We get a lot of emails and letters that begin, ‘Some time ago you published a tip that showed how to…’. Over the past two and half years Boot Camp’s Top Tips have proved exceptionally popular so we thought it was about time we gathered some of the most frequently requested ones together. In part one of this short series we’re looking at ways to liven up Windows and make it easier to use, next week we turn our attention to Internet and email and in the last instalment it’s the turn of Microsoft Word, so without more ado, here’s the first batch



When you switched on your shiny new PC for the first time, or as Windows 95/98 was being installed, you were invited to make an emergency start-up/recovery disc, did you? Probably not. It’s one of those jobs you think you’ll get around, but inevitably never will. Do it now! Click on Start, then Settings, followed by Control Panel and Add/Remove Programs. You’ll find the tab for the Start-up Disc there, just follow the instructions. That disc could get you out of big trouble when  -- as will inevitably happen one day -- Windows refuses to boot up from the hard disc. The disc contains the necessary files and diagnostic programs that can get your PC up and running once again. Boot Camps 81 & 82 (July 15th and 22nd 1999) explain how to use your recovery disc.



If you’re bored with the cheesy tunes, ‘pings’ and ‘ta-da’ noises coming from your PC, do something about it! From the Start menu select Control Panel, and then the Sounds icon. From there you can change all the standard Windows sounds, and the actions or events they’re associated with. Click the Browse button or scroll through the list and you should come across some additional Windows 95/98 selections such as Jungle, Robot and Musica. Try them, they’re fun. If they’re not there you can load them from the Window 95/98 CD-ROM using the Add/Remove programs utility in Control Panel.

Why not make up your own sounds; all you need is a microphone. It plugs into the ‘mic’ jack socket on the PC’s sound card or audio input. It should be on the back of your PC, close to the speaker plug. Open Sound Recorder (Start > Programs > Accessories > Multimedia (or Entertainment, in Win 98).  It works just like an ordinary tape recorder; full instructions are in the associated help file. When you’ve recorded your sound give it a name, on the File menu choose ‘Save As’ and put it in the Media directory in the Windows 95/98 folder, go back to the Sounds icon in Control Panel and assign it to the event of your choice.



If you want to launch a screen-saver quickly -- maybe you're going out to lunch or to prevent others from seeing what's on your screen -- open Windows Explorer, go to the Windows folder and open the System file. There you will find all of the Windows 95/98 screen-saver files. They're easy to spot as they have monitor-shaped icons and end with the file extension *.scr. Right click on the icon, select 'Send To' then 'Desktop as Shortcut', when you want to start it in a hurry just double-click on the desktop icon.

Create your own personal screensaver. If you have the OSR2 release of Windows 95 or Windows 98 click on the Start button go to Settings > Control Panel > Display, select the Screensaver tab and scroll down the list until you come to '3D Text'. Highlight the entry and click on the Settings button. You can enter your name or a message -- up to 16 characters and spaces long. Customise it with the Font and Texture buttons (try some of the *.bmp files in the Windows folder). This screensaver also contains an 'Easter egg' a hidden novelty feature planted by the programmers. Type the word 'Volcano' into the text field, click OK and see what happens…



If you have a Windows 95/98 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 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.



This handy tweak will adds Control Panel to your Start menu, with a sub-menu containing all of its contents. Go to the Start button, right-click your mouse and select Open. Go to File then New and choose New Folder. The folder will appear in the window below, press backspace to clear the name field and type in the following line precisely:


Double check it, check it again and when you are 100% certain it is correct press Enter. Now go to the Start menu and you should see Control Panel, along with an arrow leading to its contents. You can remove the item using the Remove options on Start > Settings > Taskbar & Start Menu.



Newcomers to Windows 95 and 98 often find the scroll bars at the side and bottom of word processors and spreadsheets screens quite difficult to use. The bars are narrow and the slider can be hard to control, until you get used to it. It's easy to change the size of the bars; even seasoned users may prefer to make them a little wider. To make the change go to Control Panel, click on the Display icon and select the Appearance tab. Click in the middle of the scroll bar shown in the 'Active Window', in the display.  The word 'Scrollbar' should appear in the box below marked Item, along with a pair of up/down arrows and the default setting of 16. Try 20 or 25 but if you want to see something really funny whizz it up to the maximum of 100!



If you find Windows 98 Defrag or Scandisk ‘hangs’ when it gets to 10% or 40% try this. Go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘msconfig’. A dialogue box will open, select the General tab and make sure the item Selective Startup is checked. Make a note of the selected items underneath then uncheck them all, click OK and restart Windows. Now you should be able to run Defrag and Scandisk without interruption. When they have finished go back to msconfig select Normal Startup and re-start Windows.

Next week – Top Internet and email Tips




Bitmap, standard Windows image or graphics file format


Over time files on a PC's hard disc drive become disorganised. The Windows Disc Defragmenter or 'defrag’ utility reorganises files on the drive, helping to speed up data read/write operations


A Windows utility that checks the integrity of data stored on a hard disc drive, identifies problems, and where possible, puts them right

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Boot Camp Index















Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME






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