This section contains items related to various versions of Windows, some very old. Some of the older items may still be relevant.
The terms ‘folder’ and ‘directory’ are used interchangeably here, as are ‘Windows Explorer’ and ‘File Explorer’.
Windows 11 introduces a number of counterproductive changes to the Start menu and task bar. Third-party solutions are available (ref).
The obvious way to change the date and time formats may be
MMM gives a 3-letter month abbreviation and
MMMM gives the full month name.
In Wndows 11, do
In Windows 10, whether PowerShell or the regular Command Prompt appears in the menus is determined by.
To change the appearance of the mouse cursor in Windows 10,
go to the home page of
.ani file that you want to use.
(The default pointer files are in
You can save the setting as a new
For a public-domain mouse-pointer image that looks like a laser pointer,
Laser Beam Normal.cur.
By defaultdoesn’t appear in the menu or in the menu. To add it, go to , click on , and then check the box .
To disable the touch pad when a mouse is connected (e.g., when working on a laptop with a cat washing herself in one’s lap), go toand deselect . If using a wireless mouse, it’s not enough to turn the mouse off in order to activate the touchpad, the USB wireless receiver must also be disconnected.
In Windows 10 and 11 (and earlier?) the fastest way to take and save
a screenshot is Start+prt sc. It saves
an image of the entire screen in
In Windows 11 (and earlier?) another method is the Snipping Tool: Start+Shift+S. This allows selection of the part of the screen to be saved, copies it to the Clipboard, and also allows editing and saving to a file.
One alternative to the old Windows Character Map is Character Map UWP by Edi Wang et al.
To set environment variables in Windows 10,
PATH system variable) and
click on . Unlike Windows 7, Windows 10
displays an editable list of individual items rather than just a long
may give insight into what’s going on.
If Windows claims that a USB device is busy when you try to eject it, Event Viewer might show a Warning with Event ID = 225 (Kernel-PnP), with a detailed message that includes the executable name and process ID of the process preventing the ejection.
MsMpEng.exe, part of Windows Defender, may be scanning the device.
One can then do
Set-MpPreference -ExclusionPath d:\
It’s also possible to do
Set-MpPreference -DisableRemovableDriveScanning 1
In Windows 11, the user has less control over the display of pinned applications in the Start menu than in Windows 10. The icons cannot be resized and, by default, only 3 rows of pinned applications can be displayed, along with 3 rows ofapplications and files. (‘Recommended’ seems to really mean ‘Recent’.) As of build 22509 (still only available to Windows Insiders as of 2022 Jan 22) the number of pinned applications can be changed to 2 or 4, with the total number of rows still fixed at 6.
In Windows 10 & 11, to add a
.exe file to the Start Menu,
drag it to
and press Ctrl+Shift before dropping it,
in order to create a link.
In Windows 11 this will put it in the
section; one can then right-click on the icon and
In Windows 7, there is a
Start Menu item in
C:\Users\username\ but it is just a shortcut
and ‘Access is denied’. The real folder is in
There is also a
Start Menu item in
I don't understand the relationship.
Items that have been pinned to the Start Menu are found in
C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\StartMenu.
Dragging a folder into this location doesn't accomplish anything.
I was hoping to get something
like the way the pinned Firefox item expands to multiple
If a programme (e.g., an installation programme) fails when you run
it by double-clicking on the
.exe in a directory listing,
try right-clicking on the
.exe file and selecting
You can also try selecting different Compatibility modes.
To tell whether a
is 32-bit or 64-bit, open it in a text editor. Near the beginning
there will be the letters
(standing for ‘Portable Executable’)
followed by two null bytes. They will be followed by the bytes
#x4c and #x01 (which will appear as ‘L’ and something else) for a 32-bit file; or
#x64 and #x86 (which will appear as ‘d’ and something else) for a 64-bit file
(e.g., ref, ref).
To tell whether a
.exe file is 32-bit or 64-bit,
you can also right-click on it,
and check the available Compatibility modes. If the list
Windows 95, the executable is 32-bit.
If the list starts with
the executable is 64-bit.
Various Web pages describe these tricks as well as methods using the Task Manager or downloaded tools.
Note that, on a 64-bit system, 64-bit
.dll files are in the directories
\Program Files and
while 32-bit files are in the directories
\Program Files (x86) and
The apparently backward names
are historical debris:
System32 was carried over from 32-bit systems to 64-bit systems
for the sake of backward compatibility, and
SysWOW64 was named
after WOW64 (Windows (32-bit) On Windows 64-bit).
By default, a folder containing media files (music, etc.) will be displayed with columns for title, artist, etc. and no date or file size. To prevent this, right-click on the folder, click on, select the tab, in the drop-down list select , check the box if desired, and click .
At some point, Windows 10 introduced a group-by function in File Explorer, and it is turned on by default in some directories. To disable it for a directory, right-click in an empty area in the display of the directory contents and underselect . The latter won’t appear unless grouping by something has been enabled in that directory.
Thecolumn displays the earlier of the creation and modification dates, or the date from the EXIF header in a JPEG file, or … (ref). The and columns can be enabled by right-clicking on the column-title bar.
A shortcut to a file can be created by clicking and dragging with
Ctrl+Shift. Such a shortcut can be used to run an
executable file from the command line by adding
the name of the shortcut in the command. For example, in
C:\path2\ create a shortcut called
C:\path1\executable.exe, and then
executable.exe from the command line by giving the
C:\path2\exec.lnk. You may want to right-click
the shortcut file, select and
then , and clear
the field, so the effective
current directory when started is the one from which it was run.
If the Command Prompt is run as administrator, mapped drives
(e.g., to an external disk) won't be defined. They can be defined
from the command line using a command like
net use w: \\storage-cf25\publicWhen I use
dir on the command line to list the contents of a directory on
a drive mapped to an external disk,
the dates and sizes show but not the filenames. If I use
then the filenames show up. However, I can't run a programme that is in
the directory by giving its filename. The filenames show up correctly
in Windows Explorer and I can run the programme from there.
(cf. similar problem, 2010 May 25
Windows (starting from XP) contains a utility called IExpress for creating self-extracting archives but it doesn’t seem to be accessible through menus. Search for ‘iexpress’.
(2012 Jun 3) When I connect my Sony H5 camera to my Windows 7 computer, it
appears as a
Devices with Removable Storage, and
icon appears in the taskbar. However, when I connect my Canon A1000IS
camera, it appears under
Portable Devices with no drive
letter, and the safe-removal icon does not appear. This means that for
some reason it does not need to be, and cannot be,
‘ejected’ before removal.
(2012 Jun 3) Another variant is that when I insert an SD memory card into the
computer's card-reader slot, it appears with a drive letter
Devices with Removable Storage but the safe-removal
icon does not appear. Right-clicking on the device shows
an menu item that can be used for safe
(2021 Sep 11) When I connect my Samsung cell phone to my laptop using a USB-C cable, it will (may?) start charging through the cable. There's a battery-charging icon at the top. If I swipe it down, 'silent notifications' appear: 'Android System USB for file transfer' and 'Settings Cable charging'. Tapping on the former opens it up and 'Tap for other USB options' appears. The settings give a choice between controlling USB byor ; and between different uses for USB, including , , and others. When transferring files, the phone appears as a directory in File Explorer, with no apparent method to remove the device safely. Changing to seems to be a way of disconnecting safely.
Under certain circumstances (possibly related to the installation
of IE 5), certain versions of Windows will emit
a Click sound when Windows Explorer is used to open a new directory,
or when a link is selected in IE, or when a Web-page frame is
refreshed (perhaps repeatedly but invisibly). If this clicking
irritates you, disable the
Start Navigation sound under
In Windows 2000, by default, menus change their contents depending
on which items you've used recently. This means that menus are
unpredictable, and that it's more difficult to get at seldom-used
features. Microsoft calls these ‘personalized’ menus
and considers this to be an accessibility feature. To
turn it off, go to
Accessibility Wizard. Click on
until you get to the
Display Settings dialogue box.
(You'll have to pass through a
Text Size dialogue box
which may go crazy for a while messing with your screen fonts.)
Make sure the
Disable Personalized Menus box is checked. Click on
Next as often as necessary, ignoring a stupid
No Options Selected warning.
That was for Windows itself. For Word, do
Options and make sure the
Always show full menus box is checked.
Starting with Windows 2000, by default the underlining of keyboard accelerators is hidden until the Alt key is pressed. This behaviour can be controlled by going toand checking or unchecking the box labelled . This also applies to the visibility of focus rectangles. (References: details and comments; rationale)
To move the system paging file
C: to another drive under Windows 7, go to
Select and set
, or define a small
custom-size paging file
(e.g., Initial size = Maximum size = 500 MB) just in case;
click on .
Select the drive where you want the paging file to reside
and set ;
click on .
The computer must be rebooted for the settings to take effect.
It may be desirable to swap the Control key and the Caps Lock key, so the Control key (heavily used in Emacs, for example) is positioned to the left of the ‘A’ key and is easier to reach. You can make the swap by editing the Windows registry.
Note that editing the registry is very dangerous. Before editing
it you should back it up by doing
Export registry file.
To edit the registry, do
select the key
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\
Control\ KeyBoard Layout. Do
Binary Value, give it the name
Scancode Map, then use
Modify and give it the value
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 00 00 00 1D 00 3A 00 3A 00 1D 00 00 00 00 00where the first 8 00's constitute a header, the number of map entries is 0000003 (including the final null entry), 001D is mapped to 003A, and 003A is mapped to 001D. The entries are in reverse byte order.
Reboot for the key swapping to take effect. Note that the swapping will apply to all users.
When installing Windows NT on a machine with a large hard disk, only 8 GB of disk space will be recognized, even though the CMOS settings recognize more. Go ahead and install Windows with a system partition of 4 GB (the maximum). Once Service Pack 5 (or 4) has been installed, the system will recognize the whole disk, and Disk Manager can be used to define a partition (or partitions) for the rest of the disk.
After a new Windows NT machine has been installed (or Windows NT has had to
be re-installed on an existing machine), it is necessary to enable
plaintext passwords, in order to permit access to Samba on Unix/Linux
machines (e.g., Funsan and Fundus).
This is done by using the Registry Editor to set the key
EnablePlainTextPassword REG_DWORD 1 (See MS Support page.)
Under Windows 2000 this can be done by doing
Start Settings Control
Panel Administrative Tools Local Security Policy. In the
Local Security Settings dialogue box, select
Policies Security Options,
Send unencrypted password to connect to
third-party SMB servers and enable it. Apparently a reboot is
then required. (Note that the instructions for finding
Administrative Tools are incorrect on the relevant MS
Support page: they say to use
Programs rather than
Settings Control Panel.)
Under Windows NT, to print using the network printers, HP Jet
Admin software must be installed on each machine. It can be installed
Running the self-extracting executable (choose an appropriate
destination directory rather than using the default) will create
several directories called
Setup.exe. Once it has been
installed, add a printer by doing
Start Programs HP JetAdmin
Utilities Add HP JetDirect Printer
Easy setup and click
required. Protocol will be TCP/IP; use the Printer List and select
printer 184.108.40.206 for the printer in the hall opposite room 311,
and select the driver for
HP LaserJet 4Si/4Si MX PS.
Under Windows 2000, HP Jet Admin is not required. (In fact I got
an error message when I tried to install it, although it continued to
install itself and pretended to work.) To gain access to a remote
Start Settings Printers Add
Printer. Specify that it will be a
even though it won't, and make sure the check box
detect and install my Plug and Play printer is not checked.
Create a new port, of type
Standard TCP/IP port, with
the appropriate TCP/IP address. Specify the appropriate manufacturer
and printer type.