How can I use Windows XP's Msconfig to select boot options in a dual-boot environment?

A. If you're dual-booting XP and another OS on one system and you want to boot the machine with certain options set (e.g., Safe mode with network support), you have to reboot the computer, wait for the boot menu to display, press F8 within the timeout period, then select the options you want. To simplify the process, you can use XP's Msconfig with a -4 switch to easily set boot options at the next reboot. The command displays the available options (e.g., base video, MAX Memory), and you simply select the options you want to set. After you set the options and click OK, the system will prompt you to reboot the machine.

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For example, you can be working in the first OS and use Msconfig to reboot your system without having to quickly press the F8 key and set the options you want. After you boot into the second OS, you need to run Msconfig –4 and reset the boot options by clearing the check boxes for the options you previously set; otherwise, every time you reboot, the options will still be set.

You might want to create a shortcut on the Start menu that points to Msconfig with the -4 switch (make sure that your shortcut always point to the XP version of Msconfig, which contains the updated functionality for setting boot options). To configure a shortcut for Msconfig in XP or Windows 2000, perform the following steps:

  1. Expand the Start menu to a folder you want to create the shortcut in, right-click the folder, and select Open from the context menu.
  2. Select New, Shortcut from the File menu.
  3. Enter the location of Msconfig and the –4 (e.g., G:\windows\pchealth\helpctr\binaries\msconfig -4) and click Next.
  4. Enter a name (e.g., MSCONFIG Boot Options), and click Finish.

The Msconfig shortcut will appear on your Start menu.

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