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December 16, 1996

An interesting approach to the Rename problem

My Oct. 28 column described the hair-trigger way Windows 95 invokes the Rename function on a file name when you idly click on an object on the Desktop or in Microsoft Explorer that is already highlighted. Pressing any key deletes the name of the object, and Enter makes the change permanent.

It would be great to be able to turn this feature off. You could still rename an object by right-clicking on it and then clicking on Rename. Or you could press F2, which is the keyboard shortcut for Rename.

Well, we don't have that level of control yet, but this topic has already generated some comment that sheds some interesting light on the way the Registry controls this behavior.

First, let's look at some of the more common suggestions for handling the Rename problem. Many people pointed out that if you've deleted an object's name by pressing a key, but you haven't pressed Enter yet, you can get the original name back by typing Windows' universal one-level Undo key combination: Alt+Backspace.

This method also works in fill-in dialog boxes, such as Run. Let's say you've pressed a key and erased a default value in a dialog box. Now you want the default back. You can type Alt+Backspace, and the former value will reappear in the dialog box.

Another way to reverse the effect of accidentally clearing an object's name is to press the Esc key. This resets the name.

Other readers pointed out that you could prevent the renaming of many of the objects on the Desktop by marking them "read-only." It takes a DOS command to do this to all files in the Desktop folder:


This method, however, does not affect resource objects that are not files, such as the Recycle Bin. You also cannot change the properties of a read-only object without first making it nonread-only.

Reader Jon Caruana came up with an interesting finding that sheds light on the extent to which the Windows 95 Registry controls things. He proposes the following steps to disable all renaming for a Desktop object, such as the Microsoft Network:

  • Step 1. Save your existing Registry (System.dat and User.dat) to a backup floppy.

  • Step 2. Run Regedit.exe.

  • Step 3. Click on Edit, Find.

  • Step 4. In the Find dialog box, type "{00028B00" (without quotes). Click the Find Next button; the resource ID string {00028B00-0000-0000-C000-0000000000 46} should be highlighted in the left pane with "The Microsoft Network" appearing in the right pane.

  • Step 5. Click the plus sign to the left of the Resource ID to expand the branch, then select the subfolder ShellFolder.

  • Step 6. Right-click on the word Attributes, then click on Modify. Change the name to Old Attributes. Then right-click on the right pane and click on New, Binary. Call the new binary value Attributes. Double-click on this name and enter a value of 40 00 00 00 rather than the default 50 00 00 00. Close RegEdit.

    Idly clicking on the Microsoft Network icon now results in no sudden name changes, just a beep. However, F2 no longer works to rename the file, nor does Rename appear on the right-mouse menu, as we might wish.

    We're getting closer to eliminating the hair-trigger behavior without interfering with others. Keep sending those ideas in, and stay tuned.

    Brian Livingston is the co-author of Windows 95 Secrets Gold and four 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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