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computer tips...
The little things...
Here is a collection of computer tips that are either unusual or just plain helpful in everyday computing. I've found out, it's usually the little things that make us crazy. This page is dedicated to conquering the little things.

Clean up that hard drive clutter... Here is how to get rid of those unneeded files. Go to "start | find | files or folders" and in the 'named' box, type "*.tmp" (without the quotes). Make sure the 'look in' drop-down box is set to look in all of the drives on your computer, and include sub-folders. Click 'find now'. You can highlight everything that comes up in the window and delete it. (To do this: click the first file and hold the left shift key down while you click on the last file. At that point, right click and choose delete.) Follow the above instructions for "*.chk" files. Now you can empty your cache by opening "IE5 | tools | Internet Options" and click 'delete files' under 'temporary internet files'. Last, empty your recycle bin.

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Get rid of desktop icon clutter... by creating a new start menu folder. To do this open Windows Explorer. In the left window scroll to the 'windows' folder and click on the plus sign. Scroll down to the 'start menu' folder and click on it. In the right window, right click on an empty space and choose "new | folder". Now you can give your new folder a (witty) name. If you look in the left window, you will see your newly named folder.

We're ready to put shortcuts of all your favorite programs in here. Find a program. For example, let's say I want to put in a shortcut to my MusicMatch Jukebox. I go to 'program files' and scroll down until I find the musicmatch folder and I click on this folder. Somewhere in the right window will be the '.exe' file I need. (The one I want happens to be 'mmjb.exe'.) We'll drag and drop it into the new folder. Just right click on it and drag it to the left window and move it toward the bottom of the screen until your new folder is in view and highlighted...and drop. Choose "Create Shortcut(s) Here" and you're done. Repeat this process for all the programs you want to put in the folder.

To see your new folder in action, click on the 'start' button in the lower left corner. You'll find it towards the top of the menu. Click on it to access it's contents. Since these are all shortcuts to your programs in it, you can delete them without having any effect on the orginal program.

Last, but not least, delete the icons on your desktop so you have that unclutterd view. These are all mostly shortcuts also. If you want to check, right click on the icon and click properties. It will tell you in the box that comes up. I only have one icon on my desktop (My Computer), which Windows won't let me remove from the desktop. I'm sure there is a way, but I just haven't stumbled across it yet. But, to get rid of other stubborn icons, use TweakUI and go to the desktop tab. You can uncheck any icons you don't want on your desktop any longer.

Don't you feel 100% more organized? Enjoy that new desktop!!

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Make Outlook Express 5.0 your default email client... Go to "Start | Run" and type the following: "C:PROGRAM FILES/OUTLOOK EXPRESS/MSIMN.EXE/reg". (Check the path to msimn.exe to make sure that is correct.) Then open Internet Explorer and go to "Tools | Internet Options | Programs" and set Outlook Express as the default mail (and news) program.

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To restore a backup from the registry... If things go bad on your computer, there is a way to go back to happier times. A new backup of your registry is automatically created everytime you start your pc in Windows98. To restore a backup go to "start | shut down | restart in MS-DOS mode". When you see the command prompt (C:WINDOWS> ) type "scanreg" (without the quotes). Follow the instructions to view the backed-up registry files and restore the most recent one. When you have finished and are back at the command prompt, type "exit" (without the quotes), and you will go back to windows.

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Get rid of those carrots (>)... If you forward an email that has been passed around (with alot of those > > > > 's in it) delete them the easy way. Here is how: Copy the text of the email. Open up wordpad or MS word, paste the text in it. "Click on edit | replace | find". Type in "> " (without the quotation marks) and don't type anything in the 'replace with' box. Then copy and paste the text back into the email to send out. All of the little things (> ) will be gone! I do that to all the things I forward that has a collection of > 's.

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Toolbar troubles? If you have ever wanted to move your toolbar from the default bottom of the screen location or if somehow, all of a sudden, your toolbar is plastered on the top or side of your screen and is driving you crazy...rest easy. Simply find a small empty spot on the toolbar, left click it and drag it to the desired location and drop!!!

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Let's clear up the "BCC / CC" confusion... "Allow me to set the scene: You're working in an office and the boss has given you strict orders to e-mail Bill in accounting about the new budget proposal. Now, the boss wants to know exactly what you said to Bill in your e-mail. How can you do that? Send the same message to both of them at the same time. In most e-mail clients, you have an address line and another line below it labeled "CC." So, the person addressed in the CC: line will get an exact duplicate of the message -- a carbon copy. But your boss didn't want it known that you're sending a copy to him. To solve this dilemma, simply enter your boss's e-mail in the "BCC:" ("blind carbon copy") field. Now the message will go to both Bill and your boss, but your boss's e-mail will not be visible to the recipient(s). It's just like using carbon paper to make copies... except you don't get ink all over your fingers. If you do get ink on your fingers while sending e-mail, then something is definitely wrong. Even Bill could tell you that."
The above is from Lockergnome's Weekly Windows (from Chris Pirillo).

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To create a picture of your desktop... go to your desktop, then click the 'Print Screen (Print Scrn)' button on your keyboard. Doing this creates an image of whatever's on your screen at that moment, which in this case is your desktop--and puts it in the clipboard.
Now open up Paint (Start | Programs | Accessories) and go to "Edit | Paste". Your image will open up in the program. Now save it; it will be saved as a bitmap (.bmp) If you can't use it yet because bitmap images are way too large, you will have to resize it. You'll need to open up the image in a graphics program (many will do the job; Irfanview is a good freeware app), resize it if need be, and then save it as a .jpg.

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To change your homepage... Let's say you have found the perfect site to become your homepage. To make it happen, open the page that you want to use. Go to "tools | internet options | general" then click the 'use current button'. Then click "apply | ok".

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Make your own personal toolbar... Here are the instructions for setting up a toolbar menu:
  1. Open up Windows Explorer and go to My Documents. (This selection is up to you, but I have a folder for my things in My Documents, so I put this in there.)
  2. Create a new folder there and give it a short name. I use a symbol like ~ or you can use +, but keep it small...maybe just one letter.
  3. Now right click on an empty spot in your toolbar.
  4. Go to "toolbars | new toolbar".
  5. In the window that pops up, find the folder you just created in My Documents (or where ever you chose to create it.) Click on the folder, then click ok.
  6. Now in your toolbar, you will see your new "toolbar" entry!

To put selections of your favorite or most used programs in that folder: (For an example I will show you how to get My Documents in the new toolbar folder.)
  1. Open up Windows Explorer (BTW, I also have Windows Explorer in my toolbar folder because I use it so much).
  2. Open up the tree in the left window to expose your new folder. (No need to open your new folder...just be able to see it.)
  3. You now want to have the icon for the program you want in your new toolbar in the right window. So,in this case, click on MAIN DRIVE (C:) and everything in C: is shown in the right window...including My Documents.
  4. Right click on the My Documents icon, and drag it to your new folder and drop it.
  5. A menu will pop up...select the option 'Create Shortcut(s) Here'. (By doing it this way, you will have only a folder of shortcuts that you can delete anytime you want.)
  6. Using the vertical selection handle on the toolbar, slide it to the right to show only the title (in my case ~). This conserves a lot a space on your Taskbar.
  7. By sliding it to the right, it creates a little double carrot symbol > > . Click on those carrots to open your new toolbar.

Now you have a quick way to access your most used programs and folders. This is very handy.

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Making your own icons... Be creative. Give the shortcuts on your desktop more personality by designing your own icons. Here's how: go to "Start | Programs | Accessories | Paint". On the Image menu, click Attributes. Enter 32 pixels in Height and Width. Create an icon using the paintbrush or pencil tools. Name and save your icon.

To replace an existing icon on your desktop with your new one...
Right-click the icon on your desktop that you want to replace. Let me add here...this icon must be a shortcut for this method to work. (To check if it is a shortcut, right click on the icon, and one of the tabs on the box that pops up will say 'shortcut'.) Go to "Properties | Change Icon | Browse". Locate the folder containing the icon you created. Highlight the icon you want. Click "open | ok | apply | ok". The icon you created will now replace the original on the desktop.

But you just have to change all the icons. Don't worry. There is a way to o change 'My Computer, My Documents, Network Neighborhood, Recycle Bin (full and empty)'. Simply right-click somewhere on your desktop. Then click "Properties | Effect | Change Icon | Browse" and locate the folder you saved your icons in and follow the above steps.

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Save desktop real estate... To get the most out of your screen viewing size, here is what I did. Open "IE5 | view | un-check status bar". Under "view | toolbars", only check 'standard buttons' and 'address bar'. Under "view | toolbars | customize", remove any toolbar buttons you don't want; and in text options choose 'no text labels'; and in icon options, choose 'small icons'. Last, right click on the address bar and drag it to the toolbar above and drop it beside 'help'. (Resize it to fit.) One last tip...click on F11 to toggle between full-screen and normal view.

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No more double clicks... If you want to use single clicks on your desktop and throughout Windows follow these steps: Open "Windows Explorer | View | Folder Options". In the General tab, click the radio button for 'Customize the click settings'. Under 'Click Item as follows' click 'Single Click to Open'. Then click 'Underline icon titles as I point at them' (then you will see what you are about to click). Then click OK then Close. If you like single-clicking, as when you're on the Internet, you will love this feature. It works in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows 2000.

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Restore IE5's memory for passwords... If you accidently checked 'don't offer to remember any more passwords' in IE5, here is how you can un-do it. Go to "control panel | Internet Options | content | AutoComplete". Put a check in these boxes 'usernames and passwords on forms' and 'prompt me to save passwords'. Click OK.

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Don't get lost... when surfing using Internet Explorer. If you'd like to click on a link but save your place, hold the Shift key while clicking. A new window opens to display the second site. Another little tip...use the Tab key to navigate to a particular link on a page, and then press 'shift-enter' to open that link in a new Window--- all without ever touching the mouse!!

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Overcoming floppy fears... You've got all these floppy discs, but how do you control them? First off, you may have to format one at some time or another. That is simple enough. Open up 'Windows Explorer'. In the left column, right click on '3 1/2 Floppy (A)'. In the box that pops up, left click on 'format' and another box will pop up. For a faster format, check the 'quick' box. For a more complete format, check the 'full' box. (I usually do the quick one.) Click 'start' and it will do it's thing. When it's done, it will tell you.

Ok, next senerio. You have something on that floppy that you don't ever want to erase. To keep all information safe from erasing, turn the floppy over and you will see a little box on the lower right hand corner that has a sliding tab. (Go ahead, slide it up and down.) . Keep the little box is open, everything is safe...you can only view the floppy or run any programs stored on it. If you decide that information is something you want to live without, close the little box. When the little box is closed, you can add and remove information on the floppy.

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Check back every now and then...I add items willy-nilly. :-)
I hope you have found something that helped you become better friends with your computer!