The Wonderful Icon
May 14, 2006: Easily type characters that aren't on your keyboard
If you often have to type characters like ñ or é using a US keyboard which doesn't have these keys, you may already know the Windows trick that lets you enter these characters: you type their special code on the number pad while holding down the Alt key. For instance, typing Alt+0241 creates the ñ character. This technique requires you to memorize each special symbol's letter, which can be very painful. The Wonderful Icon can help! The Wonderful Icon can create special keyboard shortcuts for these keys. In the Configuration window, under the Hotkeys tab, choose the "Hardware Emulation" category. You will see a command named "Type Alt+0xxx Extended Character". This is the command to use. Select the command, enter a hotkey, and choose which character should be generated when this hotkey is typed. In the picture below, the Wonderful Icon has been configured to type Ñ whenever Ctrl+Shift+N is typed. Pressing Ctrl+Shift+N is much easier to remember than "209"!

Configuring TWI to type tilde-N

If you need to set up multiple hotkeys for several different characters, that's easy. With the command selected, just press the "Duplicate" button to create another copy of the "Type Alt+0xxx Extended Character" command. The extra copies can be configured differently than the original.

An even easier way to configure multiple Alt+0xxx keys all at once is to use the "Original Style" configuration mode. Simply go to the Options tab and check the box labeled "Show Keystroke Commands In the original-style format." When you return to the Hotkeys tab, you will find that hundreds of duplicates have been pre-made for you!

Configuring special keys while the original-style display mode is enabled

Once you've set up any special keys you need, you can forget all those weird number codes forever! One last tip: if you need extra hotkey keystrokes, remember that you can use the Windows key on your Microsoft keyboard as part of hotkeys. For instance, you could configure Win+Alt+N to type Ñ.

Is this a feature that should be expanded on? If you use this feature and would like to see it expanded in a particular way, send in your suggestions!

May 4, 2006: Keep an extra clipboard handy
Did you know that The Wonderful Icon has a simple feature for storing and retrieving text from your clipboard? Check out the commands entitled "Save Clipboard" and "Restore Clipboard". You can either assign shortcut keys to these from the Hotkeys tab, or you can use the Menu Layout tab to drag these commands onto the Wonderful Icon's menu. Whichever way you access them, they work the same way: Together, these two commands can let you have an extra "scratch pad" to store text.

This is a newer feature of The Wonderful Icon, and as such, it can only store text -- it cannot store pictures or other data. Is this a feature that should be expanded on? If you use this feature and would like to see it expanded in a particular way, send in your suggestions!

April 27, 2006: Give your desktop a makeover!

Turn these big desktop icons:

Big Icons

Into compact icons like this:

Mini-Icons

Do you have dozens of icons littering your desktop? The Wonderful Icon can help you take control of this mess by changing how those icons are displayed. This feature isn't in the Configuration dialog, so you have to take an extra step to turn it on. All you have to do is adjust your Wonderful Icon desktop shortcut or start-menu shortcut and type in a few weird letters (known as "command line options"). It's easy -- here's how.

  1. Does The Wonderful Icon automatically start up whenever you turn on your computer? If so, let's change how it starts up. Click on the "Start" Button, click "All Programs", then click "Startup". You should see a menu entry for "The Wonderful Icon". Right-click this menu entry -- another menu will appear. On this menu, choose "Properties". (If The Wonderful Icon doesn't start up automatically, then you probably have a desktop shortcut to the program. Just right-click that icon and choose "Properties" to adjust this icon.)

  2. You will now be looking at a window that says "The Wonderful Icon Properties". On the line that says "Target:", you will see text that looks like this:

    "C:\Program Files\Wonderful\wonderfl.exe"

    All you need to do is add a few special letters to the end of this line. Make it look like this:

    "C:\Program Files\Wonderful\wonderfl.exe" -@S -@T

  3. Now press the OK button. To see the changes, restart your computer (or click the desktop icon, if you have one).

  4. Don't like the look? It's easy to fix! Bring up that same window again and remove the letters you added. When you reboot, the change will be gone.

While you're at it, there are a few more desktop styles modes you might like. The Wonderful Icon understands a few other letters; here's what each letter means:

-@S means "small icons"
-@T means "transparent backgrounds" -- makes older OSes (like Windows ME) look a lot better!
-@R means "report mode" -- this shows lots of information about your desktop icons
-@L means "list mode" -- this is like small icons mode, but it enforces more orderliness on your desktop

So don't be afraid to try -@R or -@L and see if you like the look!

Here's what the small icon transparent mode, -@S -@T, looks like in action:

Small Icons in action