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Type without using the keyboard with On-Screen Keyboard in Windows Vista

Instead of relying on the physical keyboard to type and enter data, you can use On-Screen Keyboard. On-Screen Keyboard displays a visual keyboard with all the standard keys. You can select keys using the mouse or another pointing device, or you can use a single key or group of keys to cycle through the keys on the screen.

To open On-Screen Keyboard:

  • Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then Ease of Access, then click on On-Screen Keyboard.

Select a layout for On-Screen Keyboard

You can adjust the layout, alignment, or number of keys that appear on On-Screen Keyboard.

To change the keyboard layout

You can display On-Screen Keyboard in two different views (Standard Keyboard or Enhanced Keyboard) to promote faster typing or maximize the number of available keys.

  • Click Keyboard, and then select Enhanced Keyboard or Standard Keyboard.

To organize keys either in rows or like a keyboard

Block layout displays the keys in vertical and horizontal rows, which can make selecting the keys easier. Regular layout displays the keys in overlapping rows, simulating a physical keyboard.

  • Click Keyboard, and then select Regular Layout or Block Layout.

To add extra keys to the keyboard

When using regular layout, you can add extra keys to your keyboard layout by selecting the number of keys you want from the Keyboard menu.

Select the number of keys from the Keyboard menu:

  • 101 keys displays a standard keyboard.
  • 102 keys displays an extra backslash (\) next to the SHIFT key in the lower left.
  • 106 keys displays extra characters useful for typing Japanese.

Change how information is entered into On-Screen Keyboard

There are three ways to enter data in On-Screen Keyboard:

  • Clicking mode.
    In clicking mode, you click the on-screen keys to type text.
  • Hovering mode.
    In hovering mode, you use a mouse or joystick to point to a key for a predefined period of time, and the selected character is typed automatically.
  • Scanning mode.
    In scanning mode, On-Screen Keyboard continually scans the keyboard and highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a hot key or using a switch-input device. Use scanning mode to select keys with a single button or key.

To change the On-Screen Keyboard input mode

  • Click Settings, click Typing Mode, and then select the mode you want:
  • To use clicking mode, click Click to select.
  • To use hovering mode, click Hover to select.
    You can change how long On-Screen Keyboard waits before it selects the key on the Minimum time to hover menu.
  • To use scanning mode, click Joystick or key to select.
    You can set the speed for how quickly the keys are scanned on the Scan interval menu.

Tips:

  • To use a mouse, joystick, or other pointing device instead of a keyboard key, click Advanced. In the Scanning Options dialog box, select the Serial, parallel, or game port check box. Plug in a joystick, game pad, or other pointing device, and On-Screen Keyboard will work with it.
  • To change the key you use to select keys in On-Screen Keyboard, click Advanced. In the Scanning Options dialog box, select the Keyboard key check box, and then click the key you want to use in the drop-down menu.

Change the font for On-Screen Keyboard keys

On-Screen Keyboard might be easier to use if you change the font used to illustrate the keys on the screen. The fonts that most people find easiest to see on the screen are Verdana and Arial.

  • Click the Settings menu, and then click Font.
  • In the Font box, select a font, and then click OK.

Set On-Screen Keyboard to use audible clicks

You can have On-Screen Keyboard make an audible click when a key is pressed.

  • Click Settings, and then select Use Click Sound to hear clicks when you select keys using On-Screen Keyboard.

How to reset Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in Windows Vista

One of the components of the Internet connection on your computer is a built-in set of instructions called TCP/IP. TCP/IP can sometimes become corrupted. If your connection to the Internet is really slow or you cannot connect to the Internet and you have tried all other methods to resolve the problem, TCP/IP might be causing it.

Because TCP/IP is a core component of Windows, you cannot remove it. However, you can reset TCP/IP to its original state. If you have any custom settings (default gateway, DNS server, etc.) you will need to manually set these again.

Use a manual method to reset TCP/IP

Note This section is intended for advanced computer users. If you are not comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, ask someone for help. In Windows Vista, a reset command is available in the IP context of the NetShell utility. Follow these steps to use the reset command to reset TCP/IP manually. You will have to restart your system to complete the reset.

  1. To open a command prompt, Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then click on Command Prompt.
  2. At the command prompt, copy and paste (or type) the following command and then press Enter:

    netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt
    Note: If you do not want to specify a directory path for the log file, use the following command:
    netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt

When you run the reset command, it rewrites two registry keys that are used by TCP/IP. This has the same result as removing and reinstalling the protocol. The reset command rewrites the following two registry keys:

SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\
SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\DHCP\Parameters\

To run the manual command successfully, you must specify a file name for the log, in which the actions that netsh takes will be recorded. When you run the manual command, TCP/IP is reset and the actions that were taken are recorded in the log file, known as resetlog.txt in this article.

The first example, c:\resetlog.txt, creates a path where the log will reside. The second example, resetlog.txt, creates the log file in the current directory. In either case, if the specified log file already exists, the new log will be appended to the end of the existing file.

Track free space on your computer with SpaceMonger

One of the software tools I use quite often client systems is SpaceMonger. SpaceMonger is a tool for keeping track of the free space on your computer. It shows graphically the size of each folder and file on your computer.

SpaceMonger

Each file or folder on a given drive is displayed in a box in the main window whose size is a relative comparison to all the other files in your system. So, for example, if the "Windows" box takes up 90% of the screen, the "C:\Windows" folder and all its sub-folders and files are taking up 90% of your "C:" drive.

SpaceMonger runs on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 RC1.

Click here to download the latest version


Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows Vista

Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your hard disk can work more efficiently. Disk Defragmenter runs on a schedule, but you can also defragment your hard disk manually.

Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools.

Click on Disk Defragmenter. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Note:
Here's another way to open Disk Defragmenter: Click the Start button . In the Search box, type Disk Defragmenter or defrag, and then, in the list of results, double-click Disk Defragmenter.

Click Defragment Now.

Disk Defragmenter might take from several minutes to a few hours to finish, depending on the size and degree of fragmentation of your hard disk. You can still use your computer during the defragmentation process.

Check your hard disk for errors in Windows Vista

You can help solve some computer problems and improve the performance of your computer by making sure that your hard disk has no errors.

Click on the Start button.

Click on Computer.

Right-click the hard disk drive that you want to check, and then click Properties.

Click the Tools tab, and then, under Error-checking, click Check Now. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

To automatically repair problems with files and folders that the scan detects, select Automatically fix file system errors. Otherwise, the disk check will simply report problems but not fix them.

To perform a thorough disk check, select Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors. This scan attempts to find and repair physical errors on the hard disk itself, and it can take much longer to complete.

To check for both file errors and physical errors, select both Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.

Click Start.

Depending upon the size of your hard disk, this may take several minutes. For best results, don't use your computer for any other tasks while it's checking for errors.

Note:
If you select Automatically fix file system errors for a disk that is in use (for example, the partition that contains Windows), you'll be prompted to reschedule the disk check for the next time you restart your computer.

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