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John's Windows XP Tricks

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Learn a few of John Mueller’s Windows XP tricks from the expert himself.
John Mueller is the author of Sams Teach Yourself Windows XP in 21 Days (Sams, October 2001, ISBN 0672322633).
From the author of
  • Use the Right Interface: The user interface you see when you start Windows XP isn't the interface you're stuck with. Windows XP supports the same user interface as Windows 2000. All you need to do is change the menu setting on the Start Menu tab of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog. Of course, the simpler interface is useful for novice users or those who don't want to learn a complex interface.

  • Command Prompt on Demand: Administrators and power users often require a command prompt to run command-line utilities. In Windows XP you can click a location in Windows Explorer and create a command prompt directly from that location. You can do this by adding a file association. Use the Tools | Folder Options command in Windows Explorer to display the Folder Options dialog. Find the Folder file type on the File Types tab. Highlight it and click Advanced to display the Edit File Type dialog. Click New. Type Command Prompt Here in the Action field and cmd.exe /k "cd %1" in the Application Used to Perform Action field. Click OK twice. Close the Folder Options dialog. Right-click on any folder and you'll see the new command that allows you to create a command prompt where needed.

  • Finding Knowledge Base Articles: Microsoft will often refer you to a Knowledge Base article by number. You can locate that article quickly by typing MSKB Q<Article Number> in Internet Explorer. Of course, this assumes that you have MSN Search configured as your default search engine. Internet Explorer comes configured with MSN Search as the first (default) search engine, but many people, like me, reconfigure their setup to use another search engine. If you don't use the MSN search engine, you can still find Knowledge Base articles by using Google's (http://www.google.com) Advanced Search or by going to MSN Search manually (http://search.msn.com).

  • Cheap High-Speed LAN for Home or Small Office Use: Windows XP finally comes with high-end IEEE 1394 (FireWire) support built in. Find out more about Microsoft's view of IEEE 1394 at http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev/1394/. FireWire allows you to connect high-speed peripheral devices to your system. Some people also view it as a means for creating inexpensive high-speed networks for home or small office use. Unlike USB, you can connect two IEEE 1394 ports together through a cable to create a network connection. Multiple machine connections require the use of a hub.

  • Learn by Right Clicking: I'm still surprised at the number of new features Windows provides access to using a right click. Context menus form the basis of the Windows interface that has been around since the days of Windows 9.x. The problem is that many users won't right-click to see what's available. In many situations, you can increase your efficiency by right-clicking first, and looking for a menu option second. This is especially true when you install a new application, since each change of configuration also changes the context menu entries.

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