[ Go to February 1997 Table of Contents ]

Cover Story
Utilitarian Toys

-- by Mike Elgan

Power Toys and Kernel Toys are free utilities and user interface improvements ranging from the ho-hum to the must-have. Created by Microsoft developers, they're not officially part of Windows.

The best of the lot is Tweak UI. This little utility probably addresses 90 percent of user complaints about Windows. For example, you can remove or reduce shortcut arrows, speed up the menus, kill the "Shortcut to" on shortcut icons, remove and add desktop items (such as the Inbox, Recycle Bin and Network Neighborhood), and more. Tweak UI works with Windows NT 4.0, too.

Desktop Menu puts an icon on the taskbar that displays all your desktop items in a cascading menu.

The Win95 CD keeps the installation files inside CAB files, which used to be impenetrable. CabView turns each CAB file into a folder full of ordinary files, so you can drag individual Win95 installation files from the CD without having to run the installation program.

FlexiCD is great for playing audio CDs on your PC. Right-click on its Tray icon, and you can use standard CD controls to pause, stop, hear the next track and so forth. The CD AutoPlay Extender adds Windows' autoplay feature to nonaudio CDs.

Explore From Here lets you create "rooted Explorer views." That means you can create an icon that leads to a hierarchical tree view of a folder you specify; only what's beneath the new "root" is displayed. You can also use Contents Menu to access files without opening their folders.

Select the HTML Printer Driver to create HTML documents directly from many applications.

No more reboots are needed to change your display's resolution or color depth. QuickRes lets you right-click on a Tray icon, make the changes and see the results instantly.

Find X 1.2 adds search options to the Start/Find menu, such as Find on the Internet, Find Address and Find E-Mail Message.

Send To X 1.4 puts the Send To menu on steroids. You use it just like the regular Send To feature, but you can ship your files to exotic locations like Clipboard as Name, which copies the file's path and name to Clipboard for you to paste. The utility adds five new Send To locations and allows a lot of customization.

If you right-click on a shortcut and choose Properties, you only get the shortcut's properties. But add Shortcut Target Menu 1.1 and you get the properties on the shortcut's target instead.

DOS Prompt Here 1.0 launches the DOS Prompt when you right-click in a folder and select the DOS Prompt item. The path in DOS leads to the folder by default.

XMouse 1.2 makes the focus follow your mouse pointer without the need to click.

The Round Clock is, well, a round clock.

Power Toys are unsupported. If you choose to swim in these waters, remember that no lifeguard is on duty. Still, we highly recommend these utilities. Just back up your data first.

Windows Magazine, February 1997, page 197.

[ Go to February 1997 Table of Contents ]