David Pilling
homenewssoftwarefree utilitieslinksmailing listview cart

Hints and Tips
These are things which I once didn't know and now find useful. Perhaps they're inscribed in 128 point triple bold in the Windows documentation, if so I didn't notice.

Deleting stuff
Select the object, press Delete. If you hold down Shift the object is permanently deleted rather than going to the waste bin.

Renaming in Windows Explorer
Select the object, press F2.

Toggling window size
Double click on the title bar.

Closing windows
Alt+F4 usually does this. Interestingly it will sometimes let you get past windows which demand information. You can usually close down the machine by pressing Alt+F4 enough times. Ctrl+F4 is a less potent version that closes the current document window.

Temporarily installing a font
If you double click a TrueType font file, a window will appear displaying the font. Whilst that window is open the font is installed and can be used by applications.

Duplex Printing
If you have a duplex unit you can print on both sides of the paper, the Windows printer preferences dialogue offers "Flip on long edge" and "Flip on short edge". Which do you use? For pamphlet printing, i.e. 90 degree rotation with 70% scaling that will fit two pages sideways on A4, pick "Flip on short edge".

Using the Send To menu
If you select one or more files in Windows Explorer and then right click or just right click on a file the resulting menu will have 'Send To' on it. This is nothing to do with email, what it does is allow you to pass the file names to a program. The possible programs are shown on a sub menu. This is a good way to use command line programs from the desktop or to force a desktop program to handle a file (as an alternative to Open With). The available programs are those that you put in your Send To folder (typically C:\Documents and Settings\David Pilling\Send To). Short cuts can be used instead of real programs. MicroSoft Power Toys provide all sorts of clever Send To functions like sending names to the clipboard. Putting a short cut to Notepad in the Send To folder will allow you to open any file in Notepad (like Shift + double click on RISC OS).

Running nmake from the Send To menu
Suppose you have make files, you want to run them without opening a command window and they are designed to be run from the current directory i.e. they use relative paths not absolute ones. Insert the following as nmake.bat file in your send to folder.

pushd %~dp1
nmake %~nx1
pause

You can then right click on a make file and send it to nmake.bat. The first line changes the current directory to be the one containing the file which is sent. This example uses the extended .bat features that give various parts of parameters. Another trick would be to write it as pushd %1\.. the .. operator steps one item back through a path i.e. skipping the file name and returning just the directory.

Open Command Window Here
Microsoft Power Toys let you right click on a folder and open a command window with the folder as the current directory. What if you want to right click a file and open a command window with it in the current directory? Insert the following as openhere.bat in your send to folder.

pushd %~dp1
cmd.exe

Then you can right click on files and Send To openhere.bat.

Printing to file
There are two obvious ways, select 'Print to file' in the application you're printing from or configure a printer driver with a port of 'FILE'. Both of these will pop up a window asking you where the file should be printed. However it is also possible to create a new port and give it a filename, then configure a driver with this port. Using this approach printing always takes place to the same file.

Windows XP can create self extracting Zip files
Open a command window and type iexpress

Open and Save windows options
The sort order for the objects displayed in the standard Windows Open and Save file windows is set from the Tools->Folder Options->View->Apply to all Folders option. This matters if you find these dialogues displaying things in an unusual order e.g. by file type (extension) rather than name.

Better quality displays
Often you have a choice of the screen size in pixels. The problem is the more pixels the smaller text becomes. You can use this extra resolution by increasing the Windows screen resolution at the same time as choosing a bigger screen size. Resolution is set from Display Properties->Settings->Advanced->General. Increasing resolution makes text appear bigger. The standard resolutions are 96dpi and 120dpi.

Contributed hints and tips

Tony Cropper

Closing windows
You can close a window by double clicking the top left icon on the icon bar of a window. Useful if you are always used to using the RISC OS 'close window' icon.

Windows keys
A list of shortcuts is available from here.

Screen Snaps
The Print Scrn key copies the current screen to the clipboard as a bitmap image from where it can be pasted. Alt+Print Scrn copies the current window.

Tonnie Demarteau

Open the parent of an Explorer window whilst closing the child window
To do this hold down control when you click on the up button. To be more accurate holding down control reverses the default action. You can configure the default to be open each folder in the same window or in a new window. Backspace can be used to open the parent of a folder but apparently not in combination with control.

Viewing RISC OS text files
RISC OS textfiles have an end of line marker, which makes the use of Notepad in Windows inconvenient. Use Wordpad instead. StartMenu-->Programs-->Accessories. Saving as .txt, produces files, which can be loaded in Ovation Pro without holding down Control. Saving as RTF from Wordpad produces RTF, which can easily be used in RISC OS programs.

Entering odd characters
Use Num Lock On + left hand Alt + zero + ASCII code (e.g. 0128) to enter characters which can't be found on keyboard. Without the 'zero' you get characters from a different character set. Windows also comes with an application from which you can select characters which can't be typed - Character Map. This can also be found in Start Menu-->Acessories-->System Tools. To use it fully switch on Advanced view. Which character sets can be used depends on the program in use, For Ovation Pro set 'Character Set' to 'Windows:Western'.

Using Command Windows
Output from command line programs can be captured to files by using the indirection operators. Use > to send output to a file, and >> to append to a file. e.g.

C:\> dir > C:\list.txt

When output can't be redirected, it can be copied and pasted. Drag with the left mouse button (the selection becomes inverted). Right click. Selection is removed. Finally use paste in another application. Unlike most text editors the selection in command window is a box which does not have to cover the full width of lines, so you can save just some columns of the output.

Philip Marsden

Tidy Desktop
When one has plenty of windows on a screen, it is possible to tidy (minimise) them all at once using the "Show Desktop" icon in the Quickstart area of the taskbar. It is also possible to minimise or maximise individual windows (when they are hidden behind other windows) by clicking on the taskbar button for that window. Right clicking on the taskbar button opens a menu allowing you to close the window (sometimes useful when a window won't respond).


back to top

Interesting and useful software
david@davidpilling.com Copyright David Pilling 2012