Reader-Submitted Desktop Tips

Work faster and more efficiently

The vocal response to my May 1999 Top 10 column, "NT Desktop Tips," proves that one person's productivity tips might not be helpful for someone else. This issue's Top 10 collection presents alternative tips to help you work faster and more efficiently on the Windows NT desktop. My thanks to Merijn Brand, Scott Finegan, Anthony Garcia, Thomas Koschate, Thomas May, Mike Nelson, Leif Inge Sandberg, and Eric Seelye, who first submitted these tips.

10. Use folder shortcuts on the desktop to quickly access files and applications. Folders let you group related files together, and placing a shortcut to a folder on the desktop provides quick access to the folder's files. Folder shortcuts eliminate the need to search for folders in Windows Explorer.

9. Use the Start command at the command prompt. If you have the Command Prompt window open, you can graphically display the current directory's contents by typing


If you add a second period, you display the contents of the parent directory.

8. Copy files to the command prompt to complete commands. You can drag file and folder icons from Windows Explorer, your desktop, or an open folder to an NT command prompt. The filename automatically appears at the prompt.

7. Display network shares from the Run menu. To open a window that shows all of a network's shared resources, click Start, Run. Enter the Uniform Naming Convention (UNC) path of the server whose shares you want to list. For example, to display a window that shows all the shares on the Myserver network, enter


6. Add shortcuts to the Send To menu. When you right-click a filename or folder name in Windows Explorer, you display the Send To menu. To add items to this menu, simply copy shortcuts into the \Winnt\Profiles\Myprofile\SendTo folder. This tip is especially useful for applications that accept program filenames as command-line parameters.

5. Use Windows Explorer's Undo option. Windows Explorer's Edit menu offers an Undo option that lets you easily undo file-management actions. Undo can cancel actions such as copy, move, and delete (if you haven't emptied the Recycle Bin).

4. Place applications you use frequently on the Quick Launch taskbar. After you install Microsoft Internet Explorer's (IE's) Windows Desktop Update, the Windows Explorer taskbar includes the Quick Launch taskbar, from which you can start applications with one click. To add items to this taskbar, copy them from Windows Explorer or the desktop.

3. Add items to the Start menu. To add Control Panel, the Dial-Up Networking folder, or the Printers folder to the Start menu, create a folder inside the \Winnt\Profiles\Myprofile\Start Menu folder. Give the folder one of the following names:

Control Panel.\{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D\}
Dial Up Net.\{992CFFA0-F557-101A-88EC-00DD010CCC48\}

2. View folder contents in Windows Explorer's treeview instead of the default open-folder view. Click View, Options in Windows Explorer. On the File Types tab, scroll down and select Folder. Click Edit, select explore, and click Set Default.

1. Create multiple access points for files and applications that you use frequently. You can easily access applications from the three most popular desktop locations—the Programs menu, the desktop, and the Start menu. First, create a new folder under \Winnt\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu\Programs and place shortcuts to each application in that folder. Then, create a shortcut to the new folder on your desktop. Copy the shortcut to \Winnt\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup and to \Winnt\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu.

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