Reach Run quickly
Here's a quicker way to reach the Run dialog box, if you don't want to go through the Start menu. Just hit the Windows key + R.
Looking for a better screen font display?
Enable ClearType, Microsoft's trademark font display technology, for a drastic improvement in screen font rendering. Right-click anywhere on your desktop. Now select Properties. Under the Appearance tab, click Effects. Check the box for Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts, and in the drop-down menu, select ClearType. Press OK, and apply the change.
Change your mouse pointer scheme
Bored of the same old arrow? To change your mouse pointer scheme, in the Control Panel, select Mouse and go to the Pointers tab. Scroll through the available schemes, pick one that you like and click Apply.
Check that your Windows Firewall is turned on
To make sure your Windows Firewall hasn't been accidentally disabled, go to your Control Panel and click Windows Firewall. Make sure the radio button for On (recommended) is selected. Add exceptions to your Firewall by going to the Exceptions tab and adding the programs that you think should have access to the Internet to the list of exceptions.
Instantly activate your screensaver
In XP, you can put a short cut of your favourite screensaver on your desktop to instantly start your screen saver. Here's how. Go to Start on your desktop and click on Search. In the help box, click on All files and folders. and then type in *.scr. Select your screen saver file and right click. Then select Send To, and then Desktop.
Put your Monitor to sleep
Right click on the desktop and click on Properties. In the dialog box that appears, click on the Screen Saver tab. Click on Power and in the dialog box that appears click on the Turn off Monitor list. Select a time to automatically after which the monitor will be turned off. Click OK twice and you're set.
Using your Windows Key
Your Windows key can be used to for many short cuts. If you want to open your Windows Explorer quickly just press your Windows key and E. If you want to open the Run dialog box, just press the Windows key and R. If you want to open your search dialog box, press your Windows key and F.
Instantly lock your PC
If you have password protected your Windows, here is a quick way to lock it. Press the Windows key and L together.
Change the look of folder icons
If you don't like the look of the folder icons on your desktop, you can change them. Right click on the folder, select Properties. Click on the Customize tab, and under the Folder icons area, click on the Change Icons button. Select the icon of your choice and select OK.
Minimize a Window to your taskbar
If you're tired of using the mouse over and over again to minimize a window, here's a handy tip. To minimize a window using just the keyboard, press Alt, Spacebar and N together.
Display album art in your music folder thumbnails
If your music files are in WMA format, XP automatically picks up the album art and displays it, both in the folder thumbnail as well as in the Windows Media Player display. If your files are in MP3 format, you can download the album art from the Internet and then customize each folder to display it. But this takes a lot of time. A faster way around is to save each image as 'folder.jpg' and put it in the correct folder. Once you do this, XP will pick up that image and use it as the thumbnail for the folder, and also use the image to display in Windows Media Player while playing songs from the album.
How to stop Windows Media Player from accessing your information
You may be uncomfortable with the idea of Windows Media Player collecting your information and sending it to various websites. You can stop this. Go to the Tools menu of Windows Media Player. Select Options and then go to the Player tab. Look for the check box that says "Allow Internet sites to uniquely identify your player?" and make sure it is not selected.
Opening folders with a single click
If you'd rather not have to double-click everything to open it, here's the way out. Go to My Computer, and select Options in the Tools menu. Choose Folder options. In the dialog box that opens, select the check box that says 'Single-click to open an item (point to select)', and click OK.
Making web pages available offline
You may occasionally need to refer to a website, and you may not be able to connect to the Internet at the time. An easy way out of the situation is to go to the Favourites tab in Internet Explorer, and click Add to Favourites. In the dialog box that is displayed, select the Make available offline check box, and press OK.