May 2001 Reader Challenge

Congratulations to the winners of the May Reader Challenge. First prize goes to the dynamic duo Mike and Anne Long of Ames, Iowa. They get a copy of Admin911: Windows 2000 Registry, from Osborne/McGraw-Hill. Second prize goes to Roger Corolla of Longport, NJ, who gets a copy of Admin911: Group Policy by Windows 2000 expert Roger Jennings. (Second prize should have gone to a very clever reader named Matt, who wrote a great answer but neglected to follow the instructions to include his address and phone number, so we can't send him a prize).

The Problem
Harriet is really hassled. She works the Help desk at a company that just migrated the clerical department from Windows 95/98 to Windows 2000 Professional. Her phone and email Inbox are busier than ever. Here are some of the questions she receives most often; see if you can resolve these user complaints, er, queries.

The Answers
Q: Why can't I see the files in the Programs Files folder unless I click the Show Files link? I hate having to click another click. Fix this immediately.

A: Microsoft tries to keep users out of several folders on a Windows 2000 computer: %SystemRoot% (usually WINNT), %SystemRoot%\System, %SystemRoot%\System32, and Program Files. These folders contain a file named desktop.ini. The easiest way to get rid of the Show Files link is to rename the desktop.ini file (I chose desktop.die). A more difficult method is to edit the file that desktop.ini references, folder.htt, which also exists in each of these folders. The edit is a simple addition to the section of folder.htt that begins with function Load(). Add the ShowFiles() function call to that section.

Q: You Help desk folks installed a batch file to copy my document files to a server for backup. The batch file maps a drive for my backup folder on the server. When I run the batch file, a window for the server folder opens on my monitor. Having to close the window is annoying. I don't need it. Fix this immediately.

A: Microsoft has a hotfix you can download for this annoying behavior (check the Win2K support pages) and will include the fix in the next service pack. Meanwhile, you can easily alter this behavior with a registry entry. When you map a drive, Win2K looks for a registry data item named _NoWindowMappedDrive, in the subkey HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MountPoints. If the data item exists, no window opens when you map a drive. Microsoft didn't insert that data item into the registry, so every time you map a drive, the system opens a window to display the contents of the mapped folder. (If you're working in the GUI, holding down the Shift key prevents this behavior, but that's hard to do with batch files). Therefore, all you need to do is add this data item to this subkey. It doesn't matter what data type you select, and the data item doesn't have to contain a value; it's only important that the data item exists (Win2K doesn't check the type or value).

Q: I can't see file extensions in My Computer. You obviously removed the Options command from the View menu. Put it back so I can configure my folder views.

A: Only three readers caught the "trick" in this question. Microsoft moved the Options command from the View menu (where it exists on all versions of Windows NT and Windows 9x) to the Tools menu in all Win2K folders.

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