Get a Windows graphics tool that's mini

Reader Scott Cother would like to use the tiny preview pane available in Windows Explorer in Windows 2000. It uses Web View, which I initially found annoying enough to turn off, but Cother has a good use for it.

Reader Scott Cother would like to use the tiny preview pane available in Windows Explorer in Windows 2000. It uses Web View, which I initially found annoying enough to turn off, but Cother has a good use for it.

He creates subfolders under My Pictures (a folder found under My Documents) to hold various graphics files. By turning on the preview pane, Cother can select a file, then preview it, zoom it, print it, etc. “This is handy for those of us who don’t have any third-party image organisation tools,” he writes.

This is not a new feature. It originally appeared with the introduction of Internet Explorer 4.0. But it’s being increasingly used to do some useful tricks. The behaviour of the effects can be minutely controlled by editing Desktop.ini and a related file, Folder.htt.

Unfortunately, creating subfolders under My Pictures doesn’t automatically cause the preview pane to appear when the subfolders are selected. But this is easily rectified.

To get the preview pane in Windows 2000, click Start, Programs, Accessories, Windows Explorer. Pull down the View menu, then click Customize This Folder. Click Next, then select “choose or edit an HTML template for this folder”. Click Next, then select “image preview”. Click Next, then Finish. This turns on Web View, if it wasn’t already enabled.

Microsoft does provide some detail about these customisations at MSDN Online - customising folders. A set of examples, including custom software install and search functionality, can be found at MSDN Online - Web Workshop.

If you don’t like the effect and want to send Web View into cyberspace, you can turn it off by clicking Start, Settings, Control Panel. Then open the Folder Options applet, select “use Windows classic folders”, then click OK.

More applet control

Reader Mark Payton prefers Windows 2000 over Windows 98, but he misses one thing: Windows 2000 doesn’t allow you to remove as many Windows applets using the Control Panel as Windows 98 does. In Windows 2000, Microsoft does not provide any apparent way to uninstall such “crucial” features as games, accessories and other trivia.

Payton points out a work-around that lets you make applets like these configurable in Windows 2000’s Add/Remove Programs control panel. I described this trick in Windows 2000 Secrets (page 404), but I never got around to mentioning it in this column.

In Windows 2000, make a backup copy of the Sysoc.inf file found in your Winnt\Inf folder. Open Sysoc.inf in Notepad. Scroll down to the Old Base Components section. Delete the word HIDE (leave the commas intact) from lines that begin with Games, Pinball and other categories you’d like control over. Save the file. The Add/Remove Programs applet should be able to remove the unwanted minutiae from your hard drive.

Microsoft has a command-line utility, Sysocmgr.exe, that automates changes like this. See Microsoft Support.

Livingston’s latest book is Windows Me Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to Brian Livingston.

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