Scrap files scrapped

Windows is a complicated operating system and has many properties and features that most PC users are unaware of. One of the odder and lesser known features in Windows 98/XP was something called a scrap file. I wrote about scrap files some years ago in connection with their use by virus writers. I visit the subject again to note that, beginning with Vista, Windows no longer supports scrap files.

What were scrap files supposed to do? They were intended as a kind of handy way to copy a small part of a document onto the desktop where it could be kept and then used in another file. Only a few applications, mostly Microsoft Office, supported this function, however, and very few PC users even knew about it.

To see how a scrap file works in Windows XP, open a Word document. Then highlight some text and use the mouse to drag the highlighted material onto the desktop. A new file will appear. Double-click the file and a Word document containing the text will open. Or drag the scrap file and drop it into an open Word document and the text will appear in the Word document. With a slightly different procedure, images can also be manipulated. In that case, however, you need to use a right-click drag and make a selection from the context menu.

Because of backward compatibility considerations, Microsoft doesn’t often drop a Windows feature. But scrap files were little known or used and had some security issues so this feature was omitted from Vista and 7.

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