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|Tips & Tricks To
Improve Windows Performance
Tips ∓ Tricks To Improve
Saving Memory and Increasing Speed
After you have set your cache setting to its optimum size
as mentioned above, you will find more free memory. With
the following tips, you can save even more memory.
- Clear the startup programs: When you start up
Windows, several programs such as instant messaging and PDF converter programs, start and get loaded on to memory.
These take up precious memory. Ideally, you should remove
them using the settings provided in the programs themselves.
But, if you can't, then use Startup
Control Panel to do that. This program after its installation
will be found in the Control Panel.
- RAM: A machine's speed can be simply improved
by adding more RAM rather than going for a CPU upgrade.
Get some additional RAM and see the improvement. If you
have adequate RAM, but memory supply seems to be bottlenecked,
then use RamBooster.
It routinely frees some memory and can be custom adjusted
for your needs. There are several such programs, but most
of them make your system unstable. I had found no such
problems with Rambooster.
- Watch the programs in memory: Using software
such as TaskInfo
to find out which are the programs that are running in
memory and weed out those that you do not need.
- Three-button salute: If you cannot get software
such as Taskinfo, then just press Ctrl+Alt+Delete combination
once to bring up the Close Program dialog box.
Ideally, when you have all programs closed and your taskbar
is empty, there should be just three programs in this
box - explorer, system tray, and your antivirus program.
All other programs should be a waste. Most common culprits
are Microsoft office, RealPlayer, Winamp, antivirus scheduler,
etc. Just remove all those that are not needed using Startup
Control Panel or using msconfig from the Run
- Increasing the performance of individual programs:
You can increase the speed of a program, by setting the
priority of the program's process thread to either High
or Realtime. Use TaskInfo (in Win 9x/ME) or Task
Manager (in Windows 2000 by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del).
Do not go overboard on this or your system will look very
- Active Desktop: Unless you run stock market price
tickers on your desktop, deactivate Active Desktop
to save memory. If you have enabled Active Desktop just
to enable a GIF or JPEG file as the background, then convert
the file to a BMP file and set that as the wallpaper without
- Plain desktop: Remove the desktop background
image and set it None. This will save some memory.
- Screen resolution: Set your screen resolution
to 15 bit or 16 bit for both speed and saving memory.
Set a higher level only when playing games and other such
special stuff that require better resolutions.
- Clean the Desktop: Remove all unwanted icons
from the desktop and shortcuts from the desktop and the
quick launch bar. If you have shortcuts for CD drives,
windows will check for their contents every time it loads
up and cause a delay.
- Remove sound events: If you remove the sound
events, your operations will get faster and are less likely
to hang. To do so, go to Control Panel » Sounds
and Multimedia » Schemes and then choose No
Tips ∓ Tricks for Windows Explorer
- Keyboard and mouse shortcuts:
- Open any folder and press F3. This will bring up
the Find Files dialog box for that folder.
- Press Start+TAB key combination just once. Now,
pressing TAB repeatedly will allow you to jump between
various areas of the desktop, such as the desktop
proper, taskbar, system tray, quicklaunch toolbar,
and Start button.
- When you drag a file with the right mouse button,
you will be presented with an option to move or copy
the file when you drop it elsewhere.
- If you drag a file from some location and hover
it over a folder that is minimized on the desktop
without dropping it, then that folder will spring
open allowing you to drop the file there.
- If you drag a shortcut and place it over the Start
button without dropping it, then the Start menu will
spring open and you can navigate to your special program
groups and drop it there.
- Sometimes, when you have many programs open and
you use the Alt+TAB combination to switch to another
program, it does not switch. In this situation, press
the Start button twice.
- Press Alt+F4, to close a program. If no program
is open, then it functions like a Shutdown command.
- Pressing Alt+Enter after selecting an item will
bring up its properties box.
- Pressing Start+Pause will bring up the System Properties
of your computer.
- Adding extra options to the Send To menu: Open
the Windows\SendTo folder. Create shortcuts to
the programs and folders that you commonly use. My suggestion
is for shortcuts to Desktop, My Documents, IrfanView,
Subhash VCDPlayer, Winamp, and Windows Media Player. When
you use this operation on any file, the file will copied
to the chosen location or opened in the respective program.
- Adding extra options to context menu: Usually,
a certain file type can be opened with many programs,
but when you double-click on it only the default program
opens it. To have a choice, add some extra custom options
to the context menu.
Supposing you have MP3 files in your machine, which by
default opens with Windows Media Player, you can have
options in the context menu so that it can be opened with
other programs such as Subhash VCDPlayer, Winamp, etc.
Say you want to have an option with Subhash VCDPlayer,
here is what you need to do. Go to Folder Options.
Click on File Types tab. From the list under Registered
File Types, search for and select MP3 Format Sound.
Now click on Advanced. In the Edit File Type
window, click on New. In the New Action
window, enter Open with Subhash VCDPlayer
in the text box under Action and "C:\Program Files\Subhash VCDPlayer" "%1"
(including the quotation marks) in the Application
used to perform action.
Here, the ampersand symbol '∓' is placed before the
'S' in Subhash VCDPlayer so that 's' becomes the hot key
in the context menu. You can follow a similar procedure,
to do the same with Winamp or Sonique. Use the Edit
button to modify any previous setting you have created.
Exercise caution with the choice of the program. If the
program and the file type are incompatible, the result
can be undesirable.
In Windows 9x, go to Folder Options »
File Types. Here, select the file type that you need
to add custom options. Now, click on Edit. In the
Edit File Type window, click on New and
follow the above-mentioned procedure.
Create different options for different file types with
compatible programs using this method.
- Resize columns: Press Ctrl+Plus to resize
columns to best fit the contents. Do not use this trick
in the Temporary Internet Files folder though.
Super bad news if you frequent this folder to manually
pick out files.
- Folder Options: Customizing the Windows Explorer
is done via the Folder Options. To access this,
To move between the different tabs, press the Ctrl+TAB
key combination or just use the mouse.
- In Windows Me/2000: From the menu, choose
Tools » Folder Options.
- In Windows 9x: From the menu, choose View
» Folder Options
- Setting the default view: There are five types
of views available
Open any folder and choose the type of view that you want
from the toolbar. If you were to choose the Details view,
then adjust the column sizes now. Then, go to Folder
Options. In the View tab, click on the Like
- Large Icons
- Small Icons
- Single-click operation: Normally, to select a
file you single-click and to run you double-click. You
can change this to hover for select and single-click to
run. Go to Folder Options. Here, in the Click
items as follows section, check the Single-click
to open an item and Underline items only when I
point at them.
In Windows 9x, go to Folder Options, and
choose Custom, based on settings you choose and
click on Settings. In the Click items as follows
section, choose the above-mentioned setting.
- Expanding and collapsing levels: On the folder
pane, you can expand a level by pressing ASTERISK or
*. To collapse a level press MINUS or -.
- Customized Links Toolbar: The Links toolbar
has shortcuts to several Internet sites that you never
have use for. You can replace them with shortcuts to folders
or files in your hard disk or your own choice of Internet
sites. To do this, go to the Windows\Favorites\Links
folder. Here remove the shortcuts that Microsoft has provided
and create some shortcuts to your own files and folders
in your hard disk or network.
- Open links in the same window: In the above tip,
when you click on any link, the link opens in a new window.
To open the link in the same window, right click on the
link and select Open from the context menu.
- Removing the Links toolbar: If you want to remove
toolbar from showing up at all then, open a Windows Explorer
window and from the menu, choose Views » Toolbars
and click on Links. This will remove the Links toolbar
from you Explorer window. To get it back again, repeat
the process and see that the Links option is checked again.
- Favorites: You can use the Favorites instead
of the Links toolbar. This is especially useful in a networked
environment where you need to navigate between several
nodes and folders to access any file. Go to the Windows\Favorites
folder. Create a folder and give it a name of your choice.
Cut all the MS-supplied shortcuts and paste them in this
new folder. Now go to your Network Neighborhood and navigate
to the folders that you often access and add them to your
Favorites by choosing Add to Favorites from the
Favorites menu. Now, to hop over to some distant folder
in just a couple of clicks, you need to choose it from
the Favorites menu.
- Using Favorites in other programs: The above
tip can come to good use not just in Explorer windows,
but also in other programs such as Word or Excel. If you
need to save a file in a location that you have added
to the Favorites, locate the Favorites icon in the Save
As dialog box, click on it, and choose the appropriate
favorite to open the folder.
- Customising the Toolbar: In Windows Me and Windows
2000, you can customise the toolbar with your own choice
of buttons. For this, from the Windows Explorer menu,
choose Views » Toolbars » Customize.
Remove those buttons that you do not need and add those
that you need.
Tips ∓ Tricks for Xteq X-Setup
Xteq X-Setup is a great tool to tweak your system. It has
different settings for Win 9x/Me/NT/2000. Instead of manually
editing the registry, one can tweak the registry using X-Setup
as a frontend. Choose the following settings.
- To create a DOS box with current folder as its default
directory, go to Appearance » Explorer »
Context Menu » Context Menu Options and check
on Enable 'DOS Prompt here' command for directories.
- To hide certain drives, go to Appearance »
Explorer » Options » Hide drives. For
settings on shortcuts, go to Appearance » Explorer
- To set up your own customized OEM logo on the Device
Manager, go to Appearance » OEM information.
Set the outer portions of the BMP file to the color of
the 3D object (in your color scheme) before that.
- To speed up your modem, choose the port in Hardware
» Modem » COM Port Speed.
- To prevent others from changing the screensaver or background,
go to Appearance » Control Panel » Other
Settings » Visible Pages in 'Display'.
Miscellaneous Tips ∓ Tricks
- With faxing software, if you cannot locate the recommended
initialization string for your particular modem, try fax
class 1 in combination with the generic initialization
string: AT∓F∓C1∓D2∓K3S7=55 If this
doesn’t work, try fax class 2 in combination with
the generic initialization string: AT∓F∓C1∓D2∓K4S7=55
- Windows 9x/Me might sometimes throw up error message
that some system file has gone corrupt. You can restore
things using System File Checker from Start »
Programs » Accessories » System Tools »
System Information » Tools.
- To show the correct speed with which your modem connects
to the ISP, enter the initialization string ATW2
- Of all antivirus programs, AVG
Antivirus is the best and the lightest. It is better
than Norton or McAfee.
- Run your antivirus program's complete checkup every
week. Also, defrag your hard disk every week. Use Disk
Cleanup every now and then to clear your hard disk of
- When Windows throws up a lot of errors and refuses to
stop them even after a reinstall, a clean install of Windows
is in order. This process can be done more safely and
easily if your data files reside in a drive other than
the one where Windows sits. This way you don't have to
do time-consuming backups. So, after the first time you
install Windows, follow these steps.
Most people format their Windows drive before doing a
clean install. This is not necessary. If you have more
than one OS, it will delete the boot files of the other
OSes too. Just delete the Program Files folder
and the Windows folder from MS-DOS or from another
OS and go ahead with the install. After that is done,
import your email messages from the folder you had created
previously. Now, delete any files in that folder. Next,
change the message store back to that folder. Also, change
the My Documents back to the folder you had created
- Your My Documents would typically be in C:\My
Documents or C:\Documents and Settings\user\My
Documents. If you have a drive D, then right-click
on your My Documents and select Properties
» Move. Here, select a folder in the
D drive. Now, your My Documents will be moved
to that folder.
- Change the store folder of your Outlook Express
email messages as mentioned above,
to a folder in the other drive.
- It also helps to backup email account settings too.
Select Tools » Accounts »
Mail. Select the email account and click on
Export. This will create a file with the extension
.iaf. Whenever you want to re-create the email
account, click on the Import button and select
this .iaf file.
- Use a download manager to manage your downloads. Second-generation
download managers allow for the files to be downloaded
in pieces simultaneously by more than one thread, and
combine them together after download is over.
- If you keep a lot of programs installed, your program
menu can get very long. So, divide them into sections
such as Multimedia, Internet, System Tools, Utilities,
etc., by creating appropriately named folders inside the
c:\windows\Start Menu\Programs folder and making
appropriate choices during installation.
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