Microsoft Windows tips and tutorials



Disable the Windows Guest account correctly

The Windows XP guest account is not only used to allow guests to login to Windows XP but also to authenticate the computer in peer to peer networks. Disabling the XP guest account is therefor only advised if you do not use file sharing, printer sharing or Internet connection sharing. Please note that file sharing refers to the build in Windows XP functionality and not applications like Bittorrent or Emule.

Windows restarts or shows Bluescreen after installing new hardware

My friend experienced a problem after installing a new hardware device on his Windows XP operating system. Windows XP would restart immediately and he was puzzled why this was happening. A quick lookup in the Microsoft Knowledgebase revealed that this was a rather common problem that could appear after installing new hardware.

restart explorer.exe

Restart the Explorer when Windows hangs

This is a quick Windows tip that helps me from time to time when some windows in Microsoft Windows do not react anymore to user input and show that dreaded sand clock mouse cursor. This only works if Windows is still responsive. To shut down the Windows Explorer you need to hit Start > Shutdown (Turn off Computer on Windows XP) and click cancel on the shutdown dialog while holding the CTRL, Shift and ALT keys.

find text in files

Locate text in files

A friend of mine was telling me about a problem that he had with his website Love is a Game. A user posted a comment on Stumbleupon claiming that his website would contain a virus which his anti-virus software reported. He mentioned the name of the virus as well and a text string of a different domain. My though was that he had misinterpreted the warning and that it was a warning from another website and not from my friends website.


Defrag Hard Drives only when they are fragmented

It does not make sense to start a hard drive defragmentation if the drive is not really fragmented. You might be loosing lots of time if you have scheduled those defragmentations. The defrag tool in Windows can be used to check the fragmentation level of a hard drive and we are going to use this to create a script that runs defrag only when the hard drive is fragmented.

Windows Media Player Playlists not working anymore?

The playlists that are generated by Windows Media Player have a different structure and file extension than generic m3u playlists which are supported by all software mp3 players. Windows Media Player Playlists are saved as .wpl files and a big difference is that they store the absolute path to the songs.

windows explorer start folder

Change the Default Windows Explorer Folder

The Windows Explorer default folder is the folder that is shown when Windows Explorer is started. This is the My Documents folder if you use Windows XP or the Documents folder if you happen to use Windows Vista. While most users might find it comfortable that those are the default folders others prefer to work with different folders and largely ignore the My Documents or Documents folder.

send to printers

Create Send To Entry for non-default printers

Windows gives you no choice but to use the default printer when using the Send To right-click menu. This is not problematic if you only use one printer but if you are working in a place with several printers it could become a nuisance. There is always a way though to make things work the way we want them to.

Time for some PC Winter Cleaning

It's becoming dark and cold outside sooner these days which is in my opinion the best time for some serious PC winter cleaning. I'm doing those cleaning once every three months to make sure my computer runs stable and without ballast that drags performance down. This article will only look at the software and operating system and not on the hardware which could be optimized as well by looking for firmware and bios upgrades.

windows search file contents

Search in all Filetypes in Windows when using Windows Search

By default Windows XP searches only inside a handful of selected file types and ignores file types that are not registered in Windows. This means for instance that the Windows search is not searching through php documents. Here is a quick Registry hack that enables searching in all file types and not only a selected few.

Delete Entries in Windows' Add or Remove Programs tool

Every software that is installed using an installation routine will be added to the Add or Remove Programs Windows menu and can be uninstalled by any user who has access to this window. I'm going to explain a trick that removes the entry from the Add or Remove Programs window without removing the software itself.

command prompt change default location

Change the default Command Prompt directory

Whenever you open the Command Prompt in Windows you are taken to a default directory which is usually your Documents and Settings \ Username directory. Most of the time you navigate away from it because you need to access files that cannot be accessed from there.

ntfs file system

Still running Fat32? Time to convert to NTFS

NTFS file systems have many advantages over FAT32 file systems that's why I would suggest to convert existing FAT32 partitions to NTFS. Let me first explain how you can find out which file system is used by a partition / hard drive in Windows. Click on My Computer and right-click the hard drive or partition that you want to check. A window should pop up displaying the File System of the selected drive.

Use Custom Icons for any drive in Windows

Setting up custom icons for your hard drives, cd, dvd and removable drives can be an excellent way of visualizing the contents of the drives. Windows offers a way to change icons of folders but no obvious way to change the icons of those drives. I would like to point out two possibilities that allow it to change drive icons in Windows.

restore mailto links

Mailto Email Links do not open in Internet Explorer

Just a quick fix to a computer problem that I encountered in the last days on an old computer of a friend who was using Internet Explorer 6. Nothing happened when he clicked on mailto email links on websites and he did not know why this happened. Normally his email software should open allowing him to write an email to the address of the link.

Kill Tasks from the System Tray

Task Killer is a small but very useful Windows software which places a small icon in the system tray. Clicking that icon reveals all running processes, open windows and services in an easy to use interface. The processes give details about memory usage and name of course.

scientific calculator

Note to self: Always use the scientific calculator

Windows ships with two calculators. The normal one and a scientific one that can be enabled in the View menu of the calculator. The normal calculator offers basic functionality while the scientific one adds functionality that most users do not need. The normal calculator in Windows uses a small window which appeals to many users.

Windows cannot open this file

The message "Windows cannot open this file2 is always displayed when a user tries to execute a file with a file extension unknown to Windows. Windows is giving the user the option to search the Internet for clues on how to handle that file or pick a software from the list of installed applications of this computer.