In early 1996, I worked in the IT department of a large aerospace company. We were busy rolling out Windows 95 to about 30,000 desktop clients at the location where I worked. Our users, however, couldn’t have cared less whether they used Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or Windows One Million. They just wanted to know how to access their icons. We all like to have easy access to the applications we use the most. Although almost every Windows application can be accessed through the Start button, it is still common to see Windows desktops filled with rows of icons. Here’s a quick way to add access to all your favorite Windows objects, files, and programs without cluttering up your desktop.

Place more toolbars on your taskbar
Windows 2000 offers the ability to add additional toolbars to your taskbar. These toolbars can act as shortcuts to the files and programs you want to access quickly. To add a toolbar:

  1. Right-click on the taskbar and select Toolbars from the menu.
  2. From the submenu, select New Toolbar.
  3. From the New Toolbar dialog box, shown in Figure 1, select the file, drive, or folder you want to add as a toolbar and click OK.

Figure 1
You can choose almost any Windows drive, folder, or file.

A problem rears its head when you add a toolbar to the taskbar, however. While it’s handy to have the contents of My Computer available, the new toolbar takes up so much space that it isn’t practical (see Figure 2). This drawback marks an end to most users’ experimentation with taskbar toolbars. I was ready to give up on toolbars as well, until I found a way to have a toolbar without overloading my taskbar.

Figure 2
My Computer takes up almost the entire taskbar.

The incredible shrinking toolbar
I accidentally discovered that you could shrink a taskbar toolbar by dragging its left edge, or its “handle,” all the way to the right (see Figure 3).

The toolbar “handle”

Hover your mouse over this handle and drag it to the right until all you see is the title of the bar (see Figure 4).

Only the toolbar title “My Computer” is showing.

Before anyone asks, “But where are the icons?” click on the two sideways chevrons. A pop-up menu appears that displays all of the now-hidden icons (see Figure 5).

The pop-up menu lists the contents of My Computer.

The My Computer pop-up menu, for example, provides quick access to all your drives and the Control Panel directly from your Windows 2000 taskbar.

Create a favorites toolbar
Using these steps, you can add a toolbar for the Network Neighborhood, Control Panel, or any other folder or object accessible from the Windows Explorer. One way to take advantage of this feature is to create a folder on your hard drive containing shortcuts to all your favorite or most-used programs. Add this folder as a toolbar and you’ll then have quick access to these favorites without having to wade through the Start button’s maze of menus.
What do you think of Brian’s taskbar tip? Do you have a cool Windows 2000 tip? Share your tips and tricks with your fellow TechRepublic members. Post a comment or write to Brian Kennemer.