Windows XP User Tips Tidbits

by Wayne Maples [Published on 20 April 2004 / Last Updated on 20 April 2004]

This page will have Windows XP user quick tips or tidbits. Nearly all of these tidbits will work for Windows 2000. Try them if you are running W2K. Many will work with Windows NT. For comments or questions send them to Wayne Maples .

Set numlock, scroll lock, and/or capslock at startup

Want to set numlock, capslock or scroll-lock on when you logon? Use the following script, setkeys.vbs. Don't want capslock or scroll-lock set? Remove those lines. Also this is a toggle. Run it again and it reverses.:

set WshShell=CreateObject("WScript.Shell") 
WshShell.SendKeys "{NUMLOCK}" 
WshShell.SendKeys "{SCROLLLOCK}" 
WshShell.SendKeys "{CAPSLOCK}"
Place it in your startup folder.
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Remove Outlook Address Entries

I use the autofill option in Outlook 2000 all the time. Save lots of typing. What do you do if there is an address the Outlook remembers which you need to have Outlook NOT remember? Solution :

  • Open a new message
  • Click on the To: line. Use the down arrow or right-click to get a list of addresses.
  • Highlight the address you want to remove.
  • Press Del

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Put back QuickLaunch toolbar

I generally have the apps I use in the Quick Launch toolbar. Have a item you are run a lot and want to avoid the Program Menu or even the Start menu? Just drag and drop the programs icon onto the toolbar.

Your Quick Launch toolbar is missing from the taskbar? Right-click an empty area on the taskbar, click Toolbars, and then click Quick Launch.
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Copy "Run" on desktop

Use the Run dialog a lot? Click Start and drag the Run option on to your desktop.

Run capability tidbit = XP's address bar can do anything that the run dialog can do. Want to start regedt32? Type regedt32. So an alternative is to enable the address bar on the taskbar.
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XP clipboard

Can't find XP's clipboard? Click Start | Run | enter clipbrd . You will probably find that this starts the NetDDE services.
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Save custom colors and patterns

Getting a new computer and don't want to redo the work to get the same custom colors and patterns? Backup the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Custom Colors and Patterns registry keys and restore them to your new computer. This is a Windows 2000 and Windows XP tip.
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URL shortcut for .com sites

A very common URL is You can save a few keystrokes. Lets say you to surf to OK type google and press cntl-enter. This tip is for all versions of Windows.
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Clean up after IE

As you browse the net, IE is writing a large number of temporary files to your HD. This is particularly true if you have configured IE to allow offline browsing. You should clean them out periodically and defrag your HD. To clean them out and free up disk space :

  • Open IE
  • Click the Tools menu
  • Select Internet Options
  • Click the Delete Files button on the General tab
  • Check Delete all offline content then click OK this will delete files used for offline content - if you have been doing that; if not, it doesn't matter
After the files temp files are deleted, and it can take quite a while, defrag your HD. This tip is for all versions of Windows.
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Pressing the PrtScn key copies the entire display to the clipboard. Pressing ALT +PrtScn copies only the active Window to the clipboard. To view the screen capture, open a graphics program, such as MS Paint, and press CTRL+V. This will paste the contents of the clipboard into the open file, and allow you to view it or save it as a file for later use.
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Source for missing DLLs

Download the most common DLLs that suddenly disappears from your computer :
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Show your IP Address

Your ip address changes frequently and you need to display it. Create desktop shortcut for command:

cmd /k "ipconfig /all && pause && exit"

which opens command window, executes ipconfig command, pauses until a key is pressed, then closes. Windows compatible. Good template for any commandline option you want to a desktop shortcut to. Example of output:

Windows IP Configuration

        Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . : xpagain
        Primary Dns Suffix  . . . . . . . :
        Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . : Unknown
        IP Routing Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
        WINS Proxy Enabled. . . . . . . . : No

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:

        Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . :
        Description . . . . . . . . . . . : Realtek RTL8139/810X Family PCI Fast
 Ethernet NIC
        Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-E0-18-56-7F-6D
        Dhcp Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes
        Autoconfiguration Enabled . . . . : Yes
        IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . :
        Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . :
        Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :
        DHCP Server . . . . . . . . . . . :
        DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . :
        Lease Obtained. . . . . . . . . . : Wednesday, March 26, 2003 12:02:25 PM
        Lease Expires . . . . . . . . . . : Thursday, March 27, 2003 12:02:25 PM

Press any key to continue . . .

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Snap to Address Bar

Want to type in an address manually, click in the address area with the mouse. Better, press ALT-D, and the cursor will automatically snap into the address bar, ready for you to enter your URL.
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Remove the Go button on the Address bar

When you add the address bar to the taskbar you can turn off the "Address" button by right clicking on the bar and deselecting "Show Title". However, to get rid of the Go button, you have to do the following:

  • Start Internet Explorer
  • Click Tools/Internet Options
  • Click the Advanced tab
  • Scroll down the list of options until you find the Show Go Button in Address Bar checkbox
  • Deselect it
  • Press OK and all is done!

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Make Windows Explorer Open Where You Want It

%windir%\explorer.exe /e,/root,C:
Note that the only space is between the "e" at the end of ".exe" and the slash (/) after that "e". There are no other spaces in the command string. You can replace the C: with another drive letter, or you can even use a path like C:\MyStuff.
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Use format /q to quick erase removable media

Often you want to clear a disk to ensure that anything on the disk is qone. Most people format the disk. This can be slow. Since the disk is already formatted, use:
format a: /q
The /q tells the format command to skip low-level formatting and don't do bad sector checking. Its fast.
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What is XP version?

There are several methods to tell you the XP version. One of the fastest is to open a command shell : click start,run,cmd and you will see something like:

Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]
(C) Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp.

E:\Documents and Settings\Wayne>

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Change font size of Internet Explorer content on the fly

If you have a mouse that has scrolling button then fond changing is as easy as pressing CTRL key and rotating scrolling button either towards you (to increase) or away from you (to decrease).
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Rename folders in Start Menu

Don't like the default names My Documents, My Music ... ? These names are easy to change under XP. For example, right-click My Documents and select Rename.
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Explorer gives cumulative file size

Select a set of files in Explorer and then open Properties dialog and it will display the cumulative size. Very useful if you are copying a set of files to a floppy, zip, CD or other media with limited storage.
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Undo in Explorer

The Undo command works if you deleted or moved or copied a file to somewhere by mistake in Explorer: either click Edit | Undo or Ctrl-Z
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Using the Address Bar

The Windows address bar is more useful than most people realize. You can type in:

  • A URL - dah :
  • web search : penetration testing and hacking
    try this search and tada! my site comes up among others
  • Network resource : \\WaynesServer\waynesshare
    assuming PC WaynesServer is on your network
  • Folders : My Documents
    My Documents, My Computer, My Network Places ... work
    as does c:\program files or c:\
    experiment using this explorer function
  • Access Microsoft KB articles : mskb Q228930
    This is supposed to go directly to the kb article. I can't get it to work that way but this does results in a search with the kb article as the first item on the list in almost all cases anyway

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Pin applications to Start Menu

The Start menu in the upper left hand quadrant has pinned applications. XP comes with IE and Outlook pinned. You can unpin an app in this area by right-clicking the application and selecting Remove from This list.

The Start menu in the lower left hand quadrant has recently-run applications. You can pin any of the recently-run apps by right-clicking the shortcut and choosing the Pin to Start Menu option. The shortcut will be moved to the pinned quadrant of the Start Menu where it will stay until you unpin it.
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Recently-run applications

The Start menu in the lower left hand quadrant has recently-run applications. You can remove any of the recently-run apps by right-clicking the shortcut and choosing the Remove from This list option.
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You can chose whether My Recent Documents menu appears on the Start Menu or you can clear the list:

  • Right-click Start
  • Click Properties
  • On Start Menu tab, click Start Menu Customize...
  • On Advanced tab, unclick List my most recently opened documents to prevent recently accessed documents from appearing
    -- or --
    On Advanced tab, click the Clear List button to clear the current list out of the Start Menu.

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Start Menu, Control Panel,My Pictures & My Documents can be configured to display as a menu or a window with icons

Start Menu, Control Panel,My Pictures & My Documents can be configured to display as a menu or a window with icons.

  • Right-click Start
  • Click Properties
  • On Start Menu tab, click Start Menu Customize...
  • On Advanced tab, configure as desired from the Start menu items: pulldown

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Synch PC time to Internet time server

If you have a DSL or cable connect, you can have your PC's time automatically synchronize with a time server on the Internet.

  • Double-click time on system tray
  • On Internet Time tab, click Automatically synchronize with an Internet time server

    This works will with constant connection available with DSL or cable. If you have dial up connection you can still synch once connected and

  • click on the Update Now button in the Internet Time tab dialog.

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Customize the Notification Area

To customize the Notification Area, system tray on Task Bar: right-click the notification area and choose Customize Notifications.
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See Also

See Also

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