Congratulations to our September Reader Challenge winners. Karalyn Seigel of Portland, Maine, wins first prize, a copy of my book, "Admin911: Windows 2000 Registry." Second prize, a copy of "Windows 2000: The Complete Reference,” goes to Verino Conte of Manchester, England.
I receive many email messages in which readers ask, "What were the Microsoft programmers thinking ... ?" One Microsoft feature that seems to generate this question is from Windows XP users regarding My Network Places. I try to answer reader mail, but the volume is almost overwhelming, and I don't have the time to answer everyone. The following problems are the two most common complaints. How would you respond to these readers?
I use Windows XP Pro, and every time I open My Network Places, I see more and more icons. I see shares I never accessed and never will, and I see printers I never used and never will use (and they're also listed in my Printers and Faxes folder). Why is this happening, and can I safely delete the icons for these useless shares?
I use Windows XP Pro, and when I open My Network Places, I see many icons for network shares. However, I can't map a drive to the shares. Why not?
The Solution to Problem 1
By default, XP periodically scans the computers on the network to find newly-shared resources, such as folders or printers that have just been shared. When a newly-shared resource is found, XP adds an icon for it to My Network Places (if the new share is a printer, XP also places an icon in your Printers and Faxes folder).
Not everyone finds this convenient, because it makes the My Network Places folder very crowded, some users don’t have permissions to access some shares that are listed, and many users have no need to access many of the shares that are listed.
You can safely delete any of the icons that represent shortcuts to network shares, and you can also disable the automatic search for network shares, using the following steps:
1. Open any system folder (My Computer, My Network Places, or Windows Explorer) and choose Tools, Folder Options, to open the Folder Options dialog.
2. Click the View tab.
3. In the Advanced Settings list, click the check box next to Automatically Search for Network Folders and Printers check box to clear the check mark.
4. Click OK.
The Solution to Problem 2:
Windows XP automatically browses the network on a frequent basis and puts a shortcut for each share it finds in the My Network Places window. Shortcuts are not really icons for shares, so you won’t see the command for mapping a drive on the menu that appears when you right-click the icon. The shortcuts are handy when you want to access a share, but the only way to map a share is to get to the icon for the real share instead of the icon for its shortcut. To do this, you must open the Entire Network icon and open the appropriate computer to see its shares. Right-click the icon for the target share and you’ll find the Map Network Drive command on the shortcut menu.