Frequently Asked Questions - Windows Common Questions and Answers

FAQs - Windows Common Questions and Answers
Here you will find questions and answers to common Windows topics.
What is registry and how does it work?
The registry is a database which stores settings and options for the operating system. It contains information and settings for all the hardware, software, users, and preferences of the computer. The registry is the area where Windows continually references to get information during operation. You can edit the registry by using Registry Editor and adjust and customize system settings. This can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing because once you make a change, it’s done. You should always backup the registry before making any changes.

TAGS: registry
Is it necessary to install Windows updates?

You technically don’t have to install Windows Updates but you should install them. Windows updates include many things such as security patches, service packs, software updates, anti malware definitions and new features. The most important updates are the security patches since they are distributed to make your computer safer and less vulnerable to outside attacks.

You can have Windows updates download and install automatically by going to the Windows Update utility in Control Panel. Windows 10 will update your computer whether you like it or not. Keep in mind there is a Windows Update feature which only updates Windows and a Microsoft Update feature which will update other Microsoft software.

How do I delete a file without sending it to the Recycle Bin?
If you want to delete a file and not have to empty it out of the Recycle Bin each time then there is an easy way to do that. When deleting the file simply hold down the Shift key at the same time you are deleting it. It doesn’t matter if you are using the Delete key, right clicking and choosing Delete or using the delete X on the toolbar. As long as you hold down Shift at the same time it won’t go to the Recycle Bin. Just be sure to be careful because if you didn’t mean to delete it there is no going back without a lot of potential work.

How do I create a shortcut on my Desktop?

There are several ways to create shortcuts and several types of shortcuts. You can have a shortcut to a document or folder, a network drive, a program, a website and so on. A shortcut is simply a pointer to the real file or program. Therefore if you delete a shortcut you don’t actually delete the file but only the pointer to the file so it’s easy to recreate the shortcut.

The easiest way to create a shortcut is to find the file, folder or program icon that you want to create a shortcut for and right click on it and choose Send to and then Desktop (create shortcut) and it will place a shortcut on your desktop. The exact wording may vary depending on your version of Windows.

Another easy way is to right click the file, folder or program icon and choose Copy. Then go to your desktop and right click on a blank space and choose Paste shortcut.

Shortcut icons will have an arrow on the icon to indicate that it’s an actual shortcut and not the file itself so keep that in mind when it comes to deleting them. They may also say Shortcut to and then filename when you first create them. You can change this name if you like.

What is a CMOS battery and how do I change it?

The CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) is a small amount of memory on a motherboard used to store this information about your computer’s system configuration. The CMOS battery allows your computer to store information for items such as hard drive information, date and time and other BIOS related information when the computer is powered off.

These batteries usually last a long time and most of the time will last the life of the computer. If you notice that your time and date are always off even if you keep correcting it then that that may be a sign that the CMOS battery is going bad. Replacing the CMOS battery is fairly easy but you need to make sure you get the right type with the right specifications to match the one you are replacing.

The CMOS battery is located on the motherboard and looks like a flat silver disk and is similar looking to a watch battery but larger.

With the computer off and unplugged simply pop it out of the holder. Then look on the battery itself for markings that indicate a model number and/or voltage etc. Usually you can find them by model number and is a good place to get them cheap. You may want to see if you can read the number without taking it out so you can have your new one handy when you make the swap. Keep in mind that you will most likely have to go into the BIOS and adjust your date and time and make sure your other settings are correct after replacing the battery.

What is the desktop.ini file I always see on my computer?
Desktop.ini is a hidden Windows system file that stores information about customized folders. It can be used to assign a custom icon or thumbnail image to a folder. If you have customized the display of a folder such as changing folder or file views then Windows saves those settings in a desktop.ini file. Deleting the desktop.ini file will only remove any customizations set by the file. Deleting this file doesn't hurt your system but Windows may rebuild them so you may have to keep on deleting them. The desktop.ini file usually shows up after you change your computers settings to display hidden files and folders or tell it not to hide protected operating system files. You can change these settings back from your folder views by going to Tools and then Folder Options within Windows Explorer. Then on the View tab check the radio button next to Do not show hidden files and folders and put a check in the box next to Hide protected operating system files.
TAGS: desktop.ini
How do I Disable the Delete Confirmation Dialog Box?

If you don’t want to see the delete confirmation dialog box every time you delete a file then that is easy to change. Keep in mind that this warning may save you from accidentally deleting a file though.

To disable this notification message simply right click on the Recycle Bin and choose Properties. Then uncheck the box that says Display delete confirmation dialog and click Ok.

Now next time you delete a file it will go straight to the Recycle Bin without asking you if you are sure.

How do I change the position of my taskbar in Windows from the bottom to the top or side?

Unlike way back with Windows XP where you can click and drag your taskbar from the bottom to the top or sides, you have to do it a little different in current versions of Windows. Here is how you do it.

Right click on an empty space on the taskbar and choose Properties or Taskbar Settings depending on your version of Windows.

On the Taskbar tab or Taskbar Location on Screen setting find where it says Taskbar location and select either bottom, left, right or top and then click OK.

How do I force users to use Ctrl+Alt+Del to logon to a Windows computer?

By default you don’t have to press Ctrl+Alt+Del when logging onto a Windows computer unless that computer is part of an Active Directory Domain and then it would most likely be running Windows 7 Professional and you would be required to use Ctrl+Alt+Del to logon

By pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del before putting in your name and password gives you an extra layer of security by preventing rouge programs that may be trying to get your login information by using key loggers or fake login screens etc from running before you log in. It brings up the Windows security screen allowing you a safe login.

To enable Ctrl+Alt+Del logins for Windows 7 computers all you need to do is click on Start and then type in netplwiz in the search box to bring up the Advanced User Accounts Control Panel tool. From there click on the Advanced tab and check the box that says Require users to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and click OK. Just be careful when changing settings here so you don’t accidentally change something and not be able to log in!

How do I rename a file on my computer?

Renaming a file on your computer is a very easy task and there are several ways you can do it. We will tell you about a couple of those ways and you can choose what is best for you.

The first thing you need to do of course is to find the file you want to rename. You can use Windows\File Explorer to browse to where you have the file stored. Once you find the file you can right click on the file itself and choose Rename from the menu that pops up.

Once you click on Rename you will notice that the file name is highlighted allowing you to either erase the current name or type right over it with the new name.

Windows will only highlight the name and not the file extension which is the last 3 characters after the dot (period) in the name assuming your computer is set to show file extensions rather than hide them which is the default. Be careful when renaming your files that you don’t change the extension otherwise it Windows won’t be able to open the file until you change it back to what it is supposed to be. File extensions tell Windows what program the file should be opened with. If you don’t see the file extension that just means that your computer is configured to hide file extensions which is normal by default.

After you type in the new name simply press Enter or click anywhere off the file and it will have its new name. Keep in mind that you can’t use special characters such as < > : " / \ | ? * in your file name. Spaces and other things such as exclamation points are ok though.

If you want to rename multiple files at once you can highlight all the files you want to rename, right click on the first file and choose Rename. Then type in the name of the file and press Enter. All the other files will get the same name but with a number after them. For example if you wanted to rename them all Vegas they would look like Vegas (1), Vegas (2), Vegas (3) and son on.

How to Take a Computer Off a Windows Domain to Use at Home.

The first thing to check is to make sure you are not trying to log onto the domain. When you are at the login screen there should be a box under Password that says Log on to. You might have to click the Options button to get it to show. From there change it from the domain to COMPUTERNAME (this computer) where COMPUTERNAME is the name of the computer itself. That will log you on locally instead of on to the domain. You will have to have a local account on the laptop though to get in or know the administrator password.

If not then you can connect it to the domain and add a local user for yourself. This is important so you can log in locally after it's off the domain. Also be sure to make it a local administrator if you want full admin rights to the laptop. Then you can disjoin it from the domain by right clicking My Computer and choosing Properties. Then go to the Computer Name section and click the Change Settings. Under Member of click the Workgroup button and choose a name for your workgroup and click ok. You will need a domain admins name and password to confirm it. Then after a reboot it will not be part of the domain.

Desktop icons on your computer appear then disappear.

Usually when something like this happens where your icons or taskbar disappear it means there is a problem with the explorer.exe file. The executable module in Windows that contains the Start menu, taskbar, desktop and file manager. Explorer.exe is a Windows process that is run automatically at startup and remains an active process. As a test you can go to Task Manager by right clicking on your task bar and selecting Task Manager or pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del and then clicking on Task Manager. From the Applications tab click on New Task and type in explorer.exe and see if it brings your icons back.

Another method you can try. 1. Make sure you are in Task Manager as described above. 2. On the File menu, click New Task (Run). 3. Type cmd.exe, and then press Enter. 4. If necessary, change to the Windows folder by typing cd\windows. 5. Rename the Shdocvw.dll file by typing ren shdocvw.dll shdocvw.old. 6. Restart the computer.

You can also type in MSconfig from the New Task (Run) box and uncheck any items from the Startup and Services tabs that you don't need or that look like they don't belong just in case something is starting with your computer that is causing the problem.

Another thing to do is to run the Windows System File Checker from the New Task (Run) box by typing sfc /scannow to have it check your system files for errors. You may need the Windows XP CD in case it asks for it.

Another option is to try a System Restore back to a point before this problem started happening. You can type %systemroot%\System32\restore\rstrui.exe from the New Task (Run) box as well.

How can I tell if my copy of Windows is activated or registered properly?

There are a couple of ways you can check this. The easiest way is to right click on the Computer\This PC icon and choose properties. Then on the bottom there will be a section that says Windows activation. Under that it will show if your copy of Windows is activated or not and give you a product key. If you need to change your key for any reason you can click on Change product key.

Or you can type slmgr.vbs -dli from a command prompt and it will pop up a dialog box with the activation status of your computer.

Windows Explorer Won’t Sort your Files and Folders Alphabetically

Most of us like to see our files in alphabetical order when we open Windows Explorer. Sometimes you may open Explorer and see that you files are not in alphabetical order. So you go ahead and set them to be viewed in order and close Explorer. Then when you come back again they are no longer in order. Windows is supposed to remember your folder view settings so when you close and re-open Windows Explorer they will be the same as the last time you had it open

There is a method Microsoft recommends to fix this problem. To do so, perform the following steps exactly as described:

Open Windows Explorer
Click on your C: drive in the left window
Click on the View menu then pick details
Sort your files alphabetically by clicking on the Name column
Hold down the Ctrl key and close Explorer
Restart your computer.

How do you make a Notepad document not print out the header and footer?
You can easily do this by going to File and Page Setup and clear the boxes for Header and Footer.

I tried to defrag today and at 3% complete it would pause for volume shadow copy. I can't get around it.

If this drive that you are trying to defragment is being used for Shadow Copies then trying to defragment it may cause problems. The Volume Shadow Copy service is used to permit different applications and storage management applications such as backup applications to define, save, and use consistent point in time copies of storage data for backup, restore, and other purposes.

If you are using a backup program that uses Volume Shadow Copies then you may want to turn that feature off if you need to defragment the drive. Or you can try to disable or stop the Volume Shadow Copies service on your computer from the services utility.

I forgot my login password and cannot use my computer. What do I do?

What we like to use is called the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor Bootdisk / CD. It's a free download from their site but it takes a little skill to use.

The download links are at the bottom of the page. We use the third option which is making a bootable CD. Just print out the instructions from the page and boot with the CD in the drive. If your computer won't boot to the CD first go here for instructions on how to change your boot order.

There is another product we have used in the past that is way easier to use and that's called Renee PassNow and we will be doing a write up on it soon so check back for that. For now you can check it out on their website.

I keep getting this IE message that says something like current security settings prohibit running How do I go about getting to my security settings to do the necessary changes so my active x can run?

For your Active X problem you can go to Internet Explorer and change your security level to medium.

From the Tools menu click Internet Options
Click the Security tab
Click the Custom level button
Where it says Reset Custom Settings, pick Medium from the drop down menu
Click the Reset button
When asked to confirm, click Yes
Click Ok

If you are running a professional version of Windows try enabling active x through local group policy.

Click Start then Run
Type gpedit.msc and click Ok
Double click User Configuration\Windows Settings\Internet Explorer\Maintenance\Security
Double click Security Zones and Content Ratings on the right side
Under Security Zones and Privacy, click Import the Current Security Zones and Privacy Settings and click Modify
In the Security Tab, click Default Level and click Ok.

It takes my computer at least 5 or 6 minutes to boot up in the morning. After it gets going I don't have a problem with speed.

Slow booting can be many different things. Here are a few things you can try.

First you can delete the contents of your C:\Windows\prefetch folder. The prefetch folder is used to help speed up the loading of programs by loading programs it thinks you might need. Its supposed to make your computer start faster by can actually slow it down. You can delete the contents of this folder as often as you like.

If you haven't defragged your hard drive in awhile now might be a good time.

You can also clean up your startup items using MSconfig. You may have unnecessary programs loading each time you boot your computer.

You may also have a problem with spyware installed on your computer. Check out our spyware section for solutions.

TAGS: slow booting
What are temporary internet files?

Temporary internet files are files downloaded from the internet such as web pages and graphics/pictures and are stored on your hard drive. The reason for doing this is so that when you visit the page again you will not have to re-download these files again and the page will load much faster the second time around.

Another type of file that is stored on your computer is called a cookie. A cookie is a text file that a Website can store on your hard drive. Cookies allow a Web site to store information on a user's machine and later retrieve it. If you have noticed that when you go to a page that you visit often it remembers who you are. That is because of the cookie that site has stored on your computer.

You should clear out these files every so often to make sure you don’t get too cluttered up and so you can get rid of outdated information. You can use a program like CCleaner to clean out all kinds of temporary files.

When I get an email with an attachment, I cannot open the attachment. I get the message that Windows cannot open the attachment without knowing the program that created it.

Windows uses file extensions or file associations to determine what program to open what type of file with. For example if you have a Word document called resume.docx then the .docx on the end tells Windows to use Microsoft Word to open the document. If you don't have Word installed on your computer and you try to open a .docx file then Windows doesn't know what to do with it and will ask you what program you want to open the file with. If you don't see the last 3-4 letters after the name of the file like .docx or .jpg then you need to enable Windows to display them by disabling the hide known file extensions option in Windows Explorer.

Keep in mind that just because you tell Windows to open a certain file type with a certain program that it will actually open it correctly.

I keep getting a message on startup that says Stmg has caused an error in the Kernel32.dll.

Stmgr is a part of Windows System Restore which is used to take your computer back to a point in time called a restore point when the computer was working correctly. This error could have been caused by a Windows update that did not install correctly, or some sort of spyware or virus that is trying to affect your stmgr file to affect your System Restore or even just some corruption in the file itself.

A couple of things you can try are to turn off System Restore, boot into Safe Mode and do a spyware and virus scan, reboot normally and enable System Restore and the reboot again.

You can also check your startup items using MSconfig to see if there is anything that references stmgr listed under the startup items tab and uncheck it then try rebooting.

The Kernel32.dll file handles memory management, input/output operations, and interrupts. There are many types of Kernel32.dll errors and they can even be caused by faulty RAM.

Each member of our family has our own "account" on our computer. This morning when my son logged in to his, all his files were gone. Pictures, music, data, everything.

First thing you need to is to make sure someone didn't accidentally or purposely delete the account from the Users section in Control Panel. When a user is deleted then it asks if you want to delete the users files as well.

If not then you can look to see if the C:\Users\username folder is there (username will be your sons login name). Open Windows Explorer and browse to the C:\Users\ folder and see if your sons name is there and if there is anything in the folder.

You can also do a search of the entire computer for his files in case they were moved if you know the names of some of them or you can do a search for his username.

I want to make a folder like name CON in my computer, please guide me.

Making a folder in Windows is a very easy thing to do. There are a few ways to do it. First thing you need is get to the location where you want to make the folder. If its going to be on your C drive then open Windows Explorer and find your C drive and click on it once to highlight it. Then go to File and then New and then Folder. Type in a name for the folder and that is it. If you want to rename the folder, right click it and pick rename.

If you want to make this folder on your Desktop then just right click any blank spot on the desktop and pick New and then Folder. Name the folder and that's it!

The other day there was a power outage and the computer went off. When I turned it back on again Windows performed a file system check. I thought this would occur only once, however this happens every time I turn on my computer.

First you can try to boot to a Safe Mode Command Prompt only and run a chkdsk /r C: to try and clear the "dirty bit".

You can also try a registry edit. Open regedit from Start and Run then regedit and click Ok. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager key. Find the BootExecute value and double click it. Remove all lines of text from the box.

**Do so at your own risk and backup the registry first because editing the registry can cause you computer to become inoperable.**

You can also try a System Restore and go back to a point before the problem started.

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