Apr 26, 2008, 14:47 GMT
Washington - Sometimes Windows works the way you want it to. Sometimes it doesn't. The challenge lies in knowing what to do when a riddle arises. What's the solution, for instance, when you double- click a file, and the wrong application tries to open it? Or what can you do about those annoying pop-up notifications that you get in the Windows taskbar? Read on for some answers.
Q: Every time I double-click on a file in Explorer with a. PAR extension, Windows automatically opens Macromedia Dreamweaver. The trouble is, my. PAR files are supposed to be opened by another program. I have both programs installed on my machine. How can I get Windows to use the right application when I double-click on these files?
A: Windows 'associates' certain types of files - usually identified by their extensions - with specific programs so that you can launch an application by selecting the file that created it rather than by first opening the program and then opening the file.
Unfortunately, as you've discovered, these associations occasionally go awry. Sometimes this is because a program 'grabs' file types for itself and sometimes it's because users inadvertently change default associations.
Luckily, you can usually fix the problem. In XP, open the Windows Explorer file manager, and select Options from the Tools menu. The Folder Options dialogue box opens. From there, click the File Types tab, and find the file extension you wish to associate with a particular program from the list of file types shown. When you find the file type, highlight it, and then click the Change button. From the resulting Open With dialogue box, locate the program you wish to use to open the file type. Select it, and click OK until you're out of all dialogue boxes.
In Vista, go to the Control Panel, and click Programs, and then select Default Programs. Then click the link labelled 'Associate a file type or protocol with a program,' and then follow the same procedure described for Windows XP.
This will fix any file association problems you encounter.
Q: It seems that with each new program I install, more and more little icons show up in my 'system tray' on the right side of the taskbar. How can I get rid of all this clutter?
A: System tray clutter is indeed a common complaint among Windows users. The problem is not only that those 'little icons' rob space from your taskbar; they're also typically associated with programs that are automatically started each time you boot up Windows. The result is longer boot up time.
Fortunately, getting rid of these little intruders is usually fairly straightforward. Sometimes, system tray icons are the result of program shortcuts placed in your Startup folder on your hard drive. To get rid of them, all you need to do is to open the Start menu and delete any items you find there that should not start when your computer does. Then reboot your computer.
If you still have too many icons in your taskbar, you can try a few other things. Some icons that install themselves in the system tray can be removed merely by right-clicking on them and choosing an option such as 'disable icon.' If you find that the method above does not remove the icon you no longer wish to see, try this method.
Finally, recognise that some taskbar icons are the result of components installed by applications, and the only way to remove them is to uninstall or deactivate the components. For this, you may need to look in the Control Panel's Add/Remove Programs section and change the installed components of a program.
Q: I find the balloon pop-up notification in the Windows system tray annoying. How can I get rid of them?
A: Microsoft calls these notices 'balloon tips.' You can get rid of these and a lot of other minor annoyances in XP by downloading the Tweak UI tool from the Microsoft Power Toys site (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.m spx). For Vista, download TweakVI from TotalIdea Software (http://www.totalidea.com/content/tweakvi/tweakvi-index.php). Each tool has a 'taskbar' section in which, among other things, you can control whether you receive any balloon notifications at all.
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