Windows 7 : Windows Management and Maintenance - System Tools Folder in Start Menu

10/12/2013 7:40:40 PM

Some of the most frequently used tools to manage your system can be accessed from the System Tools folder in the Start menu. To open the System Tools folder, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

Character Map

Character Map is a utility program that lets you examine every character in a given font and choose and easily insert into your documents special characters, such as trademark (™ and ®) and copyright symbols (©), currency symbols (such as ¥) and accented letters, nonalphabetic symbols (such as fractions, ¾), DOS line-drawing characters (+), items from specialized fonts such as Symbol and Wingdings, or the common arrow symbols (←, →, ↑, and ↓). Some fonts include characters not mapped to the keyboard. Character Map lets you choose them, too, from its graphical display. The Program Map displays Unicode, DOS, and Windows fonts’ characters.

By clicking the Advanced View check box, you can also choose the character set, rearrange the items in a font (such as grouping all currency types together) to eliminate hunting, and search for a given character.

Character Map works through the Windows Clipboard. You simply choose a character you want to use and click Copy, and it moves onto the Clipboard. Switch to your destination application (typically, a word processing file), position the cursor, and choose Paste.

Using Character Map

To run Character Map, follow these steps:

Choose Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Character Map.

Choose the font you want to work with from the Font list.

By default, the Character Set is Unicode. This means all the characters necessary for most of the world’s languages are displayed. To narrow down the selection, click the Advanced View check box and choose a language from the Character Set drop-down list.

To examine an individual character, click a character box, and hold down the mouse button to magnify it. You can accomplish the same thing with the keyboard by moving to the character using the arrow keys.

Double-click a character to select it, transferring it to the Characters to Copy box. Alternatively, after you’ve highlighted a character, you can click the Select button or press Alt+S to place it in the Characters to Copy box. You can keep adding characters to the Characters to Copy box if you want to paste several into your document at once.

Click the Copy button to place everything from the Characters to Copy box onto the Windows Clipboard.

Switch to your destination application, and use the Paste command (typically on the application’s Edit menu) to insert the characters into your document. In some cases, you might then have to select the inserted characters and format them in the correct font, or the characters won’t appear as you expected. You can, of course, change the size and style as you want.


If you know the Unicode number of the item to which you want to jump, type it into the Go to Unicode field. The display scrolls as necessary, and the desired character is then highlighted, ready for copying.

Choosing from a Unicode Subrange

A useful feature of Character Map lets you choose a Unicode subrange. Unicode was designed intelligently with characters grouped in sets. You can choose a subset of a font’s characters to help you locate a specific symbol. To check out this feature, open the Group By drop-down list and choose Unicode Subrange. When you choose this option, a box like the one shown in Figure 1 pops up.

Figure 1. Choosing a subset of a font from which to select a character.

Click the subgroup that you think will contain the character you’re looking for. Good examples are currency or arrows. Make sure to open the Group By list again and choose All when you want to see all the characters again.

Entering Alternative Characters from the Keyboard

At the bottom right side of the Character Map dialog box is a line that reads Keystroke.

For nonkeyboard keys (typically, in English, anything past the ~ character), clicking a character reveals a code on this line—for example, Alt+1060. This line tells you the code you can enter from the keyboard to quickly pop this character into a document. Of course, you must be using the font in question. For example, say you want to enter the registered trademark symbol (®) into a Windows application document. Note that with a standard text font such as Arial or Times New Roman selected in Character Map, the program lists the keystrokes for this symbol as Alt+0174. Here’s how to enter the character from the keyboard:

Press Num Lock to turn on the numeric keypad on your keyboard. (The Num Lock light should be on.)

Press and hold down Alt, and type the 0, 1, 7, and 4 keys individually, in succession, on the number pad. (You must use the number pad keys, not the standard number keys. On a laptop, you must activate the number pad using whatever special function key arrangement your laptop uses.) When you release the Alt key, the registered trademark symbol should appear in the document.


Not all programs accept input this way. If this approach doesn’t work with a program, you’ll have to resort to the standard means of putting characters into the Clipboard explained previously.

Wrong Characters Displayed When Pasting Characters from Character Map

Are characters pasted from the Character Map appearing in the wrong font?

When you paste a character from Character Map, the application you are pasting the character into might not recognize that the character is coming from a different font. In such cases, the character is mapped to the equivalent character in the current font. For example, if you copied the Pencil (0×21) character from the Wingdings OpenType font but pasted it into a program that uses the Nyala font by default, such as Windows 7 Paint, the character would change into the equivalent character in the other font (in Nyala’s case, an exclamation mark). To fix this problem, select the characters you pasted from Character Map and select the correct font in the Font menu of the destination program.

Private Character Editor

If you can’t find a character, the new Private Character Editor (see Figure 2) enables you to create one, assign it to selected or all fonts, and access it through Character Map.

Figure 2. Creating a new character with the Private Character Editor.

System Information

System Information is a simple but elegant tool. Opening this tool displays detailed information about your system, its hardware resources, components, and software environment. It brings together information that’s normally scattered across the main System dialog box, the Device Manager, and a myriad of other places.

To start System Information, launch it from the Tools tab of System Configuration, or enter msinfo32 in the Start button’s Search menu.

Use System Information to help you determine the best configuration for a legacy device, track down software problems, or determine the components in an unfamiliar system.

The top level, labeled System Summary, shows you basic information about your computer, OS revision number, CPU, RAM, virtual memory, page file size, BIOS revision, and so on (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. See a summary of your system properties easily from the System Summary node.

Three nodes appear in the left pane of System Information:

  • Hardware Resources— Displays hardware-specific settings, such as DMA, IRQs, I/O addresses, and memory addresses. The Conflicts/Sharing node identifies devices that are sharing resources or are in conflict. The Forced Hardware node indicates devices that are manually configured to share settings. This information can help you identify problems with a device.

  • Components— Provides a truly powerful view of all the major devices in your system. Open any subfolder and click an item. In a few seconds, information pertaining to the item is displayed, such as drive IDs, modem settings, and video display settings. In some cases, you can also see driver details. Check the folder called Problem Devices to see a list of all devices not loading or initializing properly.


    Ever wonder why some darned program starts up when you boot, even though it’s not in your Start Menu’s Startup folder? It’s probably hiding somewhere else. To find it, open System Information, travel down the path from System Summary, Software Environment, Startup Programs, and take a look. I found Adobe Photo Downloader, iTunes Helper, and Picasa Media Detector there (to name just three). To disable unwanted programs from running at startup, see the documentation for the programs, or use the MSConfig System Configuration Utility’s Startup tab to disable or enable startup items. Before you disable a startup program, though, make sure you really don’t need it. To learn more about startup programs, see the database of startup programs at

  • Software Environment— Acts like a super Task Manager. It displays details of 12 categories of software settings. You can see the system drivers, certified drivers, environmental variables, print jobs, network connections, running tasks, loaded modules, services, program groups, startup programs, OLE registration, and Windows error reporting.

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