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Windows Vista hints and tips

What are those hidden desktop.ini files?

When you open an Explorer window you expect to see the files that are on the disk drive. You do see most of them, but not all of them. The reason is that some are hidden. To view all the files you need to change a setting to make them visible. In any Explorer window select Tools (press the Alt key in Vista to show the menu), Folder options. Select the View tab and then select Show hidden files and folders. Clear the ticks next to Hide extensions for known file types, and Hide protected operating system files.

You will see extra files in Explorer windows that weren't there before. One of them is desktop.ini. There are more in Vista than in XP, but both operating systems have them. Look in the (My) Documents folder if you can't find one.

A desktop.ini file contains the settings for a particular folder. If you customise the folder it will list the customisations you have made. Double clicking a desktop.ini file opens it in Notepad because it is a plain text file. If you open a few of them you'll get to know what sort of information they contain and how they are structured. It's not particularly complicated and there are settings and values.

Once open in Notepad, look for a section called [.ShellClassInfo] and add a new line to the end: NoSharing=1. This prevents the folder from ever being shared over a network, which could be useful if other users of your computer are sharing folders they shouldn't. If you also add ConfirmFileOp=1, you won't be pestered by warning messages when deleting or moving the folder.

Quick searches in Windows Vista

If you are the sort of person that saves a file like a document, image or adio file and then can't find it the next day because you have forgotten where you saved it to, you should use Vista's quick search capabilities.

It's actually quite easy to find lost files in Windows Vista and all you need to do is to click the Start button in the taskbar and type search into the search box at the bottom of the menu.

When you do this you will see a list of items under the Files heading. There is Recently Changed, Recent E-mail, Recent Pictures and Videos, Recent Documents, Recent Music and a few other items. The Recently Changed option is probably the best one to choose, but you could try the others if you know what type of file it was and where it is likely to be. Click an item and an Explorer window opens to show the files.

One slight snag is that Vista's search facility doesn't index the whole hard disk drive and it just indexes obvious locations, such as your Documents folder. However, this is usually sufficient. Choose the Indexed Locations item to see a list of all the files in all the indexed locations listed in date and time order. It's then easy to look through the files created yesterday, or whatever day you lost it, and locate it.

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