Monthly Questions And Answers For Windows XP

Please remember when reading these questions that there is more than one way to do most Windows XP tasks. The suggested answers below are one easy solution.

What do you think of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP; should I install it?

My beta test of it shows some issues with SMS and network issues. I have not run into any problems for home PCs. My suggestion is to wait a month after its release to see if any major issues are found. If none are found, I would then go and install it. Service Pack 2 has many new advanced security features that are important to Windows XP. This is an important question and update. Thanks!

My Windows XP does not have the program icons on the right of the “Start” button that I see on other Windows XP. Did my version just not come with it?

You are talking about the “Quick Launch Bar”. All versions of Windows XP include this feature that allows you to add icons to the area so you can launch a program quickly with out having to have an additional icon on the desktop hiding your wallpaper. Your “Quick Launch Bar” is probably just turned off. To turn on the “Quick Launch Bar”:

Quick Launch Bar

  • Right mouse click on an open space of the “Start Bar” (at the bottom of your Desktop screen).
  • Left mouse click on “Toolbars”.
  • Left mouse click on “Quick Launch” so that a check appears to the left as shown in the picture.

Thanks for the question; this is a very helpful tool!

How do I make a copy (picture) of my Desktop? Can I do this in Windows XP without having to purchase a separate program?

Yes! You should have a “Print Screen” or “Prt Scn” button towards the top right of the keyboard. Press this key and a picture copy of your “Desktop” should be placed in the clipboard (hidden storage space). Then open up the free “WordPad” (or another) program that comes with Windows XP From WordPad’s menu, choose “Edit”, “Paste”. Save or print your picture. This can be a helpful tool when trouble shooting a PC. Great question.

Does Windows XP not come with “Scandisk” like my Windows 98 PC use to have?

Yes, however it is called “Error Checking”. It is used to search your hard drive for physical errors. To get to it:

  • Left click on “Start” (bottom left of Desktop).
  • Left click on My Computer”.
  • Right mouse click on the device (C: drive) that you want to check for errors.
  • Choose “Properties”.
  • Click on the “Tools” tab.
  • Click on the “Check Now” button from the “error checking” area.


You probably want to run this utility once a month but also consider running “Disk Cleanup” from the “General” tab after “Error-Checking” and “Defragmentation” from the Tools” tab after Desk Cleanup”. You will find that these 3 utilities will keep Windows XP running smoother. Thanks!

How do I hide my startbar?

The “Start Bar” or “Taskbar” as it is also called, by default appears on the bottom of the Desktop screen. It can be moved to the top or sides of the desktop by simply dragging it around. It also has a feature to hide it so that it only appears when you bring the cursor down to the very edge of the screen. To do this hiding:

Hide Start Bar

  • Right mouse click on an open space of the “Start Bar” (at the bottom of your Desktop screen).
  • Left mouse click on “Properties”
  • From the “Taskbar and Start Menu” window (Taskbar tab), put a check in the box “Auto-hide the Taskbar”.
  • Click “OK”

This is a fun feature that can give you more visible space on the Desktop however, after a while, it may drive you crazy.

Windows XP Helpful Website:

Windows XP Super Site

Windows Knowledge Base Highlights

PC Hardware Troubleshooting

Windows XP Fixes

XP Troubleshooting Guide

If you have any Windows XP questions that you would like to see in this column, please email them to The top 5 most requested questions will appear in the Magazine each month along with new helpful Windows XP websites.