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Create system sounds to suit your style

by Molly Dempsey

Changing sounds in Windows 98 can brighten your day, give you a chuckle, or, yes, even annoy you to tears. When the first Austin Powers movie came out, my friend called me into his office.  "Listen to this," he said.  He clicked his mouse, and as an error message appeared on the screen, Mike Myers's voice purred out a smarmy "Oh, behave!" This became all the rage in our group--for about a day.  As soon as the novelty wore off, we were all back to the Windows 98 default chord.

Certain sounds are matched to events (such as a program opening or closing, or an error message appearing) in Windows 98.  You know the sound you hear when Windows 98 starts?  You could change that to a recording of your child's voice saying, "Hi Mommy," and make starting work a little more special. It only takes a minute to assign a new sound to an event in Windows. 

Change your tune a little
The sounds your computer makes when certain actions occur in Windows are stored in the .wav file format. Windows 98 comes with several .wav files installed.  To assign a new sound to a Windows event:

  1. Click the Start button, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click the Sounds icon.
  3. In the Events area, choose an event.  For example, Close program.
  4. In the drop-down box in the Sounds area, choose a sound.  For example, Ding.
  5. To preview the sound, click the Play button. 

Play button

Now each time you close a program, you will hear a ding.

Change your tune a lot
You can really spice up Windows 98 by recording or downloading new sounds to assign to events. To record sounds, you need to have a microphone hooked up to your computer and a sound card installed in your computer. Most new computers come with both of these items. (Find out how to tell if you have a sound card installed.)

To record your own sounds:

  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to Entertainment, and then click Sound Recorder. (If you have a sound card, Sound Recorder is installed with the regular installation of Windows 98.)
  2. Click the Record button.
    Record button
  3. Play music, speak, or make whatever noise you want into the microphone. (You can also record music from a CD playing on Windows CD player.  Find out how.) When you are finished, click the Stop button.
  4. On the File menu, click Save As...
  5. Enter a name for the sound file. Save the file in the Media folder in the Windows folder on your hard drive. You can save as many sounds as you want.
  6. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  7. Click the Sounds icon.
  8. In the Events area, select an event.
  9. The sounds you recorded will appear in the list in the Sounds area.  Select a sound to assign to your chosen event.  Continue to assign sounds to as many events as you would like to change.

You can return to the Windows Default sound scheme (the original sounds that come with Windows 98) at any time by choosing it from the drop-down list in the Schemes area.

To use sounds you have downloaded from the Web:

  1. On the Web page, click the sound you want to hear.  Windows Media Player will open and play the sound.
  2. On the File menu in Windows Media Player, click Save As...
  3. Enter a name for the sound file. Save the file in the Media folder in the Windows folder on your hard drive.
  4. Follow steps 6 through 9, above.

Now you, too, can experience the sheer joy of having a groovy Austin Powers quote as your error sound.  Don't say I didn't warn you.


Molly Dempsey

Molly Dempsey's favorite sounds are the various (and highly intelligent) babblings of her 5-month-old son.

Catch the .wav
Michael's Home Turf boasts over 1500 .wavs for your downloading pleasure.

Do you memorize dialog from movies? Drive your friends even crazier with event sounds from The Movie Sounds Page.

Get groovy with sounds from the Austin Powers site.