You can customize that multiboot menu and how your PC starts by editing the boot.ini file, a hidden system file, to control a variety of startup options, including how long to display the menu, which operating system should be the default, whether to use the XP splash screen when XP starts, and similar features. And as you’ll see later in this hack, you can also use the file to create a startup menu that will allow you to choose from different versions of your operating system—for example, one that you’ll use for tracking down startup problems, and another for starting in Safe Mode.

The boot.ini file is a plain text file found in your root C:\ folder. You might not be able to see it, because it’s a system file, and if you can see it, you might not be able to edit it, because it’s a read-only file. To make it visible, launch Windows Explorer, choose View Tools Folder Options View and select the radio button “Show Hidden Files and Folders.” To make it a file you can edit, right-click on it in Windows Explorer, choose Properties, uncheck the Read-Only box, and click OK.

To edit the file, open it with a text editor such as Notepad. Following is a typical boot.ini file for a PC that has two operating systems installed on it—Windows XP Home Edition and Windows Me:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home
Edition" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows 2000 Professional" /
fastdetect

As you can see, there are two sections in the file: [boot loader] and [operating systems]. To customize your menu and startup options, edit the entries in each section. Before editing boot.ini, make a copy of it and save it under a different name (such as boot.ini.old), so that you can revert to it if you cause problems when you edit the file.

In our example, if we want the menu to appear for 45 seconds, the default operating system to be Windows 2000, and the XP splash screen to be turned off when we choose to load XP, the boot.ini file should look like this:

[boot loader]
timeout=45
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home
Edition" /fastdetect /noguiboot
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows 2000 Professional" /
fastdetect

Post By Gishore J Kallarackal (2,121 Posts)

Gishore J Kallarackal is the founder of techgurulive. The purpose of this site is to share information about free resources that techies can use for reference. You can follow me on the social web, subscribe to the RSS Feed or sign up for the email newsletter for your daily dose of tech tips & tutorials. You can content me via @twitter or e-mail.

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