Before you start editing Explorer.exe, keep a backup copy on a floppy disk or in a separate folder on your hard disk. It’s real easy to mess up with this file and destroy your computer.
Don’t try to edit Explorer.exe in DOS while running Windows. It’s a read-only file and Windows won’t allow you to edit it. Changing its attributes and editing it while running Windows, is also not advisable.
To edit it would be something that gives you the power to change everything in Windows. But, it’s not that simple. You need to know some basics before you can actually start editing it.
Okay, you’ve backed up Explorer.exe and want to know what to do next. Here goes.
Restart your computer in DOS. To do this click on Start>Shut Down and select Restart in MS-DOS.
Once you get the DOS Prompt, go to the Windows directory by typing:
Once you’re in the Windows directory, open the file Explorer.exe in the DOS Editor with the /70 parameter. To do this type:
C:\\windows>edit /70 explorer.exe
Here, "edit" opens the Microsoft editor, and explorer.exe is the name of the file you want to edit. "/70" stands for the number of columns, and sets the number of columns to 70. This makes it easy to read the file and you don’t have to keep scrolling.
After this, you’ll come across a blue screen—the MS-DOS editor—with the file you want to edit—Explorer.exe. At this point, the screen would look as if full of weird characters or something in machine language.
Let me start by describing what you’d be seeing.
The screen is full of weird characters like a heart, a smiley face, and other unrecognizable pieces of junk. Well, each symbol you see has a numerical value that you can see at the bottom right of the screen at VALUE:###.
To see what each symbol stands for, move your cursor over it and look at the bottom-right screen at VALUE:###. At the bottom, you’ll also see Line: #### which gives you the line number. You aren’t going to edit these symbols but edit the part of the files, which consists of these unrecognizable characters as well as text that you can understand. The understandable part begins at Line:1336.
The line numbers I’ll discuss here are on a Win 98 machine. To go to the recognizable part in Win 95, just scroll down and look for recognizable English.
Lines:1336 to 1354 let you change the text of your Taskbar Properties window. When you right click on the Taskbar and select Properties, a pop-up window comes up from where you can customize the Taskbar. It has options like Always on Top, Auto Hide, etc. You can change the text that appears anywhere in the window, even the text on the various buttons. However, before changing the text, read the following very carefully.
You must have noticed by now that in Explorer.exe, the text has a space between each character. This space is not the space of the spacebar. In Explorer.exe, the value of a space from the spacebar is 32 and the value of the spaces between characters is 0.
Another thing that you must have noticed is that there are many "&" symbols between the characters. This "&" signifies that the succeeding character, that is, the character that succeeds the "&" is underlined in Windows.
The underlined letter is used as a keyboard shortcut in Windows. For example, if the letter "S" is underlined, then it can be used as a shortcut for a particular operation.
Let’s take an example to make this clearer.
Let’s say, you want to edit the text on the Clear button, which is on the Taskbar Properties window under Start Menu Programs.
Originally the text is Clear, but you want it to be something like Klear. So, what do you do?
Go to Line 1354 and locate &C l e a r.
Remember that the spaces between each letter are not the spaces of the spacebar (value=32) but spaces whose value is 0. So, instead of &C l e a r, type &K l e a r keeping in mind that the spaces have a value of 0.
If you do press the spacebar by mistake, and want to replace it by value 0, you can click on any blank space in Explorer.exe whose value is 0, and copy/paste it to the space where you want it.
After making the necessary changes, save the file and restart Windows. Now, right-click on the Taskbar and select Properties. In the Taskbar Properties window, select the Start Menu Programs tab and voila, you see Klear on the button. If you press the K key on the keyboard, the button will be clicked. So, even keyboard shortcuts can be changed by editing Explorer.exe. However, I haven’t been able to devise a method to change the length of the word. Whenever I tried to do so, Explorer.exe crashed.
Going a bit further, the unrecognizable characters start again. The recognizable editable part starts again at Line:2323.
This part of the file can be used to edit the text that appears when you right click on the small clock on the taskbar as well as the text that appears when you right-click on the Taskbar itself.
Line:2334 to Line:2348 deal with what appears when you click the Start button. You can change "Shut Down" to any wacky name with the same number of characters, and also change anything on the Start menu.
Then further down are the Windows Error messages, which can be changed to some wacky error messages of your own.
Line:2390 lets you change the text on the Start button to anything you want, and that too of any length. You can even have your name on the Start button, even if it’s 132 characters long. To do this, look carefully at the text on Line:2390. You’ll find that a clubs symbol precedes S t a r t. If you move your cursor over the club, you’ll find that its value is five. So, the text after the clubs symbol, in this case S t a r t, has to be of five letters. If you want to replace Start and put something like Stop, which is four letters long, then you’ll have to search for a symbol whose numeric value is four and paste it over the clubs symbol. Now, the text succeeding this new symbol should be of four letters.