Windows 98 Tips &Tools


Here´s some useful tips and tools that I´ve discovered since upgrading to Windows 98 SE:


(Note that in the text below the notation xxx|yyy|zzz refers to selecting menu choice xxx, then menu choice yyy, then menu choice zzz, where xxx, yyy, zzz represent specific menu choices [e.g., File|Save refers to clicking on the File menu choice and then the Save choice on the File menu])

Start Menu Tweaks:


    • Make more room in the Start Menu: Right click on the taskbar, select Properties, then click on "Show small icons on the Start Menu"
    • Move choices around on the Start Menu by dragging and dropping icons on the menu in the position you want them. Move new programs to the Start Menu the same way.
    • You can now right click on a Start Menu choice and change the properties associated with any menu choice.

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Toolbar Tweaks:

  • Quick Launch Toolbar: Now you can drag and drop any program icon down to the bottom of your screen. Drop the icons of programs you use most often there. If you run out of space for icons, you can expand the Quick Launch Toolbar up so that you get another line or two additional space. Quick Launch Toolbar makes it possible to eliminate most of the large icons now occupying real estate on your desktop
    • Roll Your Own Toolbar: You can create additional toolbars by right clicking on the Quick Launch Bar, clicking on Toolbars|New, and pointing to a folder whose contents will then become a toolbar.
    • Toolbars can slide over one another, like the Internet Explorer Toolbar, to save space
    • Click on a toolbar´s handle divider to expand or contract it
    • You can drag any toolbar to another position on the screen: top, right side, or left side.
    • Other features are available, right click on the tool bar and click on Properties to see your options

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Graphics Tweaks:

    • See your files as Thumbnails (I only use this in folders which hold graphics files): Click on Properties and check "Allow Thumbnail View". Then when you click on the View menu item in any Explorer screen, you'll see a Thumbnail choice. Click it, and you'll see thumbnails of most of your files (jpg, gif, bmp, wmf, htm, html files). Doesn't display WPG files and doesn't even appear as an option on Desktop files (must be activated within Explorer).
    • See one file at a time as a Thumbnail: Click on View|As Web Page. Then any time you click on a graphics file, a thumbnail of that file will be displayed to the left of the Explorer panel (this does work on Desktop folders as well as on folders within Explorer).

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Internet Tweaks:

    • Put an Address Bar on your Desktop: Right click on the Quick Launch bar and click on Toolbars|Address; then drag the Address Bar to the top or side of your screen if you don't want it at the bottom. Having an Address Bar on your Desktop makes it possible to type in an URL, hit enter, then Internet Explorer appears and your computer connects to the web and the site you specified.
    • On the IE 5.0 Link bar:
      • The current page's URL can be added to the Link Bar by dragging the Internet Explorer icon of the URL in the address box to the Link bar and dropping it where you want it to be placed
      • To add any folder from Favorites to the Link Bar, drag the folder from Favorites and drop it onto the Link Bar
      • A Link bar button can be deleted by highlighting it, right clicking, and then clicking on "delete".
    • Labels on the Link bar can be changed by clicking on Favorites|Organize Favorites, highlighting the label you want to change, clicking the rename button, and entering the new label.

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Performance tweaks:

    • Make your swap file more efficient: Right click on My Computer, click on Properties|Performance|Virtual Memory, and check "Let me specify my own virtual settings." Set the maximum and minimum fields to the same size, roughly 2.5x to 3x your system RAM memory (e.g., 288 for a 96 MB RAM system). This prevents Windows from constantly resizing your swap file and streamlines system performance a bit as a result.
    • Switch the role of your computer to "Net Server": Right Click on My Computer; then, click on Properties|Performance|File System and choose Net Server.
    • Keep the Desktop separate from your IE 5.0 Browser: Open IE 5.0, click on View|Internet Options|Advanced, and check the box labeled "Launch Browser Windows in a Separate Browser."

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Useful New Systems Tools:

    • System Information Tool--gathers detailed information about your hardware and software; it includes several useful programs, such as:
      • System Configuration Utility (C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\MSCONFIG.EXE)--Brings up AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, and Start Up so that you can edit them or just see what's in them. There are also some advanced settings that some people might find useful.
      • System File Checker (C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SFC.EXE)--Checks the integrity of your system files to ensure that newly installed applications haven't overwritten versions of the current systems files needed by Windows '98 to function properly and restores any overwritten files
      • Version Conflict Manager --lists files that have older version numbers than those backed up by Windows '98.
      • Dr. Watson (C:\WINDOWS\DRWATSON.EXE)--More powerful than previously; now detects some problems and suggests remedies for them. Takes system snapshots
    • Windows 98 Sample Resource Kit--Includes some useful utilities and some very good documents dealing with the nuances of Windows `98. To install the Resource Kit, look in the Tools|Reskit|Powertools directory of the Windows 98 CD and double click on the Setup.exe file. Here´s a few of the Resource Kit utilities I use:
      • Cliptray--Allows you to store lines of text in a special file. Each line is assigned a name. When you right click on the Cliptray icon you can select a named line and insert it into the clipboard for pasting into any file. A nifty tool if you find yourself often pasting the same text into applications over time.
      • Fileinfo--Gives detailed information on each of the Windows 98 system files
      • Quiktray--Allows you to add/delete programs to/from the System Tray (as opposed to the Quick Launch bar)
      • Resource Kit Online Book--Discusses Windows Operations in detail, covering everything from installing Windows 98 to Windows 98 Shorrtcut key combinations to hardware management under Windows 98
      • Tools Management Console --Master program for selecting Resource Kit programs or help files to run
      • Windiff--Compares contents of directories and files
      • USBview--A troubleshooting tool that displays configuration information for Universal Serial Bus connections
    • TweakUI 98 --included on the original Windows 98 CD, but omitted from the Windows 98 SE version--is an extremely useful program for manipulating various features of the Windows 98 interface. For instance, you can adjust mouse sensitivity, change various features of the Start Menu (e.g., delete Documents and Favorites choices), modify your system´s boot-up options, set up Windows to clear all or some of its history files, manage items in the Add/Remove Control Panel display, and repair corrupted files essential to Windows operation (e.g., icons, system files, regedit, URL history file, temporary internet files).

      TweakUI98 can still be downloaded from the Windows Magazine web site (just click on the link). [If you´re interested in even greater control over the Windows interface, download Xteq´s Xsetup program (it´s freeware, just click on the link).]
    • See my software recommendations page for more tools you might find useful in the Windows environment.

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Other Tweaks/Tools

    • Gain More Space on the Desktop moving your program and folder icons onto the Quick Launch bar
    • Make your PC boot up a little faster by right clicking on My Computer and then clicking on Properties|Performance|File system|Floppy disk and unchecking the choice "Search for new floppy drives each time your computer starts"
    • The My Documents icon can be pointed toward any folder on your hard drive. I've got mine pointed to the topmost level of my data-only partition (a partition I created to which all my programs dump their data) To point My Documents to another folder, right click on the icon and click on Properties|Browse and then select the folder.
    • Windows now has an Undo function. To undo the most recent action you've taken, click on Edit. The first choice in the drop-down menu is Undo, click on it.

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Windows 98 Problem Solutions

    • If Internet Explorer settings are on High, you can't access Microsoft's Product Update Catalog. Change the settings to Medium or Low before going to the Windows Update site.

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Last Updated:

Sunday, January 20, 2008