Q, programmer, queue

Remove The Unremovable

Since Windows XP was introduced, many people have complained about Windows Messenger being nearly impossible to remove. MSN Explorer is another default component that I prefer to remove. This little trick is a bit of a hack and requires a little bravery to implement. As with any hack that I post, implement it at your own risk.

Open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\WINDOWS\inf. Some Windows installations use WINNT instead of WINDOWS, but the inf directory should appear under it either way. If you have not gone through the advanced options of Windows Explorer and chosen to show all files and folders, you should still be able to type this directory location into the address bar of Windows Explorer.

Under this directory, double click the file sysoc.inf. Be sure to select the INF file and not the PNF file.

The two applications we're interested in do not appear together, but are as follows:
> msmsgs=msgrocm.dll,OcEntry,msmsgs.inf,hide,7
> msnexplr=ocmsn.dll,OcEntry,msnmsn.inf,,7

Remove the word "hide" from both lines if it is there, but be sure to leave the commas and the rest of the line intact. You can choose to unhide other components, but be sure you know what you are removing. Unhiding the components using this file will not uninstall the component, but it will allow the component to be removed. Therefore, I recommend only unhiding those items that you know you are going to remove.

Save the file and close it.

Go to the Control Panel and select Add or Remove Programs.

Select Add/Remove Windows Components from the side bar on the left.

Uncheck the MSN Explorer and both Windows Messenger checkboxes. Note that when you try to uncheck the second Windows Messenger checkbox, it will often not seem to uncheck. Try clicking the text portion of another component and you'll notice that the checkbox will magically uncheck itself. This appears to be a bug in the display update. Whether this is intentional or not will be left for future discussions.

Click Next and follow any further prompts to complete the removal of the components.

Again, if you decide you'd like to remove other components, be sure you know exactly what those components do as you could disable features of Windows that you depend on or like to have. Notice that clicking on the text of a component will show a description of the item, and some of the items have a Details button enabled that will allow you to remove subcomponents of the main component. Feel free to look around and see what these components do. To be safe, click Cancel to close the box after looking around at the components.
Q, programmer, queue

Explore Your Way

One thing I hate about Windows Explorer is that it starts up in My Documents. But there is a trick to allow you start up in whatever directory you prefer.

First, locate the Windows Explorer shortcut. In XP, it resides under Start Menu -> All Programs -> Accessories. Right click on this shortcut and select Copy.

Right click on your desktop and select Paste.

Right click on the new icon and select Properties.

Under the Shortcut tab, in the Target text box, go to the end of the line of text and add a space, then /e, where is the directory you want to start in. For instance, if you want to start in C:\, the text you add would be /e,C:\.

Don't worry if there are spaces in the path you want to add. Explorer seems to handle the spaces just fine. So if you like to start in a folder called C:\My Downloaded Files, the Target line would look like "%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /e,\C:\My Downloaded Files" without the quotes.

Now click OK. You can move or copy the icon anywhere you like such as the Quick Launch bar, or elsewhere on the desktop.
Q, programmer, queue

Defaults Are For Newbies

I'm often asked what changes I make to a new Windows installation and what software I install first. I'll use XP as an example, but most of these changes work with other versions of Windows as well. I'll save the explanation of how to accomplish some of these items for future posts, but you can probably find them with google.

  • Show the Quick Launch tool bar in the taskbar

  • Customize my Windows Explorer settings (unhide all files, show extensions, etc.)

  • Copy Windows Explorer and Command Prompt shortcuts to the desktop and to the quick launch bar

  • Customize the Taskbar and Start Menu settings

  • Customize the desktop, display settings, and install drivers as necessary

  • Install anti-virus and firewall software

  • Install Tweak UI and customize settings

  • Install Command Prompt Here power toy

  • Install the old Windows 95 Target power toy (yes, even in XP)

  • Install any office productivity software (such as Microsoft Office)

  • Download and install all patches, recommended updates, etc.

  • Hack the sysoc.inf file to unhide all Windows components, then forcibly remove MSN Explorer and Windows Messenger.

  • Install all other software I may want on the machine

I keep all software that I regularly install on a USB memory stick so that I am always ready to create new installations. The whole process from clean hard drive to customized, functioning system takes me less than 2 hours.
Q, programmer, queue

In The Beginning...

Welcome to The Programmer Queue!

Read my profile to find out where I'm coming from with all of this. But to keep it short and simple, my goal here is to share computer knowledge, whether it be programming, tips, tricks, helpful hints, or an occasional complaint about the way things are or are not.

Feel free to comment or E-Mail me any questions you have. I may be able to answer some of them, but I'll try to at least say if I don't know or can't find a solution.