Monday, October 15, 2007

What's on the Menu?

The problem with putting a lot of software on your computer is "Start Menu bloat." The list of programs on your Windows Start Menu gets so long that you can't find the thing you need. There are several ways to help manage this.
  • Pin items to the start menu. You've probably noticed that Windows XP puts the most commonly used programs on the Start Menu so you don't have to click on "All Programs" to see them. You can make sure certain programs show up by pinning them. Find the program icon, right click, then select "Pin to Start Menu." The program will display as soon as you click start. You can unpin an icon by right clicking and selecting "Remove from this list."
  • Use the Quick Launch Toolbar. This shows up on the toolbar with icons of programs you select. To activate, right click on the toolbar, click on "Toolbars," and make sure "Quick Launch" is selected. Once activated, drag a program item to the toolbar and it will remain there ready for quick launch without clicking on "Start."
  • Hide unused program icons. There are many programs that I use, but never run from the start menu. For instance, I never open Adobe Acrobat Reader -- I just click on a PDF file. I also have small programs that run at startup, but which I rarely use from the Start Menu. I always create a folder in my Start Menu called "Unused" and drag and drop any programs I don't access much. This also can be used for programs you've pinned to the start menu, or which you access from the desktop or by other methods. It keeps the list of programs smaller.
  • Use Folders. You can also create folders for similar software. I use a lot of different graphics programs, so I usually have a folder named "Graphics" to group them all together. How to create a folder? I'll talk about that tomorrow.
  • Use other software. If you have a lot of programs to run, you might want to consider something like Rocketdock that gives a location for program items to be displayed without using the Start Menu. There are many other programs that provide this functionality.

With a combination of the various tools and options, you can manage your Start Menu and work a bit more efficiently.