Secret Windows Software You Already Own

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By Chris PirilloMay 9, 2002

I like downloading software, but did you know that some of the best utilities are probably already hiding on your hard drive? I’ll show you how to find these helpful utilities; before you scour the Internet, uncover these goodies and give them a try.


I’m talking about Windows stuff here, primarily Windows 2000 or XP. Here’s a list of the hidden software and how to use it.

  • IExpress

    Have you ever wanted to make a customized self-extracting executable? You already have the tool. IExpress’ wizard will step you through the process, and in a matter of minutes, you’ll have something ready for download. To use IExpress, open the Run box and type, “iexpress.exe”.

  • Microsoft Word Script Editor

    You know how annoying it can be when, in the middle of typing a document, suddenly a paragraph’s formatting changes. Argh! I didn’t want to do that! How can I stop this from happening? Look no further than the built-in script editor. Open it by pressing Alt + Shift + F11 on your keyboard. Newer Word documents are done in XML, so you can easily edit the source to your heart’s content.

  • Vintage Windows Media Player

    If you’re like me, you hate the new Windows Media Player. Sure, it’s skinnable, but it also sucks up a lot of resources. Did you know the old one is still there? Yep, it’s now called “mplayer2.exe”. Just type the name in the Run box.

  • On-screen keyboard

    Keyboard stuck? Don’t wanna reboot? Use the on-screen keyboard. It’s an accessibility tool, but it’ll work just as well for anybody. To get to it, open the Windows folder, then open the System32 folder. The application is in this folder, and it’s called, “osk.exe”.

  • Winchat

    Instant messaging is fun, but what if you don’t want to install any of that kind of software on your machine? Launch Winchat, and then connect with another buddy on your network (your buddy also has to run Winchat). It’s not incredibly useful, but still, it’s there. To use Winchat, open the Run box and type, “winchat.exe”.

  • Get more processing power

    In the Run box, type, “Rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks”. This frees up any idle tasks running in the background so that XP devotes its full attention to what you want it to do.


Chris Pirillo is the host of Call for Help.