document; a good location would be in the Start menu or on the desktop. Then bring up the Properties window for the shortcut and click on the Shortcut tab. In the Target field, append C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\VIEWERS\

QUIKVIEW.EXE to the front of the path.

Picture, If You Will

Turn your favorite BMP image into a Windows 95 icon. Change the file extension from BMP to .ICO, and Win95 will automatically replace its generic icon with a miniature version of the actual BMP, converted to 32x32 pixels and 16 colors. To use the new icon, bring up the Properties page for any shortcut you want to change, and go to the Shortcut tab. Click on the Change Icon button and browse until you find your new icon file.

You Can Show Them All

To turn all your BMP images' icons into miniature versions of themselves, run REGEDIT, then drill down to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/Paint.Picture/DefaultIcon. Now, double-click on (Default) in the right pane and change the value of DefaultIcon to %1. Now all your BMP images will be represented in Explorer by icon versions of themselves.

Start Somewhere Else

To move your taskbar to another part of the screen, click on an empty spot on the taskbar and drag it to any edge of your screen. Your desktop will automatically resize itself to accommodate the change. You can also expand or contract the taskbar by clicking on its edge (look for the double arrows) and dragging it to the desired height.

Register to Note

Make it easier to open unrecognized file types by making them all default to Notepad. Create a new document on your desktop (right-click and select New/Text Document) and double-click on it. Then type the following lines into the file:REGEDIT4 [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\ open] @="&Notepad"[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\ open\command] @="Notepad. exe %1" Next, save the file with a REG extension, rather than TXT. Finally, double-click on the file to add an entry into your Registry file (to see the actual changes, open up the Registry and look under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell). Now, all file types will have a Notepad option in their right-click menus, and unregistered files will open with Notepad by default.

Take Your Bar to Task

Right-clicking on a blank space on the taskbar and going to Properties brings up a dialog box that lets you customize the bar. Selecting Auto Hide will make the taskbar appear only when you place the cursor at the very edge of the screen. Always on top is the default, but you can deselect it if you want windows to overlap the bar. You can reduce the size of icons in the Start menu, or get rid of the clock in the corner of the bar. To add or remove programs from your Start menu, click on the Start Menu Programs tab and click on Add or Remove.

One for All

If you have several people working on one computer, or you like to work in different Windows environments for different jobs, there's an easy way to store and access different configurations. Go to Control Panel/Passwords and select the User Profiles tab. Check the option "Users can customize their preferences and desktop settings" and the appropriate User Profile Settings checkboxes. To switch from one user to another, go to Shut Down on the Start menu and select Close All Programs and Log On as a Different User. The user name you enter when you log on determines what configuration Windows 95 will assume. To create a new personality, specify a new user name during the next log in, and customize at will.

Recycle This

Change the name of the Recycle Bin to one more to your liking. (Attempt this only if you have some familiarity with the Registry.) Run Regedit, then click on the plus sign next to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. Then select Edit/Find and search for the phrase Recycle Bin. In the resulting window, double-click on (Default) and type in the name of your choice. You can also change the icon by expanding the selected folder in the left pane (it will be the one with an open folder icon and a long name beginning with {645FF040...) and clicking on the folder DefaultIcon. The right pane will then list three keys for Default, Empty and Full, representing the various states of the Recycle Bin. To change any one of them, double-click on the icon to bring up the Edit String dialog. Replace the text in the Value Data field with FILENAME,xx where FILENAME is the complete path to the file containing the icon you want, and xx is the icon number (00 if there's only one icon in the file). To see your changes take effect, hit F5 to refresh the desktop. You can also change the icons easily with the Microsoft Plus Pack.

You and Your Shadow

In certain circumstances, you may get increased performance out of Windows 95 by turning off ROM shadowing. Note that this is usually effective only for systems with no 16-bit drivers. It's a good idea to experiment to see which settings get the best results.

It's Only Temporary

Some programs, like Adobe Photoshop, use a large number of temporary files. If you've got more than one hard drive in your system, try to direct these temporary files as far as possible from existing swap space. If your swap space is in a partition of its own, but on the same drive as your system files, put the temporary files there for rapid access.

Watch Your Defrag

Avoid using any defragmentation program that isn't aware of long filenames. You can not only destroy your long filename space, you might wind up corrupting the drive's data as well, especially on volumes that are 1GB to 2GB in size.

Make That Video Fly

If video performance on your system is slow, make sure you're not using more colors or a higher screen resolution than you need to. Also make sure you're using the correct video driver for the exact make and model of your video card. A "generic" driver, while workable, often can't take advantage of chip- and card-specific hardware. Check the manufacturer's Web page for the most recent drivers.

Adjust Graphics Settings

Another possible solution to video trouble: Open the Control Panel, click on the System tab, then the Graphics button. Try moving the slider to different settings to selectively disable video options.

Clean the System Tray

Having icons in the system tray uses not only memory for the applications in the tray, but memory for the tray itself. The most common program in the system tray is the Volume Control, which can be turned off using Control Panel/Multimedia. In the Playback section of the Audio tab, turn off the "Show volume control on the taskbar" checkbox.

Put It in Context

If Win95's context-sensitive menus don't have the commands you want, change them. Go to View/Options in any folder or Explorer window, click on the File Types tab, select any type of file and click on the Edit button. You'll see a dialog with the list of Actions showing the commands that will appear in the menu for that file type. Click on the New button, then type a name for your command in the Action field. In the field labeled "Application used to perform action," type the command line to the application you want to launch, or click "Browse..." to locate it. One of our favorite custom commands: an "Edit" command that opens HTML files in Notepad or any editor, rather than opening it in a browser.

[ Go to 2,001 Tips Table of Contents ]