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September 8, 1997

Fire up an e-mail message with nine easy-to-follow steps

Reader Stewart Nolan has a favorite way to launch a new, blank e-mail message from the Windows 95 Explorer. His time saver eliminates the need to find and launch Internet Mail every time you want to compose a short message.

Assuming you have Internet News and Mail installed, you can quickly create a blank e-mail document (a file with the extension .eml) and associate it with the New item on Explorer context menus. This means that when you right-click the right pane of any Explorer window, you can click New and then click Internet Mail Message. With little ado, you can type and send your message.

Follow the steps below to take advantage of this method:

  • Step 1. Because this procedure changes the Windows 95 Registry, you should back up the Registry files, System.dat and User.dat.

  • Step 2. In an Explorer window, pull down the View menu, then click Otions. In the View tab, turn on the option "Show All Files," and turn off the option "Hide MS-DOS file extensions for file types that are registered." These changes will allow you to see in Explorer the full name of the blank e-mail file you will create in the next step.

  • Step 3. In Explorer, select the folder C:\Windows\ShellNew. With the left pane of Explorer focused on the ShellNew folder, right-click any blank area in the right pane. On the context menu that appears, click New, then Text Document. Type the file name Blank.eml to name the new file, then press Enter. You will see a dialog box warning that you are changing a file-name extension and asking whether you are sure you want to change it. Answer "Yes." (Will someone please send me the undocumented way to disable this irritating and unnecessary dialog box?)

  • Step 4. Click the Start button, then click Run. In the dialog box that appears, type Regedit.exe and press Enter. This opens the Registry Editor. In the left pane, click the plus sign to the left of HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. Scroll down the list of extensions you see until you find a folder labeled .eml.

  • Step 5. Left-click the .eml folder to select it. You should see the folder icon change to an "open" folder, and the .eml extension should be highlighted. Right-click any blank area in the right pane. Click New, then click Key.

  • Step 6. In the left pane, a new subfolder should appear beneath the .eml folder. Type ShellNew and press Enter to name this subfolder. The ShellNew subfolder should automatically become highlighted.

  • Step 7. With the ShellNew folder selected in the left pane, right-click any blank area in the right pane. Click New, then click String Value. Type FileName and press Enter to name this string value.

  • Step 8. In the right pane, right-click the icon to the left of the word FileName, then click Modify. In the Value Field box that appears, type Blank.eml and click OK. This associates the Blank.eml file name that you created in Step 3 with the format of a new e-mail message.

  • Step 9. You're done! Exit RegEdit. In an Explorer window, right-click any empty space in the right pane, then click New. You should see a new choice called Internet E-Mail Message. If you click this a new, blank e-mail message is created in the current folder. You can press Enter to accept the generic file name provided (or type in a name, if you wish), then press Enter again to automatically launch e-mail.

Stewart Nolan will receive a copy of the new 4th Edition of Windows 95 Secrets.

Brian Livingston is the co-author of Windows 95 Secrets and four other Windows books (IDG Books). Send tips to or fax: (206) 282-1248.

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Copyright © 1997 by InfoWorld Publishing Company


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