The Registry Revisted

Take a tour of the finer points of the Win98 Registry in these excerpts from John Woram's new book, The Windows 98 Registry: A Survival Guide for Users.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 20, 2003

6 Min Read

Shorting Some Shortcut Icons
The Explorer tab in Tweak UI for Win98 makes it easy for you to change the Windows shortcut overlay icon from the default small arrow to whatever you prefer, including nothing at all. But once the novelty wears off, most users reinstate the little visual cue that distinguishes a shortcut from everything else on the Desktop; it avoids confusion. However, a bit of creative cheating is all it takes to remove some shortcut overlays while leaving others in place. Here's how.

You may have already noticed that if the shortcut arrow is disabled via Tweak UI, it still shows up in the corner of a URL icon. That's because a file with a URL extension is an Internet shortcut, controlled by its own Registry rules. It's unlikely you'll confuse this kind of shortcut with an actual application, so you can get rid of its shortcut overlay by opening the Registry and drilling down to HKCR\InternetShortcut. Highlight and then delete the IsShortcut entry in the Name column. Now scroll up to the URL key, highlight it, open the Edit/New menu and select the Key option. Name the new key ShellNew (one word), then select Edit/New again to add a String Value named NullFile. The next time Windows 98 opens, all URL shortcuts will no longer display the little shortcut arrow in the corner of the icon, and the New menu (in Windows Explorer or in a Context menu, for example) will include an Internet Shortcut option.

Now just because this option says it's an Internet shortcut, that doesn't mean you can't use it for something else-such as a standard application shortcut. For example, create a new Internet Shortcut icon on the Desktop, right-click on it, select Properties from the Context menu and enter C:\Progra~1\Access~1\MSPAINT.EXE in the Target URL box. Windows gets confused if you enter a path with spaces and long names in this box (for example, C:\Program Files\Accessories\MSPAINT.EXE) and tries to set up an http://link, so remember to use the "~1" convention. Then click on the Apply button; Windows rewrites the line as file:///C:/Progra~1/Access~1/MSPAINT.EXE.

Now use the Change Icon button to select an icon from the MSPAINT.EXE file, and you'll finally have an "Internet Shortcut" that really isn't-instead, it's an arrowless URL shortcut that launches the Paint application on your hard drive. Modify the instructions above to create your own arrowless shortcuts.

Get Real
Having trouble with a particular part of the Registry? You can remove a troublesome Registry key in real mode before opening Windows. At the command prompt, type REGEDIT /D path, where path is the complete path to the key you want to remove. First make a backup, though, just in case you run into problems.

Fixing the Fonts List
If you look closely, you'll notice some subtle differences in your C:\WINDOWS\FONTS folder in a DOS window and in an Explorer window. For example, although a DOS listing of hidden screen-font files (DIR *.FON /AH) usually shows 18 files, only five appear in the Explorer window. An easy-but only temporary-workaround to this problem is to use Win98's Start/Find/Files or Folders option to search for all files named *.FON. You'll see all FON files in your C:\WINDOWS\FONTS folder. Just double-click on the file icon to display its contents. But for a more permanent and convenient solution-one that shows all your system's FON files in an Explorer window-a couple of quick Registry hacks are in order.

This anomaly occurs because Windows Explorer shows only those FON and other files cited in the first Registry key listed here:



The first key lists TrueType fonts and third-party FON files (if any) on your system. However, it lists those FON files found in only one variation of the second key listed above, where xxx is either 120 or 96. You'll see the fonts cited in the 120 key if your system is configured for large fonts; you'll see those in the 96 key if your system is configured for small fonts. In either case, fonts listed in the unused numbered key (120 or 96, depending on the selected font size), and in both of the corresponding System subkeys, are not displayed in the Explorer window, even though they are present in the C:\WINDOWS\FONTS folder.

If you add the name of any such "missing" font file to the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows
\CurrentVersion\Fonts list, you'll see it the next time you open the FONTS folder in Explorer. To do so, just add one or more new lines, as shown here:





DOS applications


Make sure the Name entry is suitably descriptive and does not duplicate an existing entry. Restart Windows, and the font will be listed in the Explorer window. Again, just double-click on the file icon to display its contents.

There's No Comparison ...
That is, unless you exported copies of a Registry key before and after conducting some Registry-altering operation. In that case, use your word processor or a dedicated file-comparison utility if you want to see changes made to a particular key after an edit.

Network Connections
A few quick adjustments to the Registry can also help stabilize network-drive mappings. For instance, if you map a network drive to a local drive letter and check the Reconnect At Logon box, Windows will expect to find that network drive every time it starts. If it is not available, a "connection not available" or "share name not found" message will appear, along with a Yes/No prompt to try again next time. Unfortunately, if you click on the No button, Windows will delete the connection record from the Registry.

If this is a recurring problem because various network drives are frequently unavailable-yet the same drive mappings are regularly needed when they are available-here's a fix: Set up the desired drive mappings and export the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Network\Persistent key structure. Then create a shortcut to the key on the Desktop or in some other convenient location. Now, you can just double-click on that shortcut to restore lost drive mappings that become available again after Windows has opened.

Want More?
These five pages are just teasers for the 400-plus pages' worth of tips, tricks and techniques you'll find in the actual book. Hopefully, I've left you thirsting for more. Still, the tidbits you found here should be enough to get you started with some Win98 Registry hacks of your own.

Consulting editor John Woram is the author of The Windows 98 Registry: A Survival Guide for Users (MIS:Press, 1998).

© 1999 Windows Magazine -- February 1999, Page 175.
[ Table of Contents for February 1999 ]

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