DESKTOP, MOUSE, KEYS & ICONS
CONTROL YOUR KEYBOARD
I don’t know if you’ve ever
held down a character key whilst typing but if you do then you’ll see that the
character is repeated, and quickly starts to fill the line. Maybe this feature
is useful to you? If so you can control how quickly the character repeats after
you’ve pressed and held the key, and the rate at which it repeats. You can do
this from Keyboard applet in Control Panel, just click the Speed tab.
Personally I’ve set the Repeat Delay and Repeat Rate sliders towards ‘Long’ and
‘Slow’, so the feature is there if I need it, but it won’t happen by accident.
You can also change the rate at which the cursor blinks. I find a slightly
faster blink rate makes it easier to spot on larger LCD monitors. While you
have the keyboard controls open click the Remap tab and you’ll find a small
selection of keys that you can have their functions swapped. Not exactly earth
shattering but it might be of interest to some users.
LINUX STYLE DESKTOP MANAGER FOR XP
of the most eye-catching features of many Linux distributions is the ‘virtual desktop’, which basically means you
can switch between four active desktops with the click of a mouse. That feature
is also available in Windows XP, though you have to know where to find it. In
fact you need to go to the Microsoft website and download a ‘Powertoy’ called
Virtual Desktop Manager. Powertoys, as we’ve mentioned on many occasions, are a
suite of tools developed by Microsoft (including the most excellent Tweak UI) but
they’re not included as standard with Windows XP, or at least not any longer.
They’re unsupported but that doesn’t mean they’re in any way buggy or inferior.
But I digress, download and
install Virtual Desktop manager. To launch it right-click on the Taskbar,
select Toobars then click Desktop Manager and you will see 5 new icons on the
Taskbar, one for each virtual desktop and one for a ‘quad’ view. I suspect that you’ll find it hard to go back to a boring single desktop after using it for a
while, so what are you waiting for?
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR SCROLLBAR
Given the choice I’m
guessing some of you will like them thin and skinny, others will prefer them to
be thick and chunky. I am of course talking about scrollbars the sliding
doohickeys down the side and sometimes along the bottom edges your windows.
Well, there is a way you can change the width, and it’s a global change that
will apply to all of your programs. Simply open Display Properties (Display in
Control Panel or right-click an empty area of the desktop and select Properties).
Make you way to the Appearance tab and click the Advanced button then on the
‘Item’ drop-down menu select Scrollbars, use the size box to make your change
and click OK. By the way the the
default size is 13. You may need to know that so you can put it back to normal
after playing around with it; the maximum size (100) it is rather eye catching…
HOME PAGE ON YOUR DESKTOP
Here’s a way to have
your favourite web page (how about BootLog?) or your home page displayed on
your desktop. It can be quite handy if, for example you always open your
browser on BootLog or maybe even Google, it’ll be right there at boot up, ready
to go as soon as you Windows has finished loading. Here’s how to do it. Right
click on the Desktop and select Properties or go to Start > Control Panel
> Display to open Display Properties. Select the Desktop tab then click the Customize
Desktop button. If you want to see your Home Page select the web tab and under
Web pages tick the item ‘My Current Home Page. If you want any other web page
click the New button and enter the full address in the box that appears.
DOUBLE QUICK DISPLAY DODGE
I don’t know about you but I’m forever opening
Windows XP Display Properties, to tweak settings, mess around with screensavers
and change the appearance of my desktop -- it may have something to do with my
jobs - -but the point is to get to it you have to open Control Panel and click
on the Display icon or right-click on the desktop and select Properties. I’ve
found a much better way and now I can open Display with a single click on a
Quick Launch icon and here is how it’s done. Right-click on the desktop and
select New > Shortcut. In the ‘Type the location o the item box’ enter (or
copy and paste) the following command:
rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl
Click Next, give the
new shortcut a name then OK. Now you can drag and drop the shortcut onto the
Quick Launch toolbar and you are ready to give it a road test.
Back in the olden days, when Windows 95 roamed the Earth, there used to
be a useful little utility -- called a Kernel Toy -- that you could download
from Microsoft that would ‘remap’ or change the assignments of certain keys on
your keyboard. In theory remapping the keys on a Windows XP system should be
easy as the facility is built into the Registry but it’s a swine to get at and
I caution novices to mess with the Registry at their peril. Fortunately you
don’t have to, I’ve just finished trialling a great little freeware utility,
called KeyTweak, that lets you change the action of any key on your keyboard,
which you can do directly, or by ‘teaching’ it by pressing the keys you want to
change. At last, a way to make those unused buttons do something useful, change
Scroll Lock (Scrlk) into sound mute, open your Home Page or display the
Calculator, for example. Hours of fun for all the family, and if you get into a
tangle you can quickly reset all or any of your changes back to their default
WEB PAGE & PROGRAM LAUNCHER ON THE TASKBAR
your Taskbar is still in the default position, at the bottom of the screen,
this tip will insert a handy Address bar into it, so you can go directly to web
pages or launch programs. Right-click into an empty area of the taskbar, select
Toolbars then Address. The word Address now appears on the taskbar and if you
double-click on it an address box will appear. I wouldn’t try this if you have
used one of my earlier tips and moved your taskbar on the side of the screen,
it can do odd things to the layout, which can take ages to undo, as I
discovered… Incidentally, if this tip doesn't work the taskbar may be locked, in which case right-click on the taskbar and deselect 'Lock the Taskbar'.
WHEELY INTERESTING MOUSE FEATURE
Does your mouse have a
scroll wheel? Hopefully yes, they’re
really useful, but did you know most models have a little known feature called
the wheel button. To see if yours is so -equipped press the wheel and it should
click. If so you can make it do all sorts of interesting things, indeed
something unusual may have happened when you just clicked it, but to take
control and assign a function to the wheel button go to Control Panel, double
click the Mouse icon and select the Buttons tab and have a look at what’s on
offer on the Wheel button drop-down menu. My favourite settings are Undo last
action (keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Z) and double-click, but play around with it
and see if anything takes your fancy.
MOTIVATE YOUR MOUSE?
Is your PS2 mouse a bit sluggish? Are you finding it difficult to click
on titchy icons and menus? If so you might want to try this simple little tweak
to make your rodent more responsive. Press Winkey + Break to Open System Properties,
click the Hardware tab then the Device Manager button and scroll down the list
to ‘Mice and other pointing devices’. Click the plus sign to expand the tree
and right-click on your mouse and select Properties then the Advanced Settings
tab. Increase the Sample Rate setting to 200, click OK and reboot and you
should notice a small but useful increase in your mouse’s sensitivity
What happens if you boot up your PC and the mouse isn’t working,
or it suddenly stops responding halfway through an important task? You can
revert to keyboard controls, using the Alt, Tab and Arrow keys to make and
change selections, but did you know you can also control the mouse from the
It’s a Windows Accessibility feature called Mousekeys and on
most XP machines you can switch it on straight away using the keyboard shortcut
Alt + Left Shift + Numlock and you will then find that the mouse pointer can be
moved using the keypad keys 8 (up), 6 (right), 4 (left), and 2 (down). 1, 7, 9
and 3 drive the mouse pointer diagonally. Key 5 or Enter is used for the left
mouse button and to right-click hold down the minus key on the numeric keypad
and press 5. If the keyboard shortcut doesn’t work you can get to Mousekeys
through Accessibility Options in Control Panel.
REMOVE ICON NAME
This tip should appeal to
minimalists with tidy mind and a good memory as it allows you to remove the
names of icons on your desktop. Simply click the icon name once, wait a second
and click again and it will be highlighted, press the Backspace key to delete
the existing name then press Alt + 0160 and press return and as if by magic the
WHAT’S THAT KEY FOR?
Have a close look at your keyboard.
There’s probably several keys that you don’t use and have absolutely no idea
what they’re for. Several of them are throwbacks to the old DOS and mainframe
computer days, like Scroll Lock and all it does is turn the Scroll Lock light
on and off. SysRq (under PrntScn) is another vestigial command, it stands for
System Request but again it doesn’t do anything, nor does Pause/Break, though
if you press it after the Winkey you will see the Windows XP System Properties
What’s the ‘Alt Gr’ key to the right
of the spacebar all about? This one actually does get some use and it toggles
between characters on US and some foreign keyboards (the Alternate characters
are usually printed in green on the keycaps, hence the ‘Gr’). To the right of
that there’s usually another mystery key with what looks like a sheet of paper
printed on the keycap. This also has a use and if you press it you will find it
brings up the right-click content menu of whatever application you are using,
just like the right button on your mouse.
WATER IN THE WORKS
It’s going to happen to you sooner or later and you will spill tea,
coffee or soft drink on your PC keyboard. Don’t panic! Unlike the movies it’s not going to
explode, catch fire or emit sparks, but as quick as you like use the mouse to save your
work, close any open applications then shut down your PC. You now have a few
options, If you are feeling lucky and time isn’t pressing disconnect the
keyboard, drain it off, shake out, blot up as much surplus liquid as possible
with kitchen towel then let it air dry for at least 24 hours before trying it again.
The chances are quite good that it will work, though if you take sugar
in your drinks the keys might be a bit sticky. My preferred method is to
actually wash the keyboard under a tap running lukewarm water. It sounds a bit
drastic but it will get rid of any sticky residues and probably flush out a lot
of gunk that’s been accumulating. Once again it is vital that you remove any
surplus liquid and allow to dry in a warm place for at least 24 hours.
If you are feeling brave you could try dismantling the keyboard, by
taking the case apart and removing the ‘key caps’ (they should pull off quite
easily and carefully dry it out with a soft cloth. However I strongly recommend
that you take a picture of it first, so you can put the keys back into their
correct locations. If you are in a hurry or it still doesn’t work then don’t
waste any more time on it, just get a new one.
Has your mouse cot a nasty case of the jitters? In the olden days --
three or four years ago -- most of the time it was caused by encrusted grime on
the rollers that come into contact with the captive ball in the base of the
mouse. This can be easily removed by taking out the ball (they’re usually held
in place by a twist-fit ring) and scraping the gunge off with a toothpick.
However, nowadays many PC users have switched to the more reliable ‘optical’
type mouse, which has no moving parts. Instead a small low-resolution camera on
the underside picks up a reflected beam of light to determine how fast and in
which direction the mouse is moving. It works well, most of the time, but the
sensor can be fooled by reflective and some types of patterned surfaces. To see
if that is the problem just put the mouse onto a sheet of plain paper and see
if the pointer tracks smoothly. Check also that the light-emitter and pickup on
the underside are free of fluff and dirt; they can be safely cleaned by blowing
or a careful application of a cotton bud. If it is still jumpy then it’s
probably time to get a new mouse.
ADDRESS TOOLBAR ON THE TASKBAR
Here’s a nifty little tweak to add some extra
functionality to your Taskbar. With a few clicks of the mouse you can insert an
Address toolbar, so you can search for files on your computer and enter web
addresses or without having to open your browser or Windows Explorer first.
It’s easy, just right click into an empty area of on the Taskbar and if ‘Lock
the Taskbar’ is ticked, uncheck it. Right click again and this time select
Toolbars > Address, click and it’s done.
CONTROL CONTROL PANEL
If you use Windows XP you can expect to pay frequent
visits to the Control Panel, to configure your computer and change various
settings. Fortunately it’s easily accessible from the Start menu but when you
click the icon the whole folder opens, which means a short delay and another
click to get to the selected tool or utility. Here’s a way to speed things up
by changing Control Panel to a menu, rather than a folder. Right-click on an
empty part of the Start menu taskbar and select Properties then the Start Menu
tab; click the Customize button then the Advanced tab. In the Start Menu Items
box, next to Control Panel select ‘Display as a menu’ then OK. You will now
find that Control Panel opens as a menu, if for any reason you want to open it
as a folder just right-click on the icon and select Open.
wondered where your mouse was hiding? It can be quite difficult to see the
mouse pointer in some programs, Word is a good example because the ‘I-bar’ can
easily get lost in a block of text and you have to wiggle the mouse to find it.
Windows XP has a nifty mouse finder feature built in, that zeros in on its
location like a Sonar display when you press the Ctrl Key, it’s also a good way
of warning you that you’ve pressed the Ctrl key instead of Shift by mistake. To
switch it on go to Start > Control Panel and double click the Mouse Icon.
Select the Pointer Options tab and right at the bottom check the item ‘Show
NOW YOU SEE THEM...
Here’s a quick and simple little tweak to stop nosey
parkers and passers-by seeing what programs you have on your PC when you are
away from your desk. All you have to do is right-click onto an empty area of
the desktop, select ‘Arrange Icons by’ then on the drop-down menu that appears
uncheck ‘Show Desktop Icons’ and all of your icons will magically disappear. To
get them back again simply repeat the procedure and re-check ‘Show Desktop
HIDDEN FAST FILE FINDER
Here’s another one of those undocumented Windows
features, and this one works on pretty well any version of Windows using
Internet Explorer 4 or above. On your desktop click, drag and drop the My
Computer icon to the extreme left side of the screen. After a few moments a
vertical toolbar should appear showing the contents of My Computer. This on its
own can be quite handy, but it gets better. (By the way if you want to get rid
of it or hide it right-click at the top of the Toolbar and select Close or Auto
Now try this. Click, hold, drag and drop the C: drive
icon from the My Computer Toolbar to the extreme top of the screen and a new
horizontal toolbar appears. This is the good bit. On the far right side of the
new toolbar is a continuation arrow, click it with your mouse and a new
vertical toolbar listing the contents of the drive appears on the right side of
the screen and you will find that the contents of the drive will be displayed
simply by ‘hovering’ the mouse pointer over the folder icons. As before you can
close or Auto Hide the top toolbar by right clicking on it.
YOU ONLY HAVE TO OSK...
Windows XP has a number of interesting hidden
features. Try this, go to Run on the Start menu and type 'osk' (without the
quotes) and the On-Screen Keyboard will appear -- handy if your regular
keyboard packs up. It has two 'typing' modes; you can point and click using the
mouse or if you go to the Settings menu and choose Hover, characters will
appear if you just point at them with the mouse
How many time a day do you need to go to your
PC's desktop, to access a program or icon? Most people either minimise any open
windows or root around for the tiny 'Show Desktop' icon on the Quick Launch
taskbar. Here are two double-quick alternatives. The first is to use the
keyboard shortcut Winkey + D, which instantly minimises all open windows. The
second method is to create a taskbar menu for your desktop icons. To do that
right click on an empty spot on the taskbar and uncheck (if checked ) 'Unlock
the Taskbar' then go to Toolbars and click Desktop. This may or may not display
all of your desktop icons, if so click on the dotted lines next to the word
Desktop on the taskbar and drag the separator to collapse the menu so that just
the word Desktop and the two arrows '>>' are shown. Now, when you want to
access a desktop icon just click the double arrows.
SHORTCUTS WORTH REMEMBERING
G. Sasse wrote in with this one, It's an oldie,
but a goodie!
I have found over a number of years that
newbies to computing become alarmed at the way their work on screen suddenly
vanishes forever and they have to do it all over again. So the best Tip I can
think of for someone new to computers is to commit to memory two critical
keystrokes. Ctrl + A is the most dangerous, because it highlights all your
work, and the next keystroke can wipe it all! Ctrl + Z (Undo) is the Lifesaver,
as it will recover any such lost data to the screen before it is overwritten.
(The Undo button on many applications does the same job.)
Help is always at hand! If you encounter a
problem or get into difficulty, just press F1 and the associated Help file will
be displayed. Swapping between open applications in Windows is easy; hold down
the left 'Alt' key and press the 'tab' key. Pressing tab again steps through
all of the programs the machine is currently running. If for any reason a
program freezes, or the mouse stops moving try pressing 'Alt' and you may find
that you can still select menus and options, using the four arrow cursor keys.
If an application refuses to respond then press and hold down 'Ctrl', 'Alt' and
'Delete' in that order -- once only -- and the PC will display the Close
Program window. This gives the opportunity to shut down the offending
application, without having to exit Windows.
There are several Windows Explorer keyboard
shortcuts worth remembering. Each time you press the Backspace key Explorer
steps back one level up the directory tree. The F2 key allows you to rename a
highlighted folder and Shift plus F10 brings up the context based pop-up menu.
Clicking once or twice on the Size and Modified headings in the right hand
'Contents' window will sort the files in descending (i.e. largest files or most
recently modified first) or ascending orders.
Here are some more Windows Explorer keyboard
shortcuts. Pressing F4 displays the full contents of the Address/location
panel, F5 refreshes the windows, updating any changes you may have made and F6
switches the focus between the various window 'panes'. Ctrl + A selects everything
in the right hand window, Ctrl + Z undoes the last action and the Backspace key
steps back through the parent directory tree. The asterisk key on the numeric
keypad expands all of the directory branches whilst the '-' and '+' numeric
keys collapse and expand the tree.
WINDOWS EXPLORER SIZING
Windows Explorer sometimes seems to have a mind
of its own and always seems to open with a different shape, position or icon
and display settings. You can make it remember your preferences -- for a while
at least - set it up the way you want it to look then press Ctrl + Alt + Shift
when you click on the close icon (the 'x' in the top right hand corner). It
will eventually forget but it's easy enough to repeat the exercise. It's a lot
easier in Windows 98, set up Windows Explorer, go to the View Menu then Folder
Options and select the View Tab and press the 'Like Current Folder' button.
WIN KEY SHORTCUTS
If you have a Windows keyboard you obviously
know the 'Windows' button (in between Ctrl and Alt keys) brings up the Start
menu, but it can do a lot more besides. Win key (Wk) + D is a very quick way of
getting to the desktop as it toggles maximise and minimise all windows. Wk + E
opens Explorer, Wk + F opens Find, and Wk + R opens Run. System Properties opens
with Wk + Pause, Wk + Tab steps through the programs on the Taskbar and Wk + F1
opens Windows Help.
EVEN MORE SHORTCUTS
There are several frequently-used multiple key
shortcuts in Windows, like Ctrl + Alt + Del (to bring up the close program menu)
and Alt + Tab (to switch between running applications) and dozens more in
applications like Word, Excel and Outlook. Windows 95/98/2000 & ME has a
nifty way to avoid two and three finger gymnastics, it's called 'Sticky Keys'
and it's one of the Accessibility Options in Control Panel. It's aptly named
because instead of pressing and holding a sequence of keys, you simply press
each one in turn, your PC's internal speaker bleeps at you to confirm each key
press. The facility can be easily switched on and off by pressing the shift key
five times in quick succession.
Sticky Keys is not always installed by default,
if you can't see the Accessibility Options icon in Control Panel click on
Add/Remove in Control Panel, select the Windows tab then Accessibility and
follow the instructions. To enable Sticky Keys open Accessibility Options and
select the Keyboard tab, use the Settings button to change the way it behaves.
Whilst you're there you might also like to switch on the Caps Lock bleeper, which
also uses the PC's built-in speaker.
It doesn't take long for the Taskbar at the
bottom of the screen to fill up with icons; they get smaller as the number
increases and it can be difficult to read the labels. You can easily increase
the size of the taskbar by moving the mouse pointer onto the top edge of the
taskbar where it will turn into a vertical double-headed arrow. Click and hold
the left mouse button and you can increase the width of the taskbar by dragging
it upwards; it can be expanded to fill half of the screen if necessary. Clearly
this takes up more room on the desktop, so make the Taskbar disappear, until it
is needed. Click on the Start button, then Settings and Taskbar and check the
Auto Hide option. From now on the Taskbar will only be shown when the mouse
pointer is at the bottom of the screen.
RIGHT MOUSE KEY
The right mouse button in Windows has many
hidden talents; here are a few to be getting on with. If you've got a lot of
open windows and you want to get to the desktop, simply right click on the
taskbar. This brings up a menu for minimising, tiling or cascading all windows;
right click on the taskbar a second time to restore the windows. A right click
on the recycle bin gives the option to empty it straight away. Discs can be
quickly formatted by right-clicking on the disc drive icon in My Computer or
The Start menu is a fast and easy way to launch
frequently used programs, but you can make it work even quicker, and you don't
even have to take your hands from the keyboard. Right-click on the Start button
and select Open. A window appears, containing all of the Start menu icons.
Insert a number (1, 2, 3 etc.) in front of the name of the applications you use
most often. Click once on the icon and the name field turns blue. Wait a moment
click and click on the text and a cursor appears, then click again in front of
the first letter of the name and type in the number. When you have finished
close the window. Now you can launch the Start menu and a program by pressing
the Windows button on the keyboard, followed by the number. If you're using an
older keyboard the shortcut is Ctrl + Esc, then the number.
RENAMING START MENU ITEMS
You can do all sorts of clever things with the
items on the Windows 9x Start menu, they can be copied, moved around and have
their properties changed but the one thing you can't do is rename them, unless
you have Internet Explorer 5.0 or later on your system. However, there is a way
around that. You can change the name of an icon by left clicking on it and
dragging it onto the desktop, it can then be renamed by clicking into the name
field. Next, right-click on the newly named icon, drag it on to the Start
button, put the mouse pointer where you want it to go on the Start menu,
release the mouse button and choose 'Move Here' from the dialogue box that
Every so often a program window opens in the
wrong position or the menus and toolbars have disappeared off the top of the screen
and you can't get them back. Here's a simple solution, press Alt + Spacebar to
bring up the sizing menu then hold down the letter M and use the down arrow
cursor key to bring the window back on to the screen.
CONTROL YOUR MOUSE
From the Start menu in Windows click on
Settings, Control Panel and then on the Mouse icon. There you will find a range
of settings that control the way your mouse behaves. There's also the
opportunity to change the button configuration, useful if you are left-handed.
The two most important parameters for PC newcomers are Motion and Click Speed;
set both to slow and you'll find the mouse much easier to control. Increase the
speed once you get used to how the mouse reacts. Whilst you're there click on
the Pointers tab and the Scheme menu, then select the Animated Hourglasses
option. This will make waiting for things to happen just a little more
FAST DESKTOP ACCESS
Here is an easy way to access the contents of
your desktop from the Start button, without having to close or minimise any
windows. Right click on the Start button and choose Open then on the Start Menu
window that appears go to the File menu, select New and Shortcut. The Create
Shortcut window opens and in the Command Line box type in the following:
'Explorer /root,' ignore the inverted commas but be sure there's a space
between Explorer and the forward-slash, and don't forget the comma after root.
Click Next and a window opens asking you to 'Select a title for the program'.
Back space to delete the default entry and call it 'Desktop' (or anything else
you fancy) and click Finish. The item should now appear on the Start menu, if
you click it a window containing the contents of your desktop will open. To
remove it from the Start menu go Start > Settings > Taskbar & Start
Menu > Start Menu Programs tab and click the Remove button. Find the
shortcut on the directory and click Remove.
CREATE YOUR OWN ICONS
Bored with your desktop and all those dull
little icons? Then do something about it! You can easily create your own icons
in Windows using ordinary picture files or graphics created using the Paint
program. You could have the pictures of the family or pets representing your
programs (no jokes about using a photo of the mother in law to represent the
word processor please...), or design your own from scratch. The image can be
any size - Windows will automatically adjust the size and shape -- but it must
be in the Bitmap (extension .bmp) format. Most paint and graphics program have
a 'Save As' facility that will convert picture files from other file types into
.bmp format. Once that's done open Windows Explorer, find the picture file and
click once into the name field to highlight it, then wait a second and click
again to insert a cursor so it can be renamed. Change the file extension from
.bmp to .ico, and hit return. Now go to the Desktop and right-click on the icon
you want to change and select Properties. On the Shortcut tab you should see a
'Change Icon' button, (you can't normally change the icon on Windows
applications) click it and use the Browse button to find your icon picture
file, press OK and it's done.
DOUBLE PANE VIEW
The double-pane view of Windows Explorer makes
it easy to navigate around files and folders, if you like you can force all
other Explorer type Folders (My Computer, Control Panel, Recycle Bin etc.) to
open with double panes. Open a folder, My Computer will do, click Folder
Options on the View menu and select the File Types tab. Scroll down the list
under Registered File Types to find 'Folder', double click on it and in the
dialogue window that appears, under Actions, highlight 'Explore', click Set As
Default and then Close. To return to the original single pane view, follow the
above procedure, but this time select 'Open' in the Actions box.
DECLUTTER THE DESKTOP
If you've had your PC for more than a year or
so the desktop is probably starting to get a bit crowded. Of course you can
always remove icons and shortcuts you rarely use but if you're the sort of
person who hates to part with anything, here's a simple way of packing even
more icons onto your desktop, by reducing the space between them. If you can
find an empty area on the desktop click into it and the Display Properties
window should appear. Select the Appearance tab and under Item highlight Icon
Spacing (horizontal). Change the value from the default setting to 30 and click
Apply. Now do the same with Icon Spacing (vertical). You may need to experiment
with different values and watch out for large overlapping Icon labels. If that
becomes a problem edit the text by clicking slowly into the label box three
times or reduce the size of the actual icon - the option is on the same drop
down menu as Icon Spacing.
TOP TEN EASY START
This tip will let you start your ten favourite
applications with a single key press, and it gives the numeric keypad on the
right side of your keyboard something to do. First press the Num Lock key on
your keyboard then right-click your mouse on any desktop shortcut and select
Properties. Click the cursor into the 'Shortcut Key' field and press the number
key on the numeric keypad that you want to start the program with. Click OK and
repeat for up to nine other programs. Unless you have a good memory it's a good
idea to make a list. If you use the keypad then you can assign some other
infrequently used key or key combination, though make sure it's not used by
Here's a quick and simple little timesaver that
will help you to make more efficient use of Windows Explorer. If you are
looking for a file or folder in a large directory, rather than spend time
scrolling through the list simply click into the Explorer window and type the
first letter of the name of the file or folder and hey-presto, Explorer immediately
whisks you down to the first file starting with that letter.
RIGHT CLICK STAND OUT
Make your right-click Context menus stand out!
Right-click on an empty area of the desktop and select Properties or go to
Display in Control panel and select the Appearance tab. In the example window
display click on the menu bar below Active Window (Normal Disabled Selected)
and change the colour from grey to something a bit more interesting, a light
red works well; you can choose any colour by clicking the 'Other' button. Click
OK and try it out by right clicking. If you click the 'Selected' label on the
menu bar you can change the colour of highlighted menu items in all of your
programs from dark blue - try light green for a really funky look!
Ctrl is a much undervalued and underused key on
your keyboard and it is well worth getting to know, especially when editing,
and not just in word processors, but in most text editor windows, and that
includes email message windows. Holding down the Ctrl key when using Backspace
or Delete erases whole words instead of single letters, and if you use the
arrow keys to move the cursor around, press and hold the Ctrl key and it jumps
a paragraph, or a word at a time, depending on the direction.