As more organizations adopt “Better, Faster, Cheaper” as their mantra, employees are being asked to do more in a shorter amount of time. To help you increase your productivity and that of your end users, here are two timesaving Windows 2000 tips. While these hints may not save you hours a day, they can save you minutes, and over time these minutes will add up. The first tip will teach you to harness the power of Task Scheduler to automate certain Windows 2000 jobs. The second will save you mouse clicks and keystrokes by showing you how to create shortcuts within commonly used folders.

Master your tasks with Task Scheduler
If you’re savvy with Windows NT, you’re probably familiar with the AT command, which enables you to schedule jobs for execution. For instance, you might use AT to start a backup session on a regular basis or use it in conjunction with third-party utilities to automate other processes. This is a simple but powerful productivity tool: Not only does it save you the keystrokes required to carry out the task you’ve automated, it also frees you up from having to remember to carry out the task in the first place.

The AT command still exists in Windows 2000, but you may prefer to use the Task Scheduler, shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Task Scheduler provides a graphical interface for scheduling jobs and offers additional capabilities not available through AT, such as the ability to schedule the job to run in a different user context and run tasks at system startup and logon. To locate Task Scheduler, go to Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Scheduled Tasks. Another way to find Task Scheduler is to open the Scheduled Tasks object in the Control Panel.

Task Scheduler contains a wizard that walks you through the process of creating the task and scheduling it. After you double-click Add Scheduled Tasks, the wizard will prompt you for a task name, program, or script to execute a schedule, and a username and password under which to run the task. To change the properties after you create the task, double-click the task in the Scheduled Tasks window to open the task’s properties.

You can also configure several settings that specify when the task will and won’t run. For example, when the computer is suspended or running on batteries, use the Power Management controls on the Settings tab to specify options for the task. Or use the task’s Security property page to specify which users can execute, modify, or delete the task.

Use shortcuts to simplify document browsing
Most of your documents are probably stored in My Documents because the folder is easy to open from any application. For instance, Windows includes My Documents in the folder list of the standard File | Open dialog box.

Although the My Documents folder is a handy place to keep your files, you can still find yourself doing a lot of clicking around if you frequently need to switch from one folder to another. Let’s assume you’re working on a project that requires files from \My Documents\Project1\Docs and \My Documents\Project4\Docs\Reviewed. It can be annoying to have to switch folders each time you want to open a document. The solution is simple: Create shortcuts in each folder for the other folder.

Follow these steps to learn how (using folders from the example above):

  1. Open the \My Documents\Project1\Docs folder.
  2. Right-click in the folder and select New | Shortcut.
  3. Browse and select the \My Documents\Project4\Docs\Reviewed folder.
  4. Specify a name for the shortcut as you want it to appear in the File | Open dialog box and click Finish.
  5. Open the \My Documents\Project4\Docs\Reviewed folder and create a shortcut that points to \My Documents\Project1\Docs.

The next time you want to open a document in the “other” folder, just click on its shortcut, which will open the folder.

Likewise, you’ll also need to work with files stored in other folders or even on other servers. To provide quick access to network shares through My Documents, use a similar technique. Create shortcuts in My Documents as needed that point to the network shares you use most often. This saves you from browsing My Network Places or mapping drives to access those shares.

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