In February we asked readers to submit their best WinXP tips, and boy did they! Here are the best tips, in no certain order--one of which is the winner! Find out which tips took the prize in the upcoming April issue of Maximum PC!
Save Searches as FND Files
Any Search operation can be saved as a Search file (*.FND), Do so for any searches that you might frequently make (i.e. a specific mp3 in a large music collection folderdrive, frequent searches of My Documents for any kind of document, etc.), or just to provide a set of specific Quick Search shortcuts for yourself.
To save a Search:
1) First, actually perform a search, setting whatever search parameters you want your Search file to have:
* What to Search (i.e. All Files and Folders) --
* All or part of the file name: ( *.* for any fileall files)
* Look In (i.e. C-Drive, My Documents, etc) --
* Advanced Options (i.e. Include Hidden and System Files, Modified within the Last Month, etc)
2) When you have all your options set, click the Search button to start the search.
You don't have to let it complete a whole search...nor is it always advisable to. For instance, a search for "any file" on C would obviously find hundreds of thousands of files (and likely crash Windows Explorer along the way).
After it runs a second or two, click on the Stop button.
3) In the Search window, go to File --> Save Search. Choose a name (i.e. Search_C_Drive.fnd) and location, and then save.
These files can then be stored anywhere, but a good option is add them to the Quick Launch folder for one-or-two-click access to a given search.
The saved search file, when double-clicked, doesn't start searching automatically. Instead, it opens the search dialogue, but with all the search parameters you supplied already set.
So, in the example above, you need only change the [*.*] to whatever file-name, file-type, or word you want...without having to reset all the additional search parameters over again. This is especially useful on systems with multiple drivespartitions, since the default search option is to "search all drives" and you typically only need to search one drive.
Setting priority for DNS lookups to speed up Internet connection
I've been able to obtain a very stable and faster cable internet connection on my Win XP computer after experimenting with priority settings in the registry key listed below. When a web URL is typed into a browser window, the browser uses these settings, among others, to find the website's DNS. The settings below give the highest priority to the DNS Cache lookup, next highest to local, third highest to hosts file, and fourth highest to NetBIOS. The DWORD for "Class" should not be changed. The aim here should be to keep the priority numbers low but different.
If the numbers are higher, the priority for each lookup is lower, often creating longer delays and some instability during the online experience. This tweak can work very well if the user keeps the DNS Resolver Cache up to date (i.e. flushes it occasionally so it can be recreated with working DNS entries) and the host file contains no out of date addresses. Some experimenting with low numbers in these four entries should improve any user's broadband connection.
Resetting ‘menushowdelay’ to improve menu speeds
My Win XP tip is to improve the menu speeds. In the registry, there are several values marked 'menushowdelay'. This is the time in milliseconds it takes for a menu to show up when you move your mouse over it. If you are like me, I hate to wait for a menu to show up - by lowering this number to somewhere between 25 and 75 (default is 400 in most cases) the menus show up in a reasonable time. Tailor the value to your taste and no pause is necessary to navigate each step through menus. The one for the start menu is HKEY_USERS>S-1-5-21-(stringofrandomnumbers)>Control Panel>Desktop>MenuShowDelay. If you do a search on that REG value, it shows up in several other places as well.
Easy loading of DOS programs on un-formatted space
If you create a partition on un-formatted space on your Win XP drive or another drive on your system and format is as FAT32, a Win95 or 98 startup floppy will see that area as the C: drive.
You can then install and boot to any old DOS programs you may have that you simply cannot do without. Of course, you will have to provide mouse and CD drivers and edit startup files to match.
An old network idea gets a new life at the home office with the Windows XP Network Bridge
On most new systems there is a built in network connection as well as a 1394 (Firewire) connection. Both of these connections can be found in the Network Connections window found in the control panel. This may want to be done while the system is not connected to a network as some switches are set to shut-down a port if the bridge command is given. This is not a problem for this procedure, as you will not make the bridge to the network permanent.
Select both connections, right click and choose Bridge Connections. The system will process your request and return with another network connection called a Network Bridge (Figure 2). Right click the Network Bridge and choose Properties (Figure 3).
Turn off the check next to Local Area Connection to remove it from the Bridge. Click the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in the items list and click the Properties button.
Use a non-routable address that does not match your router's or ISP subnet. In this example I use the 10.x.x.x address. Make your machine its own gateway. In other words, the Default gateway address matches the IP address (Figure 4). Click OK. Click OK.
Complete this procedure on all the machines in the network. 1394 comes with multiple connects, so you will daisy chain your machines.
You will now have two sections in your Network Connections and thus, two network paths out of your computer (Figure 5). Here are a few things you can do with this:
1. Remove FILE AND PRINT SHARING from the Ethernet connection and share your network resources through the Bridge.
2. Share your Internet connection through your 1394. This work GREAT for LAN parties where you want to connect to an outside source. Some games will not allow you to connect through a router on multiple machines. Just connect through your fastest machine and share the internet connection to the other machines. I used this to team up on HALO.
3. Move files from one machine to another at 400 mbps.
4. Firewire drives only work on one machine at a time, so people constantly have to disconnect their drive from one machine to connect it to another to utilize the 400 mbps speed. In this scenario, you can connect your Firewire device to one machine and share it to the others all while still being able to transfer at 400mbps.
Increasing number of max downloads in IE
This is to increase the number of max downloads in Internet Explorer to 10.
1. Start Registry Editor
2. Locate the following key in the registry:
3. On the Edit menu, click Add Value and then add the following registry values:
Open CD’s , drives, and folders with one easy click and without a cluttered desktop
Tired of Windows CD auto-start never working when you need it and working when you don’t want it to? Or are you sick of having to perform a bunch of clicks just to open a drive and you like to have a clean desk top? This little tweak puts all of your precious “My Computer” icons in your Quick Launch toolbar.
>Zoom over to C:Documents and SettingsUsernameApplication DataMicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick Launch. Leave this window open at half screen.
>Now open up my computer again.
>Drag and drop all of the drives you want from My Computer into the Quick Launch folder. You can even put a shortcut to any folder you want by right clicking on the folder and selecting create shortcut. Then drag and drop that folder into the Quick Launch
How to Display a DETAILS Tab in Each Device Properties Dialog Box
Windows XP can display in each device properties dialog box a supplementary tab named 'details' that lists advanced information about the current device that is mainly dedicated to administrators or developers. To permanently display the 'details' tab in each device properties dialog box of the device manager, use the following method:
- Click Start/Control Panel
- Double click ‘System’
- Click the Advanced tab
- Click ‘Environment Variables’
- Locate the ‘System Variables’ frame
- Click New
- In the Name label, type: “DEVMGR_SHOW_DETAILS”
- In the Value label type 1 and then click OK, OK and OK
Now in open the device manager, double click a device of your choice and you have a new DETAILS tab with tons of information to dig in.
Changing motherboards without reinstalling Win XP
One tip I have come up with resolves Windows XP’s inability to allow for a motherboard change without reinstalling. There is a way around this. Before you change the motherboard go into device manager and change the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers to "Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller". You do this by going to update driver and then selecting "Don't Search. I will choose the driver to install." Then select the "Standard....Controller."
After you have changed the controller, shut down the PC and change the motherboard. You should now be able to boot without the blue screen. Now load the new motherboard drivers including the new IDE controller driver. This is useful for people who use removable drives or people who need to upgrade their motherboard.
How to temporarily disable windows file protection without having to restart Windows
This tip is quite useful if you like messing with Windows system files but hate restarting into safe mode every time you want to try something. It is especially useful for swapping your uxtheme.dll for a hacked one that will let you use skins. Here’s how to swap out one file for another.
To do this, you need to know how exactly Windows protects its files. It stores copies of the protected files in x:windowsServicePackFilesi386. When you change a file, it just moves the copy it has to replace whatever you changed. The following instructions need to be done twice, once to replace the backup in x:windowsServicePackFilesi386, a second time to replace the original in x:windowssystem32
First, locate your target file and back it up! Copy it somewhere and rename it to a.bak. Next, rename your replacement file, (if you are swapping uxtheme.dll, name it uxtheme1.dll) and copy it to the target directory. Now Ctrl+Alt+Del to bring up the Task
Manager and end the process explorer.exe. Your taskbar should disappear. Switch to the Applications pane and click New Task, the Browse. Browse to your directory, and rename the file you want to replace (i.e. uxtheme.dll to uxtheme.bak), then rename your new file (uxtheme1.dll to uxtheme.dll). Do the rename dance again in x:windowssystem32 and you are all set.
That’s it! Hit cancel, then type explorer and hit enter. Windows doesn’t even know the difference!
Remotely access your PC from any Internet connected PC
This tip will allow you to log on to and use your computer from any internet connected computer. First make sure that you have the Internet information services installed. To do that go to Control Panel>Add/remove programs and then click the windows components tab. When you select IIS go into the details and select World Wide Web server and look at its details. Also make sure the web server and the remote desktop web connection are both selected. Then install those components following the instructions. Next go to control panel> administrative tools> Internet Info Services. Expand the main tree and then expand the web sites and right click the properties of the default web site and make sure it is started. Following that go into your system properties (control panel>system or right click My Computer and hit Properties) and choose the remote tab. and enable the remote desktop. While there click the 'select remote users' button and type in the name of the user, and then check names and then add the name. Now you should be set.
Go to a different computer. To log on go to http:///tsweb. You will be prompted to install an ActiveX control so accept it. Now you are on the main page. The server is your computer's network name, choose your screen size and hit connect. You will be taken to your windows log in. Have fun.
Manually syncing Windows clock with Internet time server
Windows doesn’t sync its clock with the Internet time server enough which can be crucial when recording shows through a TV tuner because the Windows time has to be in sync for a successful record. Therefore, I have decided to manually sync the time through windows registry every 30 min to maximize its accuracy. Here’s how:
1. Click Start and select Run
2. Type "regedit" and press enter
3. In RegEdit, navigate to: KEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMControlSet001Services W32TimeTimeProvidersNtpClient
4. Select "SpecialPollInterval"
5. Change to decimal value
6. Change decimal value from 604800 to a different value in seconds. i.e.: 172800 (2 Days) or 86400 (1 Day) or 1800 (30 minutes)
7. Close RegEdit
Manually locating User Profiles
I like to have my System and programs on my C Drive and my Data on my D drive. The problem is under a normal install and Windows XP operations, All the Use data is over on the C drive under documents and settings. Yes, I can move My Documents by right clicking on it going to Properties and using the Move button, pick a new spot or directing it to a folder on my Data drive D, but this is a big pain if I load my system from scratch. I have 5 logins one for ME, one for my wife and one each for my two kids, along with an extra one I use for school or work to create extra mail accounts, etc.
Solution – Roaming Profiles. After initially loading windows and creating logins for each family member, which by default Win XP creates on C, I login as Administrator and go to System Properties, Advanced, and User Profiles. You can then use the Copy To function to copy complete profiles to a different location, in my case my D drive where all my data is. I create a root folder called Profiles, then a subfolder matching each user’s name, along with a sub-folder within that user name called Local Path. You can copy all but the Administrators profile, because you are logged in to that one and I never customize it anyway so it doesn’t matter. NOW VERY IMPORTANT, you must go to My Computer, Tools, Folder Options, View and turn UNCHECK Use Simple File Sharing. While each user by default has Administrator Rights, log in as that person and locate your profile on the Data Drive. Right click on the root of your profile – your user name – and go to Sharing and Security, Security and make sure the current user logged in has FULL Control and then go to Advanced, Owner. Change the Folder Owner to the current user, this is normally a change from Administrator if that is who created the folders on the data drive to copy the profiles to in the first place. Also check the Replace owner on Sub-containers too. Repeat for each user and profile.
Once I have set full control and folder owners for each users profile directory, I then go to My Computer and go to Manage, Local Users and Groups, Users. Set the Profile Path and Local Path to match the ones created for each user on the data drive. You can turn on Simple file sharing after everything works, as well as set users actual rights, which I normally change to Super Users or even just Users depending on who it is in my family so as to protect my system from the harm they can do. While turning simple sharing back on, be sure to check the box Launch Folder Widows in Separate Process to prevent some types of system crashes or lock-ups.
If you have done everything correctly, the system will then allow the user to login using the “Roaming Profile” on the Data Drive instead of the base ones on the System Drive. Now as you setup custom desktops, shortcuts, colors, favorites, cookies, etc. They are all stored on the Data Drive. This allows you to do clean install on the system drive and then only having to point to the profiles and local path on the data drive once you are fully loaded from scratch. This works even better if restoring form an image file, as the profiles will already be pointing to the data drive.
I also create a subfolder under My Documents, for my Outlook PST file to keep it safe too.
To back-up the profiles directory, login as Administrator – remember this account didn’t have a profile on the data drive – and simply copy the root “Profiles” directory to another location – you will not have any file in use or sharing errors, if only the Administrator is logged in at the time.
-Cory M. Burcham
Easy way to create endless folders
Here’s a great way to create an endless supply of new folders - It takes a bit of setting up, but results in a one click solution. In your Windows folder create a new folder. In that new folder, create another new folder. Now, create a shortcut and in the 'location' field type:
%windir%System32xcopy.exe "%windir%New Folder" "%username%desktop" /S /E
Name it 'New Folder' and place the shortcut in your Quick Launch toolbar. A single click will create a new folder on your desktop. Note that if you have moved the desktop folder from its default location, you will have to alter the path "%username%desktop" to the true location.
For smoother operation, open the properties of your newly created shortcut and chose RUN:Minimized. This will prevent the CLI window from opening briefly.
Windows automatically removing unneeded DLL’s from cache memory
Here's how to improve system performance by having Win XP automatically remove unneeded DLLs from cache memory. Sometimes XP keeps DLLs in cache memory even when the program that required them is no longer running and this cuts down on the memory available to other applications. You can use a simple Registry hack to have XP automatically remove from cache memory DLLs that are no longer needed by programs.
Run the Registry Editor and go to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorer
Create a new DWORD value named AlwaysUnloadDll, and give it a data value of 1. Exit the Registry and reboot for the new setting to take effect. Note that this setting may cause problems with some programs. Some Windows programs—especially older and 16-bit programs—may issue error messages with this setting in effect; so if that starts happening, delete the new key or give it a value of 0.
Previewing message, headers + HTML in Outlook Express
In Outlook Express for Windows XP you can see the entire message, including headers and the full HTML code, including any links, without opening it or even flagging it as opened. More than once it has saved me from opening a questionable e-mail that was not obvious spam. I also use it to check e-mail that I am not expecting from family and friends, in case they get hit by a worm going through their address book.
Right click on the message. From the menu click on Properties. Click on the Details tab, then click on Message Source. Enlarge the new window to full screen and you can read everything. If it's spam delete it.
-Bruce J. Hutchison
How to Keep your Internet Connection open when switching users
- Click Start
- Click Run and open regedit
- Navigate to the following key:
HKEY LOCAL MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsNTCurrentVersionWinlogon
Right click an empty space in the right details pane, and select New / String value. Name the new value KeepRasConnections. Double click it and in the value date field, type: 1
This works great for those of us still using a dial-up connection.
-Kenneth G. Citizen
Searching with Google (or other search engines) straight from the Taskbar
1) OPTIONAL: in IE click Tools > Internet Options > Advanced tab, and uncheck Show Go button in Address bar and Reuse windows for launching shortcuts
2) In IE click the “Search” button and click Change Preferences > Change Internet search behavior > With Classic Internet Search > then click on Google under Select the default search engine
3) close IE and then restart it again, the Search pane should come up automatically, if not click the Search button
4) Click Customize > Autosearch settings
5) Under Choose a search provider for address bar searches choose Google sites (or any other), click OK twice and close IE
6) Right click the Taskbar and click Toolbars > Address
7) right click the Taskbar and uncheck Lock the Taskbar (if locked), position the address field accordingly
8) OPTIONAL: right click on Address (to the left of the address field) and uncheck Show Title
9) OPTIONAL: lock the Taskbar again
Now you can simply type in what you’re searching for in the address field on the taskbar, click the Go button (or simply hit Enter) and IE will open and conduct a Google search for you. Also note that your search must consist of at least two words and one space to work properly. The address field can also be used to navigate your computer or the web. For instance you could type: c:, maximumpc.com, or ftp://redhat.com and Windows would open the appropriate program and navigate to the location for you.
Forcing Windows to give up default 20% bandwidth reservation
By default Windows XP reserves 20% of your bandwidth. Here is how to fix this.
Go to run type in gpedit on the left you will see local computer policy under this you will see administrative components expand this then go down to network and expand then click Qos folder then on the right double click limit reserveable bandwidth and enable it then just below that look for bandwidth limit (%) and set to 0 zero then click apply. then go to control panel open network connections right click your connection go to properties make sure Qos is there and make sure it is checked . restart you are done
Preventing Windows from sending user/kernel mode drivers and code to page file
If you have a considerable amount of RAM in your system (512 MB or more) you can improve system performance by preventing the OS from sending user-mode and kernel-mode drivers, as well as kernel-mode system code, to the paging file.
You can do so by changing a setting in the registry.
1 Launch the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).
2 Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControl
Session ManagerMemory Management.
3 Double-click DisablePagingExecutive DWORD value.
4 Change the value in the Value Data text box from 0 to 1, and click OK.
5 Close the Registry Editor.
Ripping MP3’s using XP Pro + Media Player 9
My default install of XP Pro and Media Player 9 did NOT allow me to rip CD's into MP3 format, only Windows Media Audio. If you want to use Media Player to do your ripping, search you system for the file "l3codec.acm". If you don't have it, you can get it free from the install of Media Jukebox (available at http://www.musicex.com/mediajukebox). Once you uninstall the application, the codec remains. Easy CD Creator 4 also had this codec.
Anyway, once you have the codec, copy it to your WindowsSystem directory.
Next, create a REG file containing the following, then import it:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
Finally, register the codec by running from the command prompt "Regsvr32 13codeca.acm".