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How to create keyboard shortcuts for programs
Some folks prefer to keep their hands on the keyboard and use the mouse or trackball as little as possible. This allows for faster typing and input of commands. Want to start a program with a key combination instead of clicking through menus or clicking on desktop icons? It’s easy in XP:

  1. Right click the program icon in the Start menu (or a desktop shortcut to the program).
  2. Select Properties.
  3. Click the Shortcut tab.
  4. Click in the Shortcut Key field.
  5. Now press the combination of keys that you want to use to start the program. The combination must include two of the following keys: CTRL, ALT, SHIFT, plus one alphabetical, numeric or symbol character (for example, CTRL+SHIFT+Y).
  6. Click OK.

Security Accounts Manager Initialization Fails
If you start the computer and get an error message that says “Security Accounts Manager initialization failed because of the following error: a device attached to the system is not functioning,” it’s probably because your SAM file has become corrupted or accidentally deleted or moved. The SAM is the database that holds the computer’s user accounts. You can restore the file from backup or copy a clean SAM from the Windows Repair folder. For instructions on how to perform both of these tasks, see KB article 316751.

Fxssvc.exe causes an error message
If you get an error message on your Windows XP computer that says “Fxssvc.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close,” this can happen because one of the fax jobs in the Queue folder is corrupted. To fix the problem, you can delete the fax queue folder and restart the fax service. For Guided Help (which can automatically perform the necessary steps for you), see KB article 317450.

Taskbar won’t stay on top
If you can’t view the taskbar with a program window maximized on your XP SP1 or SP2 computer, even though you’ve selected the option to keep the taskbar on top of other windows in the Taskbar and Start Menu properties, you might need to get this hotfix from Microsoft. It can be obtained from Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) and you can find out more from KB article 884539.


Can’t find the Run command?
If you’re beta testing Vista you might find that the Run command has mysteriously disappeared. Well, presumably Microsoft took the Run command off the Start menu to discourage regular users from running commands that might mess up their computers. They might want to re-think that decision, as this is a complaint I’m hearing very often from those who are trying out the public beta. Luckily, the Run command is still there; it’s just hidden a little deeper:

To see the Run command, click Start | Programs, select Accessories and lo, there’s it is. Personally, I created a shortcut to it that I placed on the Quick Launch bar (you could also put a shortcut on the desktop if you prefer – just right drag the icon to the preferred location).

Where’s this new firewall functionality, anyway?
You’ve probably read that the Windows firewall in Vista is improved to allow you to create rules for outbound traffic. But if you double click on the Windows Firewall applet in Control Panel (or through the Security Center), you’ll probably be left scratching your head and wondering where you configure that. Well, here’s the secret: you have to create a custom Microsoft Management Console (MMC) to access the new features. Here’s how:

  1. In the Run box (see “Help! I can’t find the Run command!” in the Question Corner section if necessary), type mmc.exe.
  2. If you’re logged on as an administrator, click Continue at the prompt. If you’re logged on as a regular user, provide admin credentials.
  3. In the new, blank console, click File | Add/Remove snap-in.
  4. In the list of available snap-ins, scroll down and select Windows Firewall with Advanced Features.
  5. Click Add.
  6. In the Select Computer dialog box, select the local computer and click Finish.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Now you can manage the firewall’s inbound and outbound rules, computer connections and monitoring, import and export policies, etc. with the Windows Firewall MMC.

Deb Schinder