Beautify Windows Start Menu
Do you require enough digging in the Windows start menu to find your favorite program for opening it each time? Alternatively, do your desktop is so cluttered with umpteen shortcuts that you find hard to identify the one special program you recently installed? There are several ways you can customize Desktop and Windows Start menu to relieve these pain. Yet, the better solution is to use some nice applications that not only beautify Windows Start Menu; they can make things easier for you and some application can make you believe that there is no need to use Windows start menu for any reason whatsoever.
A closer look at your traditional Windows Start Menu will tell you that there are many unwanted entries that you never use and over the time, they are so accumulated that your programs that you frequently access become hard to find. Further, some unused and removed program entries remain left there and you do not know what to do with them. At the best you can do is deleting them or arrange them in alphabetical order (by right clicking on Program menu and selecting Sort by Name) or the order you want them to be by dragging them to appropriate locations. Again, you put more than a few shortcuts in any location in Start Menu or on Task Bar and soon it will be cluttered. Further, you cannot put shortcut of some application or file in Windows Start Menu and Task Bar other than some specified, traditional way. Some third party utility software comes to help you with their own Start Menu and Task Bar to serve you in better ways. To help you in finding your applications, WindowsXP has automated the task of putting frequently and recently used programs in the beginning of start menu. Microsoft Office also gives you option to use its menu bar to launch applications. Nevertheless, often, these solutions may also not help you always and you have to find better solutions. With the help of Windows key and other couple of key combinations, you can use windows shortcut keys to launch certain application; for example, pressing Windows key with letter ‘E’ will instantly open Windows Explorer. But you will find very limited shortcut key combinations here and perhaps, certainly not for your specific program. So you have no option to use some programs like WinKey that let you specify hundreds of shortcut key combinations or Panekiller that kills the pain arises out of drowning in Windows Start Menu or in folders to launch Application or to open file.
This freeware tool lets you assign shortcut key for launching applications and files with the help of Windows Key and other Key combinations. There are about a dozen of standard Windows Key combinations for certain tasks and they never fulfill your need for Key Board shortcuts. WinKey lets you assign hundreds of shortcut key with combination of Windows key and any other one or more key. For example, to open your Outlook Express through shortcut, assign Windows Key + Ctrl + O key combination in WinKey. Now, instead of launching it from either Desktop or from Start Menu, simply press Windows Key + Ctrl + O keys simultaneously and the Outlook Express will be launched instantaneously. Shortcut keys can be assigned in memorable format such as assign Windows Key +W to open your Word processor and Windows Key + Ctrl+W to open Winamp, your favorite media player. While assigning shortcut keys, avoid using standard Windows Shortcut keys, else you can confuse the Windows and running applications. However, in such cases, WinKey can be stopped and unloaded any time.
If you have ever used KDE Start Menu in Linux, then you may have noticed that virtually any file can be accessed with only a single mouse click while navigating through its sub menus. You simply have to point with mouse pointer to the directories and folders to browse its content within start menu. Similar approach with some added functionality has been provided in PaneKiller, the Windows shareware program. It replaces the standard Windows Start Menu if you set it so in its preference, and from there, you can access all your Applications and files by simply pointing to appropriate directory or folder. PaneKiller gives you more option to access files and application including frequently used items, for example, it can show more entries in recent items and if these items not able to fit in single window, then it sort out them in alphabetical order and show them in sorted sub menus. It can be run in multiple instances simultaneously for locating and comparing files. It is a useful replacement for Windows Start Menu. However, if you want, you can bring back Windows Start Menu by closing PaneKiller or by giving PaneKiller’s location at other than Start Menu.
DragStrip is a handy utility program that lets you put your shortcut of any application or file or even favorite web address in dock-able taskbar that is fully customizable. You can place DragStrip task bar to anywhere inside display window, but if you place it in extreme top left corner, then it will be handier. Similarly, the auto hide feature must be on so that it may not disturb while other applications are running. Now simply point your mouse pointer to the extreme left corner of window, and the DragStrip menu bar will pop-up. You can assign any number of shortcuts to its menu bar and if a bar appears full in your opinion, a new bar can conveniently be created.
Advanced Launcher is a simple, powerful tool bar and system tray launcher. It makes easy access to virtually any file of your system by simply pointing to the links that appears in its menu bar. For a single click access to your application, file or web address, you can add any number of menu or sub-menu on Advanced Launcher.
Initially this program was released as “Game Bar”. As the name shows, it was primarily meant to launch various games that need different Display settings to run. This program memorizes the different display setting need of individual applications and accordingly changes the settings as per the need of application. This application is similar in working as Windows Task Bar, but it is more customizable.
With this little, neat application, you can assign any number of shortcuts in a very organized way and you never need to dig for launching applications. Simply drag and drop or assign the file in its menu bar and simply hover over there with your mouse pointer. All the entries will be displayed there and clicking the appropriate entry will launch the application. You may find several other similar applications for windows platform, for example – H Menu, FastOpen XP etc. but more or less they provide functionality similar to applications described above. Among them, QuickRun, which is distributed as shareware and WinKey, a freeware are among best in their category. While WinKey is indispensable for Key Board shortcuts, QuickRun helps you in restricting your mouse movements. Install one of these and live happily forever with your Windows.
Use Standard Windows Key Shortcuts to save several mouse clicks:
Windows Key + D: Show Desktop*
Windows Key + E: Windows Explorer
Windows Key + F: Find Files or Folders...
Windows Key + M: Minimize All Windows
Windows Key + Shift+M: Undo Minimize All
Windows Key + R: Run...
Windows Key + Tab: Select Task
Windows Key + Break: System Properties
Windows Key + F1: Windows Help
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You can create your own customized program launchers in default Windows Task Bar. Simply create a folder, and put applications, files or shortcuts in the folder. Now right click on the Windows Task Bar and point to Toolbars. Click on New Toolbar. Now choose the folder you created having shortcuts for launching applications, and click OK. The name of your folder will appear on Windows Task Bar. A double arrow (>>) will appear beside the folder name. Click on it to see the contents of folder. Click on any of these to launch them instantly.
- Menu01.jpg H Menu the Windows Start Menu replacement tool is fully customizable and you can put your applications and files in as many as eight categories in eight menu bars, each neatly sorted.
- Menu02.jpg LaunchMate has the dock-able application launcher which is handier when put in extreme top left or top right corner and set hidden. It pop – up when mouse pointer point to its pre defined location.
- Menu03.jpg The Windows application launcher- Advanced Launcher gives you option to create several tool bar; each can be customized; for example; one for office application, one for multimedia, other for important files etc.
- Menu04.jpg Windows Default Toolbar has Quick Launch option where you can drag application, folder or even web address for making shortcuts; but soon it will get cluttered.
- Menu05.jpg You can use application launchers wizards for easy configuration settings.
- Menu06.jpg Application Launchers and Menu Bars can be placed anywhere but it is best used when it is placed at extreme top left corner with Auto Hide ON.
- Menu07.jpg You can create as many empty buttons and assign as many applications along with their icons in Application Launchers task bar for easy identification. But for easy usability, a new task bar or sub menu bar may be created for every 8-10 entries.
- Menu08.jpg DragStrip – the Windows application launcher- its menu bar size, colour etc. can be changed at will for easy usability.
- Menu09.jpg Fast Open XP is the application launcher program optimized for Windows XP. Fast Open XP remain hidden and when you point your mouse to pre set extreme right corner, it appears from no-where; from where you can instantly open drive, directory, file or application.
- Menu10.jpg Quick Run has the KDE Start Menu style hovering functionality for easy access to virtually any file or program with a single mouse click. It can be organized neatly in as many categories as you want, all handy at Windows task bar.
- Menu11.jpg Windows XP task bar can be customized to a great extent for quick launching the applications.
- Menu12.jpg PaneKiller – the program that can replace default Windows Start Menu with its own; having more functionality.
- Menu13.jpg Winkey is the indispensable application for Windows that provides you hundreds of Windows Shortcut Key combination for performing various tasks.
Web address for downloading applications for distributing these with i.t. CD.:
- AdvancedLauncher : http://www.serpik.com/alaunch/alaunch.zip
- BarLaunch : http://www.hi-ho.ne.jp/kyagi/enu/prg/brlaunch.zip
- DragStrip : ftp://members.aol.com/aladdin/pub/pc/DragStrip/DRGSTR38.EXE
- FastOpenXP Gold : http://www.piquest.com/products/foxpgold.exe
- QuickRun : http://www.partridgesoft.com
- LaunchMate : http://tdrware.virtualave.net/LaunchMate/lnchmate.zip
- PaneKiller : http://www.maddogsw.com/panekiller/panekill.zip
- WinKey : http://www.copernic.com/winkey
- H-menu : http://www.h-menu.com/H_menu-EN-Setup.exe