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Hints and Tips

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There are plenty of websites out there offering hints and tips (including the excellent TuneXP), but I often find that the simple ones are overlooked. Based on Windows XP, my favourites are:

Finding Files

Windows Explorer has a Search function, which is fairly slow and basic. It's possible to narrow down a search by only searching a particular folder, but why not just install Google Desktop (or others such as Yahoo, or MSN)?

Printing Files

If you want to print a file that isn't already open, then an easy way to print it is to right-click on the document in Windows Explorer and select Print. This doesn't work with every type of file though.

E-mailing files

In a similar way to printing files, it's possible to e-mail files from Windows Explorer. Simply right-click on the document, and then click on Send To>>Mail Recipient. Other Send To commands are Compressed (Zipped) Folder and My Documents.

Pin to start menu

Windows automatically tries to put your frequently used programs on the Start menu. However, there's an easy way to keep your favourite programs there all the time. Simply find the program somewhere in the Start>>All Programs menu, right-mouse click on it, and select Pin to Start Menu.

Using Small Icons

If you have lots of frequently used programs, you might find that they don't all fit on the Start menu. An easy way around this, is to use smaller icons. Simply right-mouse-click on the Start icon, select Properties, make sure that Start Menu is selected, and then click on Customize (excuse the American spelling). It's then possible to select Small icons and click on OK.

Unzipping files

When using WinXP's uncompressing files feature, I had always found it annoying that when it finishes, the default operation is to show the extracted files. I have always unticked the "Show extracted files" option, and then clicked on OK. I've done this for years, but have just realised that I just need to click on "cancel" instead!

Download Microsoft Power Toys for Windows XP

Microsoft has a lot of extra tools for Windows XP, grouped together as Power Toys. I haven't tried all of them, but the Tweak UI "toy" sounds quite promising. I like the idea of being able to change the default folders that are available in the left-hand side of the Open and SaveAs dialogue boxes.

Add Items to the SendTo menu

The SendTo menu mentioned above is very useful, but you might want to send the files somewhere that isn't listed on the default SendTo menu. Microsoft's Knowledge Base Article 310270 explains how to do this, but it doesn't seem to open in Firefox at the moment.

Three useful articles:

Opening multiple programs using the Start menu.

50 best tips ever.

Windows Desktop Search.


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Created on: 22 Feb 2006. Modified on: 11 Nov 2006.
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