Advanced features and Applications of Windows XP

For professional users

Setting up DHCP

DHCP is the simplest way to set up internet access on a network. To set up DHCP:

  1. Control panel>Network Connections control panel icon (under "Network and Internet Connections").
  2. Double click the "Local Area Connection" option if you are on a network and click the "Properties" button. You can also right click and select "Properties".
  3. Select "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)" as the network resource you will configure.
  4. Click the "Properties" button (next to "Uninstall").
  5. If the IP address is fixed and known, you may wish to directly enter the four numbers for all the relevant address fields. However, for this purpose (and the easiest), we shall select DHCP. In other words, click on "Obtain an IP address automatically". The DHCP server will automatically assign an IP address to the PC you are working on.
  6. Likewise, for simplicity, click on "Obtain DNS server address automatically". The DHCP server will provide the relevant DNS server address. Otherwise, if you know the DNS server address(es), you can manually enter the address under the option "Use the following DNS server addresses)".
  7. Click the OK button when finished, and Close the Local Area Connection Properties window.

To see if the PC was assigned an IP address and a DNS address(es):

  1. Click the Start button and select Run.
  2. Type "cmd" in the Open field box.
  3. Type "ipconfig/all" and press the Enter key.
  4. You should see all the relevant details such as IP address and DNS server address(es).
  5. If you want a new IP address, type "ipconfig/release", then type "ipconfig/renew".

For comparison, here is how you would set up DHCP server for internet access on a Macintosh computer running OSX:

  1. Click the Apple sign in the top left hand corner.
  2. As the pop-up menu appears, choose Location>Network Preferences... This is a quicker way than going through System Preferences and double-clicking on Network.
  3. Click on Built-in Ethernet and then the "Configure..." button. Alternatively, you can click the pop-up menu called "Show:" and select Built-in Ethernet — it will automatically take you to the configuration window.
  4. Click the TCP/IP tab.
  5. Choose "Using DHCP" (not "Using DHCP with manual address") in "Configure IPv4".
  6. Type the DNS server address (either check with other Macs or ask the administrator for this information).
  7. Type the search domain(s), such as "" (without quotation marks).
  8. Type in the DHCP Client ID a name. In a large organisation, you usually type "[Room Number]-[computer model]". For example, you can type 5C63-imac for setting up DHCP on an iMac located in room 5C63.
  9. If you require access to other servers on the network, click AppleTalk tab and put a tick in the check box that says "Make AppleTalk Active".
  10. Now because some organisations may apply a Web Proxy Server Settings to help control who is accessing internet web sites (for identification purposes), you must enter in Proxies the Web Proxy Address. For example, "". Specify the port number as well. Method is Normal (ignore Tunnel and SOCKS). To avoid having to constantly retype your username and password to access the internet through this Web Proxy server, type them in at this point (there should be an option in Proxies). No tick is required for the check box that says "Use proxy for local servers". Click OK.
  11. That's it!

How to set up a static IP address

You should receive the relevant free static IP address, default gateway, subnet mask and DNS information from your administrator or ISP. But if you simply want to convert your existing DHCP assigned IP address to a more permanently static one, try this:

  1. Click Start>Run
  2. Type "cmd" and press the Enter key. This will bring up the black command prompt window.
  3. Type "ipconfig/all" and press the Enter key.
  4. Write down on a piece of paper the following information displayed in the window: IP address, Subnet Mask, Default Gateway and Name Servers (or DNS). Note that if you don't see a DNS, contact your ISP to get one. You will need it.
  5. Close the window.
  6. Click Start>Control Panel>Network Connections. The names of the available network connections are displayed.
  7. Right-click on the correct connection. If there is more than one (say "Local Area Connection 4" and "Local Area Connection 2"), right-click on one connection and select "disable". Open up your internet browser and see whether you can visit a web page. If not, you have the right connection (remember, this assumes you already had internet connection). Re-enable the connection when you have the right one. Alternatively, to test you have the correct network connection, right-click on the network connection, choose Properties, put a tick in the check box that says "Show icon in notification area when connected", and by connecting and disconnecting the ethernet cable, you should see a message pop-up automatically saying whether you are connected and disconnected from the network.
  8. Right-click on the correct network connection and choose Properties. You will see a window with General and Support as tabs.
  9. Make sure you are in the General tab.
  10. Click on Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) to highlight it. Click the Properties button.
  11. Now we are into the crucial window for setting static IP address information. Before we move on, write down the settings you see here (if there are any) in case you make a mistake and need to revert the numbers back to its original state.
  12. If your computer is set up for dynamic IP addresses, the radio button that says "Obtain an IP address automatically" is checked. If not, you are already using a static IP address.
  13. Click the radio button that says "Use the following IP address".
  14. Using the information in step (iv), type in the IP address, Subnet Mask and Default Gateway. Do the same for the DNS server address. Make sure the check box that says "Use the following DNS server addresses" is selected.
  15. Click OK and finish by getting out of the windows.
  16. You should be able to access the internet with these settings. If not, recheck the DNS server address and make sure they are correct from your local ISP or network administrator. Or make sure you have an independent IP address not assigned to another computer. NOTE: The Send and Receive in Network Connections should give packet numbers above 0 if it is working properly.

How to find the MAC address

To find the MAC address:

  1. Click the Start button and select Run.
  2. Type "cmd" in the Open field box.
  3. Type "ipconfig/all" and press the Enter key.
  4. You should see the MAC address under Physical Address. This is the network card address.

Mapping drive

Mapping drive is equivalent to saying you want to access a network volume and assign it a name (i.e. a drive letter like G: or H: in the PC world). To map a drive:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Right-click on "My Computer" and select "Map Network Drive".
  3. Choose a Drive letter to assign to the network you wish to connect to.
  4. Click into the Folder field box and type the path to the folder you want to access on the network. If you aren't sure of the path, click the "Browse√Č" button and find the server/PC/folder you want to access. With a bit of luck, the PC is shareable and will give you access to a certain folder.
  5. Put a tick in the box if you want to have the PC automatically logon to this network resource.
  6. If the tick is in the box and you click the Finish button, you will be asked to give a username and password to access the network resource. If you don't know this information, ask the administrator or person owning the network resource (after you've explained why you need it, of course).
  7. You can also place a tick in the box to "Remember your Password" (saves you time and hassles in remembering the password, but is more risky on a security level).

What if you don't know where the network resource (e.g. a folder) is located? Go to a neighbouring computer having access to the same network resource. Look at the path and type this path in the Folder field box when mapping a drive on the computer requiring this resource.

Remote assistance

A really useful feature of Windows XP is a thing called Remote Assistance. If you ever need an expert to help you with any PC problem, make full use of the Remote Assistance feature of Windows XP. With Remote Assistance, an expert on the internet can see your desktop and show you how to use your Windows XP to solve all your PC problems.

To activate remote assistance feature for your PC:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Right-click "My Computer" and choose "Properties" from the pop-up menu.
  3. In the System Properties window, click "Remote" tab.
  4. Place a tick (if there isn't one) in the box that says, "Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer".
  5. Click the OK button.
  6. To let someone else to connect to your computer and help you with problems, click Start button>All Programs and select "Remote Assistance". Alternatively, select "Help and Support" under the Start menu. The Help and Support Center window should be displayed.
  7. Click "Invite someone to help you" link.
  8. Type the email address of your trusted friend/expert and a brief message, click the Continue button, set an expiration time (one hour is good), set a password (not your PC logon password but something different!) and let Windows XP send the message.
  9. Don't give the expert your password in your email message. Windows XP will not deliver your password. Wait until the expert is ready.
  10. Send a second email or provide the password over the telephone to the expert when he/she is ready.
  11. Your firewall will open a port for enabling Remote Assistance to the Internet so that your expert can connect to your PC. But before the expert can see your PC, you will receive a message. If the expert accepts your invitation, allow them to connect to your PC. A change in the desktop picture to a solid blue tells you the expert is viewing your PC. For the expert, he/she can control your PC by clicking on the Take Control button on the toolbar. You will receive a message asking whether to allow the expert to control your PC. Click Yes if you want this to happen.
  12. To terminate the connection at any time, press the Esc button.

Set up firewall

To set up a firewall:

  1. Click the start button.
  2. Select "Run".
  3. Type in the Open field box, "firewall.cpl". Press the Return key or click the OK button.
  4. Click the firewall "On".
  5. Click the Exceptions tab.
  6. You can select (by placing a tick in the box) the programs and services you are happy to receive incoming network connections.
  7. You can also delete the list of exceptions. But remember, if the programs or services require incoming network information to do their job and the firewall is turned on, they might not perform correctly.
  8. Click the OK button.

Setting default printer

A useful feature is the ability to select your preferred printer and set it as your default. So next time you want to print, you will know it will go straight to the printer you want.

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Select "Printers and Faxes". Alternatively, go into Control Panel and select "Printers and Faxes" (under Printers and Other Hardware). The Printers and Faxes window is displayed.
  3. A list of printer icons should appear. Click once on the printer icon you want to print to and become the default printer.
  4. Click the File menu.
  5. Select "Set as Default Printer" under the menu. If it doesn't appear, it probably means you already have the default printer. Alternatively, you can right-click directly on the printer icon and use the pop-up menu of commands to make it the default printer.
  6. You will know the printer is selected as default if the black circle with a white tick mark is shown next to the printer icon.
  7. Close the Printers and Faxes window. You are now ready to print.

NOTE: In some organisations, you may be able to set up a virtual PDF printer. Ask Help Desk to provide you with a printer location (e.g. \\comedprn). You type this in the Run window. You will now see all the printers within the division. Look within the window for a printer that says something like Acrobat PDF, PDF Printer, PDF Print, Create Adobe PDF, Virtual PDF Printer etc. Double click this virtual printer — a new window will pop up. Close it. The PDF printer is now in your list of available printers.

How to change a drive letter

Once you have assigned a drive letter (e.g. F: G: etc.) to something, you may wish to change the drive letter:

  1. Log on as Administrator or as a member of the Administrator's group.
  2. Click Start button.
  3. Go into Control Panel, and then click the "Performance and Maintenance" category of control panels.
  4. Click the Administrative Tools control panel.
  5. Double-click Computer Management
  6. Click on Disk Management in the left pane.
  7. Right-click the drive, the partition, the logical drive, or the volume that you want to assign a different drive letter to, and then click Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  8. Click the Change button.
  9. Click "Assign the following drive letter" if it is not already selected, click the drive letter that you want to use, and then click OK.
  10. Click the "Yes" button to confirm your choice when prompted to do so.

To disable CD autoplay

To completely disable CD autoplay for all user accounts in Windows XP Pro:

  1. Logon as the administrator
  2. Click Start, Run and enter GPEDIT.MSC.
  3. Go to Computer Configuration, followed by Administrative Templates and then System.
  4. Locate the entry for "Turn autoplay off" and modify it appropriately.

If you are a non-administrator user:

  1. Go to "My Computer".
  2. Go to your CD-ROM drive.
  3. Right Click and go to properties.
  4. Select the option to determine how the CD drive should behave when a CD is inserted.

Autologon without having to remember the username and password

If you are not too security-minded, this is an excellent way to gain immediate access to Windows XP without all the multiuser nonsense. To enable Autologon in Windows XP Pro:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Select "Run" and type CONTROL USERPASSWORDS2
  3. In the list of users having an account on the computer, highlight the user account you want to automatically be logged on without entering a username and password.
  4. Remove the tick in the box that says, "Users must enter a Username and password".
  5. Click the Apply button.
  6. In the next dialog, enter the password for the account you will automatically logon, if there is a password.
  7. Click OK.

Enabling CD burning for restricted user accounts

This technique does not apply to Nero CD burning software users. It is only for Windows XP Pro's built-in CD burning feature. You can do this by:

  1. clicking Start, Run and entering SECPOL.MSC
  2. Go to Local Policies, then Security Options, and look in the right pane for Devices: Allowed to Format and eject removable media.
  3. Set this option to Administrators and Interactive Users.

Setting File and Folder Security in Windows XP

Remember, you cannot password protect individual folders in XP. You can only restrict access by assigning permissions to drives, folders and files. In other words, an Administrator can still access your drives, folders and files.

First of all, assigning permissions to drives, files and folders requires your disk to be formatted under NTFS. If you have FAT32 on your disk, you must convert the disk format in the following way:

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Select "Run" from the menu.
  3. Type CMD and press the Return key. This will launch the Command Prompt (similar to Terminal in OSX).
  4. Type CONVERT X: /FS:NTFS, where X: is the drive letter you wish to convert.
  5. If you are converting the C: drive or any drive containing your running Windows XP software, you will need to reboot. If you are converting a partition other than the operating system's partition, you may find that it runs without rebooting. After returning to Windows XP, the hard disk will work for two or three minutes, tidying up. Leave things alone during this time.

When finished converting the disk format:

  1. Go into Windows Explorer.
  2. In Windows Explorer, go to Tools>Folder Options>View and uncheck the box that says, "Use Simple File Sharing".
  3. Now, when you right click on a drive, folder or file (on an NTFS partition) and select Properties, you'll see a Security tab. It is from here where you can assign or deny permissions to files and folders based on username or user group membership.

Reinstall Windows XP by using Windows XP

Sometimes a problem can develop in Windows XP requiring a reinstallation of the key system components. You can achieve this in the following way:

  1. Turn on your computer.
  2. Insert the Windows XP CD into the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive.
  3. On the "Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP" page, click Install Windows XP.
  4. On the "Welcome to Windows Setup page", click Upgrade (Recommended) in the Installation Type box, and then click Next.
  5. On the "License Agreement" page, click the radio button confirming "I accept this agreement", and then click Next.
  6. On the "Your Product Key" page, type the 25-character product key in the Product key boxes, and then click Next.
  7. On the "Get Updated Setup Files" page, select the option that you want, and then click Next.
  8. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to reinstall Windows XP.

How Do I Perform a "Repair Installation"?

If you want to avoid entering a Product key, but just simply want to repair any problems you see with Windows XP:

  1. Insert your Windows XP CD into your CD-ROM drive or DVD-ROM drive
  2. Restart your computer.
  3. When the "Press any key to boot from CD" message is displayed on your screen, press a key to start your computer from the Windows XP CD.
  4. When the Welcome to Setup screen is displayed, you will see a message saying, "To setup Windows XP now, press ENTER". Press ENTER.
  5. You will have the option to press R to enter the Recovery Console. Do not select this option. Rather, you should go to the "Windows XP Licensing Agreement" screen and press F8 to agree to the license agreement.
  6. Make sure that your current installation of Windows XP is selected in the box, and then press the R key to repair Windows XP.
  7. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete Setup.

Microsoft Outlook Express keeps prompting for your password

This is caused by a damaged Registry key. To Remove the broken Key in Windows XP:

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Select Run.
  3. Type regedt32 and press the Return key.
  4. Locate the following registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Protected Storage System Provider
  5. Right-click the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Protected Storage System Provider key, and then Select Permissions.
  6. In the Permissions for Protected Storage System Provider dialog box, click the Advanced tab.
  7. Make sure that you have Full Control access (i.e. Administrator rights). Select "Replace permission entries..."
  8. Click OK.
  9. Repeat for each subkey that is listed under the Protected Storage System Provider registry key. Otherwise, you may receive an error message.
  10. At this point, you can delete the Protected Storage System Provider key by clicking Delete on the Edit menu. Click "Yes" to confirm deletion of the key.
  11. Start Outlook Express. When Outlook Express checks your mail account(s) you will be able to re-enter your password(s). This process will recreate the Protected Storage System Provider registry key with the correct information.

Renaming Desktop (System) icons

You can easily rename various icons on the desktop controlled by the system in Windows XP as follows:

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Select Run and type REGEDIT. Press the Enter key.
  3. Navigate to the following Registry area: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CLSID
  4. The Desktop Icons are located in the sub keys:

    My Network Places: {208D2C60-3AEA-1069-A2D7-08002B30309D}

    My Computer: {20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

    My Documents: {450D8FBA-AD25-11D0-98A8-0800361B1103}

    Recycle Bin:{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}

    Default IE Icon: {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}

  5. Double click the Default file name values in the above keys and enter the text you desire.
  6. Right-click on the Desktop and select Refresh to see the changes.

Where did my Desktop icons disappear to?

You can find them as follows:

  1. Right-click on the Desktop, choose Properties.
  2. Click the Desktop tab
  3. Click on "Customize Desktop".
  4. Add Internet Explorer, My Computer, My Documents and My Network Places to the desktop.

Also, if all of your desktop icons are still missing, right click on the Desktop, select Arrange Icons By, then select Show Desktop Icons.

Move the Taskbar

Most people are happy with the Taskbar sitting at the bottom of the screen (i.e. where the clock and Start buttons are located). But you can change this if you prefer:

  1. Right-click on the Taskbar.
  2. Remove the tick in the box that says, "Lock the Taskbar".
  3. Click on the task bar and with the mouse button down, drag the Taskbar to where you want will always rest up against an edge; either top, left or right.
  4. Then click, "Lock the Taskbar", again and it won't move from that spot.

Closing error reporting feature

Error reporting is how Microsoft learns what you do and decides whether or not to improve Windows XP. Basically whenever your computer crashes Windows XP makes a little report of what went wrong, you can agree to send it to Microsoft so they can improve Windows XP. But sometimes it can be annoying. To disable this feature:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Go to the control panels and click on the "Performance and Maintenance" control panel subcategory.
  3. Click on the System control panel
  4. Click the Advanced tab in the System Properties window.
  5. Click on the Error Reporting button at the bottom.
  6. Select Disable Error Reporting.
  7. Click the "But notify me when a critical error occurs" if you want to be informed of any errors. Remove the tick from this box if you don't want to be bothered.
  8. Click OK, twice.

Alphabetizing your Start Menu

Noticing your Start menu contains too many programs? Want an easier way to find what you want? How about moving the names of your programs in the menu and placing them in alphabetical ordering? You can achieve this in Windows XP as follows:

  1. Click on Start button.
  2. Move your mouse to "All Programs".
  3. Move your mouse to any of the folders you see and right-click on one.
  4. A box will open up, scroll to "Sort By Names" and click OK. All the folders and programs will be alphabetized.

Using Msconfig to shut off Auto-Start programs

Want to speed things up and reduce processor activity by getting rid of unnecessary programs automatically launching on start up?

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Go to Run.
  3. Type in the box msconfig.
  4. Click on the Startup tab at the top of the MSCONFIG window, this will show a listing of programs that auto start when your computer is first booted. If you uncheck the box the program will no longer auto start. You'll need to reboot before this takes effect.

Shutting down a Windows XP computer brings up an annoying message every time

Want to get rid of a pop-up message from some application running in the background every time you restart or shutdown a Windows XP computer? Outlook Express is often a common culprit for this kind of problem. Sometimes an anti-virus program such as McAfee VirusScan can do the same thing. Or it might be spyware.

Run a check for spyware to eliminate this possibility. Next, do a Ctrl+Alt+Delete key combination to list all the running applications. Quit one application at a time and restart until the message disappears.

If you need a downloadable fix to ensure all tasks end properly at shutdown, try visiting and look for "Auto end tasks to enable a proper shutdown".

It is difficult to completely uninstall the Nero CD burning software from a Windows XP computer

Nero makers have finally issued a cleaning tool at It should clean the registry file of any remnants of the Nero software.

How do I clear the list of sites that drops down from the toolbar?

Cleaning the Recent Documents list through the Taskbar properties window also cleans the list of sites in the address bar:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Go into Settings and choose "Taskbar and Start menu".
  3. Click Customize.
  4. Click the Clear button.

When I open Microsoft Internet Explorer, the text size changes to something else I don't want. How do I set the text size and keep it that way permanently?

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook.
  2. Under the Tools menu command, choose Options.
  3. Get into Mail Format, then Fonts and International Fonts.
  4. Specify the font size for each international font shown.

How do I stop the My Documents folder opening up automatically on boot up?

There is likely to be a shortcut (i.e. alias) of the My Documents folder stored in the Startup folder. To remove this shortcut:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Choose Programs and Startup folder.
  3. Find the offending shortcut.
  4. Send it to the Recycle Bin and delete.

How do I stop my computer rebooting after a few minutes of being switched off?

This can occur especially if a peripheral such as an ADSL modem is plugged to a computer. Windows XP has a setting to automatically reboot a computer if there was a system error. This is controlled by the Power Management control panel. But if it is an error, try running "Add New Hardware" control panel to see if it can solve the problem. Perhaps it could be as simple as a missing software driver.

Or consider downloading the latest drivers for all your peripherals.

I can't open a file in Windows XP?

You've probably receive the message "The file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action". It usually occurs because you don't have the application to open it. Try going on the internet to see if there is a freeware program to open it. For example, if the file extension is ".pdf", you don't need Adobe Acrobat to open it. Try downloading PDF4Free or PDF Software 995, installing the software, and double-clicking on the file and see what happens. And if the extension is ".txt", you can normally open it with Notepad, Microsoft Word or any other word processing software. If it is a file created by the Microsoft family of Office suites such as PowerPoint, visit to download a free PowerPoint, Excel or Word viewer.

And if it is a suspicious file you've downloaded from the internet, try opening it with a Hex Editor tool to see who created it, when and what kind of readable text is contained. It might tell you something about its contents. Or better still, delete the file.

The date format under Windows XP is in the American "month, day, year" style. How do I change it?

Go under Regional and Language options in the control panel and make your preference from there.

I can't print to my printer. It keeps asking me to Save As the document I want to print. Why?

In the Print Dialog box that pops up when you choose Print in any application, there should be a check box that says "Save as File". Make sure there are no ticks in this box. If this doesn't work, check the Printer you have selected. If it says Adobe Acrobat, it will always save PDF documents rather than print to your preferred printer. Click the Printer Name pop-up box to select the correct printer. If you see in the Printer Name something like "Microsoft Office Document Image Writer", this is not the same as Apple's Image Writers which are real printers. The Microsoft Office Document Image Writer installed by the latest Microsoft Office package is, in fact, a method for transferring your Word document to a scanning software package where you can convert a graphic image on the document to recognised text using an OCR engine. But if the Word document already has text, this printing function serves no real purpose. Change the Printer Name to something else to avoid having to save files during printing.

How do I encrypt files and folders on Windows XP?

Firstly, you'll need Windows XP Pro to enjoy the benefits of encryption Microsoft-style. The Home edition does not have this feature. And secondly, your hard disk must be formatted to NTFS file system if it isn't. On achieving these two tricky steps, you should be able to right-click on the file or folder you want to encrypt by selecting "encrypt contents to secure data" check box under the Advanced tab.

But remember, strangers can still access the files and folders if you leave the computer logged on to your username and password (you should log off before taking that trip to the toilet or wherever). And if a stranger knows your username and password, forget about encryption — it's a waste of time.

Also if you intend to reinstall Windows XP, make sure the files and folders have been backed up on a separate drive. Otherwise you must export the security certificates generated by the encryption process or permanently lose your private data.

Microsoft Entourage won't let me send my email with attachments. I get Error 4363. Why?

This problem is usually common for MacOSX users running Microsoft Entourage. But it can occur on PCs.

One suggestion is to reattach your files to the email message. This usually solves the Error 4363 problem. It is not clear whether this is the type of file attachments or total file size of all attachments which is causing the problem or not. One of the most effective ways to solve any file attachment problem is simply to ZIP them into a single compact file and attach this ZIP file before sending.

There has been another suggestion that the Entourage database needs to be rebuilt to reduce the errors, but this is not a regular maintenance thing that should be done. If you do ask someone to rebuild the database, make sure the person is able to backup the database in your Documents folder first.

The procedure for rebuilding the Entourage database is as follows:

  1. Locate the Entourage database. It is found in the Documents folder.
  2. Right-click and select Properties (or Command I for Mac users) on the Entourage database file. To rebuild the database, you'll need enough hard disk space. You would be looking at twice the size of your current database file for the space you would need.
  3. If there is enough hard disk space, make sure you quit all Microsoft Office applications (including Entourage).
  4. Make a backup copy of the database file on a separate disk in case anything goes wrong.
  5. For Entourage 2001 and Entourage X, hold down the Option key and re-launch the application. You will be greeted with a dialogue box asking if you want a "Typical rebuild" or the "Advanced Rebuild". In most cases, you should choose "Typical rebuild". In the latest Entourage 2004, you will see instead the new Entourage 2004 Database Utility where you should click the "Rebuild database" radio button and click the Continue button.
  6. After a few moments the database file should be rebuilt. Old database file will be renamed and kept in the same location in case you need to go back. But if you are absolutely sure the data integrity is perfect, trash the old database file.

I have inserted a sound file into Microsoft PowerPoint but it won't play the sound in Slide View. Why?

The most likely causes for this are (i) a sound file format not supported by Microsoft PowerPoint; or (ii) the file you have inserted is a reference to an original sound file and that this other file has been moved.

In the former situation, try WAV, MP3 and WMA files as Windows Media Player loves handling these types.

In the latter situation, it is likely you were trying to insert a file with the file extension ".m3u". These are files referencing other files containing the original sounds. You'll need to get the original files and have them inserted into your presentation instead, or re-record the sounds and save them into a more suitable sound file format as discussed above.

If you are desperate to have the sounds inserted into your PowerPoint presentation and no sound file converter tool will work, you'll need a microphone plugged into your PC, or a cable with two stereo 3.5mm plugs at each end connected from the speaker output of your computer to the line in (microphone) input socket of your computer. This might be too technical. But if you know what to do, you can install a freeware sound recording utility such as Audio Recorder Free 2.1, click Settings, choose Recording Source and select either "Microphone" or "Line in". Then in the General Settings, select either WAV, MP3 or WMA format for the output file. Click OK, play the sound you want to record, the utility should show a waveform in its tiny black window and click the Record button (it has a Red dot on it).

But please remember, re-recording sound files is usually governed by copyright laws. Check the legislation in your country to see if you are able to use the sound files for educational purposes (short sound excerpts are usually okay).

I would like to print the Windows search results (list of files and folders). Is there a way?

Windows XP's search facility does not have the ability to print just the files and folders listed in your search results. All you can do is selected files and go under under File menu command and you'll find Print. But this just prints the contents of each file selected. You are better off pressing the Print Screen key (next to Scroll Lock) and paste the graphic snapshot of the screen stored in memory into a Word application.

Or you could download a third-party utility such as FindFiles XP. This utility goes one further and allows you to rename groups of files and folders as well as display and print the list of files and folders after performing a search.

Can I recall an email message sent to various recipients through Microsoft Outlook?

Yes. This little known feature requires you to be using a Microsoft Exchange Server email account to work properly. Assuming this is the case and the recipient has not read the email message:

  1. Click the Sent Items folder in the Navigation Pane.
  2. Open the message you want to recall or replace.
  3. In the message window, click on the Actions menu and choose Recall This Message. If you don't see this command, you are not using Microsoft Exchange for your email account.
  4. Click "Delete unread copies of this message", or "Delete unread copies and replace with a new message" and click OK to begin typing a new message. Do you want to be notified of the success of this recall or replacement technique? Put a tick in the check box that says "Tell me if recall succeeds or fails for each recipient".

How do I burn a CD-R/RW in Windows XP?

To burn (i.e. copy) files and folders to a CD-R/RW:

  1. Insert a blank, writable CD-R/RW into the CD recorder. Cursor will temporarily change to indicate a CD has been inserted.
  2. Click Start button and choose My Computer.
  3. In Windows XP, you should be able to simply drag and drop the files and folders you want to burn directly onto the CD Drive icon as it appears in My Computer. Alternatively, open the CD Drive icon to reveal an empty window. Then drag and drop files and folders straight into the window. The latter approach is more advantageous as you will see within the window an option to burn the CD. It is called "Write these files to CD" under CD Writing Tasks (it is sitting directly above "File and Folder Tasks").

If you are in Windows Media Player with the CD-R/RW in the drive:

  1. Click the Burn tab. You will be presented with a window with two sub-windows. The left sub-window is the Burn List. The right sub-window shows the list of items already burned to CD.
  2. To create your burn list, click the "Edit Playlist" button (next to "Start Burn" button).
  3. Click the View library pop-up window to select a library containing your music or movie files. A list of music and movie files from the library will appear in the sub-window directly below.
  4. Right-click on the library and choose "Add to Playlist" to transfer all music files and movie files to the Burn List sub-window on the right. Or click the library to open it and make your selection. Use the up and down arrows in the window to reorder the files in the Burn List. Use the X to delete files from the Burn List. When finished, click OK.
  5. Please note the total size of all files. A CD will normally hold up to 650MB to 700MB of data or roughly 70 minutes worth of music in uncompressed AIFF format (MP3 music is usually a lot more). If you have too much, remove some files.
  6. Click the Start Burn button. All files will be burned to the CD.

How do I manage mailing lists in Microsoft Outlook?

Mailing lists are effectively groups in the language of Microsoft Outlook. A group contains the contact information for a number of people. The advantage of groups is to allow the sending of emails to everyone in the group without having to individually find and select the individuals from the Address Book.

Many of the groups you are likely to be involved with are likely to be available by the administrators who created the groups. And if you have sufficient privileges, you may be able to create groups yourself.

If you must find a group:

  1. In the Tools menu command, choose "Address Book..."
  2. Scroll down to find your mailing list. If there are too many, type a few letters in the field box that says "Type Name or Select from List".
  3. If you still can't find the group, click the pop-up menu called "Show Names from the" and choose "Global Address List" or "All Groups". This will broaden the search to cover the entire organisation.
  4. When you find your mailing list/group, double click on it.
  5. If you have sufficient privileges, click the Modify Members button. If you don't have the privileges, contact the owner or administrator of the group and ask to be added to the group, or see if you can be the owner.

Can I bypass the logon window at every restart and go straight to Windows XP. This security stuff is becoming a pain in the arse!

We appreciate your concerns for a security-free life. How about trying this automatic logon solution:

  1. Start>Run
  2. Type "control userpasswords2"
  3. Remove the tick from the check box marked "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer and click Apply.
  4. The Automatically Log On window will appear. Type the password and confirm it.
  5. This should be the last time you ever have to type username and password into your computer.

I can't seem to clear the printer queue. It keeps saying a print job is being deleted but nothing happens. Why?

You may have used the Cancel command to cancel a job but noticed the job stays put in the queue. Perhaps someone sent a print job and suddenly the PC restarted because of a power failure.

There are three recommendations:

Solution 1:
1. Open the Command Prompt.
2. Type net stop spooler, and press the Enter key.
3. If successful, type net start spooler, and press the Enter key.

Solution 2:
1. Right-click on "My Computer" on the desktop or in the Start menu.
2. Select "Manage" from the pop-up menu.
3. Expand "Services and Applications".
4. Click on Services icon.
5. Scroll down the list of services until you find "Print Spooler".
6. Click the "Stop" link to stop this service.
7. When the service returns with a message saying "Stopped", right-click the taskbar print icon and select "Update".
8. When the icon disappears, go back and restart the service.
9. In very rare circumstances, you may need to Log off and Log on again.

Solution 3:
1. Go to the folder C:\windows\system32\spool\printers.
2. Delete the files you find in this folder.
3. If any files cannot be deleted because of a message claiming they are "in use", reboot your PC and try again.

If all else fails, it is likely you will need administrator privileges to properly clear the spool folder in Solution 3.

How do I remove the annoying Notification balloons pop-up in the lower right corner of the screen?

Have you had enough of Windows XP telling you things you already know about and just want to do your work on a PC without the hassles? Don't want to see the balloon pop-up telling you there are unused desktop icons to be cleaned up when really you don't want to see it cleaned up or is okay as it is? This sort of thing can also stop you from printing an email to PDF from Microsoft Outlook when the balloon suddenly pop-ups, and you have to select print several times until XP learns to hide the balloons only to restart again on re-launching the Outlook application. A very bad design for an OS.

Fortunately there is a solution:

  1. Click Start>Run
  2. Navigate to this path in your registry: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
  3. Click into the right pane of the RegEdit window, and choose Edit>New>DWORD. A new registry setting is created.
  4. Name this registry setting entry to "EnableBalloonTips" instead of "New Value #".
  5. Double-click on this new registry setting entry.
  6. In the Value Data field set it to 0 (zero). Make sure Hexadecimal is selected under Base.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Close the RegEdit window, and restart your PC.

You should now be free of those notification balloons forever. But if you should ever want to see those balloon pop-ups again, just delete the registry setting entry.

NOTE FOR WINDOWS 7 and 8 USERS: Due to numerous complaints from users about the talkative nature of Windows XP with its regular balloon pop-ups, Microsoft has significantly improved this aspect in Windows 7 and higher. Now there are fewer messages being shown under the newer Windows OS versions. And if they are shown, they are grouped together under one red flag that you can double-click to view them. Even more remarkable is the fact that Microsoft does allow access to a control panel called Action Center where you can select which messages will show. It is not perfect in the sense that you can switch off all messages, but you can further reduce the number of messages. Just go into the control panel, click the "Change Action Center Settings" link, and remove the ticks in the check boxes for those messages you don't want to see anymore. Sweet!