Windows Tips: Fix Windows Glitches by Re-registering Your DLLs

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Windows XP and 2000 store information about many of their functions in files known as dynamic link libraries, or DLLs. Information about the DLLs is stored in the Windows Registry. When a DLL file's Registry entry is corrupted, the OS may balk when opening files or Web pages, or otherwise misbehave. Fortunately, as tipster Dick Waller of Dayton, Ohio, points out, Windows' own regsvr32.exe tool lets you add DLL data back into the Registry.

Even if you aren't sure what DLL information is missing or corrupted, it doesn't hurt to re-register a DLL that was installed with Windows. Here are fixes for several common problems that are often caused by corrupt DLL Registry entries.

Put on a happy interface: Many problems can be fixed simply by re-registering Shell32.dll, which stores information about Windows' interface and is used to open files and Web pages. For example, re-installing this DLL will restore JPEG or GIF image previews under the Desktop tab of the Display Properties dialog box (right-click the desktop and choose Properties to see this dialog). It can also repair the ability to launch the Create Shortcut Wizard (right-click the desktop and choose New, Shortcut), as well as the double-click behavior of folder icons, which is easily corrupted (see the August 2005 Windows Tips for more on this glitch).

To restore this DLL, choose Start, Run, type regsvr32 /i shell32.dll, and press <Enter> (see FIGURE 1

FIGURE 1: Replace or repair DLL Registry entries with a command line in the Run box.
). (The /i switch stands for "install.") A message tells you if the command worked. (You may need to restart Windows to see the effect.)

Restore the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (XP only): If you can't view photos or faxes by double-clicking their file icons, re-register the viewer's DLL: Choose Start, Run, type regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll, and press <Enter>. Again, a message will pop up indicating whether the DLL reloading fixed the problem (see FIGURE 2

FIGURE 2: A message box tells you when you've successfully re-registered a DLL file.

Resuscitate the Add Network Places Wizard (XP only): Sometimes restoring a broken function requires that you run the regsvr32 /i command several times, once for each DLL whose data needs restoring. For example, if you click Add a network place in the left pane of the My Network Places folder window and nothing happens, you may be able to revive the Add Network Place Wizard by running three commands, one after the other, in Windows' Run box: Choose Start, Run, type regsvr32 /i netplwiz.dll, and press <Enter>. Now follow the same steps, but this time change the command line to regsvr32 /i mshtml.dll. Finally, run the command line regsvr32 /i shell32.dll.

Restore Quick Launch: If you right-click on your taskbar and choose Toolbars, Quick Launch, only to receive an error message telling you that the toolbar can't be created, you may be missing the Quick Launch folder, vital Registry entries, or some other important file. The Quick Launch folder should be in C:\Documents and Settings\profile name\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer (where profile name is the account you are logged into). If it's not there, you can either create it manually (click File, New, Folder inside the above-referenced folder and name it Quick Launch), or have Windows do it for you. For the latter option, choose Start, Run, type ie4uinit.exe, and press <Enter>. Now try displaying the Quick Launch toolbar again.

If it's still a no-go, choose Start, Run, type regsvr32 /i shell32.dll, and press <Enter>. Next, click Start, Run, type regsvr32 /i browseui.dll, and press <Enter>.

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