On screen keyboard:


Here's a quick tip on how to access the on screen keyboard. It can be very handy when there are broken keys on you laptop keyboard.


  • Click on start at the bottom left corner.
  • Choose run and type OSK
  • Then the keyboard will come up (pictured below)


Another way:


  • Click on start at the bottom left corner.
  • Then choose All Programs>Accessories>Accessibility>Onscreen keyboard



If you want to use this keyboard regularly you can make a shortcut to it on the desktop.


Here's how:


  • Right click on the desktop
  • Choose new. Then choose shortcut.
  • Type osk, click next, and then click finish.
  • An icon will now be on the desktop.



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Show desktop icon:


If you have accidentally deleted your show desktop icon from your desktop or quick launch toolbar, here are some ways to get it back. The show desktop icon, when clicked on, brings up your Windows desktop.


This is a handy little trick that I recommend for every computer user out there. Clicking on the show desktop icon will minimize every window that is open to show your DESKTOP. How great is that.


To get a show desktop icon in your Quick Launch toolbar you simply have to enable the Quick Launch Toolbar. However if you have previously had the Quick launch toolbar enabled but have deleted the show desktop icon there a few ways to get it back.


  • Open Notepad and type the following text. (or copy and paste it)






  • Save the text you typed as file name "Show Desktop.scf" to your desktop.
  • Now the show desktop icon will be on your desktop and you can drag it to the quick launch toolbar.



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Change a drive letter:


Change your hard drive or dvd drive letter in Windows XP. If your main hard drive is C: and your CD drive is D: you can rename D: to E: F: G: and so on.. This is necessary because Windows XP automatically chooses the drive letters.


Although the drive letters A and B are reserved for floppy disk drives, every other letter in the alphabet is available to be assigned to the hard drives in a computer. The main hard drive, by default, is always C drive. When you add more hard drives or CD drives, Windows XP assigns a drive letter to them automatically.


If you don't like what drive letter Windows XP has assigned, it is your choice to change it. I usually like the hard drives set with drive letter that run in a row. For example, I have 2 hard drives with drive letters C and D. The CD drive and DVD drive are E and F.


Here's how to change a hard drive letter in Windows XP:


  • Go to the Start Menu, choose Control Panel.
  • Then double click on the Administrative Tools, then Computer Management.
  • Choose Disk Management in the left side menu. Then you see all your drives listed in the right side.
  • Right-click on the drive you want to change.
  • Then choose Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  • Click Change, then click Assign the following drive letter, choose the drive letter you want to assign, and then click OK.

Warning: Changing the drive letter of a volume could cause programs to no longer run.



You can also change the name of a drive.


By default, Windows names the C: drive as "Local Disk", you can choose a different name if you want to. You can change a drive name just like any folder name or file name, Here's how:


  • Go to My Computer
  • Right click the drive, click "rename"
  • Then enter a name


Note: You can change the name of USB drives and iPods too.



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Use XP file compression to save space:


If hard disk space is getting tight on your system, Windows XP includes a built in file compression feature which can save considerable space. To activate file compression on a file or folder highlight the file or folder you want to compress, right click it and select "properties." Hit the "advanced" button at the bottom of the screen.


Choose the "compress contents to save disk space" option. Hit "ok" twice and you will be prompted to apply the compression to just that file or folder or any subfolders and files that may exist under it. Choose and click "ok".


Windows will compress the contents of the file or folder (which may take a while on a slower PC). You will notice the icon text of the compressed folder is now blue to indicate its status.



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View PowerPoint documents without PowerPoint:


If you use certain versions of Microsoft Office, you might be frustrated by the lack of the PowerPoint application for creating and viewing presentations. This can be especially frustrating if you need to view someone else"s essential PowerPoint slides. Fortunately, Microsoft offers a free PowerPoint viewer which you can use to open (but not edit) power point presentations in Windows XP.


You can get it here. Microsoft also offers equivalent viewers for Word and Excel files if you are in a pinch.



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Use a free, full featured office suite:


Microsoft Office is expensive, but pretty much standard in the working world these days. Other word processors like WordPerfect are available, but these come with a cost attached also. There is a way to get a full-featured, Microsoft compatible office software suite completely free though. It's called Open Office.


Open Office is an offshoot of the successful commercial Star Office suite for Linux and Windows. Open Office is completely free and is constantly being worked on and updated by the Linux and Windows user community. The interface may be considerably different from Office, but the functionality is essentially the same and you can't argue with the price. Try it out.



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Tips & tricks