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In this edition of Windows Advisor, we’ll explore several quick tips and tricks to make Windows operate exactly the way you want it to operate.

In this edition of Windows Advisor, we’ll explore several quick tips and tricks to make Windows operate exactly the way you want it to operate.

Letter opener

Did you know that you don’t have to have an e-mail client open to send e-mail? Through the use of the run dialog in Windows, you can quickly and easily send e-mail via your default mail program. To send an e-mail from anywhere in Windows, just follow these steps:

— Open the run dialog by selecting Start>Run or pressing Windows key+R

— type “mailto:” (without the quotes)

— Insert the e-mail address. For example: mailto:[email protected]

— Click OK or press Enter/Return

Your default mail program will load and you’ll be able to send your message.

License to print

Did you know you can add all of your printers to your start menu, giving you greater access in the process?

— Open the run dialog by selecting Start>Run or pressing Windows key+R

— Type the words “start menu” with the quotations; this will open the contents of the start menu in a “My Computer” view.

— Select File>New>Folder

— Right-click on your new folder and select Rename

— Type the following (without the quotes) exactly as it’s printed here: “Printers.{2227A280-3AEA-1069-A2DE-08002B30309D}”

The list of available printers will now be added to the start menu as a submenu, giving you quick and easy access to each one.

Where are my keys?

Did you know you can find your Windows and Office product keys, even if you’ve lost the CD sleeve upon which they’re printed?

Just visit and download their freeware program, Keyfinder. Run the utility, and it will tell you the product key for any of the following products on your PC: Windows 95, 98, Millennium, NT4, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Office 97, and Office XP. This freebie is a must-have if you need to reinstall one of the above products but can’t find your key.

That’s my policy

Did you know that one of the most useful programs for configuring your Windows XP Professional system is already installed on your PC? Most users don’t even know it exists, but it’s called the Local Group Policy Editor, or gpedit for short.

— Open the run dialog by selecting Start>Run or pressing Windows key+R

— Type “gpedit.msc” in the dialogue box without the quotes and click OK or hit Enter

This program allows you to alter nearly every option in XP Pro without ever opening Regedit or downloading a third-party utility. Be careful, though–it’s very easy to make changes that you’ll later regret. Use this program only if you’re at least a little familiar with the inner workings of Windows.

In control

Did you know you can add the Control Panel to your desktop? If you’re like me, you’re always opening Control Panel for one reason or another–so why not make it easier to access?

— Right click anywhere on the desktop.

— Select >New>Folder

— Right-click on your new folder and select Rename

— Type the following (without the quotes) exactly as it’s printed here: “Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}”

Voila! You now have easy access to the Control Panel without having to go through the start menu. Sure, it only saves you two steps (“start>settings>control panel” versus clicking on your new folder) but multiply the time you’ll spend not navigating to the control panel over a year and you’ll be amazed at the amount of free time you have–maybe even enough to e-mail us about how much you enjoy this column!

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