YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Cutting Edge / Focus on Personal Technology | TECH

Redesigning the Desktop With Preferred Shortcut Icons

August 10, 2000|Jeff Levy

Q Is there a way I can change some of the Desktop shortcut icons I see every time I start Windows?

--Mildred S., Pasadena


A There are several different icons available in Windows. To change a Desktop shortcut icon right-click on the icon, click on Properties and then on the Shortcut tab, click on the Change Icon button. Windows will open c:windowssystemshell32.dll as the default source for icons. You can open another icon location by placing your cursor in the File name box and typing over the default location and replacing it with c:windowsmoricons.dll. Click OK or press the Enter key. When you find an icon you like, just click on it and then click OK.

Repeat Dialing to ISP

Q My computer uses a modem to connect me to the Internet. I frequently encounter a busy signal. Is there a way to have Windows redial the number automatically?

--Parker W., Thousand Oaks


A If your computer uses Windows Dial-up Network to connect to your Internet Service Provider, or ISP, you can set your connection to redial when it encounters a busy signal. Here's how:

Double-click on My Computer and then on Dial-up Network. Highlight the Dial-up connection that you'll be using and click on Connections on the Menu bar. Select Settings and then click on Redial to open the redial dialog box. Now you can select the number of times Windows will redial before giving up, and the length of time, in minutes and seconds, before the next attempt.

Copying Files

Q I work on a network computer that has its own hard drive and a Zip drive for backup. Is there an easy way for me to copy files or folders from the network drive to either my local hard drive or the Zip drive?

--Wallace L., Costa Mesa


A The easiest way to copy--not move--information from one source to another is to use the Copy and Paste functions provided by Windows. Here's how it works. You can right-click on My Computer and then click on Explore. Locate and double-click on the drive that has the file or folder you want to copy.

Drill down and locate that file or folder in the right pane. Right-click on the file or folder you wish to copy and then select Copy. You can now navigate to the local hard drive or Zip drive, place your cursor at the new location for the copied file or folder and then just right-click and select Paste.

Microsoft also provides drag-and-drop file copying with a program file called Winfile.exe. It lets you open two different windows on your computer screen and then drag and drop files and folders from one of the two open locations to the other.

Here's how to use Winfile.exe. Click on Start, select Run and then type "winfile" in the Open box. Clicking OK opens the program. Windows will display the drive currently open. Below that are buttons for each available drive. Select the drive that has the file or folder to copy. Now click on Window and then on New Window. In the new window select the destination drive--your Zip drive, for example. Click on Window again and select Tile Vertically.

Windows now displays both drives side by side on your screen. You can now click and drag files and folders from one drive to the other by clicking with the left button on the desired file or folder and holding the mouse button down as you drag it to its new location. Release the mouse button.

Off-line Microsoft Help

Q Is there some way I can get help from Microsoft without going through the Internet?

--Margo P., Long Beach


A Microsoft provided access to what it calls Microsoft Knowledge Base articles via e-mail, fax and phone. This database contains thousands of tech articles on any number of subjects relating to Microsoft products.

Unfortunately, Microsoft no longer provides these options. If you can't get connected to the Internet your choices are limited. You can contact the manufacturer of your PC if your question is about pre-installed Microsoft software. You can contact Microsoft telephone help but know that free telephone tech support may be limited to 90 days from the day you purchase your computer or Microsoft software package. After that, Microsoft will charge you $35 per incident. A single incident may take several calls to solve, buy you'll pay just one fee for that particular incident.

If you are connected to the Internet and need help, send an e-mail to In the Subject heading insert the word "index" (without the quotes). Leave the body of the e-mail blank. Microsoft will then e-mail you with a master index of the Knowledge Base articles. The index document also includes specific instructions for getting the articles you want.

Away With the Password

In past columns I have addressed PC passwords, both hardware and software. When you have given Windows a password and then forgotten it, you can still clear the password windows by clicking Cancel or pressing the Escape key. But there is a way to load Windows without that pesky password screen in the first place.

Here's how to do it. From your desktop click on Start and then on Find. Open Files or Folders and in the Named: box type *.PWL. (The * or asterisk is created by pressing and holding the Shift key and then pressing the 8 key.) Click OK or press the Enter key. If Windows locates a file that ends in .PWL right-click on the file and click Delete. Confirm by clicking Yes.

The next time you start Windows you will be asked to enter a user name and password. Enter a user name and when the cursor is in the Password field press Enter. Now Windows will open without asking you for a user name or password.


Jeff Levy hosts the "On Computers" radio talk show from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on KFI-AM (640). He can be reached at

Los Angeles Times Articles