Replace Your Default Text Editors in Windows
When I open a text document that is too long for Notepad, Windows brings it up in WordPad--a program I don't care for. Is there any way for me to change this default setting?
Lee Roberson, via the Internet
A lot of other free text editors exist, and just about all of them are better than Windows' own Notepad and WordPad. Most are able to handle files larger than 64KB, the size at which Notepad hands things over to WordPad.
My favorite free text editor is Fookes Software's NoteTab Light, a stripped-down version of a more powerful shareware program. NoteTab Light uses tabs to track open text files (see FIGURE 1).Two stellar features are its Word-like autocorrect and its FTP uploads and downloads.
To make NoteTab Light your default text editor, open the program and select Help, Replace MS Notepad. This replaces the file Notepad.exe with a program that launches NoteTab Light in all situations where, under the old regime, Notepad would have opened automatically.
Another good free editor is Sven Tore Iversen's TextIt. Though less powerful than NoteTab Light, TextIt has a handy search-and-replace function, and it can automatically detect URLs. Notepad users will feel right at home with the program.
TextIt associates itself with the.txt extension, but it doesn't replace Notepad.exe, and uninstalling TextIt doesn't restore the.txt file association to Notepad.
Keyboards and Mice vs. USB-Only PCs
My new computer doesn't have standard keyboard and mouse connectors, just USB ports. Will a USB keyboard work in an emergency DOS environment? Is there any way that I can hook up a conventional (non-USB) keyboard?
Colleen Chapman, via the Internet
Both a USB keyboard and a USB mouse should work in DOS mode. PCs built without standard PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports generally have operating system-independent USB keyboard and mouse support built in. However, mice won't work in DOS and outside Windows without a separate mouse driver--usually Microsoft's mouse.exe.
So what do you do if you have a favorite keyboard or mouse that isn't USB-based? Your best bet is to buy an adapter that allows you to plug both a standard keyboard and mouse into a single USB port. Unfortunately, though, none of the adapters that I tested could handle every outside-Windows keyboard and mouse chore, so you should still keep a USB keyboard and mouse handy just in case. Cables To Go offers a good adapter priced at $40, though I've seen it on sale for as little as $27.
Modem-less PC Faxing
I now have DSL and no longer have a dial-up modem. How do I send a fax without a modem?
Ted Buckley, Monterey, California
Even if you keep your modem, switching to broadband Internet access can wreak havoc on PC-based faxing. I recommend using EFax, which lets you receive faxes over the Net without a modem. The free, basic EFax service assigns you a fax number and delivers your incoming faxes as e-mail attachments that you read using the company's proprietary, advertiser-supported software.
If you also need to send faxes without a modem, you should sign up for EFax Plus ($10 per month). The service provides a local phone number and allows you to fax any printable file via proprietary software and your e-mail system. But you're also charged 10 cents for every 30 seconds of transmission time--and the rate is even higher for international faxes.
Trim Your Folders for Faster Loading
Some folders seem to take forever to load. Michael Segal of Brookline, Massachusetts, suggests a reason why. The FAT32 file system has trouble handling folders with more than 32KB of directory listings, and it slows down considerably at that point. The directory listing contains file names and other data; but the number of files, not the file sizes, is what matters. Generally, a folder reaches 32KB only if it contains at least 400 to 600 files and subfolders. The solution: Move some of the files to another folder.