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March 11, 1996

Mousing around with Windows 95 and other secrets

It's time this week for some updates of tricks I've revealed in a few columns past. It seems there's always something new just around the corner.

Here we go...

Just a REGular guy

Last month, I described a way to associate actions on the right-click menus (context menus) with all file types, not just one file type at a time. (See "Associate unknown file types and gain right mouse control".)

Instead of defining new context menu commands for .TXT files and .DOC files, for example, you can define an action that will show up for every extension, or only for extensions that aren't already associated with any application (the so-called Unknown file type).

Unfortunately, the last line of the five-line text file I showed you got garbled in the typesetting process here at InfoWorld.

So here again is ALLTYPES.REG, which you can save using Notepad or any text editor:


Right-click this file, then click Merge. You can now click View, Options, File Types in the Windows 95 Explorer, and define actions that will work for all file types or just for Unknown file types.

The asterisk (*) file type shows up at the top of the scrolling list, while the Unknown file type is near the end in alphabetical order. Select one of these file types, then click Edit, New. Give your new action a title and a command line, and you're set.

Duh, what's this dot stand for?

In another column last month, I discussed how the new Windows 95 versions of applets, like Notepad and WordPad (yes, they capitalize both programs differently), won't save the exact file names you type in. (See "Predictions 1996: A wristwatch PC and a billion-dollar baby".)

If you save a text file under the name MYFILE.ASC, for example, you get the long file name MYFILE.ASC.TXT instead of what you expected.

I should have mentioned that the new Microsoft applications in Office 95 have this bonehead problem also.

I'm aware that Windows 95 is supposed to save us from having to remember or even see extensions.

But Windows 95 uses extensions for everything, and now it's getting hard to merely choose the extensions we want.

Word in Office 95 saves files with a period at the end (such as FILENAME.) as FILENAME..DOC -- a file with two periods, plus an extension you didn't want.

Attention all first-year programmers at Microsoft: Typing a period at the end of a filename means we don't want an extension!

You can defeat this, as I mentioned on Feb. 12, by typing quote marks around your chosen file name in the Save As dialog box -- for example, "MYFILE.DAT". But what a ridiculous thing to have to do.

Save your fingers: Glide and Point

In my Jan. 1 column, I revealed the MenuShowDelay setting in the Registry. (See "Win95 start menu tips: How to make submenus stick".)

The secret is too long to give here again, but basically the setting is used to make Windows 95's Start Menu stay down once you click it, rather than disappearing if you move your mouse the wrong way for an instant.

Reader Laurent Bass writes that he finds a delay setting of 655 useful with his Alps GlidePoint. This is a 4-inch pad that lets your finger serve as a mouse -- great for laptops or where space is short.

Call Alps at (800) 825-2577 or (408) 432-6000 for details.

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

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Copyright © 1996 by InfoWorld Publishing Company


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