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2,001 Tips
Windows 3.x
Windows 3.x And DOS

Freedom of Choice

Add the following lines to the end of your AUTOEXEC.BAT to give yourself the choice of staying in DOS or loading Windows when you start up: @ECHO To exit to DOS, press CTRL+C PAUSE. To load Windows, WIN. If WIN is already there, just add the first two lines. When AUTOEXEC.BAT executes, it will echo the "To exit" text to the screen (the @ sign suppresses the word ECHO from printing to the screen). PAUSE stops execution and echoes the text "Press any key to continue." Press Ctrl+C and AUTOEXEC.BAT will abort before the WIN command, leaving you at the DOS command line. Press any other key and the file moves on to the WIN command and loads Windows.

Better Think Twice

Before you delete a CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT line, insert REM and a single space at the beginning of the line so it will be ignored at start-up. If you later discover you need the line, just remove the insertion and it will be back in action. Don't remove the entire line unless you're really sure you don't need it.

Work Faster

Double buffering may be unnecessarily slowing down disk access. To see if you need double buffering, exit Windows and type SMARTDRV at the DOS prompt. If every entry under the buffering column is "No," you can probably turn it off. (Some SCSI controllers require it, so check your manual first.) Use Notepad to open CONFIG.SYS and find the line DEVICE=C:\PATH\SMARTDRV.EXE/DOUBLE_BUFFER, where PATH is the path to the SMARTDRV.EXE file. Delete /DOUBLE_BUFFER from the line.

For Your Information

To insert remarks in CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT for information purposes, type REM, a space and then a short explanation of the line immediately above or below. This can help you recall the purpose of various switches and other parameters a device driver or TSR program requires. A semicolon with no space after it serves the same purpose.

Maintain Integrity

If 32-bit file access presents a problem for a DOS application, you may get a message that says, "Application has violated system integrity." If you get this message often, open Control Panel's Enhanced applet, click on the Virtual Memory button and then disable 32-bit file access. If that solves your problem, there is indeed a conflict between 32-bit file access and the application.

Take Precautions

If you install a new application and something goes wrong, it could cause a problem with your INI and GRP files. To avoid this problem, make daily automatic copies of these files. Use Notepad or SysEdit to add the following lines to your AUTO-EXEC.BAT file before the WIN line:

cd \windows

copy *.ini *.ibk/y

copy *.grp *.gbk/y.

The /y switch suppresses a confirmation prompt to overwrite an existing file. Now, if something goes wrong with Windows, you can easily recover your old setup by exiting to DOS and typing:

cd \windows

copy *.ibk *.ini/y

copy *.gbk *.grp/y

Directories at Your Fingertips

For point-and-click access to frequently used directories, add them to your File Manager's drive icon bar. To display a directory as a drive, set the LastDrive= command in CONFIG.SYS to a Z. Next, add a line to AUTOEXEC.BAT that tells File Manager to substitute an unused drive letter for a particular directory. For instance, if you add


to your AUTOEXEC.BAT and reboot, File Manager displays the F: drive, which represents your D:\PRESENTATIONS directory. Now, you can easily copy and move files to your D:\PRESENTATIONS directory by clicking on the files and dragging them onto the F: drive icon.

Version Verification

Many Windows applications let you select a directory name during setup. You can use this feature to track the application's version. For instance, if you're installing Microsoft Word 6.0, change the default directory name from C:\WINWORD to C:\WINWORD6. Now you can tell at a glance which version of an app you've installed in each directory.

Stay Current

Chances are you have duplicate copies of EMM386.EXE, HIMEM.SYS and SMARTDRV.EXE in your C:\DOS and C:\WINDOWS directories. If you use any of these files, make sure the appropriate line in CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT points to the latest version.

Safe Start-Ups

MS-DOS 6.x lets you troubleshoot various start-up problems by pressing function key F8 when you see the "Starting MS-DOS" message. The system then displays the contents of your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files one line at a time. As each line appears, press y and watch for an error message before the next line is displayed. Pressing n will bypass a line you suspect is causing trouble. Pressing function key F8 or Escape executes all remaining lines with no further pauses.

Clear Your Path

Many Windows apps add their own directory to your PATH statement during setup. In most cases, Windows doesn't need the new information, and you can clear the DOS PATH of this excess baggage. If Windows needs to know the location of an executable file, highlight the program icon, select File/Properties and add the file's complete path to the command line.

Get Out of DOS

Windows normally won't let you close DOS sessions without manually exiting from each one. To change this, use PIF Editor to create or modify the PIF (program information file) of the app you want to close. Click on the Advanced button and check the box labeled "Allow close when active." But don't close any DOS app that's in the process of disk or other I/O activity because this may cause DOS to become unstable and crash your system.

Don't Do It in DOS

Don't run a DOS disk defragmenter, Norton Disk Editor or any other disk-repair utility from a DOS window within Windows. These utilities can cause serious damage if a Windows app tries to access the hard disk at the same time. Exit Windows first, then run the utility.

Have It Your Way

MS-DOS 6.x lets you create a customized start-up menu with different system configurations. Edit your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files to specify which devices and TSRs you want to load in two or more customized configurations. For detailed information and examples, switch to your DOS directory at the DOS prompt and type

Teach Your Mouse a New Trick

To use your mouse in a DOS session under Windows, enter the following lines in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file:



Revise both lines to indicate the actual path and filename for your DOS mouse driver. If the mouse doesn't function in a DOS window, add or edit the following line in the [NonWindowsApp] section of SYSTEM.INI:


You'll need this line if you're using an older grabber file, such as version 3.0.

Ditch Task Swapper

If you're running Windows, avoid the DOS Task Swapper. Opt for the Windows Task List of Alt+Tab to navigate from task to task in order to save conventional memory.

No-Frills Editor

DOS Edit is a great tool for light editing chores, such as writing batch files and macros. You'll find this handy applet in MS-DOS 5.0 or later. Here are three ways to run it:

  1. From the command line in a DOS session. Switch to your DOS directory and type EDIT.
  2. By clicking on its icon. From Program Manager, select File/New. Click on Program Item, fill in the Program Item Properties dialog box and select one of the DOS icons.
  3. By typing or browsing to its command in Program Manager's File/Run dialog box. DOS Edit requires the presence of Microsoft QuickBASIC. Don't erase the QBASIC.EXE file in the DOS directory if you plan to use the EDIT.COM utility.

Rescue Lost PIFs

If you modified a PIF file that Windows installed for you at setup, and you later decide to restore the original settings, rerun Windows Setup from the Main program group and select Options/Set Up Applications. You can reinstall the original PIF over the one you modified.

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