Four Tips and Tricks For Windows XP

May 11, 2009

Control Inactive System Tray Icons

You don’t have to hide or show all the icons in your system tray—you
can control their disappearing acts. Right-click on the taskbar and
select Properties. Click on the checkbox next to “Hide inactive icons”
(if it’s not checked by default), then click on the Customize button.
For each item on this list, you can choose “Hide when inactive,”
“Always hide,” or “Always show” options to decide what you’ll see and
when.

Fit More Icons on Your Desktop

If your screen is so cluttered with Word documents and program shortcuts that you can’t see the rolling meadows of your wallpaper, you don’t need to move piles of stuff to the Recycling Bin. Just change the amount of space between icons. Right-click on the desktop, select Properties, then click on the Appearance tab, and click the Advanced button. In the “Item” drop-down, scroll down to Icon Spacing (Horizontal) and Icon Spacing (Vertical); changing the value in the “Size” field will move icons closer together (while increasing the number will move them farther apart). When you’re done, click OK. To make your existing icons follow these rules, right-click on the desktop, select “Arrange Icons By” and then click Align to Grid, then go back to the same menu and click “Auto Arrange.”

Shut Down from Your Desktop

If you’re trying to eliminate every extraneous mouse click, you can shut down your computer with an icon on the desktop. Right-click on your desktop, click “New,” and then click “Shortcut.” In the “Type the location of the item” field, type “shutdown -s -t 00” to give you a way to shut down the computer immediately. (Change the -s to -r to create a reboot shortcut instead.)

Change What Programs Start When Windows Does

You can prevent a lot of apps forcing Windows into chilled-molasses boot times—without uninstalling anything. Click Start, then “Run…,” and type msconfig. This brings up the System Configuration Utility window. Click on the Startup tab to see a list of all the apps slated to start when you boot up Windows. Click the check mark next to any you don’t want, and then click OK to save your choices.

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