Chapter 5. Microsoft Office


4.3 Other Built-In Utilities

Backup, Notepad, and the Clipboard are probably the best-known Windows utilities, but Windows XP has a few other gems stored in its utility closet. This section covers them and highlights a few tricks worth trying, like the Fax program and the Calculator.

4.3.1 The Fax Program

Although faxes seem archaic in the era of instant messages and email, paper was supposed to become obsolete, too. Reality check: faxing remains a part of life (those perpetual -motion machine sketches are tough to describe in an email). When you're hit with the need to send or receive a fax, Windows XP can come to the rescue. One of its least-known but most useful utilities is the Fax program.

Figure 4-7. Once you've installed Windows XP's Fax utility, you can fax a document directly from your computer. Using the Fax Wizard shown here, you can either type the name and fax number of the recipient or grab it from your Windows Address Book. To use your address book, click on the small Rolodex-like icon and choose a recipient.

Note: Your computer has to have a modem connected to a normal phone line in order to use the Fax utility. It can't send or receive faxes over a cable or DSL modem. And you can't talk on that phone line while you send or receive faxes.

Despite its obvious benefits, Fax isn't automatically installed with Windows XP, so you'll need to dig out your Windows XP installation CD. Once you pop the CD into your computer and the opening screen appears, choose Install Optional Windows Components Fax Services. That's all there is to installing it.

If you want to fax a document that's on your computer already (for example, a Word document), simply open it, then select File Print. In the Print dialog box, swap your normal printer for the Fax tool by clicking the drop-down list next to Name, and then choosing Fax. A wizard launches and takes you step-by-step through the process of sending a fax using your modem, as shown in Figure 4-7.

If you have a printed document you want to fax, you first have to scan it into your computer, open the scanned file using a graphics program, and then fax the file using the Print command as described earlier.

If you simply need to shoot a note to somebody and a fax cover sheet alone will do the job (with no document attached), try this trick. Choose Start All Programs Accessories Communications Fax Fax Console. Once the console opens, choose File Send a Fax. Fill out the form, including the name of the person you're sending the fax to and the phone number, and Windows sends your fax.

Note: For a quicker way to open the Fax Console, at the command prompt or in the Run box, type fxsclnt.exe and then press Enter.

You can also receive faxes with the Fax program. To accept an incoming fax as it's ringing, open the Fax Console (Start All Programs Accessories Communications Fax Fax Console), and then choose File "Receive a fax now." To read the fax, select your inbox in the Fax Console, and then double-click the document you want.

Receive Faxes Without a Phone Line

When you receive faxes using Windows XP's fax utility, you need to make sure the program is open (or leave it running all the time). You also need to make sure your phone line isn't busyif it is, incoming faxes won't come through. An alternate way to receive faxes is to use the free Internet fax-receiving service at

When you sign up, you're assigned a phone number that you can give out to anyone who wants to send you a fax (eFax picks the number). When someone sends a fax to that number, eFax automatically converts it to a graphics file and emails it to you. Using a special viewer, you can then read and print the fax. If you want to send faxes using eFax you have to pay $12.95 per month, and you have to pay a fee for every lon g-distance fax you send.

Tip: The Fax program lets you send only one document at a time, not a group of documents. But you can combine several documents into one large document and fax that file.

If you want a more sophisticated program, WinFax Pro in a good choice, available from http://www. symantec .com for $99.95. It includes other features as well, such as integration with email programs and the ability to add a signature to outgoing faxes.

4.3.2 A Better Calculator

Windows XP's Calculator is good for basic calculations. To run it, choose Start All Programs Accessories Calculator. Or, at the command prompt or in the Run box, type calc.exe and press Enter.

But if you need a more powerful calculator, say, for something geeky like financial, engineering, or scientific calculations, this built-in utility isn't up to the task. There is, however, an excellent free calculator called Calc98 that you can download from Calc98 lets you perform lots of sophisticated calculations, including statistical functions and metric unit conversions. And it can also operate using different number bases, like binary and hexadecimal. If you're in the mood to go really old school, it'll even let you calculate using Roman numerals.

Figure 4-8. Use this dialog box to tell Windows XP to open graphics files with Paint, not the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. That way, you can edit Paint files, rather than just view them.

Tip: You can also do some seriously sophisticated calculating in the Google search box (, which recognizes an amazing array of equations. Just type your calculation into a Google search box, and then press Enter. For more on the Google calculator, check out

4.3.3 Opening Graphics Documents in Paint

When you double-click a graphics file you've created using Windows XP's Paint utility, you'd expect it to open in Paint so you can work on it again. But for some reason, Windows XP opens the file with the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer instead. If you want to open the file in Paint, you have to use a workaround: Right-click the file, and then choose Open With Paint.

To avoid having to do this every time, right-click an image you created with the Paint utility, and then choose Open With Choose Program. The Open With dialog box, shown in Figure 4-8, appears. Choose Paint from the list, turn on "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file," and then click OK. From now on, whenever you double-click a file created with Paint, it'll open in Paint.

Tip: For third-party photo-editing software you may like even better than Paint, see Sidebar 4-5.

4.3.4 Inserting Special Characters

There's a simple way to insert special characters into a document, including inverted question marks, capital letters with accents, or the symbol p use the Character Map.

Figure 4-9. The Character Map lets you paste special characters into any program. To search for a specific character, turn on the box next to "Advanced view," then type a search term in the box that appears. For example, to see all Greek letters and characters, type "greek".

Note: If you're using Word, you can first try the Insert Symbol command, which may be quicker.
All Programs Accessories System Tools Character Map. Choose a font from the Font box, and then click the character you want to place in your document. Windows XP displays a magnified version of whatever character you've chosen , as shown in Figure 4-9. Choose Select, and Windows copies the character to the Clipboard. From there, you can paste it into any program.
Tip: For a quicker way to get to the Character Map, at the command prompt or in the Run box, type charmap and then press Enter.
Image Editing

These downloads help bring out your inner photo editor:

  • Paint Shop Pro . This program is probably the most popular shareware graphics program of all timeand with good reason. It's a great photo editor with a full suite of special effects and editing tools that help you handle tasks like automatically cleaning up red eye, adding backgrounds, cropping photos, changing color schemes, and more. You can also use it to create graphics that are optimized for the Web, so they look their best when viewed online, as well as animated graphics using the program's "Animation Shop." ($74 shareware; Jasc Software; http://www.jasc.html).)

  • Picasa . If you're looking for an excellent way to organize your pictures, try this program. It lets you organize all your photos in albums, create slide shows, and edit, print, and share photos. ($29.99 shareware; Picasa;

  • FlipAlbum . This unique program lets you create multimedia albums with your digital photos. The pictures appear in a virtual photo album that looks like the real thing, and the pages flip while music plays. Once you put your pictures in an album, FlipAlbum automatically creates thumbnails for the photos, a table of contents, and indexes, making it easy to view your pictures later on. ($24.95 shareware;

    ACDSee PowerPack. This suite of tools includes a picture viewer, photo editing software, and a slideshow program. It's an ideal set of tools for touching up photos taken with a digital camera, creating multimedia slideshows, and editing and viewing photos. It's not as powerful a picture editor as Paint Shop Pro, but it offers a better collection of all-around tools, like one that lets you create slideshows. ($79.95 shareware; ACD Systems;

    Easy Thumbnails. If you need to perform batch operations on a group of graphics files, or need to create thumbnails of them, try this free program. It automatically creates thumbnails out of graphics files in any folder, and it lets you apply special filters and do other kinds of editing to batches of files. (Freeware; Fookes Software;

    Adobe Photoshop Elements. This stripped-down (and less expensive) version of Photoshop is ideal for doi ng touch-ups and other editing on digital photos. It's powerful and easy to use for tasks like eliminating red eye, adding special effects and fi lters, and more. ($99;

4.3.5 Shortcuts to Open Windows XP Applications and Utilities

Often, the quickest way to open a built-in Windows XP application or utility is to use the command prompt or Run box, instead of clicking through a series of menus . (To get to the Run box, choose Start Run. To get to the command prompt, choose Start Run, type command , and press Enter.) For example, to open Notepad, at the Run box or a command prompt, type notepad.exe and press Enter.

You can run dozens of Windows XP utilities and programs this way. Table 4-2 lists Windows XP's built-in programs and utilities and their executable file names . (An executable file name is the name of the file required to run a particular program.) At the command prompt or in the Run box, type any of these file names for a quicker way to open various wizards, programs, and utilities.

Table 4-2. Filenames of Windows XP's Built-In Applications and Utilities

Application, Component, or Utility

Executable Filename


Accessibility Options


Runs the Accessibility Options dialog box, where you can adjust settings for special-needs features like StickyKeys and ShowSounds.

Accessibility Wizard


Runs the Accessibility Wizard, which helps those with special vision, hearing, and mobility needs customize their computer.

Active Connections Utility


Lets you view information about your current network settings.

Add Hardware Wizard


Helps you set up new hardware.

Add or Remove Programs


Lets you add or remove programs.

Address Book


Launches the Windows Address Book so you can keep track of contacts.



Shows you information about files' attributes, such as whether they have been backed up.



Launches the Windows backup program (Section 4.1.2).

Cabinet (CAB) Maker

makecab.exe or diantz.exe (Both launch the same program.)

Launches a program that lets you compress and decompress files.



Launches the Windows Calculator.

Character Map


Launches the Windows Character Map (see Figure 4-9).



Launches a utility that checks your hard disk for problems and errors.



Tells you whether a hard disk uses the NTFS file system (see Section 3.3.1).

Clipbook Viewer


Runs the Clipbook Viewer for viewing the Clipboard (see Section 4.2.4).

Command Prompt

cmd.exe or command.exe (Both options do the same thing.)

Launches a window that lets you enter MS-DOS commands.

Control Panel


Launches the Control Panel.

Date and Time Properties


Lets you change the computer's date and time.

Device Manager


Launches the Device Manager, which controls hardware settings.

Disk Cleanup


Launches the Disk Cleanup utility, which deletes unneeded files from your hard disk.

Disk Defragmenter


Launches the Disk Defragmenter, which makes your computer run more quickly by organizing the files on your hard disk.

Display Properties


Runs the Display Properties dialog box, which lets you change how your desktop looks.

Fax Console


Runs the Fax Console (see Section 4.3.1).

Fax Cover Page Editor


Runs a utility that lets you create simple cover pages for faxes.

Folder Options

control.exe folders

Launches the Folder options dialog box, which lets you customize how your folders look and behave in Windows Explorer.

Fonts Folder

control.exe fonts

Opens the Fonts folder. Double-click any font to see a page of sample text.



Launches the game FreeCell.


ftp.exe or tftp.exe (Both options do the same thing.)

Runs a File Transfer Protocol utility that lets you transfer files over the Internet.

Game Controllers


Launches the Game Controllers dialog box, which lets you change settings for joysticks and similar devices.



Runs the Hearts game.

Help and Support Center


Launches the Help and Support Center (Figure 6-20).



Launches the HyperTerminal communications program, which lets you connect to Telnet sites.

Internet Backgammon


Launches the Internet backgammon game.

Internet Checkers


Launches the Internet Checkers game.

Internet Explorer


Launches Internet Explorer.

Internet Hearts


Launches the Internet Hearts game.

Internet Options


Launches the Internet Properties dialog box, which lets you control security, privacy and other settings for Internet Explorer.

Internet Reversi


Launches the Internet Reversi game.

Internet Spades


Launches the Internet Spades game.

Keyboard Properties

main.cpl keyboard

Lets you change your keyboard's properties.



Lets you log off Windows XP.

Microsoft Magnifier


Launches a program to magnify parts of your screen.

Microsoft NetMeeting


Runs the Microsoft NetMeeting conferencing program.



Runs the Minesweeper game.

Mouse Properties


Lets you customize mouse properties.

MSN Explorer


Launches the MSN Explorer browser.

Network Connections


Opens the Network Connections folder.

New Connection Wizard


Launches the New Connection Wizard, to help you create a new network connection.



Launches Notepad (see Section 4.2).

On-Screen Keyboard


Launches an onscreen keyboard that lets you input text without typing.

Outlook Express


Launches the Outlook Express email program.



Launches the Paint graphics program.

Phone and Modem Options


Lets you set options for your modem and telephone.



Runs the Pinball game.



Runs the Ping utility, which lets you check to see whether Web sites are up and running.

Power Options


Lets you control how your computer uses its power.

Printers and Faxes

control.exe printers

Opens the Printer and Faxes folder.

Registry Editor


Lets you edit the Registry.

Scanners and Cameras


Lets you control a scanner or camera.

Send a Fax


Lets you send a fax (see Section 4.3.1).



Lets you shut down your PC.



Launches the Solitaire game.

Sound Recorder


Lets you record sounds.

Sounds and Audio Devices


Lets you control your sound and audio devices.

Speech Properties

control.exe speech

Lets you control speech recognition.

Spider Solitaire


Launches the Spider Solitaire game.

System Properties


Launches the System Properties dialog box, which lets you examine and control many key settings for your computer, like Automatic Updates and System Restore.

System Restore


Launches System Restore, which lets you restore your computer to a state it was in previously.

Task Manager


Runs the Task Manager.

Volume Control


Lets you control the volume of your sound system and speakers .

Windows Explorer


Launches Windows Explorer.

Windows Media Player


Runs Windows Media Player.

Windows Messenger


Runs Windows Messenger.

Windows Movie Maker


Runs Windows Movie Maker, for making movies.

Windows Update


Runs Windows Update, which checks whether there are Windows updates available.



Runs the WordPad text editor.

Windows XP Power Hound
Windows XP Power Hound: Teach Yourself New Tricks
ISBN: 0596006195
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 119

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