Windows Tips

SAN FRANCISCO (03/03/2000) - The Web viewpane of the Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 Explorer vastly improves your preview of common bit-map image formats (such as GIF, JPEG, and BMP), letting you zoom in and out or launch a larger preview window. To activate this feature for a given folder, right-click an empty area of the folder and choose Customize This Folder. Click Next, check Choose or edit an HTML template for this folder,Uncheck the other boxes (if necessary), and click Next once again. If you haven't enabled the Web view for this folder, a prompt will remind you to do so. If you receive the prompt, click OK. Select Image Preview from the Customize list, and click Next and then Finish. To preview any file, just select its icon on the right; you'll see the preview to the left of the list of files.

If you wish, you can increase the preview size somewhat: Enlarge the Explorer window, close the Folder pane on the left (by clicking the X to the right of the word Folders at the top of the column), or do both. But this solution goes only so far. To enlarge the preview area, you have to click the Full Screen Preview button, but this opens a separate window, defeating the convenience of previewing files as you browse the list. If you're willing to roll up your sleeves and edit the folder's template file (folder.htt), you can enlarge the preview area to better use the Web view column.

Here's what to do. As before, right-click an empty area of a folder that contains your images, and choose Customize This Folder. Click Next, make sure Choose or edit an HTML template for this folder is checked, uncheck the other boxes (if necessary), and click Next again. Select Image Preview from the list, but this time also check I want to edit this template. Click Next to see the folder.htt file open in Notepad. The HTML code may look scary, but you'll be making only a few changes.

First, find the line that begins with #ThumbDiv (it should be visible without any scrolling). In that line change 'top: 50%' to top: 5%. Then change 'height:

50%' to height: 95%. The preview will now use most of the height in the Web view column. Next, choose Edit*Replace. Type 300 in the 'Find what' box and 500 in the 'Replace with' box. Click Find Next. Make sure the 300 this search finds is part of an expression line containing 'panelwidth > 300' or 'panelwidth = 300'. Click Replace twice (there should be only two occurrences in the file).

Click OK, and then click Cancel to close the Replace dialog box. This change allows the preview area to keep expanding as you increase the size of the Explorer windows--especially helpful if you use a high-resolution display.

The changes you've made so far will enlarge the preview area, covering up the file information that normally appears in the Web view column. This isn't a concern, since you can see most of that information in the file list just by choosing View*Details. However, the Web view column gives some information not available in the file list's Detail view, like the dimension of the image in pixels. To make the image dimensions readily visible, you can move the image information to the top of the column so the preview image won't cover it.

Choose Edit*Find, then type and click Find Next. When Explorer finds the text, click Cancel to close the Find dialog box. Now press , then press and hold down while you press the key two times to select the entire line that was found as well as the next line (which should read simply ''). Choose Edit*Cut. Now move the cursor several lines up until it's positioned at the beginning of the line that reads '

'. Choose Edit*Paste so that the two lines you cut now come before the FolderName line. Then choose File*Exit, click Yes when prompted to save changes, and click Finish in the Customize This Folder Wizard.

Now when you open the folder and select a file on the right, the preview area will occupy most of the Web view column and show the image dimensions above the preview. If you don't get the results you want, right-click an empty area in the folder and choose Customize This Folder. Click Next, select Remove customizations, click Next, make sure Restore default folder template is checked, click Next, and click Finish. Then try again.

The next tip helps you get the most out of this preview area. Happy browsing!

HIDDEN SHORTCUTS ENHANCE IMAGE PREVIEW

If you have one or more folders using Image Preview mode (see previous tip), a few keyboard tricks can make short work of zooming and panning: Hold down the key to temporarily reverse the direction of zooming. Hold down to pan around the image. For example, if you're using the zoom-in tool to enlarge an area and you go too far, don't bother selecting the zoom-out tool to fix things; just -click in the preview to zoom out. Conversely, when the zoom-out tool is active, -clicking will magnify the image. To pan around a large or magnified image without using the scroll bars, just -drag in the preview area; the pointer will change to a hand.

INSTANT FOLDER TREES

In Windows 95 and the first version of Windows 98, you managed files using one of two views--a two-pane Explorer window (with a folder tree on the left and file icons on the right) or a single folder window displaying only files, without the tree pane. There was no switching back and forth. You could click the Control menu icon (the upper left icon on any window's title bar) and select Explore to open the dual-paned Explorer, not a very elegant solution. IE 4's Desktop Update component added the ability to remove the tree pane if you started out with an Explorer window, but if you started with a folder window, you couldn't add the tree pane.

In Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows 2000, you can turn the folder tree on or off instantaneously by clicking the Folders button on the toolbar. Clicking the Search, History, or Favorites buttons will also replace the folder tree pane with one of those panes. That changeable area is known as the Explorer Bar. (The Favorites button is not on the toolbar by default; you have to right-click the toolbar and choose Customize to add it.) To activate the Explorer Bar from the keyboard, press -E (Search), -H (History), or -I (Favorites). Folders, unfortunately, don't get their own key.

To launch that bar, press and release , then type veo (which translates to View*Explorer Bar*Folders). And of course, you can close an Explorer Bar by clicking the X in the pane's upper right corner.

If you're running in full-screen view (press to toggle this mode), you can autohide any Explorer Bar by clicking the Push-pin button next to the Explorer Bar's Close (X) icon. One click keeps the pane in sight; clicking again and moving the pointer over the file icon pane makes the Explorer Bar disappear until you move your pointer to the left edge of the screen.

THE CLEAN AND EFFICIENT DESKTOP

Aren't you tired of scanning your desktop, trying to find the icon you need amid the clutter you've allowed to accumulate? Here's a way to clean up the clutter and still have access to all the applications, folders, shortcuts, and other icons on your desktop. The trick is to hide the existing icons but make them accessible through a Desktop toolbar. To do this, you'll need Windows 95 with IE's Desktop Update feature installed, or Windows 98 or later.

First, let's make the existing icons invisible. In Windows 95, double-click My Computer and then choose View*Folder Options. Click the View tab, then scroll down and check Hide icons when desktop is viewed as Web page under Visual Settings. In Windows 98, right-click the Desktop and choose Properties. Click the Effects tab and check Hide icons when desktop is viewed as Web page. In either version of Windows, you'll have to view the desktop as a Web page to make the invisibility take effect. (If you haven't already done so, right-click the desktop and choose Properties. Make sure there's a checkmark by View my Active Desktop as a Web page. Then click OK.) Unfortunately, Windows 2000 doesn't allow you to hide your desktop icons. To achieve that, you'll need an application that has this capability, such as WallMaster Pro, a complete wallpaper management utility available at www.tropicalwares.com as well as from FileWorld.

The desktop looks cleaner, but now you need access to the items that used to be there. Right-click an empty area of the Windows taskbar and choose Toolbars*Desktop. You should now have a new toolbar on your taskbar with the familiar icons.

If the new toolbar crowds your taskbar, position the pointer over the double lines near the toolbar name and either drag it to the desktop (for a floating toolbar) or to another available edge of the screen.

Note: Before you attempt this tip, be sure to minimize all your running applications so you'll have access to your desktop. I find that minimizing to a vertical edge works best, as the toolbar icons align vertically the way your desktop icons used to.

Next, I recommend you right-click the toolbar title Desktop and choose View*Small to make the icons fit more comfortably on the toolbar without the need to scroll (Windows 98 or Internet Explorer 4) or use the >> menu to get the extra items (Windows 98 SE or Internet Explorer 5). If you need more room, you can right-click and uncheck Show Title.

Feel free to set other desktop and taskbar attributes, such as Always on Top, Auto Hide or both. Note that you can drag and drop icons within the taskbar to suit your style, but you can't move system icons like My Computer and the Recycle Bin. By reducing your icons to a single column (or a single row) of buttons, you make it easier to scan for whatever item you need.

Note that you can still drop items on the desktop; they'll simply appear on the toolbar rather than on the desktop itself.

MAKE SCANDISK MIND

SOMETIMES WINDOWS 98 crashes (can you believe it?) or I accidentally shut off the computer without waiting for the 'Safe to Shut Down' message. The next time I boot up, Windows automatically runs Scandisk. It never finds any problems. I want to run Scandisk on my own schedule, rather than each time Windows starts up after a hard landing. Can you help?

Joe Dorazio, Seattle

Although disk maintenance after a crash is a good idea, there's no reason you have to let Scandisk dictate when you perform this important chore. Here's your alternative: Choose Start*Run, type msconfig, and press . With the General tab in front, click the Advanced button. Then check the box for Disable Scandisk after bad shutdown. Click OK two times to close the Advanced Troubleshooting Settings dialog box and exit the System Configuration Utility.

You can either click Yes to restart your computer, or click No and wait for the setting to be applied the next time you restart. You won't be bothered again.

EXPLORE FILES WITH KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: You'll get around faster if you learn a few keyboard shortcuts. Here are some of the most useful for Windows Explorer. I've omitted all the so-called accelerator keys--the shortcuts you get by pressing and an underlined letter of the menu. I've also omitted the navigation keys like , , the arrow keys, and so forth, since those work as you'd expect in any scrolling list. (Remember to add to those keys to select a range of items. And note that in versions since Win 95, you can use - and - to go backward and forward just as you would in a Web browser.) Instead, I've assembled a list of shortcuts involving the key plus a character. And since they overlap, I've thrown in the most common function key shortcuts as well.

Unfortunately, not all keys behave the same in Explorer as they do in the look-alike Web browser Internet Explorer. For example, -D will delete a file in Explorer but add the current page to your Favorites menu in IE. These differences are noted in the accompanying figures.

The key is supposed to cycle through various window elements, but its behavior is inconsistent between versions of Windows. In addition, - doesn't always reverse the order of the cycle as you'd expect. The key does a better job of this, and - reliably does the same thing in reverse.

You can find files mentioned in this article at www.fileworld.com/magazine.

Send your questions and tips to scott_dunn@pcworld.com. PC World pays $50 for published items. Contributing Editor Scott Dunn is a principal author of The PC Bible, 2nd Edition (Peachpit Press, 1995).

WINDOWS TOOLBOX

Eliminate Duplicate Graphics

IF YOU DOWNLOAD a lot of multimedia files--sounds, film clips, or especially images, chances are you'll end up with duplicates that serve no purpose and waste disk space. One solution is Unique Filer, a handy $15 shareware utility that quickly and cleverly ferrets out the duplicates so you can review and send them straight to the Recycle Bin. You can choose from a variety of strategies for determining which files are duplicates, and compare results in side-by-side preview panes. Available from FileWorld or at www.sohosoft.com/uniquefiler.

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