Add a Tip or Trick

Tips and Tricks

Windows Vista


(Word etc)

Office XP

Windows Resources

Windows XP

Subject Detail
Drivers and Hardware There has been a lot said about hardware not working, such as camera's and printers. I found that in each case, when something did not work automatically, or performed badly, loading the Windows 2000 driver fixed the problem. These drivers are normally available from the Manufacturers web site.
Performance I have mostly used Windows 95, 98 and 98 SE. I found that Windows XP did actually perform better than Windows 98 and 98 SE. It is not practicle to compare Windows 95 as it is doing so little. Particularly pleasing is the Startup and Shutdown's. Startup is achieved in 18 seconds from hitting the power button (about 2 minutes in 98 SE) and complete shutdown in 5 seconds.(was about 30 in 98 SE). 
Look and Feel I have found the look and feel very good. The new environment is a complete change, and is pleasant to use. Differences such as the clean desktop (a new Start button means that icons are better stored there) make it nice to use. Like all things, the change can be a bit frustrating when things are different, but as you get used to it, it really is great.
Restore Wizard Good advice is to use the Restore Wizard, if you are making changes, as this allows you to recover from a known condition. Start | Help and Support | Performance and Maintenance | Using System Restore to Undo changes | Run the System Restore Wizard | Create a Restore Point | Description.
S3 Trio 3D/2X When I loaded Windows xp, the screen had all resolutions available, but the screen updating when dragging windows, and scrolling was very slow. I searched the Internet and there were other people looking for drivers for the S3 Trio. You can use the Windows 2000 drivers. Download from click on Drivers.
Canon Scanner FB310 This scanner was coming up with an error, and not working correctly. Download the Windows 2000 drivers from 
Network connections between Windows 95, 98, 98SE and XP A significant change is that if you are wanting to connect a Windows 9x machine to your Windows xp, and if you have been using the Windows Logon you will not be able to see the XP machine from the 9x machine. Change the Primary Network Logon to "Client for Microsoft Networks". This change is in the Control Panel | Network icon. An alternative to this is detailed below in the section about NetBEUI.
Windows xp and Network Neighborhood Windows xp does not have a Network Neighborhood. The same thing in xp is "My Network Places" and click on "View Workgroup Computers"
My Network Places updating My Network Places is the place where other computers on your network can be seen and accessed. Sometimes this does not update automatically when you have installed a new computer on your network. The way to update this list manually is as follows: Click on "Add a Network Place" | Next | Cancel dialer if it pops up | "Choose another Network Location..." | Next | Browse | Entire Network | Microsoft Windows Network | Choose Workgroup | Choose Computer Name | Choose drive, eg 'C' | OK | Next | Next | Finish. This will add the computer to the list in "My Network Places"
Setting up your Home Network Setting up Networking between two xp machines seems to work easily and without problems. However it was more difficult to get Windows 95, 98 and 98SE machines to work in both directions. What I found is that the Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) was affecting the drive and file access from the 9x machines, where intermittently, they could not access the xp machines. The xp machines had no problems accessing the 9x machines. I set the network up without ICS, and use a separate TCP/IP interface product for sharing the Internet connection. Set the network up on each xp machine as follows: "My Network Places" | "Set up a home or small office network" | Next | Next | Other | Next | choose "This computer connects to the internet directly. Other computers connect directly.." | Next | Select Modem | Next | choose "Let me choose the connections..." | Next | Untick the other devices, such as the PCI satellite card, and only have the Local Area Connection ticked | Next | confirm or edit "Computer Name" and description | Next | Type your Workgroup name | Next | Next | choose "Just finish the Wizard..." | Next | Finish. After doing this, you will be able to access all machines reliably. Note: Even after this, I still had some intermittent connection problems. Refer to the section below on NetBEUI for a great fix.
NetBEUI is not available in Windows XP Microsoft is apparently dropping support for NetBEUI, but there have been other complaints about customers getting networking between Windows 9x working how they want. One customer contacted Microsoft and they provided instructions on how to install NetBEUI in Windows XP. I did this, and all of my networking problems went away. I was even able to resort to using the Windows Logon as the Primary Logon in the Windows 9x machines. This is great as your PC can startup without being prompted for login details. The intructions, also included on the Windows XP CD are as follows:

Copy NBF.SYS from \valueadd\msft\net\netbeui directory on the CD into the <Windows>\System32\Drivers folder.
Copy NETNBF.INF from the \valueadd\msft\net\netbeui directory on the CD into the <Windows>\Inf folder.
Open Network Connection Properties for the Local Area Connection and use the Install button to add Protocol NetBEUI.

Note:These instructions are in the Windows XP CD in the file \valueadd\msft\net\netbeui\netbeui.txt.

Quick Launch toolbar By default, this was not visible, but I was pleased to find the option to enable.  Left click on Start | Right click in the Start menu area | Click taskbar | tick in the "Show Quick Launch". You can drag icons on to and off the Quick Launch toolbar.
New Start button to enable Run... Command Windows xp has a new Start button. This allows you to use it as the storage for all of those Icons that used to clutter your desktop. When I first starting using it, I could not find the Run.. option to run programs. If you have this problem, do the following to get the run option in the Start menu.  Left click on Start | Right click in the Start menu area | Start Menu | Customize | Advanced | Scroll through the Start Menu items and click on "Run Command"
Printers As above, you can enable the Printers and Faxes button on the Start Menu.
Copying all of your previous files from your old computer or hard drive There is a facility called "Files and Settings transfer Wizard" for copying all of your files from your old computer or hard drive. I tried this a couple of times, and it could not find the files, even though I browsed to the actual location. Just use "My Computer" to browse and copy the files.
Lock toolbars A useful setting is the ability to lock toolbars in the My Computer explorer and the taskbar. Basically, set the toolbars how you like them, the lock them. This prevents them from changing accidently. My Computer is done in View | Toolbars | Lock the toolbars. The taskbar is done by Right clicking and choosing Lock the taskbar.
Speed and Visual Effects As with all new software, visual changes mean some things take longer, such as the visual effects in the menus. The extra good thing is that these can be turned off, allowing you to recover any performance loss. Go to System (or Right Click My Computer and Properties)| Advanced | Settings and review the visual effects. I have found that the following three provide all of the nice visual benefits, with best performance:
  • Show window contents while dragging
  • Use common tasks in folders
  • Use visual styles on windows and buttons

Also, go to Display | Appearance | Effects. Both of these give you settings such as animation, fading, 3D shadows etc, but not really necessary if you follow the above.

Start Windows XP in safe mode The safe mode key has changed back to F8 (the same as Windows 95 was). However there are also some changes. When rebooting, hit the F8 key several times after the BIOS screen, and before windows starts, and you will get a text screen that has a number of options for starting Windows xp. The ones that we are mainly interested in are the following:

Safe Mode (Also has CD and Networking options). Use this if you are NOT trying to fix a monitor or Video Adaptor problem.

Enable VGA. Use this if you are trying to resolve a monitor or Video Adaptor problem. Windows will start in basic 640x480 VGA.

Last Known Good Configuration. Use this if you have made changes to the system, and have a serious problem. For advanced users, this only restores the part of the registry in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet.

Watch the Task Manager If you are working on a problem, or just interested to see what the CPU, Memory and Networking are doing, there is a useful program for watching this sort of information. Right Click on the taskbar, and choose TaskManager. Use the tabs, Applications, Processes, Performance and Networking to get a good view of the system, and what it is doing. You can also end processes that are tied up, without affecting others. 
Network Viewing speed When you are connecting and viewing other PC's, such as Windows 95/98 machine on your network, it can seem rather slow. One of the reasons for this is that the xp machine is checking for scheduled tasks on the destination computer. Certainly in the home or small business environment, this is not necessary. Delete the sub-key 
{D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF} from the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\
CurrentVersion\Explorer\RemoteComputer\NameSpace  Registry.

Thanks to for this tip.

Windows XP Home Edition Backup The Windows backup facility is not installed by Windows XP Home Edition by default, but it is included on the Windows XP CD. To install the backup program, go to the Windows XP CD in the folder \Valueadd\Msft\Ntbackup and open the file Ntbackup.msi. this will install the backup program. Then you can run it by going to All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Backup. For steps to do backup in Windows XP, go to Create a backup in Windows XP
Java Scripts not running. Eg not seeing graphs on the Internet. Virtual Machine (VM) software update is required. This can be downloaded and installed from the Microsoft site. Use the Windows XP update facility under the Start | Help and Support | Keep your computer up to date with Windows Update | Scan for updates. Once you see the VM one, click to Add and then click on the Install button. It is about 5Meg, so give yourself some time, but it installs and works immediately.
Internet Dial up prompts you, when you access an OfficeXP product I suspect there is more than one reason for this to happen, but one cause I have found is if you have copied a web site to the clipboard, and say, pasted it into Word. Then the next time you are in Word, it tries to check or update the Clipboard with the Web site info. If you empty the Clipboard, then the prompting will stop.
Ihug Ultra Satellite program crash after accessing the internet This problem was specifically observed on the Sky Media SM200DTP but may also occur on others. The drivers you use when using Windows XP are Windows 2000 drivers. These work, but the program crashes after accessing the internet. Find the Icon that launches your SM200DTP (normally in the Startup menu), and change the program compatility to Windows 2000. (Right Click on the menu, Properties | Compatility and choose Windows 2000).

Note: Also, if you are having trouble with the Sky Media in Windows XP, make sure you have allocated the IP address.

Note: I suspect that Windows XP drivers are available now.(1/2004)

Using Bitware to send faxes Although Microsoft has its own fax software, if you are like me, you find good ole Bitware to be the best product on the market. It has the most facilities for settings to control you modem, and is reliable. However, I found that when it is loaded up in the Startup sequence, as is done by the installation program, sometimes it didn't work. I found that this is because Windows XP was trying to load it in parallel with other programs and drivers. But some of the OS or drivers were not ready. The solution is to remove it out of you Startup folder, (Right Click on Start|Open|Programs|startup and delete the wprnmon Bitware Icon) and make an Icon with the following program (Set compatibility to Windows NT) 'C:\BITWARE\BWPRNMON.EXE' When you want to send a fax just double click to run this program first.It loads the fax software, and then you open you word processor, type your fax and print to the Fax Printer software as normal. 
No Network Connection or slow to access Win 9x PC's from your Windows XP There are other reasons for this, as detailed above, but also, a number of faults have been fixed by Microsoft in the networking area, and the result is that the reliability and speed of Network Connections improves when you load Service Pack 1 for WindowsXP. Refer to the microsoft site at for more information.

Also, make sure you are using Full Duplex networking, with Switches and Cat5 cable and not a Hub, to connect your PC's together. Half Duplex, (due to Hubs, Coax or 10Mbps Network cards) is only running at 10Mbps and is too slow for Windows XP.

How to configure startup and general Windows XP starting options The program to configure the startup is msconfig. Go to Start | Run and type in msconfig, and press enter. This gives you the options for turning devices, drivers and programs off or on at startup. This is a debugging tool, and after restarting, it will prompt you with the fact that it has been changed. This is normal. After identifying your problem, then you can return to "Normal Startup" under the General tab.
How to copy music from an Audio CD to your hard drive Insert the CD into the drive, Open the Windows Media Player, Click "Copy From CD", allow Internet Access to read the CD and track names, then Click "Copy Music", when prompted, click to "Do Not Protect", then click OK. The music will be copied to your Music folder as WMA files. You can then play them by double clicking.
File indexing for searching is running all the time The File Search facility has an indexing system, which makes searching faster. However, if you don't use this much, there is a way to improve file access speed by turning off the indexing. Open the Search Window from Start | Search | Change Preferences | With Indexing Service and click No, do not enable indexing Service.
Windows Update running all the time The Windows update system can cause extra background processing, dialups, bandwidth usage etc. I feel it is better to just turn the automatic checking off, and run the Windows Update at a time of my choosing. Use the following steps to turn it off: System (or Right Click My Computer and Properties)| Automatic Updates and click to turn off, "Keep my computer up to date".
CD-ROM or HDD has wrong drive letter Some times after hardware has been changed, you can be left with a device that has the wrong drive letter. The following is the procedure for changing the assigned letter:

Click Settings|Control Panel and Double Click on Administrative Tools. Double Click Computer Management, and Expand Storage. Double Click on Disk Management, Right Click on either, the CD-ROM or the actual drive for HDD changes. Right Click and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths, Click on Change, and choose new drive letter from the pick list. Then OK and close the windows.

IP Address in use on a card not in the computer. Also, symptom of slow to open My Computer or Windows Explorer. If you intend to remove or change the Network Card in your computer, or even just moving it to another PCI slot, then I advise that you uninstall it first. This is especially if you use fixed IP address. If you just change or move it, then turn the computer on, it installs it as a new card OK, but when you try to set the IP address again, it warns you that that IP address is already in use. Also while in this state the system will be slow to open some windows, such as My Computer. Somewhere in the system, it is still assigned to the old location or old card. Solution is to uninstall the new card, then shutdown and remove it. Boot up, and check the hardware devices, you will probably see the old one back. Unistall it, reboot and check again. If it is still there you will have to go through the registry and delete all references to it. If not, then shutdown and install the new card again.
Enable Fast User Switching Windows XP (Professional and Home), have a feature where you can keep one users session working, and quickly switch to another. This is enabled by: Start | Control Panel | User Accounts | Change the way users log on or off  and then in there, click Use Fast User Switching. Note if the Use Welcome Screen is not enabled, then Fast User Switching is disabled. If so, click to enable that.

To use, simply click to Start | Log Off, and then choose Switch Users, and choose the user you want to switch to. Note: it does use processor power to keep multiple users working, so you would only use this when it is necessary.

Print from DOS applications to network printer Open a MS-DOS command prompt, eg Start | Run | and type cmd in the run box. (Note, there is a space after lptx, the x should be 1 ie LPT1, and there is a space before /persistent). Then type in the following command, relacing the printserver and sharename with yours.
net use lptx 
\\printserver\sharename /persistent:yes
The printserver and sharename can be found, by looking in your Printers and Faxes under the Start button or in Control Panel.

The sharename is the server that it is "on"
The printserver is found by right clicking on the printer icon in the Printers and Faxes, and click on Properties and then Sharing. Look in the Share Name.

If you need to remove this redirection, then you use: net use lpt1 /delete

Copy Error when trying to install windows Components, such as Fax or FTP There can be a problem, where you get Copy Error when you are trying to install a component, and it just shows you the .dl_ file, and says Copy Error. There is no resolution obvious, and finding the file in other places does not help.
It seems this problem is some sort of database corruption, and I found the following on a forum at tomshardware. I mention it here, because it was so hard to find any resolution for this.
1. Click on the Windows Start
2. Click Run.
3. Type esentutl /p %windir%\security\database\secedit.sdb in the Open box, and click OK.
4. Install the component as normal
Opening xls from Windows Explorer, (eg double click on xls file to open) keeps opening in same instance of Excel. I noticed this with Office 2007, but it may also apply to earlier versions. If you want to be able to position spreadsheets side by site, and flick between them, it is very hard when two separate spreadsheets open up in the same instance of Excel. I worked out the following change to make excel open a new instance when you double click or click to open an xls file.
1. Go to My Computer | Tools | Folder Options | File Types.
2. Scroll down to XLS files, Select and click Advanced | Open | Edit
3. Click to turn off "Use DDE", then OK to close each screen.
Note: After doing this change, when I go back and look, the Use DDE is ticked again, but the problem has not come back. Ie my excel still opens new windows, so have not changed it again.
WLAN Wireless Network Connection won't work. Even though you Laptop has the Wireless Port enabled, it won't see or connect to any WLAN Access Points. Check that the WZC (Wireless Zero Configuration) Service is running. If it isn't, click to Start it. You can do this in Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Services and scroll down near the bottom.
Getting error you have exceeded your profile storage space. A strange message can show up telling you that you have exceeded your profile storage space, when you have plenty of disk space. This is a registry setting, and can be found by going to regedit, and navigate here: [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System] There are several settings. You can turn the message and the check off, or just increase the profile space size.
Back to Top


Add a Tip or Trick

Ctas Ltd Home

For further information, contact us at
Ctas NZ Ltd

Hamilton, NZ
Information at Ctas Ltd