Windows Tips: Make Windows More Energy-Efficient
Let your PC hibernate; take a Stretch Break.

Scott Dunn
From the January 2001 issue of PC World magazine

So you try to do your bit to conserve energy by shutting down your computer at the end of each day--only to find yourself drumming your fingers impatiently while waiting for Windows to give permission to turn off the PC. The next day you wait all over again for the system to boot and Windows to launch. Then you open your applications and arrange your active windows just the way you like them. By this time you've been at your desk several minutes and have accomplished very little. There's a better way, at least for most Windows users.

The trick is to send your computer into a state of hibernation after a period of inactivity, either on demand or automatically. It's just like shutting down except that your current Windows state is saved on your hard disk. You still have to boot up, but Windows will start faster, and all the apps that were running when the snooze began will open automatically in the same position. But first, you have to find out if your PC supports hibernation and understand your options if it does.

Determine compatibility: Whether your computer supports hibernation depends on various hardware and software issues. In Win 9x, the feature is not available if your hard disk uses the FAT32 format. To find out if hibernation is available, choose Start, Settings, Control Panel, Power Options and look for the Hibernate tab. If you don't see it, you're out of luck. Even if you do see it, you must have enough hard disk space on your boot drive to store your current Windows state. To see if you have sufficient space, click the Hibernate tab and look in the box labeled "Disk space for hibernation." If you don't have enough, do some housekeeping and, if necessary, move files to another drive.

If you're using Windows 2000 on a network, check to see whether you can actually enable hibernation. Log on as the administrator and return to the Hibernate tab in the Power Options Properties dialog box. Check Enable hibernate support, then click Apply. If you receive an error message, your system may be on a network whose policies conflict with this feature. Otherwise, you're all set.

New shutdown/start-up options: Once the hibernation feature is enabled, you may notice several new options on various menus and dialog boxes. For example, when you click Start, Shut Down, you'll see the Hibernate option has been added to the Shut Down Windows dialog box. You will probably want to choose this method of powering down your computer. The next time you boot up, Windows will resume more quickly, and all your apps will be just as you left them. You may have to enter a password, depending on how your system is configured, but the process is still quicker than going through the standard Windows start-up.

The power-button option: Another hibernate option gives you more control over shutdowns. Return to the Power Options Properties dialog box (via Control Panel, as noted) and click the Advanced tab. Under "Power buttons," choose Hibernate in the "When I press the power button on my computer" drop-down list.

Hibernate automatically: If you tend to wander away from your computer for hours at a time, you can save energy and trouble by setting Windows to hibernate automatically after a period of inactivity. Return to the Power Options Properties sheet and click the Power Schemes tab. At the bottom of the Properties sheet, choose a time period from the "System hibernates" drop-down list. Skip the low amounts on the list and choose something more reasonable--for example, After 2 hours. Since restarting after hibernating takes longer than canceling a screen saver or using the standby mode (a low-power state in which the hard disk and monitor are shut down), you'll want an option that shuts your system down after a significant period of time. For shorter intervals, use standby and other System settings in this panel.

Make your schemes come true: If you want your system to hibernate automatically only at specific times or after a different interval, try one of the canned "schemes" from the "Power schemes" drop-down list at the top of the Power Options Properties' Power Schemes tab. The schemes are most useful when you're switching between battery and plugged-in mode with a portable PC, but they work with desktop hibernation as well. (Users of Windows Me and 2000 needn't settle for one of the prepackaged schemes, however. Set up the options you want in this Properties sheet, click Save As, type a name, and click OK. Repeat these steps for each situation you need.) To simplify switching from one scheme to another, click the Advanced tab and check Always show icon on taskbar. Click OK. Any time you want to change to another scheme, click the taskbar icon (near the clock) and choose the one you want. To open the Power Schemes Properties dialog box at any time, double-click the icon (or right-click it and choose Adjust Power Properties).

Deal with the downside: If your computer is set up for multiple users, hibernation is pointless. Only the last user's Windows settings will be restored, and only if that user's password is entered at restart. When the administrator logs on, the last user's window settings and unsaved work will be lost. Windows can't store hibernation settings for more than one user.

Start Out on the Right Font

In the September issue, I told you how to adjust fonts for Windows Help and for Internet Explorer 4 and 5. Unfortunately, the programs sometimes forget your font-size settings. To ensure that they use the same font size each time you start Windows, even if you (or others using your computer) change the font sometime during that session, make Windows import one Registry setting with every start. You don't need to dig through Registry Editor settings, however. All you need is a text file.

Choose Start, Programs, Accessories, Notepad. In the Notepad window, type REGEDIT4 and press Enter twice. If you use Internet Explorer 5 or later, type [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\International\Scripts\3] (including the brackets) and press Enter. If you use IE 4, type [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\International\1252] (including the brackets) and press Enter. Finally, type "IEFontSize"=hex:02,00,00,00 and press Enter to apply the Medium font size to IE and Windows Help. Change the "02" to 00 to get the Smallest font size, 01 for the Smaller font size, 03 for the Larger font size, or 04 for the Largest font size.

Make sure the quotation marks in the last line are the straight (not curled) typewriter quotes. Notepad uses these quotation marks by default. Microsoft Word and some other word processors substitute curled quotation marks, which the Registry doesn't understand. If you have Notepad's Word Wrap feature turned on (choose Edit, Word Wrap to toggle it), the lines may break automatically, but that's okay as long as you didn't press Enter to add manual line breaks.

To save the document as a Registry entry file with the .reg extension, select File, Save As and browse to a place where the file won't be disturbed (such as the Windows folder or a folder that holds batch files). In the "File name" box, type a name such as "fontsize.reg" (including the straight quotation marks) so that Notepad will use your .reg extension and not its own .txt extension. Then click Save.

Right-click the Start button and choose Open or Explore. Navigate to the StartUp folder in the Programs folder. Right-click an empty area of the StartUp folder and choose New, Shortcut. In the command-line box, type regedit /s C:\Windows\fontsize.reg, changing this example to match your own path and .reg file name. Click Next and type a name for your shortcut, such as Reset Font Size, then click Finish. The font will return to this size whenever you start Windows or choose the regedit command from the StartUp menu.

If your fix doesn't work, adjust the path in your .reg file (it begins [HKEY_CURRENT_USER]). Choose Start, Run, type regedit, and press Enter. Choose Edit, Find, type IEFontSize, and click Find Next. Look in the left pane to see what folder IEFontSize is in. Locate and right-click your .reg file, choose Edit, change the path in Notepad to match the one in the Registry Editor, and select File, Save. If you have problems, go to the Registry Editor window and choose Edit, Find Next until you find each occurrence of this path. You may have to edit your .reg file and test it many times before you find the best path.

One-Click Exits, Restarts

A past issue explained how to shut down Windows from a shortcut icon, but I can no longer find the instructions. Can you help me set up this useful feature for Windows 98?

Jim Wiemer, via the Internet

The tip in question, from the July 1998 Windows Tips, illustrated how a command line for exiting and restarting Windows eliminates those bothersome confirmation prompts. It also allows automation via the Task Scheduler and makes it possible to create keyboard shortcuts for these common operations. With Windows 98, you can take this shortcut further by using various commands to exit or restart Windows without rebooting, or to reboot the system. This procedure won't work in Windows NT or 2000.

To create a shortcut for exiting Windows 9x, navigate to the folder the shortcut will be stored in. If you would like the commands to be available on the Start menu, right-click the Start button and choose Open. Then right-click the desired folder window and choose New, Shortcut. In the command-line box, type rundll.exe user.exe,exitwindows to create a shortcut that exits Windows (Windows 9x and Windows Me) or rundll.exe user.exe,exitwindowsexec to create a shortcut that restarts Windows without rebooting (Windows 9x only). Click Next, type a name for your icon, and click Finish. You can customize this feature even further by Alt-double-clicking the icon to display its Properties. Then click the Shortcut tab (if needed), and use the Shortcut key box to type a keyboard shortcut; or you can click the Change Icon button to select a new appearance for the shortcut icon. Click OK as many times as necessary to close all the open dialog boxes. If you have any difficulty getting the restart command to function, open the shortcut's Properties box and type a space followed by a 0 or a 1 at the end of the Target line.

In Windows 98 or Windows Me, you can create an icon that reboots the system (as opposed to merely restarting Windows) or that logs off the current account. Follow the same steps as above, but type this command line: rundll32.exe shell32.dll, SHExitWindowsEx 2 (it's case-sensitive, so watch capitalization following the comma). The "2" parameter causes a reboot. If you change it to 0, you will log off and on with a different account, and if you change it to 1, you'll get the "exit Windows" command explained above.

Windows Toolbox: Give Your Body and Mind a Breather With Stretch Break

Stiff neck? Sore back? Repetitive strain injuries? Welcome to the computer age. But you don't have to wait for these and other symptoms to occur. Give yourself a break with Stretch Break shareware from Para Technologies. This handy program sits quietly in your system tray until you summon it, or you can set it to activate itself after a specific interval (every half hour, for example). Its many helpful animations demonstrate stretching and other exercises you can do unobtrusively at your desk. You're able to control which exercises appear, their order, and how many repetitions you want to perform during a break. If the prompt comes at an inopportune time, you can click to delay your stretch 1 minute or 5 minutes, or to cancel that session altogether. Stretch Break is truly the pause that refreshes. Be nice to yourself and shell out the $45 registration fee. An evaluation version is available from our Downloads library.

Send questions and tips to We pay $50 for published items. Scott Dunn is a contributing editor for PC World.


[ min. html rev.:  Sept. 2005, Feb. 2006  pcd ]