Category Archives: Windows Secrets

Three Fingered Salute

Control/Alt/Delete. Remember that?  It’s the old three fingered salute. It still works, it brings up the Task Manager, if you don’t already know but there’s a new kid on the block, a new three finger trick that will bring up another very handy menu.

The following trick will work in any version of Windows 7. It will probably work in other versions but I can’t test them. It will also work anywhere in Windows, on the desktop or in Windows Explorer.  Try it on your desktop first.

Click once anywhere on your desktop, on a folder or a blank space. Then, holding down the SHIFT key and the CONTROL key, right click your mouse. Depending on what programs you have installed on your computer, you’ll see a menu quite similar to this:

The New 3 Finger Salute Menu
Shift/Control and right click brings this menu up.

The important option for me in this menu is the ‘open command window here’. Using this menu, I can rename hundreds of files in one step as described here: Batch renaming of files.

This simple trick will save you some time if you use the command window frequently. I hope it helps!

Thanks for reading.



Ipconfig



Ipconfig seems like a strange title for a post, right? Once you see how ipconfig can help you, it might lose it’s strangeness.

I’ve written about the command prompt in previous posts. Here is one http://brianmahoney.ca/?s=command+prompt  The command prompt takes you back to the days of DOS but it’s more like a window into the soul of your computer. Consider Windows/OS X the dining room of a restaurant while the command prompt is the kitchen, where the actual works gets done.

If you start a command prompt (start/programs/accessories/command prompt) then type ipconfig , you’ll see something like this:

The Command Prompt Showing Ipconfig Results
The result of typing 'ipconfig' at the command prompt.

What does all of this mean? Well, a lot of it means nothing, quite frankly, but some of it is valuable if you get stuck and have to access your router. The IPv4 number is the IP address of your current computer. The Default Gateway number is the IP address of your computer. Ignore the other numbers.

I’m assuming that almost everyone who reads this is using a router to access the Internet. If your Internet goes down or your computer seems sluggish, there are a couple of things that ipconfig can help you with. One of them is the IP address of your router. This isn’t the same as the IP address that connects  you to the Internet, it’s the one that you use to connect your computer to the router. Basically there are three IP addresses that you would encounter every day. One is the IP address that your router feeds to your computer. The other is the one that you use to access your router. The third one, which doesn’t really matter unless you want to hide it from someone, is the one that your Internet provider sends to your router to allow it to connect to the Internet. Lots of numbers!

If you have to access your router, you would type an address something like this: 192.168.0.1 into your browser.  This number is the IP address of a D-Link router. Your router probably has a different number but many are quite similar. Some use the 192.168.1.1 combination instead. Assuming that you are connected to the router, typing in the router’s IP address and a password (default is admin), you can gain access to the router’s menu. This would allow you to change different settings or simply reset your Internet connection (instead of getting up and walking over to it and powering off the powering on again).

If your computer seems to be running slowly on the Internet, typing ipconfig  /renew will refresh the IP address of your current computer. Typing ipconfig  /? displays the full menu of commands for ipconfig.

Most of us use ipconfig to renew the IP address but, as you can see, there are many more things that this command can do.

Thanks for reading!



Save/Rename Proxy Pictures



Sometimes when we save a complete web page, as suggested in a previous post, we get a series of proxy files instead of .jpg files. Sure, we can right click each picture and save it individually but if there are fifty photos on the page, that takes a lot of time. Here’s an example of a page that I would normally save, just to get the photos: http://www.howtobearetronaut.com/2011/09/polaroids-1970s-by-anthony-perkins/

 

This is from one of my favorite sites, full of interesting photos of very unique parts of our history. If you look at the page, you’ll see a string of family photos from Anthony Perkins, maybe ten or so. I could right click and save these in a short time but this is an example, just to show you what can be done if there are thirty, fifty or a hundred photos on a page.

Instead of linking each photo to a .jpg file in a folder on the server, this page uses proxy files to feed the images. This is a more secure way to link pictures and their source on a website. Once you have downloaded this page, this is what you will see in the site folder on your computer:

A String of Proxy Files
Instead of .jpg files, you will see these proxy files.

Where you usually see .jpg files, in this case you will see proxy files. Actually, at this point, they aren’t even files since they don’t have any extension. Again, we could rename each one and add the .jpg file extension to it but you can see how long that would take. How can we rename and add a file extension more easily than that?

Yesterday, I wrote about adding a command window to our right click menu. That post is here.  These are the  steps that will make renaming and adding a file extension to all of these files a very simple job.

1. First, you need to separate the proxy files from the rest of the files in the folder. Create a new folder anywhere on your computer. Put one right on your desktop, if you want. Highlight all of the proxy files, right click them and choose copy. Paste them into the new folder that you created.

2. You will notice that there are far more proxy files in the folder than there were full size photos in the page. Don’t worry about that now.

3. This will be a two step process, only one of which uses the command prompt. Open the new folder, if it isn’t already, and highlight all the proxy files. We’re going to rename all the files at once, changing the ‘proxy(x)’ to something like ‘Polaroidx’. Highlight all of the files using Control/A (select all). Right click the blue selection and choose ‘Rename’. One of the files will show a flashing menu where you can type Poloroid  like this:

Type Poloroid in the Box
This is the first step, type Polaroid in the box.

Hit enter and every file in the folder will be renamed Polaroid, Polaroid1, Polaroid2, etc. That was quick, right? You can do this with any folder that you have, renaming your DSC files to something that sounds friendlier, for example. OK, the files are now renamed but they are still useless to use since we can’t open them, right? Back out of this folder but keep it in front of you on the desktop.

3. Holding down the Shift key, right click the  folder and choose ‘open command window here’.

Right Click Command Window Choice
Hold the shift key, right click and this is what you see.

4. A black background window with some white type on it will pop up. This is your command window, a very powerful (and fast) tool, if you know what you’re doing. Here’s the menu you should be seeing:

Command Window Open
This is the command window (used to be DOS prompt)

5. Here is where you can perform actions on the folder or everything in the folder. Click anywhere in the window to activate it, then type this:

ren * *.jpg       (like this: )

This is Where We Rename All of the Files
Type exactly what you see here.

OK, the ‘ren’ means ‘rename’. The ‘*’ means everything or all. The *.jpg means to rename everything that has a name before the period to the same name but add .jpg after the period. You can use ‘rename’ too but why bother?

5. Once you have typed EXACTLY what you see here, hit enter. The command window flashes and then sits quietly, waiting for more commands. Since we don’t need it anymore, close the window.

6. Open the folder and you’ll see this:

Renamed Files with File Extensions
Here is what we set out to do. Files are renamed and the .jpg extension has been added.

The next steps depend on what you’ve saved in the first place. In this case, some of the files are full-size, some are tiny. You’ll have to figure out which ones are the ones you want. Go up to the top right and change ‘details’ to ‘large icon’, then click each photo you want to save while holding the Control key. Once you’ve got them all selected, move them to another folder and delete the current folder.

TIP: If you know something about DOS, it would be easy to both rename the files and add the files extension in one step but I thought this would be less confusing. The simple ‘ren * *.jpg’ statement is far less confusing, in my opinion.

Thanks for reading!



Hidden Right Click Menu



The right click menu allows you to do many things in Windows; rename files, send files somewhere else, copy, delete, cut, etc. Did you know that there is a hidden right click menu? Let’s take a look at what it does. Here’s what I see when I right click a menu normally on my computer. Yours should look the same:

Normal Right Click Menu in Windows
This is what I see normally when I right click a folder.

Your menu should look much like this, except for Take Ownership and some of the program affiliations. You’ll see that I have a couple of Chinese programs on my computer. QQ Music is a lot of fun, don’t know a similar one in English. It’s cool for karaoke!

Here is the hidden right click menu. In order to get this menu, hold down the SHIFT key when you right click.

Windows Hidden Right Click Menu
Holding the shift key brings up this menu when you right click.

You’ll see that there are two different choices in the hidden menu, one of which adds enormous functionality which I will discuss tomorrow. ‘Open in new process’ and ‘Open command window here’ are the two additional choices.

Open in a new process – This opens the folder in a completely different part of Windows Explorer. If you have a folder open already, this will open it again in a new instance of Explorer, totally separate from the first, with a new place in your computer’s memory. If something happens in once instance, it won’t happen in the other since the two instances are completely separate. I would ignore this one for the time being. The next one is the important one here.

Open command window here – If any of you remember DOS or are used to using the command prompt for different purposes in Windows, Linux or OS X, you will know that this choice adds significantly more control. Consider this something like working on your computer’s brain or heart. There are many things that you can do in a command window that you can’t do normally in Windows.

Windows itself, as well as any other GUI or Graphical User Interface, always uses the command window, it just doesn’t show it to you while it’s working. Opening a command window here in the hidden menu is a kind of time travel. This is where Windows thinks you should start your journey when you open a command prompt normally :

Usual Command Window Menu
C:\Users\(you)> this is where you start normally.

When you open a command window using the hidden menu, you are whisked off to the folder that you are looking at, not some outland post where you would have to navigate your way through a DOS-looking set of instructions to get to the same spot. You’ll see something like this, depending on which folder you right click on :

Hidden Right Click Command Prompt
There you are, right at the folder's source.

See the difference? Sure, you could use a type of code to get to this folder but you’d have to go back to your root directory, C:/, then sort your way through endless directories to get to where you are now.  It can be done but who wants to go through that? Not me.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you a cool trick using the command window. The trick will eliminate several little bits of software that you have to install to do exactly the same thing that you can do in a command window. Check it out tomorrow.

Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter: @_BrianMahoney