Windows 98 Tips


Finding Out Extra Hard Disk Space Fat32 Will Give You

Thinking of converting your hard disk over to Windows 98's FAT32? If so, you're probably wondering how much hard disk space you'll gain by doing so. Fortunately you can find out by downloading and installing a special utility called FAT32 Conversion Information. To download the utility, point your browser to Microsoft's Web site at

When you run the utility on a Windows 98 system, it scans your data and file structure and displays an estimate of how much extra hard disk space you'll gain. If you're not satisfied with the gain, you can exit the utility. However, if you're satisfied with the results, you can easily launch Windows 98's Drive Converter Wizard and convert your hard disk to FAT32.

Creating A Fat 32 Emergency Boot Disk

 Did you know that the Windows 98 CD-ROM contains a program you can run to quickly create a Boot Disk that's capable of creating and reading FAT32 partitions? The program is called Fat32ebd.exe and it's located in the Tools\Mtsutil\Fat32ebd folder on the CD-ROM. Just place a disk in the floppy drive and double-click the Fat32ebd.exe file. Then follow the on-screen instructions to create the bootable disk. When finished, it is recommended that you write-protect the disk to protect it from viruses.

Using Microsoft Fax in Windows 98

 If you used the Microsoft Fax feature of Windows 95's mail program, Microsoft Exchange or Windows Messaging, you were probably surprised to learn that Microsoft Fax doesn't appear in Windows 98's mail program--Outlook Express. However, you'll be glad to know that if you want to be able to use Microsoft Fax in Windows 98, it's available on the Windows 98 CD. To use it you must locate the \tools\oldwin95\message\us folder on the Windows 98 CD. Then, double-click on Wms.exe to install Windows Messaging. Once you've installed Windows Messaging, double-click on Awfax.exe to add Microsoft Fax to Windows Messaging.

Quickly Addressing The Internet

 If you're on a network that's patched directly into the Internet, you probably keep Internet Explorer minimized on your Taskbar all day long so that you can quickly and easily access the Web when you need something.

However, the whole time that Internet Explorer is running in the background, it's using valuable system resources that could be put to better use enhancing the performance of other tasks, such as calculating spreadsheet formulas in Excel. A better solution to this Internet need is to create an Address toolbar, by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting Toolbars/Address from the context menu. Then, move the Address toolbar to the top of your desktop and configure it to use the Auto Hide and Always on Top features. Now, when you need something on the Internet, just move your cursor to the top of the screen and type in the address and Internet Explorer will launch.

Instantly Transform Windows Explorer Into My Computer

 Have you ever been working in Windows Explorer and realized that the task you're performing could be done more easily in a My Computer style folder window? If so, chances are that you've closed Windows Explorer and then launched My Computer. However, why go to all that work when you can easily transform Windows Explorer into My Computer? It's easy to do! Just click the close button in the top right corner of the All Folders pane. You can then reverse the transformation by pulling down the View menu, opening the Explorer Bar submenu and selecting the All Folders option.


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Activating Thumbnail View

 As you know, when you pull down the View menu in either Windows Explorer or My Computer, you can choose any one of four default view options for displaying your files (Large Icons, Small Icons, List, Details). However, there is fifth view option in Windows 98 called Thumbnail view. As its name implies, this view will provide you with a miniature representation of each document in a particular folder. Before we show you how to enable the Thumbnail view, we should warn you that not all file formats are supported and that this view format is best suited for use on folders that contain graphic image files. Furthermore, you must enable the Thumbnail view on a folder by folder basis.

 To do so, locate a folder in Windows Explorer or My Computer and right-click on it and select the Properties command. When you see the Properties sheet for the folder, select the Enable Thumbnail View check box. Now, open that folder using either My Computer or Windows Explorer and pull down the View menu. When you do, you'll see Thumbnails listed on the View menu. Once you select the option, you'll see thumbnail views of all the files in that folder.

Windows Update

 Have you visited the Windows Update site yet this month? If not, you should do so. It's a good idea to visit the Windows Update site regularly in order to keep your Windows 98 system running in tip-top shape. Simply click the Windows Update link at the bottom of the Settings menu. For more detailed information on Windows Update, stay tuned for the article "Keep Windows 98 in shape with Windows Update" coming in the December 1998 issue of the Inside Microsoft Windows 98 journal.

Explorer Windows

 If under View>Options "Browse Folders Using a Single Window for Each Folder" is selected, you can open an additional window for each folder you select by holding Ctrl while you select it.

Renaming Files Fast

 To rename any file in Windows 98, single-click the filename twice-once to select the file and once to open the rename text box. Type the new filename over the old one. However, accessing the rename text box with two single-clicks can be extremely frustrating since it can be easily translated as a double-click instead. To avoid this, select the file with a single click and then press [F2]. The rename text box should then open.

 For people using the Active Desktop's single-click mode this technique works slightly differently. Instead, for example, right-click the item and select Rename from the context menu. Select the item by hovering over it and then press [F2]. Select the item, pull down the File menu, and select the Rename command.

Uncovering Multimedia Properties

 Have you ever wondered how many minutes a MID or WAV file will play? Fortunately, you can find out easily. To do so, just right-click on the file and select Properties from the shortcut menu. Once the file's properties sheet appears, click the Details tab and check out the Media Length field. You can then click Preview tab and listen to the sound clip.

Ace of Hearts

 Launch Solitaire and start playing. When you uncover the ace of hearts, move it to the table as you normally would. Hold the ALT key down, and tap once on the ace. If you want to quit this easter egg, press ESC and then click "No" to resume your Solitaire game. (If anyone gets this to work let me know)

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Searching the Internet from Find

 If you want to quickly and easily search the Internet, you can open the Find menu and select the On the Internet command. When you do, you immediately connect to Microsoft's Search the Web site. Once you connect to this site, you can easily conduct your search by selecting from five main search engines and dozens of specialized search sites.

Sending Email On-The-Fly

 Do you have one or two people that you find yourself constantly sending email to, perhaps a friend or a colleague? If so, you can now save yourself some time by creating a desktop shortcut that will open your email client with a preadressed message. Creating the shortcut is simple. Just right-click on a clear area of your dekstop and select New and then Shortcut from the shortcut menu. In the Command Line text box type mailto: and then the email address of your coworker, leaving no spaces. Click the Next button and type a name in the Select A Name For The Shortcut text box. Click Finish and a new shortcut will appear on your desktop.

Double-click on the icon and your email client, such as Outlook Express, will open with your coworker's address in the To: text box. Now, you can create and send your message as you normally would.

A Faster Startup

 If yours is a job where time is valuable and every second counts, then waiting for Windows 98 to boot must seem like an eternity. Fortunately, you can trim a few seconds off the boot process by configuring the file system to bypass the floppy disk check on start up. To do this, right-click on My Computer and select Properties from the shortcut menu. Next, select the Performance tab and then click the File System button. When the File System Properties dialog box appears, select the Floppy Disk tab and deselect the Search For New Floppy Disk Drives Each Time Your Computer Starts check box. Click OK to close the File System Properties dialog box and then click OK once more to close the System Properties dialog box. Restart your computer to see the difference.

A Faster Startup (Follow-Up)

 Recently, we sent out a tip regarding speeding up the Windows 98 boot process by turning off the Search For New Floppy Disk Drives Each Time Your Computer Starts setting. We received many reader emails expressing concerns that following this tip would remove the ability to boot with a Windows 98 Startup Disk--an obvious setback. However, our Windows 98 experts found that this is not the case. When you turn off the setting.

Windows 98 will start faster simply because the floppy driver uses the previous settings for drive information rather than checking for new drives every time Windows starts. Therefore, unless the settings for your floppy disk drive have changed, you'll have no problems booting to a Windows 98 Startup Disk. If you're still unsure--take it for a test run!

Right-click on My Computer, select Properties from the shortcut menu, and then click the Performance tab. On the Performance sheet click the File System button and then the Floppy Disk tab. Deselect the Search For New Floppy Disk Drives Each Time Your Computer Starts check box. Click OK twice and then restart your computer with a Windows 98 Startup Disk in the disk drive.

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Opening Folders In The Find Tool

 If you use Windows 95/98 Find tool to search for files, you'll love to know that you can easily access the folder containing the file. Once you track down and select the file that you were looking for, pull down the file menu and select the Open Containing Folder command. When you do, Windows 95/98 will open a new My Computer window showing the folder that contains the file.

Instant access to the Internet

 If you're like most people in today's Internet-centric world, you probably keep your Internet browser running in the background on your work PC all day long. That way it's ready and waiting when you want to quickly access your favorite Web site. Unfortunately, your browser is also sucking up valuable system resources and slowing down the other applications that you need to perform your daily tasks. So, rather than bog down your system by having your browser running when you're not using it, why not create an Address toolbar that you can place anywhere on your desktop? Doing so is easy: just right-click on your taskbar and select Toolbars|Address from the shortcut menu. The Address toolbar instantly appears on your taskbar, but you can move it to any place on your desktop by clicking and dragging it. If you want the Address toolbar to always be in view, right-click on it and select Always On Top from the shortcut menu.

Fast System Properties

 For those of you who like to dabble with individual device managers and hardware profiles and have a keyboard with the Win key on it, here is a badly documented shortcut to the System Properties dialog box. Just hold down the Win key and press Pause/Break. This is much faster than going to My Computer, Control Panel, System, etc.

Changing Desktop Icons

 You can easily change the icons of the four main items on your desktop. To do so, access the Display Properties dialog box by right clicking on the desktop and selecting the Properties command from the shortcut menu.

When the Display Properties dialog box appears, click the Effects tab. You can then select an icon in the Desktop icons box and click the Change Icon button. When you do, the Change Icon dialog box will appear and you can simply select an alternative icon and click OK.

Adding Icons to the Start Button

 To add an icon to the Start Menu in Windows 95, 98, or NT, simply click and drag any object from the desktop and drop it on the Start button.

Unscrambling the taskbar icons

 Sometimes when you change screen resolutions in Windows 98, your application icons on the taskbar can get scrambled. When this happens, place your mouse pointer on the vertical bar just to the right on the Start button and, when your cursor turns into a double-headed arrow, right-click. When the shortcut menu appears, select the Refresh command. Your application icons on the taskbar will then return to normal.

Renaming your Quick Launch toolbar icons

When you hover your mouse pointer over the icons on the Quick Launch Toolbar, you see the names assigned to the items as pop up tool tips. If you've added items to the Quick Launch Toolbar using drag-and-drop, the tool tip box will say Shortcut to [item]. You can remove the words "Shortcut to" and replace them with "Launch" or simply delete them altogether. When you do, the tool tip is cleaner and takes up less space.

To make this change, launch Windows Explorer or My Computer and access the c:\windows\application\microsoft\internet explorer\quick launch folder. You can then easily rename the shortcuts.


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Changing Icons On The Links Toolbar

 If you're using Internet Explorer 4.0's Links toolbar to provide quick access to your most often accessed Web sites, you know that each link shows the same icon. Fortunately, you can spice up your Links toolbar by assigning custom icons to each item. To do so, simply right-click on the existing icon and select Properties from the shortcut menu. Then, click the Change Icon button and use the Browse button to locate a file that contains the icon you want and double-click on it.

Adding To The Links Toolbar

 If you've configured Internet Explorer 4.0 to display the Links toolbar (View/Toolbars/Links) you know that it provides you with quick access to several of Microsoft's Web sites. However, did you know that you could easily add links to your own favorite Web sites to the Links toolbar? Doing so is easy and you can either delete the existing links or simply add your links to the Links toolbar. When you're connected to your favorite site, simply drag the Web site's URL from the Address box and drop it on the Links toolbar. You can also pull down the Favorites menu and drag various Internet shortcuts to the Links toolbar.

Hiding The Taskbar

 As you know, the taskbar is always visible at the bottom of the screen. This makes it very easy for you to switch between active applications. However, you might not want to sacrifice a portion of your screen for the taskbar. To configure the taskbar so it's visible on the desktop only when you need it, click the Start button and select the Taskbar command from the Settings menu. When the Taskbar Properties sheet appears, select the Auto Hide check box on the Taskbar Options page. Next, click the OK button to close the Taskbar Properties sheet and to activate the new setting. This "sends" the taskbar below the bottom edge of the screen. To access the taskbar when the Auto Hide option is activated, simply move your cursor to the edge of the screen. When your cursor gets close to the edge, the taskbar jumps back into position; when you move your cursor away from the taskbar, Windows 95 automatically hides it again.

Note: If you have Microsoft Plus! 98 installed and activate the Auto Hide option, the taskbar moves up and down more gracefully.

What's Going On Behind The Logo?

 Have you ever wondered what's happening behind the scenes while you're looking at the Windows 95 startup logo? If you have, you can easily find out by pressing the [Esc] button when the logo appears. In doing so, you'll see the Windows 95 boot process being narrated by a lot of rapidly scrolling text. If you want to really take it all in, you can temporarily stop the boot process by pressing the [Pause] key on your keyboard. Then, just press any key on your keyboard to get things rolling again.

One View For All Your Folders

 With Windows 98 it's a breeze to set global view options for all open folders because you can do so from any open folder window. Just open a folder window and select the viewing options that you want to apply to all folders. Then, select Folder Options from the View menu and click the View tab. In the Folder Views panel click the Like Current Folder button, click Yes to confirm, and then click OK to close the Folder Options dialog box. You'll see the changes the next time you open a new folder window.


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Cleaning up

 One of Windows 98's handiest utilities is the Disk Cleanup tool, which is designed to help you free up hard disk space. While Disk Cleanup automatically starts when the available free space falls below a 3% threshold, you can run it at any time. To do so click Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Cleanup. When Disk Cleanup launches you'll see a Files To Remove list box that contains four check-boxes:  Temporary Internet Files, Downloaded Program Files, Recycle Bin, and Temporary files. (You may find other check boxes on your particular system.) Simply select the check boxes you want and click OK.

 If you click the More Options tab, you'll see two more choices--

Windows setup and Installed program --that allow you to easily remove unneeded Windows components or application programs.

Looking At The Registry Checker

 As you may know, Windows 98 comes with a handy Registry maintenance tool called the Registry Checker. Each time you start your system, the Registry Checker automatically creates a backup of the Registry in the \Windows\Sysbckup folder. If you investigate that folder, you'll discover that Registry Checker actually keeps five backup copies of the Registry in compressed format as,, and so on.

 You can manually back up the Registry anytime you want. To do so, load the System Information utility (Start/Programs/Accessories/ SystemTools), pull down the Tools menu, and select Registry Checker.

As soon as you do, the Registry Checker will scan your Registry for errors and then prompt you to make a backup. Click Yes to replace the oldest backup file with the new one.

 If you ever find that you need to restore from a Registry backup, reboot your system to an MS-DOS prompt and then type Scanreg on the command line. Now, just follow the onscreen instructions to view your backed-up Registry files and restore the most recent one.

Bitmaps Bite The Dust

 It is well known that ZIP and video (.AVI) files take up loads of hard disk space, so they're a good place to start when trying to create more free space. You should know another culprit--bitmaps (.BMP). If you do a lot of Paint-ing--for example, you draw your own wallpaper--you need to be especially careful. It's easy to save four or five different versions of the same picture and then forget about them. Search your system for extraneous bitmaps and delete them, or at least save them in a more efficient format, such as *.GIF or *.JPG.

For Your Eyes Only

 Do you have files on your hard disk that you don't want anyone to access? If so, then you need to download a copy of Enigma for Windows 98 from Cyptosoft. This awesome utility, which received a 5-star rating from ZDNet, will allow you to encrypt, decrypt, as well as completely wipe files and folders from your hard disk. Using various encryption engines such as DES and Blowfish, this amazing utility will also work with ZIP files--allowing you to create self-extracting encrypted zip files. Enigma for Windows 98 is easy to use and is well suited for all computer users' security needs.

 Enigma for Windows 98 is shareware, which means that it's free to try, but costs $69 if you decide to keep it. You can download Enigma for Windows 98 from the ZDNet Software Library at

When you arrive, type the word "Enigma" in the Search text box and click the button.

Drag and Print!

 Create a shortcut to your printer by clicking on your Start menu, then Settings, then Control Panel, then Printers, and dragging a printer icon to the Desktop. You can now drag documents to the printer icon and print them instantly.

Tapping Into Newsgroups For Technical Support

 When you have a difficult Windows 98 problem to solve, you should spend some time investigating the newsgroups on Microsoft's free public news server. As you may know, one of the most valuable resources available to you is the knowledge and experience of your peers. What better way is there to learn than by observing the successes and mistakes of others?

 Newsgroups are a collection of ongoing discussions that cover a particular topic and are a free service available to anyone who has access to a news server. They're great forums for sharing your knowledge and experience with others, as well as seeing what others have to say. When using a newsgroup, you can either post a message in response to an ongoing conversation thread, or pose your own question that relates to the newsgroup topic.

 To access the Microsoft public news server, configure Outlook Express, or whatever news reader you're using, to request the latest list of newsgroups from the server.

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