Computer Pc Secrets


General Keyboard shortcuts:

Often overlooked since the era of the mouse, keyboard shortcuts often make work quicker, easier and more efficient. I know that these are not strictly secrets, and many of you will know these anyway, I put it up for those who don't. 

Note: Many people will learn a couple of new shortcuts here, as I have found some of them purely through experimenting!

1. Ctrl+s  - probably one of my most frequently used shortcuts, this saves your work in a program.

2. Ctrl+x  - Cuts highlighted text to the clipboard to be pasted elsewhere.

3. Ctrl+v  - Pastes text from the clipboard.>

4. Ctrl+c - Copies text to the clipboard.

5. Win+e - Opens Windows Explorer.

6. Win+f - Opens the Find File box.

7. Win+pause - A little-known shortcut that opens the system properties window.

8. Win+m  - Minimizes all your windows and shows tthe desktop.

9. Win+d - I'm not sure how it differs from Win+m, but it also minimizes all windows. Press it again and they all pop back up...Magic!

10. Win+r - Opens the Run Program window.

11. Alt+F4  - Closes the program you're currently using.

12. Ctrl+F4  - Closes the current window, but not the entire program.

13. F1 - Probably the most famous shortcut, it's been around since the '80s, and it brings up Help.

14. Alt-Ctrl-Del or Ctrl-Alt-Del - Also a very famous shortcut. In DOS it reboots the computer, in Windows it brings up the Close Programs box, useful for closing hung programs. Press it again and the computer reboots.

15. Shift+del - This deletes a file permanently, bypassing the Recycle Bin. However there seems to be a little bug in Windows, and it doesn't always work first time. 80% of the time it does work however, so just keep trying it until it works.

16. Ctrl+i - Makes the text italics

17. Ctrl+b - Makes the text bold

18. Ctrl+u - Underlines the text

19. Alt+double-click - Brings up the properties box of a file or folder

20. Ctrl+z - Probably the most useful shortcut, this one undo's the last action you made. (not always available)

21. Ctrl+a - Highlights everything on a page


Internet Explorer Shortcuts

1. F5 - Refreshes the webpage.

2. Backspace - Goes back a page.

3. Alt+left arrow  - Goes back a page.

4. Alt+right arrow - Goes forward a page.

5. Escape - Stops the website loading.

6. Home - Goes back to top of webpage.

7. End - Goes to end of webpage.

8. Ctrl+mousewheel-up - Decreases the size of the text in Internet Explorer.

9. Ctrl+mousewheel-down - Increases the size of text on the Internet Explorer.

10. Shift+click hyperlink - This opens the link in a new window.

11. Alt+d - Jumps to the address bar so that you can type a new address.

12. Shift+mousewheel-up - Forward a page.

13. Shift+mousewheel-down - Back a page.

14. Ctrl+h - Brings up the history list of visited websites.

15. Ctrl+f - Find a word or phrase in the website.

16. F2 - Used when icon/folder/file is selected (highlighted). It lets you rename the icon/folder/file.

17. Ctrl+Enter - This is a great timesaver! Type google in the address bar and press ctrl-enter. You'll notice it automatically adds http://www. and the .com. This works for any address! 


Multiple Selections (how to select more than 1 item at a time)

This is quite a useful tip, and I use it frequently to save time. If you want to select a number of icons, files, items in some list etc, you can use the ctrl and shift buttons to help you. Control, lets you select individual items, and shift lets you select all the items between the initially highlighted one, and the one you click. This sounds a bit complicated, but I don't know how to word it any easier!

To demonstrate this, go to a folder in My Computer that contains many files. Highlight the first file in the folder. Now, press and hold Control, and click various other files in the folder while still holding the control key down. You'll notice that all the files that you click get highlighted. This is useful for changing the properties of numerous files, or deleting numerous files. Click on a file again to deselect it.

Now, release Control and click anywhere else in the folder (not on an icon) to deselect all the icons. Highlight the first icon again, press and hold Shift, and click another file in the folder while still holding the shift key down. You'll notice that Windows highlights all the files as far as that row, and all the files as far as that column. You can do a similar thing by dragging out a highlight box with your mouse, but the Shift key also works in other programs that don't have a highlighting box. 

You can also use multiple highlighting boxes using Control and dragging with the mouse!


System Monitor

This is a very useful tool included with Windows, and often it is overlooked. It lets you monitor what is going on inside your computer. 

Go to start>programs>accessories>system tools and see if you have system monitor listed there. If it is, open it, if it is not, you have to go to Control Panel, Add/Remove programs, Windows Setup tab, Accessories and put a tick next to System Monitor. You may need the Windows CD for this. Now go to the aforementioned location and open up the program. You'll see a box with horizontal bars in it. This is the area where the graph appears when you are monitoring. Now you'll want to select something to monitor. Go to edit>add item... or click on the icon on the very left. You will see 2 boxes, Category and Item. 

They are quite self-explanatory. Unfortunately their contents, shown in the right-hand pane, is sometimes not self-explanatory. E.g. if you go to Dial-up adapter and click Framing Errors, then click Explain... it just tells you "Serial Port Framing Errors". Quite honestly, that is a useless "explanation". Some of the options have better explanations....if you can understand them!

As an example of how this all works, click on kernel and then processor usage (%). You should now see a graph forming on your screen. At the bottom it tells you the last value and the peak value. Now go to options>chart... you will see that you can set how quickly the graph updates. I like 1 second updates so that it is current. You can open up more than one graph at a time, and then to display it's last value and peak value, you just click on the relevant graph, and it's information appears at the bottom, alongside it's name. If you wish to remove a graph, go to edit>remove item... You can add or remove multiple graphs at once by dragging the mouse over the items in the list. You can use the Shift and Ctrl keys as mentioned earlier to select various graphs.


Google Trick (search within websites from!)

This is a really cool trick I just learnt! You can search within websites using Google. Go to and type in the search string (what you want to search for) followed by site: and then the URL (address).

e.g. "How to make pizza"

That will search for "how to make pizza", within the site This is very useful when searching vast websites like Microsoft, or just to find something that you are looking for in a large website.


Hwinfo (Hardware Information)

If you are having a problem with your computer, this utility may help you out. I can only assume Microsoft didn't want anybody to find this program, because it is so hidden, that you can't even run it as an ordinary exe file!! To run the program, go to start>run and type hwinfo /ui. Wait a little while, and a screen will come up with reams of technical information. To be honest, most of this stuff would only mean something to a computer engineer, however  some of it is perfectly understandable, and you could at least locate an error.

If you would like to put a shortcut to this utility on your start menu, you will have to do this:

Navigate to the c:\windows folder and find hwinfo.exe. Right-click it and select copy. Then go to your desktop and paste. Now drag to icon to your start menu button. Hold it there until the start menu pops up. Now, while still dragging, navigate across the menus as you would normally, except that now your left-mouse button is held down. I suggest putting this program in the System Tools menu, so go to programs>accessories>system tools and release the icon in the menu. Now, you'll need to right-click your new icon and click properties. After where it says c:\windows\hwinfo.exe  add the letters /ui. Click ok, and you're done!


Thumbnails (How to get all your images in a folder to display as thumbnails)

Note: This is different from just getting a thumbnail to be displayed when you click on an image file!

So you don't have Windows XP yet, but you would like all your images in your folder to display as thumbnails. Firstly, you have to enable thumbnails for every folder you would like them to be displayed in. To do this, navigate to the folder which you want to enable. This folder must be within your hard drive. For some odd reason, trying to do this in c:\ (my hard drive) does not allow the option.

Right-click on a blank piece of folder space, and click properties. At the bottom of the box it will say enable thumbnail view. Make a check (tick) in that box and click ok. Now press F5 to refresh the folder, and right-click again on a blank piece of folder space. Now go up to view, at the top of the menu, and on the slide-out box click thumbnails. Now most images in the folder will display as thumbnails! As far as I know, gif, jpg, html and bmp images will all display as thumbnails. Some less common file formats may also work.


How to Take a Screenshot

I'm sure many of you have wondered how computing magazines (and this website) print images of windows, and programs in Windows, when there is no command for printing out the contents of the screen. Most people can print a document written in Word, for example, but how many can print the actual window surrounding the text as well. Or what if you just wish to show your friend a picture of your desktop? The following tutorial also applies to saving an image in a game.

Note: Some games have a "screen capture" button (usually one of the Function keys [e.g. F9]) to take a screenshot and automatically save it as a file in the game directory.

Well, it's very simple. Go to the window that you want to "capture", and press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. This should be to the right of F12, and above Insert, on most keyboards. What this does, is it copies an image of your entire screen to the clipboard. That is the same place that images and text go when you press copy or cut. If you just want to copy an image of your active window (the one that you're working in) then press Alt+Print Screen. I only recently learnt this trick, and it would have saved me quite some time taking screen shots for this website if I knew it earlier! I meticulously trimmed all my screenshots on this website until they had no borders!

Note: The following steps can be done after you are finished working or playing your game, as long as you do not copy or cut anything and you do not exit Windows. If you log out or restart your computer, the image will be lost.

Now open an image editor. If you do not have a specific image editing program, just open MS Paint. You can get there by going to start>programs>accessories and clicking on Paint. This program comes with all Windows computers.

Now go to the edit menu, and press paste. You may receive a message like "The image in the clipboard is larger than the bitmap. Would you like the bitmap enlarged?", in which case you click Yes. And there you go! The screenshot you took when you pressed Print Screen is now in the window! If you would like to trim the image, then use the trimming tool in your image editor, or...

If you are using Paint, select another tool, e.g. the paintbrush tool. This clears the selection made on the screen. Then click the dotted rectangle at the top right of the toolbox. Drag out a box over the area that you would like to have remaining. If you make a mistake, just click somewhere outside your box and drag the box over the area again until you get it right. Now click edit on the menu at the top, and then copy. Go to file and click new. Unless you wish to save the rest of the image (non-trimmed), click no when it asks you if you want to save. Now go to edit and click paste. The trimmed image that you selected from your screenshot now appears in the window. If it asks you again if you want to enlarge the bitmap, click yes.

Now you are finished creating your screenshot!! This sounds awfully long and hard, but it is just because I had to cover all possibilities while explaining. There are really only about 5 things to do, and if you are not using Paint, it makes everything a lot easier. Being familiar with your graphics program also makes it less complicated. I have to admit that using Paint is probably more difficult.

To save your screenshot, go to file and click save. Just select the folder to save the image in, click save and you're done! In almost any image editor besides Paint, you will be able to select which format you want to save the image as. I recommend a JPEG. Now you know how to print out screenshots, e-mail them to your friends, or just keep it on your hard drive. I like doing this to show my friends screenshots from games I am playing. You can capture dramatic explosions or outrageous stunts and show your friends proof that you really did it!


Special Characters

You can type special characters such as , and in a number of ways. The easiest (but not quickest) way to do this, is to go to start>programs>accessories>system tools and open Character Map. There you can select your character that you want to insert into your document by clicking select. Then you press copy, and you just "paste" it into the relevant document. 

The second way, is much quicker, but requires remembering ASCII codes. I won't go into a lot of detail as to what ASCII is, just to say that whenever you press a letter on your keyboard it is converted into an ASCII number. Keyboard keys are really just shortcuts for the ASCII numbers. What this means, is that if you don't have a key on your keyboard, you can actually type the character manually!

First ensure that your Num Lock is on. You should see a little number with a box round it and a light if this is true. If the num lock is off (i.e. the light is off) then you have to press the Num Lock button once to turn it on. All you then do is you press and hold alt, and then you type the ASCII number in the numpad. That is, the little keypad with the numbers like a calculator on the right of the keyboard. E.g. if you want the sign, you press and hold alt, type 171 on the numpad, and release alt. The sign will appear where you were typing!!

Here are a few useful ASCII numbers for you to integrate into your everyday typing:

156 = (useful for people with non-British keyboards)

157= (the yen sign; currency of Japan)

167= º (as in: it is 25ºC outside)

253= (as in: E=MC)





Remove Outlook Express Splash Screen 

Warning: Not for beginners. Always back up your registry before making changes!

This trick is a real gem! It removes the startup screen from Outlook Express, thus speeding up its loading time.

Open up the Registry Editor by going to start>run and typing regedit. Click the little + sign next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER. Click the + sign next to Identities, click the + sign again next to that long string of numbers and letters, again for Software, Microsoft and Outlook Express. Now you should see 5.0 (or whatever your version number is). Click once on the word "5.0" or the little yellow folder next to it.

You should now see a whole lot of text in the right-hand pane. Right-click somewhere in the blank white area in the right-hand side, go to new, and then DWORD value.  Type nosplash. Now right-click the word and click modify. Now write a 1 in the Value data box. Click ok and close the Registry Editor by pressing the x button in the top right of the window or going to the menu and selecting Registry>Exit.

Now Outlook Express will open up without the splash screen!


Expand Microsoft Office 2000 menus (for Word, Powerpoint, Access, Excel, Frontpage etc)

You may have noticed that when you open a menu (e.g. File, Edit) from an Office application, there is a little double-arrow pointing downwards at the bottom of the menu, and if you click it, more options for that menu appear. I found this extremely irritating because if I want to find a menu item, I don't want to have to click multiple times for each menu. So I set out to find how to get rid of this irritating "feature".

Open any Office application. Go to tools and click customize. Untick (uncheck) the box that says "Menus show recently commands first". Click close, and you're done!

Optimize your Send To Menu (including one mega-secret I just discovered!)

In order to prevent advanced users skipping over this part, I'm going to start with my great secret I just learned! I didn't read it anywhere, but I just used a bit of logic and came up with this great idea:

Go to My Computer and then C:\Windows\SendTo. You should notice all the items in your Send To menu are in this folder. Now the great secret I just discovered is to place a shortcut to an executable (exe) file inside this folder, and then you can get any file to open up in this program. 

E.g. I've been going nuts for the last couple of weeks whenever I want to peep inside an exe file. I use Resource h, and I find it very frustrating having to open up Resource H to open the file. So I created a shortcut to Reshack.exe in the SendTo folder, and now all I need to do is right-click a file>send to>reshack and it opens all ready for me! You can use this secret if you wish to be able to open a file in a different program (like a temporary re-association) e.g. to view HTML files in Notepad every now and again.

Now on to optimizing your Send To menu. Open the SendTo folder, as specified above. You may notice a lot of programs that you never "send to". All you have to do is delete them from the folder and they will disappear from the Send To menu forever. This just streamlines your right-click menus a little.

If you wish to put them back at a later stage, you will have to add a shortcut to that file/drive in the Send To directory.

Random Tips (Quick easy stuff that you might not know)

Permanent Delete - If you want to delete a file permanently straight away, without it being sent to the recycle bin, just press shift-del when you want to delete it. Or right-click, press shift and then delete. Due to a Windows bug however, it often doesn't work first time. Do it a couple of times and it does work though.

Open With...

If you want a choice of programs to open a certain file in, select the file, press shift and then right-click the file. You will now see the option open with... appears in the menu! (3rd from the top)

Reasons you may want to do this? Maybe you want to open up a file in a different program from normal. Or maybe you accidentally did not remove the notorious always use this program to open this file checkmark (tick) when opening a file with an unregistered extension, and now you can't open any file of this type because they always open up in the wrong program? If this sounds familiar, then this trick will solve that problem!

Folder or A: refresh

If you are in the A:\, and you insert a different stiffy (floppy), instead of re-opening the folder to see the new contents, just press F5 and the window will update itself. This works for any other folder where you want to refresh the contents.


This one helps if your computer is running low on RAM or resources, and you want to get some back, without rebooting your machine. If you keep getting an illegal operation, this might also clear it without your rebooting. I have recovered as much as 8% system resources, and 30% GDI resources using this trick!

Just press alt-ctrl-del once (not twice!!). This brings up the task manager. It says close program at the top of the box. Select explorer and click End Task. You will see the Shut Down Windows box appear. Press cancel. Wait a couple of seconds, and you will see a message telling you that the program is not responding, do you want to end it. Click end task. Explorer will reload, refreshing quite a bit of accumulated muck with it! 

Note: You need to move the mouse before the hourglass mouse pointer goes away...another weird Windows thing.

Quick Resize (in columns)

This handy trick lets you resize columns in listed information without having to drag the column (with the double-headed arrow) to the correct size. All you do, is you move the mouse over the column divider until you see the double-headed arrow, then you double-click. The column will automatically resize itself to fit the biggest piece of information in the column.

Extended Scandisk Options

If you want to, there are even more options for Scandisk that you can fiddle with. All you have to do is go to c:\windows\command and open up Scandisk.ini. Inside the file are all the instructions needed to update the settings. Just be careful what you change though. If you're not sure what it does, just leave it!

Tile Your Windows

I never considered this to be a particularly useful trick, but somebody asked me about it, so here goes: Let's say you're trying to drag a file across from the A drive to the C drive, but you are struggling to align the windows side by side. All you do, is right-click on the taskbar (the bar at the bottom of your screen, with the start button and the clock) and then click either Tile Windows Horizontally or Tile Windows Vertically depending on which you prefer. If you want the windows to align themselves one in front of the other, like in a filing cabinet, then you can click Cascade Windows.

Create a Log File

If you have ever found the need to have a file to log information, be it a diary or some other time-related information, you might find the following easy instructions on how to make a log file useful.

First, open Notepad by going to start>run and typing notepad and enter. A blank notepad document will pop up. Now at the top of your file write .LOG (it must be in capitals), and save the file. Now, any time you enter information it will be stamped with the time and the date. You may want to save the file as .log, so that you know that it is a log file, but this is not essential. You would do this by typing (filename).log when you save the file.

Alternatively, if you just want the date and time to be printed once off, you can press F5, and the date and time will appear in your document. Note, that if you add new information the date and time will not be modified!

Change the Language for Microsoft Word Spell Checking

If you live in the UK, you may be a little irritated that when you spell check, it always uses American spelling, and then tells you that you've spelt words like "neighbour" wrong. I have not worked out yet how to change the language settings for other Office applications (if you know, please e-mail me!), but here's how to do it for Word:

Open the document in Microsoft Word. Go to tools>language>set language. Scroll down until you find the language you want to select (it must have a tick and an "abc" next to it to be able to spell check in that language). Click Default... and click yes. Click ok. Note that this will only change the spell checking language from that document onwards, and does not affect documents you have previously created.

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