Use your system more effectively and maximize productivity

In the May 1999 and November 1999 installments of Top 10, I shared my—and readers'—favorite Windows NT desktop productivity tips. These simple tips help me use my system more effectively and, over time, realize big productivity benefits. In this Top 10, I share my favorite Windows 2000 desktop productivity tips. (Feel free to share your own Win2K productivity tips with me—they might appear in a future column!)

10. Use scrap files for common text. Scrap files let you easily access and reuse pieces of information, such as text quotes, that you might use frequently. To create a scrap file, highlight a block of text in a WordPad document and copy it to the desktop. To use the resulting scrap file, simply copy it into any program (e.g., Microsoft Word) that supports OLE drag-and-drop capability.

9. Turn off personalized menus. Personalized menus hide infrequently used items, making them difficult to find when you need them. To disable personalized menus, right-click the taskbar, select Properties, and clear the Use Personalized Menus check box.

8. Set Windows Explorer to show all file types. Windows Explorer's default setting hides extensions and system files. However, I frequently use Windows Explorer to diagnose problems that require me to view those details. Open Windows Explorer's Tools menu, select Folder Options, and go to the View tab. Clear the Hide file extensions for known file types check box, then click the Show hidden files and folders radio button.

7. Use folder shortcuts to add quick-access items to your Start menu. With folder shortcuts, you can make any folder act as if it contains other folders. For example, if you copy a folder's icon to your Start menu, Win2K creates a shortcut that cascades to expose the folder's contents.

6. Set up a default view in Windows Explorer for all folders. I prefer Windows Explorer's information-packed Details View to the default Icons View. To set up all your folders so that they provide the same default view, open Windows Explorer and set the current folder's view options to the type of display that you prefer. Next, select Tools, Folder Options, View and click Like Current Folder.

5. Add a command-prompt window to the Quick Launch bar. If you regularly perform tasks from the command line, a more accessible command-prompt window can be helpful. Open the Start menu, and go to the Accessories menu. Right-click Command Prompt, and drag the icon to the Quick Launch bar. After you release the right mouse button, select Copy Here from the resulting pop-up menu.

4. Display Control Panel from the Start menu. If you need to use Control Panel frequently, you can add it to the Start menu. An extra benefit of doing so is that all of Control Panel's options automatically cascade. To add Control Panel to your Start menu, simply open your My Computer folder and drag the Control Panel icon to the Start menu.

3. Display Administrative Tools in the Start menu. Right-click the taskbar, select Properties from the context menu, and go to the Advanced tab. In the Start Menu Settings list, select Display Administrative Tools, then click OK.

2. Drag My Computer to the Start menu. After you take advantage of this tip, you'll be able to navigate the complete system namespace, including all folders and files, directly from the Start menu.

1. Drag My Computer to the desktop. If you drag the My Computer icon to the top of your screen, it becomes a taskbar that displays all your disk partitions, as well as Control Panel. To link additional toolbars to this new taskbar, right-click the taskbar and select Toolbars.