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October 12, 1998

WinBoost offers you customization tips and other tricks for improving Windows 98

Those of you who like to have maximum personal control over the way Windows works have a new tool called WinBoost. This 1.2MB download is a utility that is packed with scores of ways to customize your Windows 98 look and feel. When you check various boxes in WinBoost, secret features of your Registry are turned on or off for you until the next time you change them.

The enormous range of tricks the authors of WinBoost have found to tweak Win98 is too great to summarize, but here are a few examples of what you can do.

  • Customize your CD-ROM cache memory (in ways you can't with the Control Panel).

  • Optimize your file system for running multimedia applications.

  • Hide, disable, or rename various parts of the Start menu, such as Recent Documents (if you don't want people to see the documents you recently worked on), Favorites, Find, Run, Log Off, and Shut Down. WinBoost 1.1 had a bug that prevented you from easily restoring Find and Run to the Start menu and Windows Explorer if you removed them. The bug is fixed in WinBoost 1.2, which is the current version.

  • Place a variety of cascading menus on your Start menu, including the contents of Control Panel, Printers, Network Neighborhood, Recycle Bin, My Computer, Fonts, and Briefcase.

After you have experimented with WinBoost's various productivity improvements, you can play with one of its "nonproductivity" enhancements. WinBoost allows you to turn on a way to cheat at the Microsoft Hearts game included with Windows. After you flip the switch, you can press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+F12 in Hearts to see your opponents' cards. No one I know would stoop to this, of course.

WinBoost includes a tips-and-tricks window with several useful ideas. For example, if you often paste images into the Microsoft Paint program that comes with Windows, here's a way to make the editing window always fit your pasted image (no matter what size it may be): In Paint, pull down the Image menu, then click Attributes. Change the Units to Pixels, then change Width to 1 and Height to 1, and click OK. When you paste in an image, Paint will ask if you want to enlarge the bitmap area. Answer yes, and the active editing area will automatically fit the image.

In the tips-and-tricks list, the authors of WinBoost show that Microsoft apparently started to implement something called a DeskBar but then crippled the feature before shipping Win98. To see this undocumented feature, click the Win98 Start button, then click Settings. While holding down your Control key, click "Taskbar and Start Menu." In the Taskbar Properties dialog box that appears, there is a new DeskBar Options tab, but if you click it, there is nothing in the tab and no way to change any settings. Anyone know what this is (or was) useful for?

Another tip that many Windows users don't know about is the triple-click trick. This works in Windows WordPad and also in major word processors such as Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect. If you triple-click within a document, you can select more text than is possible with a double-click. Triple-clicking within a block of text selects the whole paragraph; triple-clicking in the left margin selects all of the paragraphs.

WinBoost 1.2 is available from Magellass, in Berkeley, Calif., and has a 10-day trial period. After that, the product costs $15 per user or $145 for a site license. You can download the software from If you used any previous version of WinBoost, you should uninstall it before installing WinBoost 1.2.

Easter Egg for Windows CE

I described in my Sept. 21 column how to display the hidden Easter Egg in Windows 98 that shows the names of the development team. (See "Tips on Task Bar icons, MIDI players, and Easter in September.") Here's the method to do this in Windows CE.

In Windows CE, open the Solitaire game. Go through the game until the ace of hearts comes up. Drag this card into the top-row position where aces go. Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, then click Cancel when you see the Close Program dialog box. Now click the ace of hearts to see the Easter Egg.

Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows 98 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.

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