Increase the amount of frequently used programs displayed on the Start menu:


The Windows XP user interface has some learning features, whereby it will customize itself to fit your computing style. One of the most obvious examples of this is the frequently used programs section on the bottom left side of the start menu, where shortcuts for the programs you have most recently used are displayed. Normally, this section only has room for about six program icons, but it's a fast and handy way to access your software, so why not add more?


To increase the amount of icons in the frequently used programs list right click on the start menu and choose "properties." Select the "customize" button to the right of the "start menu" option.


Change the "select an icon size for programs" option to "small icons" and in the "number of programs on start menu" counter below, enter a new value based on how many icons you would like to see. Realistically, depending on your desktop resolution you are not likely to be able to fit more than 15 or so icons here, but enter a higher number if you wish. The system will cut off what it can"t display. Hit "ok" and enjoy your newly useful start menu.



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Remove the frequently used programs list from the Start menu:


In complete contradiction to the previous tip, this will show you how to wipe out the frequently used programs section of the start menu altogether. The trouble with this feature is that it only shows the programs you have last used. You have no control over it other than to use your programs frequently. The "pinned" programs section above the frequently used programs section of the start menu, on the other hand, displays whatever shortcuts you want it to.


To obtain more space for pinned programs, you can remove the frequently used programs completely.


To do this open Regedit (Start menu>> run>> type regedit):


Navigate to




Create a new DWORD value called "NoStartMenuMFUprogramsList" and give it the value "1".


Reboot or restart the explorer process to enable this tip. Now you have much more start menu space to drag and drop your own shortcuts.



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Changing the number of open programs required to "Group" on the taskbar:


Windows XP introduced the idea of taskbar "groups" wherein a number of similar open applications like multiple Internet Explorer windows are lumped together into a single taskbar item so things are less cluttered, and navigation made simpler for the user.


This is fine, but can get annoying if you often work within several similar windows and want to switch between them fast. In this circumstance, previous versions of Windows was better, as they would just jam every open application into a separate taskbar entry regardless of it's type.


You can change how many similar applications or windows need to be opened to cause them to "group" with this simple registry edit:


Open Regedit (Start menu>> run>> type regedit) and navigate to


"HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced" and double click the "TaskbarGroupSize" subkey.


Change the value to decimal if necessary. The decimal number indicates how many similar windows will trigger the grouping effect.


Change it to the required number, then click "ok" and restart your system.



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Stop automatic grouping of taskbar programs:


If you're not fond of the way that Windows XP groups similar icons together into a single entry on the taskbar (a group of Internet Explorer Windows for example), you can restore the default taskbar behavior of previous versions of Windows quite easily.


Right click on an empty area of the taskbar or start button and click "properties." Choose the "taskbar" tab and uncheck the "group similar taskbar buttons" option. There, all done!



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Add some useful commands to the Right-Click menu:


When navigating and handling files in Windows Explorer, the right click "context" menu is extremely useful. However it is lacking some options which would make it even more invaluable and save you a fair bit of time. This registry edit will enable you to add the "move to folder" and "copy to folder" commands to your right click menu.


Those two useful shortcuts will reduce the time it takes to move files around within the WinXP GUI.


To do this open Regedit (Start menu>> run>> type regedit) and navigate to:




Create two new keys, "Copy To" and "Move To"


Set the value of "Copy To" to "{C2FBB630-2971-11d1-A18C-00C04FD75D13}"


Set the value of "Move To" to "{C2FBB631-2971-11d1-A18C-00C04FD75D13}"


Close Regedit, you now have the "copy to folder" and "move to folder" options in your right-click menu.



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Add more destinations to the Right-Cick menu's "Send To" command:


The "send to" command on the context menu is a great way to move files around quickly, but by default it doesn"t contain very many useful destinations. Fortunately there's an easy way to add more shortcuts, making "send to" a quick and powerful way to move files where you want them most in Windows.


To add "send to" destinations go to "c:\documents and settings\(your user name)\sendto" .


Note that this is a hidden folder by default, and you will have to have enabled the "show hidden files and folders" option in the "tools\folder options\view" menu of explorer before you can see it.


This folder contains the shortcuts that the "sendto" command uses for its list of destinations. Simply create a shortcut for the directory or program you want to use and drag-and-drop it into the "sendto" folder to add that destination.



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Reduce menu delay to speed up the Windows desktop:


Windows XP adds a slight delay between the time your mouse pointer rests on a menu button and the time the interface opens the menu. This is necessary to keep the pointer from activating every icon and menu it passes over, but the default delay time (0.4th of a second) can seem kind of lengthy after a while for us super-geeks. You can make the Windows interface seem much, much snappier just by lowering this menu delay time slightly with a simple registry edit.


To do this open Regedit (Start menu>> run>> type regedit) and Navigate to


"HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\"


Double click the "MenuShowDelay" value. The default value is 400, with lower values reducing the menu delay time. Experiment to see what suits you best. Note that setting this to zero is not a good idea, as it will activate every menu as your pointer passes over it, which will become really annoying.



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Show Control Panel as a menu:


For quicker access to the Windows XP control panel's assortment of applications, you can set the control panel to appear as a submenu in the start menu, similar to the existing "accessories" submenu.


To do this Right click on the "start" button and choose "properties." Select the "customize" button to the right of the "start menu" option. Choose the "advanced" tab and then in the "start menu items" box, find "control panel" and select the "display as menu" option.



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Associate and un-associate applications from certain file types:


File associations are what tells Windows XP which applications should open which type of files. Every file type has or will acquire a default program to open it (as long as one is available on the machine) and will then use this program every time. Since many programs will change these file associations when they are installed (to make themselves the default software), it"s quite possible to end up with an application you do not want opening your pictures or documents.


To change this, you will need to open an explorer window such as "my computer" then go to "tools\folder options." From the folder options, select the "file types" tab, and wait while Windows builds the list of file types present on your PC.


Scroll through the "registered file types" box until you find the file extension of the file type you wish to change; JPEG, JPG or JPE for JPEG graphic files, for example. Highlight it and hit the "change" button below to select a new application to open this file type by default.


As an alternative, you can also right click any file, go to "properties." And click the "change" button to choose your application.



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Relocate the "My Documents" folder:


If you wish to point the data stored in your "My Documents" folder to a different disk location, you can do this very easily in explorer. By default, this data is stored in "c:\documents and settings\(username)\my documents", and many virus applications have made use of this information.


To change the location of My Documents folder right click the "My Documents" icon on the desktop or the start menu, and select "properties."


In the "target" tab, enter the path to the folder location you wish to use, or press the "find target" button to browse to the folder. You will be asked if you wish to move all existing data to the new location.



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