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Welcome to AskAW! This section of our web site lets you submit questions about any problems/queries that you may have about Windows. Be it from a little icon that annoys you to hardware freezing your PC, we will try and help you out. You can submit your questions by e-mailing us at  You can browse through previous questions over at our Archive Page.  Who knows what you might find.

Here are the questions for: 11-13-1999

Hi there. Just a few quick questions.

First of all, I am using Win98 SE. At some point or another, I noticed that
my 'favorites' and my start menu programs are no longer alphabetized when
adding something new. I am not quite sure when this started to happen, but
I was wondering if you know of a fix for this?

This is happening because Win98SE lets you rearrange commands in these menus
manually.  These menus will default to alphabetical order, but once you
start rearranging them yourself this no longer happens.  Here's what you do:
Open up your registry editor (start regedit.exe) and navigate to
der.  Under this you'll see a folder for Favorites and Start Menu, and under
each of these will be folders that represent their respective menu
structures.  Ok, so lets say that the folder "Games" under Start Menu is no
longer being alphabetized.  Click the games folder and you'll see a binary
key that describes how all the items in the Games folder are ordered.
Delete the key.  With no information on how to order itself, the Games menu
defaults back to alphabetical order.
Of course you can also just click and drag the items in the menu and sort
them yourself. - Cort Tompkins

If you have IE5 installed (which Win98 SE comes with) you will notice that when you right click on any of the menu items of the Start-Menu or Favorites-menu there should will be an item towards the bottom called "Sort by Name". Clicking on that item will alphabetize the respective menu. - Avi Burstein

The second thing was that I used to be able to launch the 'printers' folder,
and the control panel with the Windows key + p or Windows key + c. For some
reason this no longer works. I can still launch the 'run' command, or the
Windows explorer with win key + r, and win key + e respectively. Again, any

Thank you for your time.

Did you have MS IntelliKey software installed earlier?  These commands
aren't normally used under Windows but they get added if IntelliKey software
is installed.  You should definitely check out WinKey
(, a very nice free utility
from Copernic Technologies, Inc. that allows you to create your own Winkey
shortcuts to programs, as well as Control Panel, Printers, Minimize,
Maximize, My Computer, Recycle Bin, etc. - Cort Tompkins

I can probably figure out the registry entries with a little time, but here's an easier and better solution: Download the free program called Winkey which lets you remap the standard Win98 shortcut keys such as Win+E & Win+R, etc. to whatever other program you desire. It also allows you to set them back to their default settings. In addition, this fabulous freebie allows you to make shortcut keys to any other programs, folders or objects (such as Control Panel applets, etc), using the Windows key as the shortcut, something that the standard Win98 interface does not allow you to do. So now instead of it being a cumbersome Ctrl+Shift+W to open Word, you can simply do Win+W in it's place.
The website is  The download size is approximately half a Megabyte.
Hope these answers make your computing life a little more pleasant!
- Avi Burstein


I just like to know: does Win2000 betas work faster or slower as compared to WinNT ? (this is question because win2k is MUCH bigger than NT4)
Assume Pentium II-400Mhz, 384MB SDRAM.
thanks in advance!

I haven't done a whole lot with 2000 yet,
but it seems be as fast as NT4.0 on my Pentium 100, which doesn't even meet
the minimum requirements for 2000. :) If you are wondering about server
performance, I can't comment on that, it wouldn't let me install Server,
because it requires 64MB of RAM. - Dave Hampson

Windows 2000 does run faster than NT4 and faster than win98 though boot-up
takes roughly the same amount of time as NT4 due to the fact that it looks
and setups up new networking connections everytime you boot into windows.
The performance also can be tweaked by increasing the allowed size of
pagefile.sys, on my system I would lose resources faster in win98 than in
win2k. - Mike Pelletier

When I'm on the Internet and a page is loading, etc. and I try to move
the mouse pointer it does not respond. I know the mouse is okay (ball
clean, etc.) and it does work okay when not on the net. It appears that
the CPU is giving priority to the data coming in and failing (or
ignoring) to register the mouse pointer properly. Is this common with
Windows 98 or should (or could) something be tweaked to compensate the
problem? It's not awfully bad but just irritating as I try to move the
pointer to get ready for the next thing I want to do when the page loads
and I wind up having to lift the mouse up and reposition it on the pad so I don't run off the edge.


It seems that your mouse is using the same IRQ as your modem is so as soon as you get online and the modem "kicks in" you lose control of your mouse. (Although I'm not sure what repositioning the mouse on the pad would help. Maybe I'm not understanding the problem correctly.) If that is the problem, you'll have to go into Device Manager and play around with the IRQ settings for the modem from there. They probably are set to COM1/IRQ4. Try to switch them to another available COM port. In case it's not a Plug-and-Play modem, you might have to open up the case and take out the modem to physically adjust some jumpers. I don't think that's something that I can walk you through, but head on over to for an in-depth explanation and guide to understanding exactly what I'm referring to. - Avi Burstein

This is an update to a previous Ask AW question. Here's the question and answer that we gave:

Why does Windows tends to crash more often when you installed it a long time ago?
Why does IE crashes so often? hehee
Is there a way to avoid crashes, or freezes (like IE)?
my IE crashes like once per day or two and it's kind of annoying
hope you can help

Basically your /Windows/ directory gets crowded and I've seen it as big as a gigabyte. This causes problems believe it or not with explorer.exe which is the shell of Windows and other files in your /system/ directory. The only real thing that works is to do clean installs every month, thats what I did before upgrading to Windows 2000. I do not experience anything like that in Windows 2000, so I think MS fixed it. Hopefully it will be fixed in Windows Millennium, but we'll have to see. - Dennis Gregory

This is what another reader had to say:

I have another tweak to tell the whole world after reading Guillaume's post regarding Windows and IE crashing.

This will not stop Internet Explorer from freezing, but it can stop it from taking down Windows with it.

Not sure about older versions, but in IE5, click on Tools, Internet Options, choose the Advanced tab, and tick "Open browser in a separate process" under Browsing. The next time IE stops responding, and you have to End Task it, it will only close IE, and not the rest or Windows


Thanks Robo!

The background for my computer is called "Plus".  It's the Windows logo with
the multi colored flag running through it.  I downloaded a Thanksgiving
theme and it "took over" the Plus.   I went to Windows Explorer and deleted
the unzipped file and folder that contained the background but it remains as
the background.  Can you help me restore the original background?  Thanks.

I'm assuming you're referring to MS Plus!. You can get your Plus application back by going to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Desktop Themes > And select your theme. OR Right click on your desktop and select Properties and in your Background Tab, there should be some kind of MS Plus! Background option and select it and press OK. - Dennis Gregory

On the keyboard I've noticed that the print screen key has SysRq printed on it as well. It's on all the Keyboards I've ever seen from the PCjr to the current system I have now. Do you know what it does? Is it for something in DOS as it was around before windows was even invented?

Yes, keyboards were around long before even windows was invented and the
three keys near SysRq all date back to DOS and before.  The use of the SysRq
key is very obscure.  The only information I've been able to find on SysRq
is that it stands for "System Request" and that on an AS/400 machine,
pressing Shift-SysRq would bring up a kind of interrupt screen featuring a
menu.that would allow the user to bring up a command line, pause or cancel
they current running job, etc.  It has no use (other than PrintScrn, of
course) in windows.

The print screen key originally sent the screen to the printer (in windows
it saves a screenshot to the clipboard).  The pause key originally (and
still does), suspended the execution of a batch file, program, etc.  Next
time your system is booting up hit the pause key and it'll hang there until
your press any key to resume execution.  Ctrl-Pause (or Ctrl-Break) will
halt the execution of a DOS batch file or program.  The Scroll Lock key
still gets some use today.  Most programs that implement the scroll lock key
do so in such a way that when scroll lock is activated, the arrow keys will
control the scrollbars, and when not activated they'll do something else
(move between fields, etc.).
- Cort Tompkins

Hi there!
I'm very very annoyed by the way IE5's caching mechanism. On one hand, it
is the best Offline browser I've ever used. I just browsed all the
websites then log off to re-browse them offline. This saves my time and
money. :) And on the other hand, it caches EVERYTHING! This included
password-protected pages!

For examples, I access my Hotmail account and read some of my mails there.
After login, all the pages resides in a secured pages. That's fine for the
security reason. Now, AFTER I log off my Internet connection. I configured
my IE5 not to save any password-protected pages.
BUT! I can even return to my mails that I read from Hotmail! I just use
the History feature and voila! All my mails can be read by just simply
clicking them!
I thought it might just because of Hotmail behaves. But, it even happens
to other protected sites after logoff! I tried many web-based email
services and I just simply can re-enter the site!
So, why is this happening? Hope you can explain this :)

Hotmail really isn't a password protected site, they use cgi to password it and thats different. If your mail is that secret, I recommend deleting your Cache after viewing your email. You can do that by right clicking Internet Explorer on your desktop and selecting Delete Files in the Temporary Internet Files section of the General tab. - Dennis Gregory

OK, I've got a question that's been bothering me for months now.
Maybe the Ask AW team can help me out. Your web site has a lot of
good Windows tweaks and registry tweaks, so I'm hoping you guys can
come through. When you run IE5 in full screen mode at 800x600 res and
open up your favorites (bookmarks), notice how it scrolls off the
screen once you click on a web site. But when running IE5 in full
screen mode at 1024x768 res, when you open up the favorites that push
pin is pushed in, meaning that it does not scroll off the screen by
default. I have to depress that little pin every time I run IE5 in
order to make it scroll away. Can you guys come up with a registry
tweak that will make the push pin be out by default in 1024x768 res
instead of being in? This is a real pet peeve of mine :-)

Mike - Loyal ActiveWindows Reader

I actually don't even think thats possible, I think thats something only Microsoft can do. I'll check it out and get back to you. - Dennis Gregory

As far as I am concerned, if you right click in a blank space on the small
bar while IE5 is in Full screen mode at 1024x768 res, there is an option to
turn on auto hide. This will allow you too just move your mouse near the
side that your bar is on and it will drop down automatically. When the mouse
is moved away, the bar will retreat within a few seconds. - Shaun Williams

Iím curious if Windows 2000 will support DirectX. Iím somewhat of a power user and would prefer 2000, but at the same time Iím an avid gamer.

I am running Win2000 Pro RC2, and it currently is running DirectX 7.0, so I
think Windows2000 will be exactly what you are looking for if you play games
and are a power user. Just make sure you have a power system to run it. :)  - Dave Hampson

Yes. - Cort Tompkins

I'm pretty well versed on Windows 95/98, and know almost every customization and tweak on the planet, however, there is one that has me stumped. Is there any method to altering the image on the left side of the main start menu? I'm referring to the blue line the reads vertically "Windows 98," that is left of the Programs, Favorites, Documents, Settings, etc... I figured it has to be contained in a bitmap _somewhere_ and I'd really like replace this with my own color selection.
Rich B

The bitmap to which you're referring (as well as the bitmap of the Start
Menu's window icon) is stored as a resource inside explorer.exe. As a
general rule, editing explorer.exe is not a good idea. There have been
utilities that will do this for you, but since you're actually editing
explorer.exe, it is extremely version specific, and I haven't seen such a
utility for Win98. If you really feel the need to brand your StartMenu, you
can, however, replace the icons next to "Run," "Help," "Find," etc. There's
a utility called DecoMenu, written by Neil Rubenking, which automates the
process. The free utility can be downloaded from If you
want to do it manually the preceding page gives an explanation of that as
well. -
Cort Tompkins

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