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Windows XP Pro Tips and Tricks!

1. NTFS Versus Fat32
2. Add My Pictures folder to the Send To contextual menu in Windows XP.
3. Windows XP will let you decide what you want your processor to work hardest on.
4. XP also lets you optimize the visual settings for better performance
5. Create a drive menu for My Computer
6. The Registered XP User information is stored in the Windows Registry
7. Enable advanced file-system and sharing security for a Windows XP machine in a workgroup
8. What will cause Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) machine to ignore the connection order of your wireless networking devices and connect to an Access Point (AP) that broadcasts its Service Set Identifier
9. To prevent Windows XP from reminding you to enter Microsoft NET Passport details
10.Turn back the clock with System Restore
11. Stop the My eBooks, My Videos, and My Music subfolders from appearing in the My Documents folder in Windows XP
12. Enable user environment debugging in Windows 2000 and later
13. Disable the new program highlight feature in XP
14. Move files from one Windows XP user account to another
15. To change the startup sound in Windows XP. Follow these steps.
16. Defrag from the command line
17. Mysteriously Colored Filenames
18. It is essential to record the precise wording of error messages
19. Start a new Windows Explorer instance that displays My Computer
20.Customize Move To and Copy To
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Microsoft offers two options for formatting your hard drive. Which one should you use?

Choosing your computer's file system. Not one of life's greatest challenges or most philosophical dilemmas, yet a preponderance that shouldn't be taken lightly in the world of computers.

The decision isn't really all that difficult and here's why. If you're using the latest Windows operating systems (Windows 2000, Windows XP), use NTFS. Here are just some of the qualities of NTFS that FAT32 and FAT16 lack:

File security
Access rights can be assigned to files and directories, allowing users full access, partial access or no access at all to data on the hard disk.

NTFS can automatically encrypt and decrypt file data as it is read and written to the disk

Disk compression
File and directory compression can be performed without using any third party software, which saves space, while still allowing for transparent access and operation to the user.

Support for large hard disks
We're talking very large. Try a theoretical limit of 16 Exabytes, and up to 2 Terabytes.

File names
Native support of long file names and a 16-bit character standard called Unicode (likely the next generation ASCII)

Storage quotas
Disk quotas can be assigned that limit the amount of disk space users can access on a partition.

Sparse files
Let the user assign and reserve hard disk space to specific files.

File streams
Support for multiple data streams.

Fault tolerance
An enhanced ability to seamlessly respond to unexpected hardware and software errors.

If you want to make the computer a multi-boot system, you might want to consider FAT32, but you don't have to go with it.

If you're concerned about being able to see files across partitions, you should make the shared partitions FAT32.

For more details about the difference between NTFS and Fat32, read these Microsoft Knowledge Base articles:;en-us;Q100108;en-us;Q314463



1. Go into My Computer.
2. Double-click your C: drive.
3. Click Documents and Settings for Users.
4. Go into your user folder.
5. If you haven't already, reveal your hidden folders.
6. Click Tools and choose Options.
7. Go to the View tab and select "Show hidden files and folders."
8. Click Apply.
9. Click OK.
You'll see a hidden folder called Send To. Open it.
Drag and drop the My Pictures shortcut on your desktop into the folder.
If you don't already have a shortcut to My Pictures, right-click its entry and choose Create Shortcut.



Windows XP will let you decide what you want your processor to work hardest on. It gives you two options, the first being to allocate more processor time to your foreground programs like Internet Explorer, Word, and other applications. The second option is to share processor time between foreground and background programs. Background programs would be, for example, print services or backup programs. If print services, backup programs, or other programs that run in the background are crucial to what you use your machine for, having the processor focus on the background tasks might be a better option.

To change this option, click Start | Control Panel | System. Next, click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Performance. From that window, click the Advanced tab to display the two options. Select the one that best suits your needs.



XP also lets you optimize the visual settings for better performance. When you do this on your machine, what you will get is a GUI that looks and feels more like 98 or ME, but you will get a 2-5% increase in performance by freeing up memory.

Again, go to Start | Control Panel | System. Click the Advanced tab, and then under Performance, click the Settings button. Click the Visual Effects tab and select "Adjust for best performance" to have Windows automatically adjust the settings for best performance.

There is also an option in the Display properties to use the "Windows Classic" theme. This will change the appearance of XP, but will not give you better performance.



By default, the My Computer item on the Start menu is configured to work like a standard folder window. If you need to access a specific drive, select My Computer from the Start menu, wait a moment for the window to appear, and then double-click the icon for the drive that you need to access.

When you're in a hurry, this two-step procedure can be time-consuming and frustrating--especially if My Computer contains a large number of drive icons. However, Windows XP makes it easy for you to configure My Computer so it works like a menu, with each drive listed as a menu item.

Follow these steps:

1 Right-click the Start button, and select Properties.
2 Click Customize, which is adjacent to the Start Menu radio button, and select Advanced.
3 Scroll through the Start Menu Items list box until you see My Computer.
4 Select Display As A Menu, and click OK twice.

Now, when you select My Computer from the Start menu, you'll see a menu of individual drives. To access the contents of that drive, just select the drive letter from the menu.



The Registered User information is stored in the Windows Registry. Before you make any changes to the Registry, back it up. Now you're ready to make your changes.

1. Click Start, click Run, and type "regedit."

2. Navigate to this folder:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

3. Modify the values of RegisteredOwner and RegisteredOrganization.



When an XP machine belongs to a domain with shared resources, a Security tab appears on the Properties dialog box for the file, folder, or share. You can use this tab to assign advanced sharing permissions. However, this tab is missing for XP machines that belong to a workgroup.

A new feature in XP effectively logs all remote logons in a workgroup as Guest, regardless of the account and password credentials that the remote computer passes. (This approach avoids the need for different machines in a workgroup to replicate local accounts, which is the method Windows 2000 uses to enable transparent sharing.) XP locks down the Everyone group (of which Guest belongs) permissions, which cuts down on the security problems that existed in Win2K as a result of enabling the Guest account. Because all machines in a workgroup are effectively Guest connections, the advanced security features aren't very useful, which is why Microsoft disabled them in XP.

If you want to enable advanced file-system and sharing security, you
must disable the ForceGuest registry setting by performing the
following steps:

1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
2. Navigate to the
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa registry
3. Double-click "forceguest," set it to 0, then click OK.
4. Restart the computer for the change to take effect.

If you disable the Guest account but enable the ForceGuest setting,
remote connections will fail, regardless of what username and password
the user passes in--even if these credentials are valid.



For computers connecting to multiple wireless networks, you can use XP's Preferred Network list to establish an order in which the computer will connect to those networks. Each wireless AP can optionally broadcast its SSID, which identifies the network name. Many security guides advise you to turn off the SSID broadcast because hackers can use this information to see your network.

Imagine that you want to connect to a wireless network in XP's Preferred Network list that isn't broadcasting its SSID. If you're in a location serviced by that network as well as another network that does publish its SSID but is lower down on the Preferred Network list, XP will connect to the SSID-broadcasting network instead of the network that isn't broadcasting. Microsoft says this behavior is by design and that all APs should publish their SSIDs, despite what many manufactures advise. Currently no workaround exists to overcome this behavior.



After you install XP, the OS prompts you to enter a .NET Passport
account to enable access to certain Internet communication features.
To turn off this reminder, perform the following steps:
1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
2. Navigate to the
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MessengerService registry subkey.
3. If the PassportBalloon registry value doesn't already exist, go
to the Edit menu; select New, Binary Value; enter a name of
PassportBalloon; then press Enter.
4. Double-click the PassportBalloon value, set it to 0A 00 00 00,
then click OK.
5. Close the registry editor.



The System Restore feature, first available in Windows Me, enables users and administrators to restore a computer to a previous state without experiencing the loss of any data. This feature enables you to undo any changes you've made to your system's hardware, software, or settings that have left your computer in an undesirable state.

All you need to do is to first launch the System Restore program. Simply click the Start button and choose All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore. The System Restore feature monitors and tracks changes you've made to your system and, at specific intervals, automatically creates restore points or checkpoints, when events such as program installations occur. These checkpoints, automatically created every 10 hours your computer runs regardless of whether you've made any major changes to your OS, tell Windows XP to return your system's settings to this point in time should XP experience any problems. These automatic checkpoints can be applied to your system by selecting the Restore My Computer To An Earlier time option button. Then, select the restore point of your choice, click Next, and then click Next again to restore your system to its last healthy state.



Stop the My eBooks, My Videos, and My Music subfolders from appearing in the My Documents folder in Windows XP

Each new version of Windows seems to add a new set of subfolders to
the My Documents folder. If you delete these subfolders, Windows will
automatically recreate them the next time you log on. To stop Windows
from creating these subfolders every time, perform the following steps:

1. From the Start menu, select Run, enter the command

regsvr32 /u mydocs.dll

to unregister the .dll file, then click OK.

2. Navigate to My Documents, then delete the automatically created folders that you no longer want to appear.

The steps above disable the My Documents functions, so if your system
is missing some functionality, you'll need to reregister mydocs.dll.
If you want to reregister the .dll file, perform the above steps again
but use the command

regsvr32 mydocs.dll



To debug the user environment settings, you can create a log file
(i.e., \%systemroot%\debug\usermode\userenv.log) with different levels
of information concerning your log on, log off, and other user
environment activity. This log file can help you debug problems
related to policy application and profile application and saving.

To set the logging level associated with the userenv.log file, perform
the following steps:
1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
2. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows
NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon registry subkey.
3. From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value.
4. Enter the name UserEnvDebugLevel, then press Enter.
5. Double-click the new value, set it to one of the values listed
in the table below, then click OK.

Registry Entry Value
============== ========
No logging 00000000
Normal logging 00000001
Verbose logging 00000002
Output to logfile 00010000
Debugger output 00020000

6. Restart the computer for the changes to take effect.

You can combine the values from the table in Step 5 (e.g., for verbose
output to logfile, use value 00010002).



Windows XP user interface enhancements are designed to make the operating system easy to work with for users at all levels. However, some features are distracting for intermediate to advanced users, such as the new program highlight feature.

When you install new applications in XP, the corresponding shortcuts on the Start menu are highlighted so you can quickly locate them. Until you actually use these shortcuts, they remain highlighted. If there are numerous shortcuts on the application's menu, you have to access each one to turn off the highlighting.

Here's how to disable this feature:

1.Right-click the Start button and select Properties.
2.Click the Customize button.
3.On the Advanced tab, deselect the Highlight Newly Installed Programs check box.
4.Click OK twice.

You may need to restart the system or log out of XP for the change to take effect.



If you're running as Administrator you can copy files from any folder to any other. The administrator account in XP is all-powerful.

Individual users don't have these special powers, however. To share files between users, copy or move them to the Shared Files folder. Any user on the system can see and modify anything in this folder. If you have network file sharing turned on, you can also use this folder to share documents over the network.



1. Save the sound you want as a .wav file.
2. Open your control panel.
3. Launch Sounds and Audio.
4. Click on the Sounds tab.
5. In the scroll box at the bottom, look for Start Windows.
6. Click on the Browse button and look for the sound file you want.
7. Click OK.
8. Exit the control panel.



Windows XP comes with Disk Defragmenter, which is a slimmed down version of Executive Software's Diskeeper disk defragmentation program. This utility is accessible via the Computer Management Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and as a stand-alone utility on the Tools tab of each hard drive's Properties dialog box.

There's also a command-line version of this utility called Defrag. If you want to quickly configure and launch a defragment operation, it's easier to use the command line rather than accessing the GUI version and then drilling down through a number of options.

To run Defrag, open a command prompt window and type the following command:

Defrag x: [/parameter]

In this example, x is the drive letter of the hard disk you want to defragment, and parameter is one of three optional settings that you can use to configure Defrag:

/a: Analyzes the volume and displays a summary of the analysis report.
/v: Displays the complete analysis and defragmentation report. It can be used in combination with /a to display only the analysis report.
/f: Forces defragmentation of the volume, regardless of whether it needs to be defragmented.

When you use either the /a or /v parameters, Defrag displays the results on the command line. However, if you'd rather have the results available as a file, use the DOS redirection symbol to send the report to a file. For example, you can redirect the results to a file called Defrag-Results.txt by using this command:

Defrag x: [/parameter] > Defrag-Results.txt



This phenomenon is not new, but for some reason quite a few readers have written about it recently. The blue color is not harmful in any way. Windows XP supports the NTFS file system, which in turn supports NTFS file compression. By default, NTFS-compressed files are displayed in a color, specifically the bright blue you mention.

If you haven't compressed any files, but if you've used the Disk Cleanup applet, you've probably done so without realizing it. The Disk Cleanup applet includes an option called Compress old files, which saves space. You probably selected that option without realizing that it would change the appearance of the filenames in Windows Explorer.

If you prefer, you can select Folder Options from Windows Explorer's Tools menu, click on the View tab, and uncheck the item that says Display compressed files and folders with alternate color. But now that you know the cause of the color change, you may want to retain this visual indication that a file is compressed.



Many computer problems involve error messages, and it's essential to record the precise wording of these messages. In Windows 2000 and XP, pressing Ctrl-C will copy most error messages to the Clipboard.

Launch Notepad, paste a copied message, and save it. Under Windows 98 and Me (or when Ctrl-C doesn't work), type the exact text of the message into Notepad for reference. (You can also take a screenshot of the error message by hitting Alt-PrintScreen, which copies the screen image to the Clipboard, and then opening Paint and pasting the image into a blank file. You now have a picture of the error message.) When copying or reporting an error message, you can omit the interminable lists of numbers found at the end of some message boxes.



You can create a shortcut for Windows Explorer that will display My
Computer. When you create the shortcut, you can include the command

explorer.exe /n,/e,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

to display My Computer with the various drives visible. Alternatively,
you can include the command path

explorer.exe /n,/e,/root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

to display just the root of My Computer. To display My Network Places,
include the command path

explorer.exe /n,/e,::{208D2C60-3AEA-1069-A2D7-08002B30309D}

If you want to start Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) but don't want
to type "iexplorer.exe", you can include the command path

explorer.exe /n,/e,::{871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}



Windows XP provides Windows Explorer with two file and folder management tools called Move To and Copy To. When you access any file or folder in Windows Explorer and have the Task Explorer Bar open, you'll see one of these commands appear under the File And Folder Tasks heading: Move/Copy This File or Move/Copy This Folder.

If you'd rather not use the Task Explorer Bar, you can place the Move To and Copy To commands on the standard toolbar. Here's how:

1. Launch Windows Explorer.
2. Right-click the standard toolbar, and select Customize.
3. Scroll through the Available Toolbar Buttons list, and select either Move To or Copy To.
4. Click Add.
5. Use the Move Up or Move Down buttons to position the new buttons where you want them to appear on the toolbar.
6. Select Close.


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