Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Articles that contain a collection of useful, but not well known features or hacks to achieve something. Where a HOWTO focusses on a single topic a tips and tricks article might cover a number of topics.

OS/2 Tips & Tricks


This is a repost of a Tips & Tricks page I had on my old homepage. I have slightly updated it, but consider this a historic document anyway.

Even without special programs you can do a lot with OS/2 Warp 4.0 to make your life easier. In this section I will discuss some well, and some less well known tricks.I must say thank you to the magazines and sites which published many of these tips before. Without them this list would be a lot shorter. The most important of these are OS/2 Inside, OS/2 Magazine and Cincy TeamOS/2, which all unfortunately don’t exist anymore. All the tips discussed here work equally well on eComStation!

Please note that Stardock, though still listed here has withdrawn from the OS/2 market, the Stardock product can only be bought while stocks last at the resellers (like Mensys).

Commandline tricks

Some of the OS/2 Commandline commands have undocumented features that are really useful.

  1. DIR: Besides the documented parameters /A /B /F /L /N /O /P /R /S /W has this command one undocumented parameter /V. When this parameter is used, the attributes of the files will be showed too.
  2. FORMAT: Format has also one undocumented parameter, and one that was wanted by many OS/2 users. With the parameter /Q you can perform a quick format. Combined with the /ONCE and the /V:"label" parameter you can format your disk really quick.
  3. DHCPMON: The PMShell DHCP Monitor can also work in commandline mode, and has some usefull, undocumented (well, if you look in the binary you can find them) parameters:
    • -l: release lease
    • -r: renew lease
    • -t: terminate
    • -v: verbose
    • -qQUEUENAME: send commands to the named queue
  4. You can open a folder in the WPS from the commandline if you create a rexx file open.cmd like this: 
    /* Open a folder in the WPS */
    call RxFuncAdd SysLoadFuncs, RexxUtil, SysLoadFuncs
    call SysLoadFuncs
    arg folder
    call SysOpenObject folder, 'icon', _wpOpen
  5. If you drop a file on the commanline prompt, it will open a commandline and directly go to the directory in which the file resides.


  1. First of all you can make your WarpCenter more stable by removing WARPCENTER from the line SET AUTOSTART= in your config.sys and place a shadow of the WarpCenter object in the StartUp folder.
  2. You can let the drives pop-up more quickly by replacing the drives folder on the WarpCenter with a drives folder with only the fixed disks on it. If wanted you can put the removable media in a separate folder on the WarpCenter.
  3. You can open the properties of an object in the WarpCenter by pressing the Ctrl key while clicking on the object with the mouse.
  4. It is easy to hide all programs from the WarpCenter. In the Window List just select the desktop.
  5. You can add a kill function to the SmartCenter by adding the following line to your config.sys:
  6. You can also replace the find utility by another program by adding the following line to your config.sys:
  7. You can change the behaviour of the WarpCenter menus to follow your mousepointer (like in Windows) by adding the following line to your config.sys: 
  8. And finally you can change the appearance of the clock by adding this line to your config.sys: 

Workplace Shell

  1. You can prevent the WPS from starting applications during startup by pressing Ctrl-LeftShift-F1 when the desktop first appears.
  2. You can easily create a one-click unpacker for the Workplace Shell. To do this do the following. (In the example I use unzip.exe, but you can substitute that with most archivers).
    1. Create an unzip object with as filename unzip.exe and associate this program object with *.zip.
    2. To extract an archive, just copy it to its own directory and double click.
  3. You can use any bitmap in a format that OS/2 knows as your desktop background. (for example .JPG, .GIF, .BMP), so you can save diskspace by converting your background image to JPEG.
  4. You can also easily change your background image by drag and drop. Just drop the image on the preview space on the background page of the properties notebook.
  5. You can scroll a window in the background by pressing the control key while scrolling. In the same way you can move a window in the background by using the control key while moving the window.

Useful utilities

There are a lot of useful utilities for OS/2 Warp. I will here only list a few of them. These utilities all can be found on Hobbes or the OS/2 Supersite or are commercial programs. Most of the authors also have their own pages on the internet, or an email address.

  1. The Netlabs projects: The most promising set of open source projects can be found here.
    • Project Odin intends to support Windows 32 bit applications on OS/2 and already shows a lot of potential.
    • WarpIN is a new universal installer for OS/2 which looks quite good and is very easy to use.
    • XWorkplace the successor to XFolders is the new desktop enhancer for OS/2.
  2. Sound Scheme Manager: Well, maybe it is no fair play to name this program here, because I am the author. This program allows you to change Sound Schemes or create new Sound Schemes. It only works on OS/2 Warp 4.x, and for the current 1.0 version REXX must be installed. (I will release a 1.1 version written in C and with additional functionality soon.)
  3. ASCII Table: Well, another utility written by me. This utility let you select any character from a font and copy it to your clipboard for use in another application. It has an MLE, where you can compose your complete text before copying it to the clipboard. This utility is freeware and sourcecode is included.
  4. Warp Enhancer: This program I consider a must have utility. It enables you to use the Win95 keys found on most new keyboards, but that is not the main function. It adds lots of functionality to the WPS, like Window List filtering, a Status Bar on folders, third mouse button support, easy copy / past on OS/2 and DOS windows, and an enhanced shutdown.
  5. NPSWPS: This program overlaps partially with Warp Enhancer, but offers some other functions too. This program can make your desktop prettier and more fun with animations, etc., but also offers some functional enhancements.
  6. YAOS: Yet Another OS/2 Shell, is not what it’s name suggests yet another shell for OS/2. It is very powerful, and has a lot of functions sourly missed from the standard OS/2 shell, like for example aliases. This is a must have utility for commandline guru’s.
  7. Process Commander: Did one of your programs ever bring the WPS down, than Process Commander is something for you. With this program you can terminate those programs that can’t be closed from the Windows List.
  8. Object Desktop: This program is for everyone who wants to get more out of their OS/2 system. It combines functional enhancements to the WPS with aesthetical enhancements.
  9. AIXLike: People who use UNIX will certainly appreciate this set of tools. It is a port of some of the most important UNIX utilities to OS/2. With this package you have grep, rm, wc, ps, etc.. With just a few more utilities every UNIX user would feel at home on your PC.
  10. XFree86: a free port of X Windows to OS/2. With XFree86 porting of UNIX X-Windows programs to OS/2 becomes easy. Already quite a few programs are ported to OS/2 using XFree86
  11. DirMaster: a powerful customizable filemanager for OS/2. You can do anything you want to do on the command prompt with this program. This program together with TrashCan is part of OS/2 Essentials.
  12. TrashCan: TrashCan puts a real trashcan on your desktop. Now you can undelete programs by drag and drop.This program together with DirMaster is part of OS/2 Essentials.