In recent articles, I’ve shown you how to take back control of Windows 7’s Context and Open With menus using the free utilities from NirSoft. Well, there is one more right-click menu that you might want to clean up — the New menu.

As you know, after installing and uninstalling applications, the New menu can become crammed full of application shortcuts that you no longer want or need. In fact, it can get so crowded that it is really difficult to find what you do want. Since Microsoft made it so easy for the New menu to be populated with application shortcuts, you would have thought that they would have created a tool that would allow you to clean it up. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If you want to clean up the New menu you can do so by manually editing the registry. Unfortunately, the items that appear on the New menu are in numerous locations in the registry, thus making the operation extremely time consuming.

Fortunately, the folks at NirSoft have created ShellMenuNew, a small utility that shows you all the items that appear on the New submenu and allows you to easily disable unwanted menu items.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I’ll examine ShellMenuNew and show you how to use it to take back control of Windows 7’s New menu.

Editing the registry

It is important to keep in mind that the techniques I’m about to show you involve making changes to the registry, which is vital to the operating system. Changing it can be dangerous if you inadvertently make a mistake. Therefore, you should take a few moments to back up your system by creating a Restore Point as well as by creating a system image in the Backup and Restore tool. That way if anything goes awry, you can restore your system and get right back to work.

The New menu

As I mentioned, depending on the number of applications that you have installed on your system, the New menu can easily become overcrowded. Even if you have not installed a lot of applications, the New menu can contain application shortcuts that you will never need. In both cases, it can be difficult to quickly access what you want on the New menu.

For example, Figure A shows a New menu on one of my test systems. As you can see, there are a dozen items on the New menu. Of those, I really use only five. So that means for me, there are seven items that do nothing but hinder me from quickly getting to the items that I do use.

Figure A

A typical New menu can contain items you’ll never need.

Using ShellMenuNew

Just like other NirSoft utilities I showed you, ShellMenuView, ShellExView, and OpenWithView, you can run ShellMenuNew right away as there is no installation procedure. As soon as you launch it, the program scans the registry and populates its window with all the applications that appear on the New menus on your system.

On my example system, running ShellMenuNew presented the display shown in Figure B. You’ll notice that the New Folder item doesn’t appear in the ShellMenuNew display and that the Library Folder item does. The New Folder item works differently than an application and so is outside of ShellMenuNew’s scope — so you can’t disable the New Folder item. The Library Folder item, which appears on the New menu only when you right-click in the Libraries folder, is also a different type of animal, but it does show up in ShellMenuNew display. Even so, since it appears only in the Libraries folder, I would highly recommend that you leave the Library Folder item alone — don’t disable it.

Figure B

Using ShellMenuNew, you can easily remove applications from the New menu.

Now, to get rid of the items that I don’t use, I simply hold down [Ctrl] and click each item I want to disable. I then click the red Disable Selected Items button. As you can see in Figure C, each of the items that I selected now has a Yes in the Disabled column. Now, when I access the New menu, as shown in Figure D, finding the items that I regularly use from the New menu is very easy with all the clutter out of the way. (Keep in mind that in some cases, the operating system may take a few moments to register and display the updated New menu.)

Figure C

After I click the red Disable Selected Items button, a Yes appears in the Disabled column.

Figure D

Now, my New menu shows only those items that I use regularly.

Other handy features

As you can see in Figures B and C, the last column in ShellMenuNew’s display is titled Registry Key and indicates where in the registry the setting is stored. If you double-click any row, you’ll see a Properties dialog box that provides you with a summary of the information stored in the registry key.

For example, when I double-clicked on the Microsoft Office PowerPoint Presentation row, ShellMenuNew displayed the dialog box shown in Figure E.

Figure E

The Properties dialog box provides you with a summary of the information stored in the registry key.

If you want to delve into the registry and see for yourself how the New menu is configured, just select a row and click the Open In RegEdit button. When you do, the Registry Editor will appear and be open to the appropriate key, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

When you select a row and click the Open In RegEdit button, the Registry Editor will open that key.

You can also create a very detailed HTML report of all the items displayed by ShellMenuNew by pulling down the View menu and choosing either the HTML Report – All Items or the HTML Report – Selected Items. ShellMenuNew also has several command-line options for creating reports in other formats. You can find a list of these command-line options in the ReadMe.txt file as well as on the ShellMenuNew page on the NirSoft web site.

What’s your take?

Are you frustrated with the clutter on the New menus? If so, will you use ShellMenuNew to clean up the mess? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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