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March 25, 1996

Add Windows 95 Help files to the listing on your Start button

Last week, I described how you can create a Network Install tab within the Windows 95 Control Panel. (See "How to make a handy Install tab in Control Panel".)

I mentioned that this technique was documented incorrectly in a Help file that Microsoft Corp. includes in an obscure location on the Windows 95 CD-ROM.

Fortunately, this slipup doesn't make Microsoft's little-known Help file worthless. Far from it.

This Help file, Win95rk.hlp, contains practically the entire contents of Microsoft's official Windows 95 Resource Kit.

Microsoft sells this information as a 1,300-page book for $49.95 to people who don't know that it's available free on the Windows 95 CD-ROM.

The Resource Kit is heavy on details about networking Windows 95 under a variety of network scenarios.

But it also contains other documentation that makes it useful to a wider audience composed of more than just network administrators -- if you know how to surf its contents.

In this column, I'll show you how to add the contents of the Resource Kit to the Help menu item that shows up when you click on the Windows 95 Start button.

You can then make Windows automatically index the contents of the Resource Kit Help file, so that its contents (as well as the normal Windows Help contents) show up when you perform a search in Windows 95's Help dialog box.

Best of all, this technique can be used with any Help file that provides its own Contents (.cnt) file.

The Microsoft Plus Pack, for example, blends its own Help files into Windows 95's Help in exactly this way.

Step 1. In the Windows Explorer, click View, then Options. Turn on the Show All Files option, if it isn't already on.

Step 2. On the Windows 95 CD-ROM, select the files Win95rk.hlp and Win95rk.cnt in the \Admin\Reskit\Helpfile folder. Copy these two files into your C:\Windows\Help folder.

Step 3. Make your C:\Windows\Help folder the current folder in Explorer. Make a copy of the Windows.cnt file and name it Win95cnt.bak as a backup.

Step 4. Open Windows.cnt in Notepad or any plain-text editor. Near the top of the file, you should see several lines that begin with :Index. Immediately after the last :Index line, add the following new line:

:Index Win95 Resource Kit=win95rk.hlp

Step 5. Press Ctrl+End to move to the end of the file. After the last line, add the following new line:

:include win95rk.cnt

Make sure to end this line with a carriage return. Be certain you can move your cursor below your new :include line, to ensure there is a blank line there.

Step 6. Save and close the file. That's it.

There's no need to restart Windows. You can immediately click the Start button, then Help, to see the addition.

You should find eight new "books" (Help chapters) at the end of your Help list: Installation, Networking, System Management, and so forth.

To add the Resource Kit's topics to the ones you can search, click the Find tab in the Help dialog box.

The first time you do this, you will be asked whether you want to Maximize or Minimize the database used in the search process.

If you've got the disk space, I recommend you choose Maximize. (It offers more powerful searches.) This builds a 3.9MB database, vs. 1MB minimized.

If you use the Resource Kit Help file, you'll want to download a file that contains Microsoft's recent corrections to errors found in the Resource Kit.

On the Internet, set your browser to World Wide Web page

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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