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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
Tips from readers on tweaking Explorer, using W2K commands, and fixing a Java fix

MY BEST TIPS come from readers, and this week's column is packed with suggestions from them. Reader Dave Riches submitted several tricks he uses with Windows 2000 to get more out of it. Some of these ideas work in other Windows versions as well. Try them yourself.

More Explorer details

When he opens the Windows Explorer to manage files, Riches likes to use the Details view (available from the View menu).

He points out a little-used feature: You can right-click the column headings in the right pane of the Details view. This allows you to hide some of the columns or add new ones. After you right-click a column heading, click the word More at the end of the menu that appears and 25 new choices are revealed.

One of the handiest new columns is called Accessed. This shows the last date that you touched a file, and whether or not you saved changes to it, which is what the Modified column shows. Sorting files by their Accessed date is a good way to prune files you haven't looked at in years. For more on how these column headings work, I suggest you see

Fun with ampersands

Riches uses a feature of the Windows 2000 command language to pack many commands into a single shortcut.

The trick is that an ampersand (&) separates commands on the same line. For example, net stop dns & net start dns, stops and re-starts DNS in a single shortcut.

There are many other tricks like this. For instance, you can run one command only if the previous command succeeded or failed.

To see these features in Windows 2000, click Start, then Help. Click the Index tab, and then scroll down to "New features in Windows 2000." Select the "Command differences" subheading; then click the Display button. An explanation of the ampersand and many other enhanced Windows 2000 commands can be read in the right pane.

Connect a network printer

Riches also has found an easy way to connect to a network printer: He drags the icon from one window to another. To do this in Windows 2000, open a window on your local printers by clicking Start, Settings, Printers. Then open a second window showing a network node with a shared printer. Drill down to find the printer you're interested in, then drag its icon into your local printer window. You should then have a connection to that network printer.

Fixing the Java bug fix

In my Nov. 6 column, I reported a security weakness that allows an e-mail message (without any attachment) to read and transmit files from your system (see "More flaws in Internet Explorer and Outlook: Now you can receive e-mails that read you.") The problem is that Java applets can be hacked to operate outside of their sequestered "sandbox." Microsoft has released patches to upgrade its virtual machine to VM build 3319, which fixes the weakness. I printed a manual work-around suggested by Watchguard Technologies ( to illustrate the problem. Unfortunately, that procedure contained an unneeded point, called Step 8. You should not press the Reset button but instead should go straight to Step 9, clicking OK to exit.

More seriously, some readers reported that VM build 3319 doesn't allow some Java applets to run on their browsers. Examples include shoppers at losing the ability to hold more than one item in their shopping cart, and a European bank applet that won't run.

Microsoft's upgrade cannot be uninstalled, as the company points out in its knowledge-base article on the patch. But reader Steve Mosca says he corrected the incompatibilities by restoring the permissions for "unsigned" Java applets to run.

To do this in Internet Explorer, pull down the Tools menu, and click Internet Options. Click Security, Custom Level; then scroll down to find "Microsoft VM," which is followed immediately by Java Permissions. Click the Custom button beneath that, then click the Java Custom Settings button. Select the Edit Permissions tab. Under "Run Unsigned Content," click Run In Sandbox. Then click OK all the way out.

To get the original warnings from Microsoft, see

Readers Riches and Mosca will receive free copies of Windows Me Secrets for being the first to send tips I printed.

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You can now go to and click Window Manager to receive this column every Monday, free via e-mail.


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