Hints for increasing productivity

This month, I'll share my top 10 Windows NT desktop tips. I've found these tips very useful in my daily work with NT. Over time, these tips can help you work more efficiently.

10. Turn off the AutoPlay feature on your CD-ROM drive. When your CD-ROMs contain other resources that you access regularly, AutoPlay automatically launches the installation program each time you insert a CD-ROM. To turn off AutoPlay, insert a CD-ROM, open the My Computer applet, right-click the CD-ROM icon, and select the AutoPlay option from the pop-up menu to toggle AutoPlay on and off.

9. Set NT Explorer to show all file types. Explorer's default setting omits system and hidden files. This setting is fine for users who don't use Explorer often. However, users who frequently use Explorer need to see system files when they're trying to diagnose problems. To set up Explorer so that you can view system and hidden files, open Explorer's View menu, and select Options. Select the View tab, and select Show all Files.

8. Use Explorer to rename files. Simply click the filename, wait until the filename is highlighted, and click it again. Be careful, because Explorer opens the file if you click too fast (i.e., if you double-click). When the text box appears around the filename, type the new name over the old name. Alternatively, you can right-click a filename and select Rename to rename a file.

7. Disable Microsoft Office's Find Fast function for better Windows performance. Find Fast, which lets Office applications locate and open files quickly, automatically runs on your system. But running Find Fast takes away resources from the OS and applications. To turn off Find Fast, open the Find Fast applet in Control Panel and select Index, Delete Index. Then, click OK in both Delete Index confirmation dialog boxes.

6. Start Task Manager from your taskbar. Many users press Ctrl+Alt+Del to start Task Manager. But to start Task Manager more quickly, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager from the pop-up menu.

5. Use Explorer's Name bar to reselect files. If you select files in Explorer's right pane, then click in the left pane, you lose your file selection. However, if you don't change the file list, click the Name bar in the right pane to restore your file selections.

4. Automatically resize Explorer columns. Explorer cuts off long filenames in the right pane. Pressing Ctrl+Num+ when the Explorer window is active automatically resizes all the columns in the right pane. This method is a handy alternative to using the mouse to manually resize the columns.

3. Copy icons from your My Computer applet to your desktop. Creating shortcuts on the desktop is a big productivity booster because the icons are right at your fingertips. Some icons I use frequently are the drive icons in the My Computer applet. Right-click the drive icons, and drag them to the desktop to create shortcuts.

2. Use the Start button to open Explorer. Users commonly right-click one of the system drive icons to start Explorer. However, the system drive icons aren't always visible. You can right-click the Start button and select Explore to quickly start Explorer. This process starts Explorer at the Programs folder under your Profiles Start Menu folder.

1. Copy shortcuts from your Start menu to the desktop. Creating these shortcuts saves you time you'd otherwise spend using the mouse. To copy the Start menu items to your desktop, use Explorer to open the \Winnt\Profiles\ myprofile\Start Menu\Programs folder. Each folder within Programs contains the shortcuts on your Start menu. Right-click a shortcut and drag it onto your desktop to create a shortcut on the desktop.