January 02, 2001, 9:18 AM — MY BEST TIPS come from readers, and this week's column is packed with suggestions from them. Reader Dave Riches submitted several tricks he uses with Windows 2000 to get more out of it. Some of these ideas work in other Windows versions as well. Try them yourself.
More Explorer details
When he opens the Windows Explorer to manage files, Riches likes to use the Details view (available from the View menu).
He points out a little-used feature: You can right-click the column headings in the right pane of the Details view. This allows you to hide some of the columns or add new ones. After you right-click a column heading, click the word More at the end of the menu that appears and 25 new choices are revealed.
One of the handiest new columns is called Accessed. This shows the last date that you touched a file, and whether or not you saved changes to it, which is what the Modified column shows. Sorting files by their Accessed date is a good way to prune files you haven't looked at in years.
Fun with ampersands
Riches uses a feature of the Windows 2000 command language to pack many commands into a single shortcut.
The trick is that an ampersand (&) separates commands on the same line. For example, net stop dns & net start dns, stops and re-starts DNS in a single shortcut.
There are many other tricks like this. For instance, you can run one command only if the previous command succeeded or failed.
To see these features in Windows 2000, click Start, then Help. Click the Index tab, and then scroll down to "New features in Windows 2000." Select the "Command differences" subheading; then click the Display button. An explanation of the ampersand and many other enhanced Windows 2000 commands can be read in the right pane.
Connect a network printer
Riches also has found an easy way to connect to a network printer: He drags the icon from one window to another. To do this in Windows 2000, open a window on your local printers by clicking Start, Settings, Printers. Then open a second window showing a network node with a shared printer. Drill down to find the printer you're interested in, then drag its icon into your local printer window. You should then have a connection to that network printer.
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