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October 2002 Efficiency Newsletter

Cleaning and Organizing your Start Menu

Over the years I’ve worked on a lot of computers. Regardless of how technically proficient the computer’s user, their PC is almost always disorganized. Sometimes it’s a desktop filled with a hundred icons, but more often it’s a cluttered Start Menu. With that in mind, I want to show you some of the things you can do to organize your start menu so that you can get around faster on your PC...

Exhibit A:

Does this look familiar to you? This is an ugly looking menu I put together for your viewing pleasure, but hopefully you've never seen anything this bad. But if you can empathize with this situation, you may be wondering how we deal with this mess?

1. Organize! We'll want to group these icons into familiar categories and to remove folders from programs that only have one useful thing within them. The first step in this process is to right click on the Start button (please ignore that my Start button is called "Smile," I just didn't want to change it back because it took a lot of work to do that there...) and choose Explore.

2. Once you've selected "Explore," a Windows Explorer window will show you some of the contents of your Start Menu after you've clicked on Programs. The next step is to make sure you have things displayed in a workable manner. You'll want to right click on the right panel where the files and folders are listed and choose View->List, as detailed in this picture:

3. Now your folder should look manageable. You want to move around the icons into groups that make sense to you. But before you do that you'll need to be familiar with creating folders. To create a new folder, simply right click as you did in the previous step and choose New->Folder:

4 & 5. You'll want to rename this directory to something that makes sense. My demonstration will be to name that folder "Games" and place all the games in it. We move programs into this folder by selecting them with our mouse or keyboard and dragging them into the appropriate folder.

6. Repeat steps 3,4, and 5 until we've gotten our start menu much more organized.

7. If you use Windows 98 or ME then you can skip to the next step. Otherwise, you'll need to repeat all the above steps above (steps 1-6), except choose "Explore All" instead of "Explore" in step 1. If you want you can open up two Windows Explorer windows and move shortcuts between the Explore and the Explore All start menus.

8. Now that you've sorted things into logical categories, you just need to sort your start menu. You do this by right clicking on any any item in your Start Menu and choosing "Sort by Name":

Now you should have a much more organized Start Menu, such as this:

Whether or not your Start Menu is as abbreviated as this you should have much less trouble getting around. I hope this saves you some time!

These tips were brought to you by Jared Goralnick. He'd be happy to answer any questions and may be reached at john@setconsulting.com.

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