From the March 1997 issue of Startups

Hidden Treasures

Use Windows 95 applets to discover a host of helpful mini-programs.

Before you rush right out and buy a batch of new applications for your computer, you should know there's a trove of tiny treasures already waiting for Windows 95 users. Windows provides Accessories, a group of utilities and applets. Utilities are programs with which you can analyze hardware and software (such as determining whether a diskette is good or bad, or if your hard drive has a virus), or perform computer-related tasks (such as finding particular files). Applets are "mini" versions of full-featured programs, such as word processors and databases, or programs that are small in size (for example, an onscreen calculator or daily calendar). You can use Windows applets as a supplement to, or instead of, other programs.

Windows almost always provides more than one method of executing a task. This holds true for starting an applets program. If you plan to use an applet only occasionally, you can simply select it from the Start menu. However, if you will use the applet often, you can add a shortcut to your desktop. Using a shortcut immediately starts a program, saving you from selecting from two or three menus. (See "Desktop Shortcuts," below, for more information on creating shortcuts.)

To start an applet from the Start menu, click on the Start button. When the menu opens, move your pointer to Programs. In the second menu that opens, move your pointer to Accessories.

To start an applet from a shortcut icon, simply double-click on the icon.


Sandra E. Eddy lives in upstate New York and is the author of several computer and Internet books, including Windows 95 A to Z.

Available Applets

Here's a quick rundown of business-related Windows applets:

Calculator: Windows provides two calculators in one: the Standard Calculator and the Scientific Calculator. You can switch between the two calculators under the View menu. Using the Standard Calculator, you can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and compute square roots and percentages. The Scientific Calculator also provides certain advanced mathematical functions.

Calendar: The Calendar provides both daily and monthly calendars. To keep track of and even set alarms for your daily appointments, use the Day calendar. To get a bigger picture of your upcoming schedule, to make short notes about particular days, and to add symbols to mark up to five types of special days (such as paydays or anniversaries), use the Month calendar.

Cardfile: Cardfile is a simple database in which each record looks like an index card, with areas for a title and 10 lines of detailed information, which can be used to keep track of names, addresses and telephone numbers, as well as applications and their serial numbers. For a single record, you can fill in the index line at the top of the card with an identifying word or phrase, and fill in the information area with text or drawings. Once you have created a pack of cards, you can go to a particular title, find text in the pack, or automatically dial the telephone number on the displayed card.

James Brawner, the director of sales and marketing at Business Resource Software Inc. in Austin, Texas, has been using Cardfile ever since Windows came on the market. "Since I'm in a sales and marketing role, I use ACT!, a full-featured contact manager from Symantec, for business contacts, but I find it much easier to use Cardfile to collect personal information," says Brawner. "I have thousands of records in ACT! and only a little over 150 in Cardfile, which makes for quicker searching."

Notepad: Notepad is an easy-to-use text editor--a simple word processor without the ability to format--which is a popular way to create pages for the World Wide Web (many Web developers use Notepad to insert HTML commands). To create a document for which you don't need paragraph or character formats--a document, for example, that any word processor can read--simply type characters into the work area, pressing Enter whenever you want to start a new line.

Paint: Paint is a drawing program with which you can create color or monochrome bitmap pictures with a BMP file type. Paint has a complete set of drawing tools and enables you to edit at the pixel level--pixels are the single dots that collectively make up the onscreen picture--using an optional grid and several levels of magnification.

Heidi J. Ansell, owner of Equality For Disabled of Lomita, California, helps clients to design theaters and other large meeting rooms to allow disabled people better access, and to meet other regulations from the Americans with Disabilities Act. She uses Paint to view and redesign floor plans that architects and engineers send her from around the United States.

Toni Savage, of Queue Associates, a seller of accounting hardware and software in New York City, uses Paint "because I sometimes need to draw pictures, but not often enough to buy a full-scale `art' program. I used Paint to do my logo for a fax cover sheet."

WordPad: WordPad, which looks and operates like a junior version of Word for Windows, can be used to create, edit and format documents such as letters and memos. WordPad enables you to save documents using the Word for Windows document (DOC) format (the default), Rich Text Format (RTF), or text (TXT).

Savage says, "When I mess around with text, sometimes I just want exactly what I type, in monospaced font, right where I put it, for columns of numbers, computer programs, and so on."

(Note: The program files for Calendar, Cardfile, and Notepad--calendar.exe, cardfile.exe and notepad.exe, respectively--may not be available in newer copies of Windows 95. If you want to use one of these applets, find the program file, and its associated help file--calendar.hlp, cardfile.hlp and notepad.hlp, respectively--on a computer with Windows 3.1 or an older version of Windows 95. Then, copy the program file to the folder in which Windows is installed, and create a shortcut on your desktop.)

Installing a Windows Applet

When you let the Windows Setup program select the files to be installed, some, but not all, applets are installed. To add an applet, you'll need the CD-ROM or disks from which you installed Windows. First, click on the Start button, move your pointer to Settings, and click on Control Panel to open the Control Panel window. Double-click on the Add/Remove Programs icon. The Add/Remove Programs Properties dialog box will appear. Click on the Windows Setup tab, and in the Components box, click on Accessories to select it, and click on the Details button. In the Accessories dialog box, click on the check box preceding the applet to place a check mark. (If the box is already marked, the applet has already been installed.) Then, click on OK to close the dialog box and click on OK again. When prompted, insert your Windows CD-ROM disk or the named floppy disk, and click on OK. Windows will then install the selected applet.

Desktop Shortcuts

A shortcut is an icon on your desktop that represents a program or file. You can double-click on a shortcut to start a program, or to start a program and open a file. Here's how you can add a shortcut to your desktop:

1. Via drag-and-drop: Drag an icon representing an executable file (that is, a program) or a file that is associated with a program onto your desktop.

2. Via menu command: Select a menu command and either respond to a prompt or drag an icon onto your desktop.

Either method can be accessed from the Find utility, Control Panel, Printers window, Windows Explorer, or the My Computer window. If you are comfortable with drag-and-drop, this method is the fastest and the most practical.

To create a shortcut by dragging and dropping, open a window, find the program or file icon for which you want to make the shortcut, and select it by pressing and holding down the left mouse button. Continuing to hold down the mouse button, drag the icon from its current location onto the desktop. (You are not actually moving the application or file from its current location to the desktop; you are making a copy of it.)

To create a shortcut using a menu command, click on a program or file icon; open the File menu and select the Create Shortcut command. If a message box prompts you to place the shortcut on the desktop, click on Yes. Windows adds the shortcut to your desktop. (If Windows adds a shortcut to the bottom of the list of files in the current folder, drag the shortcut from the window to the desktop.)

Contact Sources

Business Resource Software Inc., (http://www.brs-inc.com).

Equality For Disabled, 2446 W. 256th St., Lomita, CA 90717, (310) 539-9422.

Queue Associates Inc., 300 Madison Ave., #601, New York, NY 10017.