What I had to do to get Windows 95 running the way I wanted

After I started using Windows 95 on some of my computers, I started looking for ways to customize the environment so it would be more to my liking. This document is a chronological explanation of some of the more arcane changes. I maintain this document so that I can quickly and easily find the information I need when I have to set up another machine the same way.

You are welcome to use any or all of the suggestions below; of course, I cannot assume any responsibility for any bad things that happen to you because you follow (or fail to follow) my instructions. However, I will gladly accept credit for any of the good things that happen.

As a point of departure, I installed Win 95 onto a new disk using the OEM (not the "upgrade") version. The OEM version will not bring in previously installed apps from an existing copy of Win3; in fact, it won't even proceed to install (after a 10 minute penalty) if it finds a Windows directory on your disk.

After using Windows 95 for a while, I started to run into some hard to solve problems, which I have also tried to document herein.

Things I have done:

Things I still want to find out how to do:

Initial setup

I set up Windows 95 on a new disk, from CD. To do so, I had to boot DOS first and create a FAT partition using FDISK and format it with FORMAT. I then booted from a floppy that had DOS, along with the drivers for my CDROM (ASPI drivers in CONFIG.SYS and MSCDEX in AUTOEXEC.BAT). I told MSCDEX to assign E: to the CDROM drive (with the L:E switch). I then ran SETUP.EXE from the root of E:.

The first thing I do after an initial setup is to install MS Powertoys. This is a free download from MS. I do it right away because it allows me to turn off "add 'shortcut to' to all shortcut names".

Assigning letter E: to the CDROM drive

Win95 called my CDROM drive D:, beacuse it chooses the lowest available letter by default.

I like to use letter E: for my CDROM, and do this on all the machines that I set up, regardless of operating system, if I can.This leaves D: free for adding another hard disk later.

I also found that, since I had called the CDROM E: when I originally set up Win95, that Win95 wanted to look for E: whenever it needed more file from the CD at a later date, such as when adding a printer driver. It would be more convenient to have the CDROM as E: for this reason also.

Putting REGEDIT on the start menu

REGEDIT.EXE, in the Windows directory, gets used so often when setting up Windows that I recommend putting it right on the start menu before proceeding any further.

Reducing the start menu delay time

Getting rid of the logo on startup

Getting rid of the annoying logo on startup will enable you to see messages on the screen during bootup that would otherwise have been covered up. Edit C:\MSDOS.SYS (it's a flat ASCII file) and add
to the

Before editing MSDOS.SYS for the first time, you will have to remove the hidden, readonly, and system attributes. This is done from the command line with the following command:

attrib -s -h -r msdos.sys

Changing the program associated with a given file type

There seems to be two ways to do this.

The simple way is to open up any "explorer" window and choose View/Options from the menu, then click on the File Types settings page.

Highlight any file type and you will see the associated program. To change it, click "edit" or simply double click on the file type. This opens up a dialog box.

In the dialog box, double click on "open". Specify what program you want to associate with the file. That's usually all you have to do.

Next time you double click on a file of that type, the app you specified will be called, with the name of the file as a parameter, unless you checked "use DDE" in the dialog. If you use DDE, the target application is passed the name of the file you clicked via DDE. The advantage to this is that, if the target app was already open, it can accept the new filename via DDE and act on it. If DDE is not used, a second (or third or fourth) copy of the target app needs to be started in order to receive the name of the file you clicked via the command line. This takes extra time and uses up system resources.

Unfortunately, to use DDE, you have to know exactly how to set up the call in the dialog box. I do not know how to do this, but usually when a program installs file associations, it puts them in DDE format. Just how this is (was) done for that application is one of the key pieces of information you lose when another app clobbers the association that was already set up.

The second way to set up an association involves using REGEDIT. Inside the registry, under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, is a list of all of the registered file extensions, followed by a list of all of the registered file types. By looking at some of the associations that are already set up, you will see that each extension points to a file type. Each file type, under its "shell" suboption, lists the "open" action and, under that, defines what happens when that action is undertaken.

How to fool Win95 into letting me connect to remote systems with Netscape and Eudora

If you have installed the Plus! CD, you have an obnoxious "The Internet" icon on the desktop. Running this runs the MS Web browser, which brings up a dialer to let you connect to your service provider (I assume it isn't MS Net).

I had been connecting in that manner. I found that once I had accessed one page using the MS browser, I could then start Netscape or Eudora and they would work. This was before I found where the dialer is hidden.

The dialer can be found in the "Accessories" group under the start menu. If you browse ("open") the start menu, go into the accessories folder, and try to open "Dial up networking", you get a window containing an icon to set up a new connection, plus an icon for each connection that you have already set up. Set up a connection, then right click on it and choose "create shortcut". This lets you put a shortcut to the dialer on the desktop, which is then easy to move to wherever you really want it.

Click on the icon you thus created and log in before you start Netscape and/or Eudora.

Making Win95 boot to dos without starting the GUI

Put BootGUI=0 in the top section of MSDOS.SYS. After booting, you can still start the GUI by typing WIN.

Adding programs to the "send to" item on the right-click menu

There is a folder (i.e., subdirectory) to the Windows directory called "SendTo". Anything in this subdirectory becomes an item in the "send to" menu which is accessible when you right click any file system object.

Put shortcuts to items in that folder in the usual manner. Once this has been done, choosing those menu items after right clicking on a file system object will do the same thing as dragging the file system object and dropping it on the item which the shortcut represents.

I put Vuern Buerg's LIST, NOTEPAD, and my Laserjet printer on the "send to" menu, and removed the 5.25" B: drive, which I don't seem to ever use any more.

Adding programs to the context-sensitive part of the right click menu

When you double click on a file system object, it usually opens up if it's a folder or runs if it's a program or .bat file. If it's a data file, often it launches an associated application.

I wanted to find a way to control which application launches when a data file is clicked on.

The program associated with a given data file is set in the "settings" notebook within Explorer. Windows lumps files together by extension; for instance, all .BMP files will have the same associated app(s).

It happens that if you right click on a data file object, you get a menu, the topmost part of which varies according to the extension of the file you clicked on. For instance, on my system, if I right click on a .BAT file, I get three choices in the context-sensitive part of the menu: Open, Print, and Edit.

It turns out that these context-sensitive items are configurable by you, the user. They also are configurable by program actions, and sometimes get altered when you install a new program (for instance, after installing Corel Draw, the "open" item on the menu for .JPG files runs Photo-Paint, where it used to run IEXPLORE.)

To see what a menu item does, change it, remove it, or add a new one:

Applications that you install usually mess with the "open" choice, if they mess with the choices at all. If you have made a new menu choice, hopefully it does not get trashed during a later install. I like to add more specific choices; for instance, underneath the .TXT files, I have options for: Print using Wordpad, Edit using Notepad, View using LIST. The old "open" item is still there,too, but it is no longer the default; View using LIST is.

This technique offers a partial solution to the problem of newly-installed apps changing file associations: if you have taken the time to copy the attributes of the "open" item to a new item with another name, this new item may survive a later app install and thereby preserve your previous settings.

Making a program appear on the context-sensitive part of the right click menu for files of unknown types

The first thing to do is add the "unknown" type to the list of known file types. Then the desired app associations can be added to the popup menu in the usual manner. Save the following code to a text file with a .REG extension, for instance, call it "ADDTYPES.REG". This REGEDIT script is also supposed to add a "*" type to the registry, to which you can assign actions that will appear on every context-sensitive menu. I have found that this script did not add the "*" type on every system I have tried it on.




Find the file you just created and right click it. Choose "merge" from the context menu that appears.

Getting long filenames to work on my Netware 3.11 server

Certain Win 95 programs cannot function properly without long filename support, as they use such filenames for their own files. (Incidentally, Office for Win 95 can be installed without using long filenames by running SETUP /N.)

Long filename support is provided by adding the OS/2 name space support to the server volume.

Here are brief instructions:

Getting long filenames to work on my Netware 4.1 server

Why don't any of my DOS apps work anymore? Where did all the conventional memory disappear to?

Suddenly, I start up my PC, and none of my DOS apps work any more! They all report insufficient memory. MEM reports only 450K free, whether I run it from inside a DOS box in the GUI or whether I boot without entering the GUI.

MEM says that there is no high or upper memory available. Where did it go?

MAPMEM and DEVICE report that there are no extra drivers loaded beyond the ASPI drivers and mouse driver that I had had loded previous to the problem.

Looks like MS forgot to include MSD with WIn95. Quarterdeck's Manifest, the latest version of which was a dual-mode (dos/win) program, comes up in the Win mode whether I run it from the GUI or from a DOS command line in a DOS session, and in that mode it immediately hangs. Only by setting BOOTGUI=0 in MSDOS.SYS and rebooting can I start MFT in the DOS mode, where it works, and immediately shows me that all that memory is being used by DBLSPACE.

DBLSPACE? I'm not using doublespace! How does it get loaded? There are no references to it in MSDOS.SYS, CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, or and .INI files I can find. How did it get loaded? I have no idea. I know that I have not compressed any drives with it, so the problem is simply to get rid of it.

Using FIND in the dtart menu and looking for DBLSPACE.*, I find a likely culprit: DBLSPACE.BIN is a hidden file in the root directory. Maybe it gets loaded automatically if it's there. I rename this file, and also rename both instances of DBLSPACE.SYS that the FIND utility turns up. After doing this and rebooting, everything is back to normal.

Putting "My computer" and "Network Neighborhood" right on the Start menu as virtual folders

I use the two objects mentioned in the title so much that sometimes I want to get at them right from the start menu, without having to uncover them on the screen or get to them through the Explorer. While it is possible to put shortcuts to them on the Start menu, it's better to put them on the Start ment as "Virtual folders". This makes the contents of the folders always match the actual object automatically.

It taks a little fancy typing (or cut from here and paste it in) to set this up, but it only has to be done once (per install). If you get it right, you will see the familiar icon in the start menu, and the contents will be correct. if you get it wrong, you will see an ordinary folder icon in the start menu, and the folder will be empty. if this happens, just delete it and try again.

For instance, you can create a new folder in your Start Menu, and name it "My Computer.{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}"

Here are the resource IDs to use for other objects:

Keeping music CDs from playing automatically when inserted without disabling autonotification of data CD insertions

The only way I have found to do this is to install Microsoft's free "powertoys" utilities. The "tweak ui" icon this set of utilities adds to control panel contains a properties page that allows you to select whether to autoplay data or music cds seperately. It's there, but I don't think it always works. Still, it's worth a try, and the powertoys are worth installing for some of the other features anyway.

By Steve Runyon