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Yes, Windows Is Dumb: Putting Favorites on the Start Menu

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
 

Simple gray rule

Excerpted from
Yes, Windows Is Dumb
Easy Ways to Master Your PC
Copyright © 1997, Al Fasoldt

 

Putting Favorites on the Start Menu 

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1997, Al Fasoldt

If you install Internet Explorer 4, you get a delightful addition to the Start Menu. It's your Favorites folder, the Microsoft equivalent of the Netscape Internet bookmark list. It works like all the other Start Menu folders, dropping open when your mouse pointer passes over it.

But you don't need Internet Explorer 4 to get your Favorites folder on the Start Menu. You can put it there yourself. It's easy and takes about a minute.

Before I tell you how to do this, let me explain that moving the Favorites folder is a Big Thing to Windows 95. Although most of the folders on your hard drive are just ordinary places where you can store things, Windows attaches special importance to certain folders, and Favorites is one of them. (The Fonts folder is another. There are many more, including, as you might suspect, the Start Menu folder itself.)

Folders such as these are called Special Folders. Windows handles them differently in ways that we don't need to go into now. What you should know is that Windows always needs to know where they are. The operating system cannot work properly if it loses track of those folders.

So you'd think that moving those folders in some willy-nilly fashion is a bad idea. In fact, many experts probably would tell you that you can't move those folders.

But you can. You can do it with a flick of the wrist. Because Windows needs to know where those folders are, it keeps track of them all the time. So if you move any of them, Windows rewrites the entries in the Registry for each folder that's moved.

I'm not saying this works perfectly. Windows is replete with little bugs. (Any operating system as complex as Windows can't be expected to be bug-free. It's just not possible.) So you might find that moving one of the Special Folders does not work every time. But moving the Favorites folder, which is fairly low on the scale of Special Folders, should work every time.

Here's how you do it. Right click on the Start button and choose Open. Move the window that opens off to the side. Then navigate to the Windows folder in another window. Click once on the Favorites folder and drag it to the Start Menu window.

That's all you need to do.

Close both windows. Click the Start button to confirm that your Favorites folder is now part of the Start Menu. You'll have a cascading Favorites folder within each reach.

Why is that helpful? Two reasons:

Many users don't realize that the Favorites folder can be used as-is, without first running their Web browser. If your browser is not running and you click on a Web site in the Favorites folder, Windows launches your browser for you and opens that Web page. That's why having the Favorites folder on the Start Menu is very handy.

And items in the Start Menu don't have the limitation that Microsoft built into the Favorites drop-down menu in Internet Explorer. IE cannot show you more than a certain number of items in the Favorites folder. (You'll see More printed at the bottom of a long list.) The Start Menu does not behave that way. All your items will be cascaded out of the menu.

When you move your Favorites to the Start Menu, Internet Explorer's Favorites menu (and its Favorites toolbar button) will continue to work the same as before. IE looks in the Registry for the location of the Favorites folder, so it always knows if the folder has been moved.

Another quick tip: You can have as many folders within the Favorites folder as you like. Create folders for categories of Web sites to make things easy on yourself. Because Favorites are ordinary shortcuts and folders within the Favorites folder are ordinary folders, you don't need any special techniques to do this. Just open the Favorites folder any way you like (right click on the Start button, chose open, then open Favorites, for example), then create new folders and move the appropriate shortcuts into the various folders.


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