Bits & Pieces

Thumbnails are one of the views available for files and they offer a small preview of larger picture files such as gif, jpg and bmp.
In order to speedup the viewing of the Thumbnails, Windows creates a cache of the thumbnail details, so that next time you view the pictures Windows will not have to repeat the creation process.
A file 'thumbs.db' is the file resulting from this cache and you will probably become aware of this file when you delete a folder of pictures, as Windows will warn you about deleting 'thumbs.db'. If you are deleting a file of photos you do not need the cached details and so you can safely delete 'thumbs.db'. Even if you delete 'thumbs.db' and there are still photos in a file, it does not matter, as Windows will create a fresh 'thumbs' next time you select Thumbnails.

Read-only Files
Read-only files are created to prevent a file being altered accidentally or on purpose by persons other than the author of the file. You can open and change the file; however it must be saved under another name, thereby retaining the original file. Read-only files are often created for distribution across a network situation - if User A has the file open, User B can not access it until User A has closed the file.
Read-only files are also created when files are copied to a CD or DVD, as files on a CD or DVD can not be manipulated, however once copied from the CD or DVD, the files can be altered to 'Read'. To alter a file to 'Read-only' or visa versa, right Click on the file and click on 'Properties' then Click the 'Read-only' box to remove the tick. Click 'Apply' and close the drop-down.
You can do bulk alteration to the 'Read-only' function by 'Ctrl'+'A' or hold down the 'Alt' key to select certain files - right click and proceed as above.

Folder Views
It is advisable to alter the default views offered by Windows for folders, as the default view restricts your knowledge of the system and may even leave you open to virus attack. To alter the Folder View in 'Classic View' go to: Start - Settings - Control Panel - Folder Options. It is suggested that you untick ' Hide extensions to known file types' Click 'Apply' - Click 'OK' and exit out. A few years ago there was a virus attack based on the fact that some people did not have the file extension shown and consequently were unaware that a file in an email was not 'holidaysnaps.jpg' but actually 'holidaysnaps.jpg.exe'.

For protection of your computer against virus and other malicious attacks, the following is recommended:

Oops! If you have a sudden loss of data, or want to undo an action, hit 'Ctrl'+ 'Z'.

Cursor Adjustment To adjust the cursor thickness (default width 1 pixel), or to vary the blink rate, go Start - Settings - Contol Panel - Accessiblity Options - Display and alter the blink rate and/or cursor width by dragging the bar across. A larger cursor or different blink rate may make the cursor more visable when typing.

Windows Power Tool - TweekUI
Windows provides a free Power Tool that permits you to make adjustments to various Windows components - it is probably easier to download TweekUI from one of the Freeware sites, than find the file on the Microsoft site. TweekUI allows you to adjust focus, the mouse functions, Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, the Taskbar, Desktop, Control Panel features, the logon and repair features.

Unnecessary Services
By default Windows installs a folder called 'Services' in the Programs Files group - This folder contains files to help you get online to AOL, MSN and other online services and chances are you are using another service provider. Open Windows Explorer Open ‘C’ drive Scroll down to ‘Program Files’ and open it Find the ‘Online Services’ folder and delete it.

Remove Unnecessary Desktop Icons
Remove any unnecessary Icons of programs that you do not really need - if a program is used infrequently, then open them from the Start menu Programs. Unnecessary icons only slow down Windows loading. Right click on a shortcut icon and select delete. Deleting the icon only deletes the shortcut, it is easy to reinstall if you change your mind.

Delete Unnecessary Start Menu Items
Right click on the item, select delete. Again the additional unnecessary items slow down your computer starting up.

Place Start Menu Items in Order
Click on a blank spot on the Start menu and select 'Sort by Name'.

Missing or Corrupt Operating System Files When you get an error message about missing dll files, or similar – open the Run dialog box and enter – sfc/scannow.
A utility will scan your system. Missing systems files will be replaced or you may be prompted to insert the original Windows XP CD.

Removing Difficult Programs
When you are having trouble removing a program, start your computer in Safe Mode, by pressing F8 a number of times at start-up, until the options screen comes up and then select Safe Mode. The Safe Mode only load the drivers necessary for the operation of Windows, consequently the drivers for the offending program are not loaded and therefore the program is easier to delete. This is probably the best way to remove old unwanted anti-virus programs.

Repairing Windows
When your system gets a bit wobbly you can make it repair itself by inserting your original Windows XP CD and restarting. When you get to the licence agreement – press F8 and then R, to perform an in-place repair, that leaves your saved files untouched. When you have finished you need to run Windows Update to ensure your key system files are up to date.

Removing Names from Desktop Icons
You can remove the names from desktop icons, so as to reduce clutter. Right-click a shortcut. Click ‘Rename’ and press ‘Delete’ to remove the existing text. Hold down ‘Alt’ and type ‘255’ with the numeric keypad – press ‘Enter’ You will need to add an additional ‘Alt’ 255 each time you do a new Icon, so keep a check of were you are up to. The second icon is: ‘Alt’ 255 ‘Alt’ 255. The third icon is: ‘Alt’ 255 ‘Alt’ 255 ‘Alt’ 255. This will probably only be useful for well known program shortcuts and you need Administrator privileges.

Freeware Sites

Warwick Sherring

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