Readers with ideas write to Windows Secrets

Notable Microsoft user-interface features of historic and recent varieties prompted Windows Secrets articles — and reader responses. In addition, a reader offers suggestions on how to manage resource hoggery.

How to contain a mess: Minimize the Ribbon

Re: Woody Leonhard’s Feb. 9 story, “How to change Microsoft’s %$#@! Ribbon”

► Thanks for your Ribbon reference article in the February 9 issue; I can be counted as one of the haters.

One of my biggest pet peeves about the Ribbon is its messiness. Fortunately, you can minimize the Ribbon; this works great for the visually distracted like myself and for people who want to see more of their document and less of the Ribbon. Office 2007 has a command nicely hidden in the down arrow to the right of the quick-access toolbar. Unfortunately, Microsoft messed me up again with Office 2010, replacing the nice old trick with a new arrow that directly minimizes the Ribbon — although once you know it’s there, the new method is actually easier. [You can also minimize the Ribbon by double-clicking a Ribbon tab. — Ed.]

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This trick is also helpful for people who have to use onscreen or virtual keyboards to type on the new short/wide screens (versus the older, taller screens where you saw more content than now). Nothing like a monitor aspect-ratio change along with the Ribbon to mess you up.

Regardless, I’m still awaiting a “switch to classic view” command (classic being 2003 or earlier) for Office. Until then, thank God I’m a keyboard-command guy who believes in the “mouseless way” — or should I say the “way of the keyboard”?     —Steve Terhljan

Reader takes cues from two articles

Re: Woody Leonhard’s Feb. 23 story, “The Windows Start menu super guide — Part I,” and Lincoln Spector’s Feb. 23 story, “Smart configuration tricks for Win7 Explorer”

► Just had a couple comments about Woody Leonhard’s article, “The Windows Start menu super guide — Part I,” in the February 23 newsletter. In the “Pinning folders and files to the Start menu” section he says, “There is, unfortunately, not a simple way to pin a folder to the taskbar.” But in the previous section, he identified the location where the taskbar shortcuts are stored (C:usersyour nameAppDataRoamingMicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick LaunchUser PinnedTaskBar). Why not simply create a shortcut to a folder from this location?

Also in this issue, in “Keeping folders at hand on the taskbar,” Lincoln Spector points out how easy it is to pin folders to the list within the Windows Explorer taskbar icon. Of course, this is two clicks compared to one, if you prefer a folder pinned directly to the taskbar. Seems like you could make pinning folders to the taskbar easier by combining the previous two methods. Pin a shortcut to the taskbar shortcut folder in the Windows Explorer icon list. Then use that shortcut as quick access to that folder when you need to create a shortcut to a folder you want pinned to the taskbar. Of course, it doesn’t beat a drag-and-drop!     —Todd Henry

Keep your caches clean and other good thoughts

Re: Fred Langa’s March 1 story, “Readers react to antivirus ‘resource pig’ story”

► I finally got around to reading last week’s newsletter and found your “Readers react to antivirus ‘resource pig’ story.” That article reminds me of a familiar misconception about AV programs.

I’m proud that, over the years, I’ve continued to keep the monitor component (WinPatrol.exe) robust and nearly invisible to high-CPU-[use] detectors. This is due to the methodology I use, the fact that WinPatrol is still written in C, and that I eat my own dog food by using WinPatrol on all my computers.

Every now and then, I get an e-mail from someone using a CPU monitor who tells me that WinPatrol.exe is out of control. Over the years, I’ve found an answer to this problem that works every time. I’m sure other AV programs and MSE experience similar issues. Since I’m the only support person, I learn from experience, not a script.

Most of the time, we’ve solved the problem by cleaning up the cache/temporary Internet folder. Even on computers that don’t use IE, there is something weird about the temp folder when it gets too large. I’ve seen everything from right-clicking failures to high CPU usage that went away once this folder was cleaned up and set to a smaller size.

Any corruption in the registry will cause multiple reads, resulting in high CPU usage by programs like WinPatrol, which read registry locations. A simple disk scan can solve the problem.

Hope life is treating you well. It’s been a long time, and our tech world has really changed.     — Bill Pytlovany

Reader reports on Win8 Consumer Preview download

Re: Woody Leonhard’s March 8 story, “A Windows veteran looks at Win8 Consumer Preview”

► I read Woody’s Windows 8 article with some interest and decided to check out the Windows 8 preview for myself. Understand, I have been a Microsoft OS user from Day 1, from DOS through all the Windows versions. I have to say that I am not impressed with the Windows 8 preview. My personal opinion is that Microsoft will turn people off and lose market share with this preview.

I have an older crash-and-burn XP/Windows 7 box that I built some time ago and use for testing purposes. I have an ASUS P4S533-X MB, 2 IDE drives, a DVD, and a CD drive with 2GB of memory. The LAN and sound are on the mother board, and I have an Nvidia video card with 512MB installed.

I backed up the system using Paragon backup software and did a clean install from MS online. I did not burn an ISO DVD.

[Windows 8] recommended I allow it to go online for the most recent updates, and I did just that. The install went smoothly, with little help needed from me. However, once the preview was installed, I had no network connection and no sound. When I used Windows troubleshooting, it recommended that I install a LAN driver. Nice! I don’t know what LAN driver they would like me to install, since nobody has a Windows 8 driver; I assumed MS would know which one when I did the install. The caveat here is that when I initially installed Windows 7 on this PC, I did not need any drivers. Windows 7 recognized everything and installed fine! Needless to say, the Windows 8 preview is useless without a network connection. I guess I could have researched a Windows 7 driver, but why? (Windows 7 didn’t require me to do so.)

Bottom line: The Windows 8 preview isn’t ready for prime time. I understand all the functionality isn’t there, but the basics should be! I booted from the Paragon CD I made and restored my original image. Gone is Windows 8 preview!     — Larry Rosenberg

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2012-03-14:

Kathleen Atkins

About Kathleen Atkins

Kathleen Atkins is the Windows Secrets associate editor. She's also a freelance writer, editor, and photographer. Prior to joining Windows Secrets, she worked at Microsoft Press.