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October 27, 1997

PowerToys set for Explorer 4.0 speeds Web searches

Microsoft has released a new set of free PowerToys -- this time for those who have downloaded Internet Explorer 4.0. The Explorer 4.0 PowerToys set includes a host of nifty context-menu add-ons. The Image Toggler is a button that appears on your Links toolbar. You can click the button to quickly turn Web graphics on or off -- which is great when you switch frequently between the faster text-only mode and the slower graphics-and-text mode. The QuickSearch feature lets you type a shortcut to get to a search engine -- AV for Alta Vista, for example -- and the key word to search.

Explorer 4.0 PowerToys can be downloaded from The original PowerToys for Windows 95, which contains the TweakUI control panel for managing the Windows 95 user interface, is still at

Speaking of PowerToys, reader Aaron Medley writes: "I just downloaded WinHacker 2.0. This little app is a lot better than TweakUI from Microsoft." WinHacker is available from It features wizards that lead you through some of the many choices you can customize in Windows 95, once you know about them.

Bright lights, big CD

I wrote on Sept. 22 about the OEM numbers that Microsoft puts on a sticker outside product CD-ROMs and expects you to type in during setup. (See "Remove Exchange and Microsoft Outlook does break.")

Reader Peter MacEwen reports a fix. "When reinstalling my copy of Office 97, I was at Microsoft's Web site downloading a patch to Office when it wanted my product ID number (which is different from the CD number) from the Help About box. The number I had would not work because it was generated using a number from one of my Microsoft games. There is a solution, of course. Rename the /msoffice/office/setup/off97pro.stf file to some other name. (Do not delete it.) Start the install procedure for Microsoft Office from the CD and type in the correct CD number. This will create a proper product ID number, which you can write down. Cancel the install and rename your .STF file back to its original name. You now have the proper number to use (the old one is still in the installed product, but who cares?) and can download the patches without reinstalling the software."

Autofit your common controls

Reader Kevin Herrmann writes: "In any Windows Listview Common Control, double-clicking the column separator will automatically size the column to show the widest item in that column. I use this in Internet Explorer and Explorer Mail & News all the time to show me dates, descriptions, attributes, etc., when the columns are too small."

To see how this works, open an Internet Explorer window, pull down the View menu and click Details. Drag the column separator between the Name column and the Size column to the left until some of the filenames in the Name column are too long to fit.

Now double-click your left mouse button on that separator. The Name column immediately resizes itself so the longest name is visible. Anyone who cruises frequently from folder to folder can use this technique whenever longer names, etc., appear.

Brian Livingston is the co-author of several best-selling Windows books, including the most recent Windows 95 Secrets (IDG Books). Send comments to Unfortunately, he cannot answer individual questions.

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