Software Technologies

Winstep Xtreme FAQ

Here you will find a list of common questions associated with Winstep Xtreme. The core applications of Winstep Xtreme are NextSTART (menus and task management), Workshelf (Shelf and Desktop Modules) and Nexus Ultimate (Docks).

Keep in mind that, to save resources, under Winstep Xtreme the functionality of the Shelf, Docks (Nexus) and Winstep Modules has been merged into a single executable (workshelf.exe) and therefore share a common Preferences GUI.


Q) Does Winstep Xtreme contain Spyware or Adware?

A) Winstep Xtreme does NOT contain any Spyware or Adware of any kind.

Q) Will Winstep Xtreme slow down my system?

A) Winstep Xtreme is very light on resources, so any performance hit is usually negligible. You can run Xtreme without any problems on Pentium II machines at 150 MHz or even less. Note, however, that the amount of processing power used will depend mainly on how many desktop modules you have running at the same time, effects you have enabled, and on the complexity of the theme you are using. A theme that uses a lot of animations will obviously be more processor intensive than one that has none.

Q) Does Winstep Xtreme use a lot of memory?

A) No. Actual memory usage is mainly dependent on the current theme and how many objects you have open at the same time, as bitmaps need to be stored in memory. There is also a trade off between memory usage and performance, since some things need to be cached in memory to improve performance. You can, if you want, balance performance vs. memory usage yourself in the Advanced tab of WorkShelf Preferences by clicking on the Performance Settings button.

Q) Will Winstep Xtreme change my Windows system files?

A) No. Winstep Xtreme runs just like any other normal application and does not change Windows system files in any way, shape or form. It's perfectly safe to run, and easy to operate - you won't get in trouble if you run it, don't worry.

Q) Is it easy to get back to 'normal' Windows?

A) Yes. In fact, all you have to do is exit Winstep Xtreme like you would any other application and you're back to normal Windows.

Q) Can I run Winstep Xtreme as the Shell?

A) Winstep Xtreme is a shell enhancement designed to run on top of Explorer, not a shell replacement. You can run it as the shell if you want (in fact, you can even run Notepad as the shell), but this is not supported. Nothing stops you, however, from running Winstep Xtreme along with other shells - such as LiteStep.

Q) Is Winstep Xtreme compatible with the 64 bit versions of Windows and Vista/7?

A) Yes.

Q) Is there a 64 bit version of Winstep Xtreme?

A) There is no 64 bit version, nor is there any reason that there should be one. Unlike popular belief dictates, the only real advantage 64 bit applications have over 32 bit ones is that the former can use more than 2 GB of RAM. On the other hand, there are a lot of disadvantages: 64 bit versions use way more memory and have trouble living in a world where most applications are still 32 bit.

Q) Is Winstep Xtreme multi-user compatible?

A) Yes, settings are individual to each user and the installed themes are shared between all users. You can even make Winstep Xtreme start automatically at log on for some users but not for other users.

Q) Does Winstep Xtreme work with multiple monitors?

A) Yes, Winstep Xtreme is fully multi-monitor compatible.

Q) How do I uninstall Winstep Xtreme?

A) Why would you want to do that? Now seriously, just like you would any other normal application: exit all Winstep applications first and uninstall Winstep Xtreme from the Add/Remove Programs applet (Programs and Features applet in Windows 7) in the Windows Control Panel.


Q) How do I install new themes?

A) There is a tutorial dedicated to this subject here.

Q) Can I use skins for 3rd party docks with the Nexus dock version in Winstep Xtreme?

A) Yes. Note, however, that only docks are able to use the 3rd party skins - unlike what happens with native Winstep themes, which skin every aspect of Winstep Xtreme.

Q) How can I apply a skin made for a 3rd party dock to a single Nexus dock?

A) Open the Themes tab of that dock's Properties dialog and select the theme you want from the list of available themes. Only that dock will switch to the new theme.

Q) How can I apply a skin made for a 3rd party dock to all my Nexus docks at once?

A) Open the Themes tab in WorkShelf Preferences and change 'WorkShelf (All Items)' at the top to 'Nexus'. You should now be able to see all available Nexus themes, including the skins made for 3rd party docks. Themes applied from here will affect all currently open docks.

Q) How do I prevent Xtreme from changing my wallpaper every time I change a theme?

A) Open the General tab in either NextSTART or WorkShelf Preferences and enable the 'Prevent themes from changing your current wallpaper' setting.

Q) How do I apply a wallpaper belonging to a different theme?

A) Open the Themes tab in NextSTART or WorkShelf Preferences and select 'Wallpaper' from the combo box at the top. This will list all the wallpapers provided by the currently installed native Winstep themes. Now select the wallpaper you want to apply.

Q) How do I colorize WorkShelf context menus to match my colorized NextSTART menus?

A) Open WorkShelf Preferences -> Themes tab -> Advanced -> Enable 'Use the menu theme currently active in NextSTART'.

Q) Can I use independent themes/backgrounds for the Shelf, docks, desktop modules, etc...?

A) Yes. Open the Themes tab in WorkShelf Preferences and change 'WorkShelf (All Items)' to the name of the object (e.g.; Clock, CPU Meter, Nexus, Shelf) you want to apply an independent theme to. The theme you select will only be applied to that object.

Q) Can I lock the theme/background used in a specific module/widget so it never changes?

A) Yes. Open the Themes tab in WorkShelf Preferences, click on the Advanced button and use the Theme locks available to you in that configuration dialog. Alternatively, right-click on the module you want to lock and select 'Lock Theme' from the context menu that pops up.

Q) I'm using the Leopard dock theme and I noticed that when I want to make the dock icons smaller than x pixels, the table starts to bend. Is there a way to fix it so the table doesn't distort?

A) The Leopard theme features a 2D dock background bitmap trying to represent a 3D background. As such, the background will distort when proportions are not correct - try increasing or decreasing the size of the icon reflections. This is an issue with every dock, obviously, as docks are not 3D renderer programs.

Q) I'm using the Leopard dock theme and there is a large gap between the dock and maximized windows.

A) To maintain the 3D proportion, the Leopard theme background bitmap features a large transparent area which makes it look like there is a large gap between the dock and maximized windows. You won't have this problem if you use another dock background.


Q) Is there a manual or User Guide available for Winstep Xtreme?

A) While most Windows customization programs don't have anything that could be even remotely called a manual or User Guide, Winstep Xtreme had a very detailed one up until version 9.5.

The problem is that after v9.5 Winstep Xtreme's User Interface was completely rebuild from scratch, invalidating the old User Guide. The new one is still under construction, which is why the Help button currently points to this online FAQ (writting documentation is a huge pain, which is why most programs will skip having one if they can get away with it).

If it helps, have a look at the old User Guides: you can find them online here (WorkShelf/Nexus) and here (NextSTART). Obviously, a lot of what is written there will no longer apply.

Q) Is there a way to backup all my Winstep Xtreme settings?

A) Yes, but for giving the user the most flexibility, you have to do a separate backup for each Winstep application: to backup NextSTART settings, open the Advanced tab of NextSTART Preferences and click on the Backup button. To backup your current dock, Shelf, and module settings, open the Advanced tab of WorkShelf Preferences and click on the Backup Button.

Q) Is there a way to backup all my Winstep Xtreme settings automatically?

A) No, you have to do it manually. See above.

Q) I did something wrong, how do I go back to the default Winstep Xtreme configuration?

A) If you previously used the built-in Backup feature, you can use it to restore your settings to a stable configuration, otherwise you can reset them to installation defaults in the 'Troubleshooting Options' dialog available from the Advanced tab of each application's Preferences screen.

Q) How do I disable the sound effects?

A) Check the 'Disable all sounds' setting in the Sounds tab in Preferences for both NextSTART and WorkShelf.

Q) How do I make Xtreme automatically hide the icons on the Desktop at startup?

A) Open the General tab of either NextSTART or WorkShelf Preferences and select 'Hide desktop icons'.

Q) How do I access the Desktop after hidding Desktop icons?

A) You can do that either from the Desktop tab of the Shelf or from the Desktop sub-menu of the main NextSTART menu. Both accept drag & drop operations into and from them.

Q) How do I make the docks and the Shelf auto-hide as soon as I mouse away from them?

A) Docks and the Shelf may only auto-hide once you click on another window, so they remain open and available for as long as possible, or they can be made to auto-hide as soon as you mouse away from them. You can change this behavior by clearing the 'Hide or collapse automatically only when other windows have the focus' setting in the Advanced dialog of the Behavior tab of either the Dock Properties or Shelf Properties dialog.


Q) What does the Nexus control icon do?

A) Right clicking the control icon gives you quick access to the dock's settings menu, and double clicking it allows you to manually hide the dock. The Nexus control icon can also be used to quickly delete a dock, by dragging and dropping it into the Recycle Bin module, or to turn a dock into a sub-dock, by dropping the control icon into another dock or the Shelf.

Q) Can I remove the Nexus control icon from the dock?

A) Yes, just like you would any other icon: right-click on it and select 'Remove from dock'.

Q) How do I disable a dock?

A) Open the Docks & Shelves tab of Workshelf Preferences and uncheck the 'Enabled' setting for the dock you want disabled. Disabling the dock will NOT cause its contents to be lost. Deleting the dock using the 'Delete Dock' button at the bottom of the same Preferences tab, however, will.

Q) Is there a way to prevent the dock from overlapping the desktop icons?

A) Yes. Enable the setting that prevents maximized windows from overlapping the dock.

Q) How do I move a dock when it's floating on the screen?

A) Press the ALT key and then left click anywhere on the dock and drag. If you don't use the ALT key, you will have to click on an empty space of the dock or you will initiate a drag & drop operation for the clicked icon.


Q) How do I disable the Shelf?

A) Open the Docks & Shelves tab of WorkShelf Preferences and uncheck the 'Enabled' setting for the Shelf. Disabling the Shelf will NOT cause contents to be lost, and you can re-enable it later.

Q) What is the quickest way to access the Shelf Properties dialog?

A) Right click on the Shelf's left mini-tab to pop up the Shelf's control menu and select 'Shelf Properties'. Note that left clicking the left mini-tab opens WorkShelf Preferences.

Q) How many different types of tabs does the Shelf support?

A) Currently there are 18 tab types available and the names are pretty self-explanatory - some of the tabs are set up by default when you start Winstep Xtreme for the first time:

Regular tab, Desktop, Recent Documents, Control Panel, Active Tasks, RAS Connections, Drives (My Computer), Startup, Send To, Printers, Network Connections, Templates, My Documents, Recycler, Show Folder, Quick Launch, Themes and System Tray.

Q) How do I add more tabs to the Shelf?

A) Either right click on a tab title and select 'Add/Insert New Tab' or open the Shelf Properties dialog and do it from the Content tab, which gives you further options.

Q) How do I add a tab to the Shelf that shows the contents of a folder in my hard drive?

A) Follow the instructions in the previous question to add a new tab to the Shelf and, in the configuration dialog, change Tab Type from 'Regular' to 'Show Folder Tab'. You can now type in the path to the folder you want associated with that particular tab.

Q) Can I re-arrange tab items?

A) Yes, but only for Regular and Active Tasks tab types. The Shelf is able to display several different tab types, but you can split those into two main groups: 'Regular' Shelf tabs, in which the tab acts like a dock and where you can re-arrange items at will, and tabs which show the contents of folders/virtual folders on your PC. The latter group, being a 'window' into a folder in your hard disk or a virtual shell folder, cannot have the content re-arranged, and its contents are always displayed in alphabetical order.

Q) How do I re-arrange tabs in the Shelf?

A) Left click and drag the tab title to the new position. You can also do this from the Contents tab of the Shelf Properties dialog.

Q) How do I delete a tab from the Shelf?

A) Right click the tab title and select 'Delete This Tab'. You can also do this from the Contents tab of the Shelf Properties dialog.

Q) How do I rename a tab in the Shelf?

A) Right click the tab title and select 'Rename This Tab'. You can also do this from the Contents tab of the Shelf Properties dialog.

Q) How do I make the Shelf always display more than one row of icons?

A) Open the Appearance tab of the Shelf Properties dialog, click on the Advanced button and change the number of icon rows the Shelf should display when open.

Q) Can I make the Shelf display the full content of a tab without having to scroll?

A) Yes. Double click the tab title - the Shelf will automatically expand to show all the icons in that tab, provided they all fit on the screen at once, of course. Double click the tab title again to make the Shelf return to normal size.

Q) How can I temporarily prevent the Shelf from auto-collapsing?

A) Manually uncollapse the Shelf by clicking on the right mini-tab. The Shelf will remain open until you click on the right mini-tab again.

Q) Can I use a keyboard shortcut (hot key) to open a specific tab in the Shelf?

A) Yes, and the keyboard shortcut will automatically uncollapse the Shelf (if collapsed), bring it forward and open the associated tab. You can associate a keyboard shortcut to a tab by right clicking on the tab name and selecting 'Tab Properties'. You can also do this from the Contents tab of the Shelf Properties dialog.


Q) Can I make the Desktop Modules appear and disappear on demand like Apple's Dashboard?

A) Yes, by clicking on the 'Show/Hide Desktop Modules' icon that should be on your dock by default. Not that 'Show/Hide Desktop Modules' is an Internal Command and be also added to other docks, the Shelf and NextSTART menus.

Q) How do I disable a Desktop Module?

A) Right click on the Desktop Module and select 'Close Module' from the context menu. You can do the same from the Modules tab in Workshelf Preferences.

Q) How do I open a specific Desktop Module?

A) Open the Modules tab in Workshelf Preferences, select the module you want to be visible on the Desktop, and enable the 'Show this module on the desktop' setting. Alternatively, right click on any open module and open the module you want from the 'Desktop Modules' sub-menu.

Q) How do I move a Desktop Module around my desktop?

A) Left click and drag.

Q) How can I prevent accidentally dragging a Desktop Module out of position?

A) Right click on the Desktop Module and select 'Lock Position' from the context menu.

Q) The Desktop Modules in this theme are too large. Can I make them smaller?

A) Yes. Open the Modules tab in Workshelf Preferences and scale the modules down using the Size slider. Alternativelly, right click on the desired Desktop Module and select a new size from the Scale context menu.

Q) How do I prevent the clock module from announcing the time every hour?

A) Right click on the clock module and select 'Disable Time Announcement'.

Q) Can I make the RAM Meter module display physical rather than virtual memory usage?

A) The information displayed on the RAM Meter module is defined by the author of the theme you are currently using. You wouldn't want to do this anyway: physical memory usage is absolutely meaningless, as the OS will use (or try to) 100% of the physical memory at all times not only for applications but also for various caches, etc... What really matters is virtual memory usage.

Q) How do I get the Weather module to report weather conditions in my city?

A) The Weather module, by default, displays the weather conditions in New York City, United States, but is able to report weather conditions for over 39,000 cities all over the world. Right click on the Weather module and select 'Weather Module Settings'. In the dialog that pops up, select your country and then the city or location closest to you.

Q) How can I make the Email Checker module work with Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo?

A) You can find most of the settings you need in this page here. Don't forget to enable SSL encryption, which is required by all these email providers. Yahoo mail also requires a paid account.

Q) The Email Checker is displaying the wrong number of messages?

A) The Email Checker is not a full blown email client. The Email Checker simply asks the server how many messages are pending retrieval, and, if there are any, that's what it reports. It also keeps a counter of the number of messages in the server so it will only notify you again when more mail arrives. The notification, however, will tell you the total number of messages still in the server, not the number of messages that arrived between the new and previous notifications.

This counter is reset when the number of messages in the server is less than the value in the counter (which means mail has been retrieved in the mean time) or when you tell the Checker to launch the email client.

The Email Checker has no way of knowing which messages have already been read but left on the server.


Q) How do I prevent NextSTART from replacing my Windows taskbar?

A) Open the Taskbar tab in NextSTART Preferences and uncheck the 'Allow NextSTART to replace the Windows taskbar' setting.

Q) How do I make the Start Button in the NextSTART taskbar display the Windows Start Menu instead of the main NextSTART menu?

A) Right click on the Start Button and select 'Associate to Windows Start Menu'. Do the same to change back. Note that if you do this you can still access the NextSTART menu by bumping the top left screen corner with your mouse pointer.

Q) Can I use the WIN or CTRL-ESC keys to pop up my NextSTART menu instead of the Windows Start Menu?

A) No, and this is by design. We feel that the Windows Start Menu should always be available in case a user deletes his NextSTART menu by accident or renders it unusable... Besides, you can always use other hotkey combinations (CTRL-X or ALT-X key combinations) to activate the hotspot associated to the main NextSTART menu - it's just a question of getting used to the new keyboard shortcut.

Q) How do I prevent the Windows taskbar from still reserving screen space when hidden?

A) Temporarily show the Windows taskbar and set it to 'Auto-Hide'.

Q) Can I place modules on the NextSTART taskbar a la OS/2 Warp?

A) Yes. Right click on the desired Desktop Module and select 'Attach to NextSTART' from the context menu. You can also do this from the WorkShelf Section Settings dialog in the Taskbar tab of NextSTART Preferences, which also gives you extra options, but note that a desktop module must be open and running for NextSTART to be able to 'capture' it into the taskbar.

Q) Can I hide the background of the system tray control button?

A) Yes, but only if the system tray is attached to the NextSTART taskbar: right click on the system tray control button and select 'Hide Button Background'.

Q) How can I display the date next to the time in the system tray control button?

A) Right click on the system tray control button and select 'Show Date' (but read the question below, as this might make the taskbar automatically grow by one row).

Q) I can't make the NextSTART taskbar smaller than x rows!

A) The taskbar will automatically grow to accomodate the largest object in it and will not allow itself to be redimensioned below this size. Try decreasing the size of the icons on the taskbar, and/or not displaying the date on the system tray control button.


Q) How do I make sub-menus open on mouseover instead of having to click on them?

A) Open NextSTART Preferences, navigate to the Menus tab and select 'Open sub-menus on mouseover'. You can also specify the delay used before automatically opening a sub-menu.

Note that this setting will also have an effect on the context menus of all applications in the Winstep Xtreme suite.

Q) How do I make shortcuts to folders in the Shelf and docks open in a menu instead of a window?

A) There are two ways to accomplish this: you can either left click the folder shortcut in a dock or Shelf and hold (i.e.; not let go of the left mouse button) for half a second, which will pop up a menu displaying the folder contents, or you can change the default left click behavior for folder shortcuts by enabling the 'Always open folders as menus' setting in the Behavior tab of the Dock or Shelf Properties dialogs.

Q) I have created a new menu using the built-in Menu Editor, but how do I open it?

A) Most likely you have not associated your new menu to a hotspot. Open the Hotspot Preferences tab and click on 'Add' to create a new hotspot. Once your new hotspot has been configured you can associate your new menu to the new hotspot by selecting its name from the Menu Name combo box. Make sure your new hotspot does not overlap any previously existing ones (might be a good idea to select 'Bump Top Screen Edge' first as the Launch With action to make sure the new hotspot is active and working as intended).


Q) Access Denied error when installing or updating the application.

A) This can be caused by a virus scanner blocking access to the Public Documents folder.

Specifically Bitdefender has an option for protected folders. If Public Documents is in this list, the application will not be able to create files in the Winstep data folder. You'll need to remove Public Documents from the safe files list and possibly unblock the Winstep application.

Bitdefender Safe Files can be found in the Protection Features window.

Q) Under XP some applications don't display properly or create screen artifacts.

A) Winstep Xtreme uses a feature provided by Windows XP to display thumbnails of the actual windows in the taskbar, like Vista and Windows 7 do. However, some applications may not behave properly with this function, resulting in screen artifacts or in the application not displaying properly. With the problem application running, right-click on the application's task icon in the NextSTART taskbar. In the context menu that pops up, select 'Add to Snapshot Exclusion List'. Alternatively you can disable windows thumbnails altogether.

Q) WinDVD 7 and Roxyo Player 2.0 do not display video when Winstep Xtreme is running.

A) This is a problem with the players themselves, not with Winstep Xtreme. You will have the same problem if you run any application that uses layered windows to obtain per pixel alpha transparency. Windows Media Player, PowerDVD and Ulead Player (and certainly most others) do not have this problem, for instance. To fix the problem in WinDVD and Roxyo, you must disable the video overlay mode in Advanced Options and restart the player.

Q) Winstep Xtreme crashes when I open the Control Panel menu and Shelf tab.

A) This means one of your Control Panel applets is corrupt.

One thing you can do to work around this and figure out which Control Panel applet is causing the problem, is create an empty new menu or regular Shelf tab and then drag items from the Windows Control Panel in Classic View, one by one, into this new menu or tab. Once you figure out who the culprit is (and it always is a 3rd party Control Panel applet, never a native Windows applet), you can delete the relevant CPL file from the Windows System32 folder (or drag every shortcut from the Windows Control Panel into the new menu/tab except for the corrupt one and then use this new menu/tab to access the Control Panel in Xtreme).

Q) My PC does not power off or hangs when I select 'Shutdown Windows' from Xtreme.

A) Open the Advanced tab in Preferences and enable 'Force Power Off'. If that still doesn't work, you might also try enabling 'Force Shutdown'.

Q) Maximized windows open only half screen.

A) Make sure your Windows DPI settings are set to 100%. If they are not, Windows will 'lie' to applications about the current screen size, which interferes with Winstep Xtreme's ability to reserve screen space.

Q) Icons display the default (blank page) image.

A) This is a bug with Stardock's IconPackager. Open the Windows Registry Editor, go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shellex and see if the subkey 'IconHandler' exists. If it does, delete it then reboot.

Q) Winstep Xtreme pops up a red warning box and execution terminates.

A) This is probably caused by your security software interfering with Winstep Xtreme self-integrity check routines, but it could also be caused by a virus in your system changing the executable in some way. Perform a full system scan just in case. If you are running Comodo, removing Winstep Xtreme from the sandbox should cure the problem.

Q) Winstep Xtreme displays the 'Initializing' splash screen and then freezes.

A) This is probably caused by your security software (HP protect tools security suite is known to cause this). Try temporarily disabling your security software to see if this cures the problem.


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