SAN MATEO (06/05/2000) - It won't be too many more weeks now before we can all buy Windows Millennium Edition (ME). Meanwhile, my readers have sent in several good tips to help you get the most out of Windows 98 and Windows 2000 while they're still the latest, greatest things.
No blue screen? No problem
I'll be the first to admit that Microsoft Corp. has eliminated in Win2000 many of the problems that crashed NT and led to the Blue Screen of Death.
But reader Michael Berry points out that you may never actually see a blue screen while using Win2000 even if there is a crash. That's because Win2000 is set to automatically reboot! This may, of course, be exactly what you want if you're responsible for an unattended Windows 2000 Server. An automatic reboot in this situation at least allows the server to get back into service instead of remaining hung all night, inconveniencing remote users.Fortunately, Win2000 makes it easy for people who don't want to reboot at random to change the default. Click Start, Settings, Control Panel, then open the System applet.
Select the Advanced tab, then click the Startup and Recovery button. Turn off "Automatically reboot" and click OK.
Creating shortcuts needn't be a drag
In my earlier column, I wrote that you can right-click the My Computer icon then click Manage to get to Windows 2000's new Computer Management utility (see "Readers send in their best tips on Internet security, USB mice, floppies, and more," www.infoworld.com/printlinks).
Reader David Houck recommends placing your frequently used Computer Management tools directly on your Win2000 Desktop. To do so, follow these steps:
Step 1. Use Windows Explorer to view your c:\winnt\system32 folder.
Step 2. Right-click the folder, then click Search. Search for *.msc files.
Step 3. Select the tools you want (or select all by pressing Ctrl+A).
Step 4. Right-click the selected list, then click Create Shortcut. Presto! Your tools now show up as icons on your Desktop.
Houck points out that you can create Desktop icons for regular Control Panel applets. Just change Step 2 to search for *.cpl files. This works in Windows 9x/2000 and Windows NT.
Better file associations in Win2000
Charlie Paschal found a feature of Win2000 that makes it easier than Win9x to change file associations.
Right-click a file with the extension you wish to change the association of (such as.rtf). Click Properties.
The Properties dialog box has a new button labeled Change. Click this and the Open With dialog box appears. Simply select a new application, and files with that extension are automatically associated with that app from then on.
I reassociated .rtf files from Word to WordPad. I send people documents as .rtf attachments. I then recommend that they read them in WordPad or Word Viewer, neither of which can run macros (unlike Word).
This eliminates the fear of macro viruses, and gives people more confidence in opening my attachments.
It's not a feature, it's a benefit
Bruce Kratofil, one of my co-authors of Windows 2000 Secrets, has found a strange quirk in Win2000.
To speed up your Web surfing on a slow modem, you can turn off the display of pictures in Internet Explorer. But later, when you're using Help, you find that pictures don't show up there, either. This is one of the "benefits" of integrating the browser with the operating system.
To turn pictures on in the Help system, you must click Start, Settings, Control Panel, Internet Options, Advanced, Show Pictures.
Calling all Win98 TweakUI users
I wrote on May 1 that you could install TweakUI, a great utility, from the Windows 98 CD's \Tools\Reskit\Powertoy folder (see "Fixing NT slowdowns, sharing your Favorites folders, and tilting against Windmills,"). Michael Boyer points out that it's not in Win98 Second Edition, however.
SE users can get it from www.annoyances.org/win98/features/tweakui.html.
There's also a version of TweakUI for Win95 and NT users at www.microsoft.com/NTWorkstation/downloads/PowerToys/Networking/NTTweakUI.asp.
Readers Berry, Houck, Paschal, and Boyer will get a free copy of Windows 2000 Secrets.
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Brian Livingston's most recent book is Windows 2000 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.