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How to Find Useful Free Script Programs for Windows XP
There are many free and useful small batch and script files. No special knowledge is required for their use and an assortment of handy programs is discussed.

Within Windows XP are some powerful features allowing the user to write and/or run very useful short programs for carrying out various system and file tasks and tweaks. These programs make use of the command line or scripting. Examples of using the command line are discussed on a sister site.

Although the average PC user may not be interested in actually writing a batch file or script, many useful scripts already exist and are readily available. However, for the most part, the average PC user tends to overlook these resources. This is unfortunate since there are many ways that batch files or scripts can simplify routine tasks or help configure or repair the system. Using a script or batch file is no more complicated than clicking on it so there is no reason not to take advantage of these handy little programs

One possible reason for their neglect is that knowledge of their availability is not as widespread as it could be. Another factor is the misconception by many that their use requires advanced expertise. Their usage is actually simpler than that of most standard programs; a single file designed for one particular task with no installation is generally all that is involved. Because harmful scripts are easy to write, many anti-virus programs automatically warn against scripts, thereby putting people off from using scripts at all. As long as scripts are obtained from reliable sources, these standard warnings should not prevent you from using a script.

What programs are available

Various people have written a host of different programs and have made them freely available. References in the last section indicate where many can be found. Probably the most useful collection for average PC users is at Kelly Theriot's admirable (one might even say monumental) site, "Kelly's Korner". There are also many scripts (with explanations) at the ongoing series by the Microsoft Scripting Guys. Another sizable collection is the Microsoft script repository.

A possible problem for a less experienced PC user is making appropriate choices from the variety of scripts that are available. Many are quite specialized and address specific problems that do not apply to everybody. However, there are some that I think just about anybody can use. The next section discusses a few of these. This is a personal selection and you may very well find others that interest you. These particular examples will illustrate the power and versatility of script programs. Also, I have created some that are specifically written for the average PC user and these are on the next page.

A selection from the Web of useful scripts

To use the scripts mentioned here, simply download them to a convenient place and unzip if necessary. Then simply click the file. Anti-virus or anti-spyware programs may give a warning but the scripts mentioned here all come from reliable sources. If you try one and don't like it, you can just delete it.

SpellCheck
This file from Bill James will spell-check the contents of the Windows clipboard. Requires Microsoft Word 97 or higher to be present. To use, copy text to be spell-checked, then click on the script or a shortcut to the script. Useful for checking anything that might be copied to the clipboard.
List installed programs
Another from Bill James. Lists installed software as shown in the Registry Uninstall key.
Find your IP address
Also from Bill James. As more people are networked, it becomes more common to want to know the IP address of a computer. This program lets you find the IP of other computers on a network as well as for your own.
Toggle whether "hidden" files are shown
By default, files with the "hidden" attribute are not shown in Windows Explorer or My Computer. This script from Kellys-Korner can be used to toggle the setting so that this type of file is shown or not shown.
List what's running at startup
"Silent Runners" script by Andrew Aronoff helps to find spyware and adware.
Simple way to manage Internet Explorer cookies
This file is based on an old script written for Windows 98 by Neil Rubenking of PC Magazine. I have revised it to run on Windows XP. It gives an easy way to keep Internet Explorer cookies that you need while discarding any that you do not want.

References

The next page gives some examples of scripts that I have written specifically for average PC users.


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