My favorite Windows annoyance busters

I get lots of e-mail asking if I have a smart fix for a dumb computing hassle. Boy, do I--times six. Here are my freebie favorites.

Diagnose faulty RAM

The hassle: My PC crashes abruptly, up to a dozen times a week. I've tried every troubleshooting trick I can think of. Any ideas?

The fix: Your PC's memory modules might be failing. Check them with Microsoft's Windows Memory Diagnostic tool. Burn the program onto a CD (Burnatonce is quick and easy) and then boot from the CD.

Fix right-click messes

The hassle: The context menu that appears when I right-click a file in Explorer or on the desktop is full of items I never use.

The fix: Why don't you give FileMenu Tools a try? The program lets you customize the context menu By removing unused commands that other programs have added; ditto for entries on the 'Send-to' submenu.

Open apps in a jiffy

The hassle: My Start menu is jammed with shortcuts I don't need, and I can never remember where the ones that I do use are hiding. I spend more time shortcut-hunting than working.

The fix: Quick, get a copy of Josh Karlin's Launchy, a clever little keyboard-shortcut maker. Press - to open Launchy (you can change it to another combination if you like), tap the first few letters of the program you want to open, press , and Launchy will launch it (see the screen shot above). If you use several files In a specific folder--say, Adobe PDFs or Word docs--just add them to the list of folders that you want Launchy to monitor.

The tool has more cool tricks. For example, you can send a search request to Google, MSN, or Yahoo. To search Google, type google, press , type your search query, and press . Launchy displays the search results in your browser. This trick also works with Amazon, Netflix, Wikipedia, and the IMDB movie database. You can even add your music folder to Launchy for quick access to your favorite songs.

To open a Control Panel applet, type the first few letters of its name--mouse, sound, or add-remove, for instance. For fast access to a Command box, add cmd To Launchy's Runny plug-in. The Weby plug-in automatically loads Firefox bookmarks and keywords.

File-name case fixer

The hassle: It's a small issue, but it bothers me: The files I import from my camera are all uppercase. I want them all lowercase.

The fix: Recase to the rescue. Highlight one or all of the files--whether upper-, lower-, or mixed case--and Recase will change them to the case that's just right for you.

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