I'd like to delete small icons for hidden programs that appear when I open folders in Windows XP.
Also how do I know if the hidden programs are doing anything?
Be very careful about deleting any of those hidden files. They can handle everything from controlling the way your computer displays the information in a given folder to providing essential instructions for the computer's operating system.
By default you should not be seeing these hidden files at all in Windows XP. That's because deleting or moving them can cause major problems.
To find the toggle for showing or hiding these key parts of the operating system, click on the My Computer icon and then select Tools and Folder Options. This brings up a box with dozens of commands for changing the way your computer works, including displaying hidden files. If you check the box next to the "Do not show hidden files and folders" option, these pesky displays will stop.
You can then rest easy knowing that the operating system will warn you if some command you issue will delete these hidden files.
James Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached via e-mail at jcoates @tribune.com.