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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
CPU-hogging tasks and broken links got you down? Here's a couple tips to fix 'em quick

READERS HAVE provided tips this week on how to control hidden programs in Windows and to check for broken links in your Favorites menu. Send in your tips and you may show up in future columns.

Start and stop tasks in Windows. Two of my most popular columns were "Extreme steps aren't the only way to keep Windows' performance from getting worse" from June 21, 1999, and "A few advanced steps may lead you closer to restoring Windows' snappy performance" from June 28, 1999.

In these columns, I described ways to clean up "Windows arthritis," which causes the response of your Windows system to slow over a period of months due to performance-robbing junk your system accumulates. Uninstalling programs you don't need, for example, may improve the perkiness of other applications.

In addition to the techniques I recommended in those articles a few years back, reader Tom McGrane found a free utility that helps decipher, and possibly kill, some of the cryptic processes that may be consuming CPU cycles in your PC.

The utility is called StartStop. When you run it, it displays the programs that start and run automatically when you turn your machine on. In many cases, these little routines aren't visible in your StartUp group because they are launched from obscure lines in your Registry.

But StartStop improves on Windows' built-in Task Manager because it shows you the full name and disk location of each program. This can be of crucial help in identifying what a running process is and what it does. StartStop allows you to choose not to load some of these programs.

It's important to note that stopping a background program can interfere with other tasks. You should block a startup program only if you're an advanced user and have specific knowledge of the problem you're trying to correct.

Trying out StartStop, however, is painless because it's free. Download it at

Fix links in Win 2000 and Windows Me. I wrote last week about a way that you can configure any folder in Windows 2000 or Windows Me to display graphics files as thumbnail images in Windows Explorer (see "Some Windows Me tips and tricks will save your battery and help preview graphics files").

Reader Dave Hoelzen points out that this technique also allows you to quickly determine which links in your Favorites folder are broken. You can then check whether or not the site is down, contact the Webmaster, and so forth.

To check the links, select the Favorites folder in Windows Explorer. Its contents will be displayed in Explorer's right-hand pane. (If your Explorer window doesn't contain left and right panes, pull down the View menu, click on Explorer Bar, and then turn on Folders).

Next, in Windows 2000, expand your C: drive by clicking on the plus sign to the left of its icon. Then expand the Documents And Settings folder. Finally, expand the folder that bears your log-on name and select the Favorites folder.

In Windows Me, expand your C: drive, expand your Windows folder, and then select the Favorites folder.

After the Favorites folder is selected in Windows Explorer, pull down the View menu and click Thumbnails. If your Internet connection is active, Windows will create large icons showing a preview of each page in your Favorites menu. Links that are broken will show up as blank or with an error message.

Even with a high-speed connection, it can take Windows more than a minute to generate these thumbnails. I don't recommend it if you have a slow modem connection.

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

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