Windows 2000 enhances the Taskbar

You'll love the new options you can set in your Windows 2000 Taskbar. In this Daily Feature, Mike Jackman shows you what they are.

Recently, I was editing a contributor’s Daily Drill Down and ran into a problem. The contributor’s path to Administrative Tools in the Windows 2000 Start menu didn’t exist on any of my test machines. We were both perplexed by this until I did some digging and discovered that, although Windows 2000 Professional doesn’t enable an Administrative Tools menu item by default, an option on the Taskbar allows you to add it. In addition, the Taskbar includes many new options. In this Daily Feature, I’ll show you what they are.

Your former Taskbar options
In Windows 9x and Windows NT, when you open Taskbar properties by right-clicking a blank area of your taskbar, you are presented with a tabbed Properties dialog box. Another way to open Taskbar properties is to choose Start | Settings | Taskbar. Taskbar options include setting your Taskbar to Always On Top, Auto Hide, Show Small Icons In Start Menu, and Show Clock. The other tab, Start Menu Programs, enables you to add items using a shortcut wizard, remove items from a list, and clear recently used documents and personal history lists. By clicking the Advanced button, you’ll see a Windows Explorer view of your Start menu. You can use this view to customize your Start menu beyond the means allowed by the Add and Review lists.

Presenting the Windows 2000 Taskbar
Naturally, the Windows 2000 Taskbar comes with enhancements. Figure A shows the new Windows 2000 Taskbar And Start Menu Properties dialog box. By selecting the General tab, you’ll find one new option: Use Personalized Menus.

Figure A
Windows 2000 Taskbar options include the ability to enable personalized menus.

If you use Microsoft’s Office 2000 or Internet Explorer 5, you’re familiar with the way personalized menus work. Basically, Windows keeps track of your most frequently selected Start | Programs items. These items appear on the menu, while others are hidden. The purpose is to reduce the size of your menu while making it more efficient for you. You can still expand the list any time by clicking the down arrow that appears at the bottom of the menu. Figure B shows the Personalized Menu option at work.

Figure B
You may find the Use Personalized Menus option to be more efficient.

Advanced options
While the new General tab only adds one item, the Advanced tab is where you’ll find many useful enhancements. Figure C shows the new layout in Windows 2000. As you can see, the Add, Remove, Advanced, and Clear buttons are still available. In Windows 2000, however, they work differently. In addition, Windows 2000 adds a Re-sort button and a scrollable list of new Start Menu Settings.

Figure C
The Advanced tab contains many new options and familiar ones with new functions.

Some buttons are the same, or nearly so
On the Advanced tab, the Remove and Advanced buttons work exactly as they did in previous versions. Clicking Remove opens the same Remove Shortcuts/Folders dialog, and clicking Advanced opens the familiar Windows Explorer view of your Start menu.

By clicking the Add button on the Advanced tab in Windows 2000, you’ll find the resulting Create Shortcut Wizard to be much more helpful for end users. In previous versions of Windows, the wizard only allowed you to create a shortcut in your Start menu for programs or other files. Now, in addition to programs and files, you can add shortcuts to folders, computers, and Internet addresses. As before, Start menu items can be local to your system or located on the network. Figure D shows the first windows of the new wizard.

Figure D
Windows 2000 offers a much-improved Create Shortcut Wizard.

As you know, Active Desktop enables you to arrange your Start menu shortcuts in any order. Nevertheless, after you’ve installed many new programs, you’ll still have a jumbled-up Start menu. While re-sorting your items in alphabetical order used to involve editing the registry, now you can simply click the Re-sort button to place all your Start menu items back in alphabetical order.

Start Menu Settings
The final enhancement to the Windows 2000 properties, Start Menu Settings, presents a series of options activated by check boxes. These options allow you to add items, expand items, and scroll through the Start menu. As Figure C showed, this is where you can choose to display Administrative Tools. The tools listed are not the same as those you’re familiar with from Windows NT’s Administrative Tools (Common) selection. Table 1 lists the differences between both operating systems.

Table 1: Start Menu Administrative Tools
Tool Windows 2000 Windows NT 4.0
Backup No Yes
Component Services Yes No
Computer Management Yes No
Data Sources (ODBC) Yes No
Disk Administrator No Yes
Event Viewer Yes Yes
Local Security Policy Yes No
Performance Yes Yes; called Performance Monitor
Remote Access Admin No Yes
Services Yes No
Telnet Server Administration Yes No
User Manager No Yes
Windows NT Diagnostics No Yes

As you can see, in Windows 2000, items have been shifted quite a bit. These new Administrative Tools are the same ones now appearing in Start | Control Panel | Administrative Tools. Another folder, Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools, includes additional applications.

The two remaining display options allow you to add your Favorites folder and add a Log Off option to your Start menu. Using Log Off is helpful when a user needs to quickly log off and log on again without having to restart; for example, when a change in a network setting makes this necessary.

If you find yourself frequently opening the Control Panel and selecting applets, you’ll appreciate Windows 2000’s timesaving ability to expand this folder in your Start Menu. You can also elect to expand My Documents, Network And Dial-Up Connections, and Printers.

Finally, if you have a crowded Programs menu, you can set it to scroll by checking the appropriate options.

The tweaks that were programmed into the Windows 2000 Taskbar give you many options for creating menus that correspond to the way you work. Enhancements include the ability to expand Start menu items, add useful folders to your menu, re-sort the Start | Programs list, and make your Start menu more efficient by remembering which items you choose most often. More choices can also mean more confusion. To help prevent problems administering computers, you, as an IT administrator, may want to establish a standard configuration and use system policies to lock down your version of an efficient desktop.
The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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