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Dealing with Windows XP isn’t always easy. But there are a few sites that can ease your headaches.

With its blue and black type on a stark white background and the lack of many graphics, Bob Cerelli’s Windows Page Web site may be a little hard on the eyes, but the content more than makes up for the view. The site features a plethora of Windows-related information and links to just about anything you thought you might like to know about Windows but were afraid to ask.

Cerelli’s Web site has been helping the Windows community since 1995, when, citing a lack of any solid information on the then-upcoming release of Windows 95, he created the site to offer the world at large accurate, understandable, and easy-to-find information on the operating system. In the years that followed, he added information on the many various cousins of Win95, most recently adding support for Win XP to the site.

The site is divided into four distinct sections: Tips and Tricks, Installation Info, Networking Info, and Application Info. All of the sections are fully fleshed out and deserving of review, but the Tips and Tricks section is my favorite. The tips range from the common-sense topics like how to reduce viruses in your e-mail to more technical fare such as using sticky notes in Outlook 2002 to replacing corrupted or missing Windows XP files.

If you can forgive the lack of eye candy and the fact that the tips (other than being separated into one of 16 different groups) are in no real order, there’s a lot of good information at this site. Cerelli has met his goal of providing accurate and easy to find Windows information for the masses, and then some.

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Did you know that Microsoft offers its own Windows XP tips and tricks page? Well, it’s true, and the site even links to Cerelli’s. Microsoft’s Win XP Tips boasts a wide array of valuable advice, much of it submitted by visitors to the site. Tip categories include Security, Digital Media, Maintenance and Recovery, and Setup and Administration.

There are many good tips here on a wide variety of subjects, but my favorite was submitted by Jared Ong from Provo, Utah, showing how to create a keyboard shortcut to open a folder. I’d never really thought about it but, once I’d read the tip, I realized how useful it could be. The example given with Jared’s tip lets you open the My Music folder while Word or Internet Explorer is maximized. Why exactly you’d want to do that I’m not sure, but the advice can be applied to any folder or program that you desire. The possibilities are as endless as the tips that can be found on Microsoft’s site.

Troubleshooting with Kelly

If you like your Windows help sites not only easy to understand but also graphical, Kelly’s XP Korner might appeal to you a little bit more than the other sites mentioned in this column.

The Web site, designed by Windows XP MVP Kelly Theriot, is laid out in a very readable and logical manner and contains a lot of good, comprehensive information on troubleshooting Windows XP. Moreover, the site offers a search engine to help you find exactly what you’re looking for in the event that you can’t find your topic of choice via the provided menus.

Even if you don’t need to troubleshoot Windows XP, there are a lot of clever tricks interspersed among the tips. For instance, Kelly has archived three cancelled Win XP Powertoys that were included in beta released but removed for the final release. The cancelled toys include Background Switcher, a program that enables you to automatically change your Windows XP background at specified intervals; Shell Player, a tiny music player that will allow you to play MP3’s right from your taskbar; and Internet Explorer Find, which adds a toolbar to Internet Explorer that is equivalent to the Edit menu’s “Find on this page…” (CTRL-F) option.

There’s an incredible amount of information to be found on this site, and even more gems (like the cancelled Powertoys) to discover. In fact, there are 280 items in the Tweaks and Fixes section alone. Enjoy!

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