Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Remove Context Menu Items from Explorer

Explorer's menus can get messy at times. But you can use a Registry hack to clean it up a bit by removing two items from the Tools menu: Map Network Drive and Disconnect Network Drive. Run the Registry Editor and go to:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer


Create the DWORD entry NoNetConnectDisconnect. Give it a value of 1. Exit the Registry. You might have to reboot for the setting to take effect and the items to disappear from the menu. To place the items back on the Explorer menu, edit the value to 0, or delete the entry.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Add and Remove Destinations for the Send To Option

The right-click context menu does have one useful option, Send To, which allows you to send the file to any one of a list of programs or locationsfor example, to a drive, program, or folder.

It would be nice to edit that list, adding new locations and programs and taking away existing ones that you never use. How locations and programs show up on the menu appears to be somewhat of a mystery, but, in fact, it's easy to hack. Go to C:\Documents and Settings\\SendTo, where is your username. The folder will be filled with shortcuts to all the locations you find on your Send To context menu. To remove an item from the Send To menu, delete the shortcut from the folder. To add an item to the menu, add a shortcut to the folder by highlighting the folder, choosing File New Shortcut, and following the instructions for creating a shortcut. The new setting will take effect immediately; you don't have to exit Windows Explorer for it to go into effect.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Add Global Shortcut Menu Items to All File Types

The previous section of this hack showed how to add shortcut menu items on a file-type-by-file-type basis. In other words, it will be available only on the shortcut menu for the one specific file type you specify. But you can also add that shortcut menu item to every type of file by using a Registry hack. This is useful when you have a program that can open a wide variety of file types, and you don't want to have to add a shortcut menu item for every one of those file types. I use the IrfanView graphics viewer for many different types of graphics, so I want it to show up on all those types. Although it will also show up on file types I won't use it with, such as Word files, it's still worth putting it on the menu globally because of all the time I save by not having to add shortcut menu items over and over again for each file type.

Run the Registry Editor and go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*. Create a new subkey called Shell if it doesn't yet exist. The Shell subkey can control parts of the user interface. Create a new subkey under Shell and name it what your new command will befor example, OpenWithIrfanView. For the default value of the new subkey, type in the text you want to appear on the shortcut menufor example, Open with IrfanView. Create a new subkey named Command under the subkey you just created. This subkey will contain the command string you want to be executed to open the file. For the default value of the Command subkey, enter the command string you want to be executed when the shortcut menu item is chosenfor example:

"C:\Program Files\i_view32.exe" "%1"


Exit the Registry. The new shortcut menu item should be available immediately, though you might need to reboot for it to take effect.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Remove Open With Option

When you right-click a file, one of the menu options is Open With, which provides a list of programs for you to open the file with. This list changes according to the type of file you're clicking. Depending on the file type, the list can get long because programs frequently add themselves to this list when you install them. Making things worse, there are times when the listed programs aren't applicable. For example, do you really want to open a .bmp bitmap graphics file with Microsoft Word? I think not.

You can clean up the Open With list by using a Registry hack. Run the Registry Editor and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts. Look for the file extension whose Open With list you want to edit and find its OpenWithList subkeyHKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.bmp\OpenWithList, for example. The subkey will have an alphabetical list of String values. Open each value and examine the value data. It will be the name of one of the programs on the Open With list (Winword.exe, for example). Delete any entry you don't want to appear. Don't delete the value data; delete the String value listing. In other words, if the value data for the a String value is Winword.exe, delete the entire string rather than just the value data. Exit the Registry.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Open the Command Prompt from the Right-Click Menu

I began computing in the days of DOS, and I still can't give up the command prompt. When it comes to doing down-and-dirty tasks like mass deleting or renaming of files, nothing beats it. I find myself frequently switching back and forth between Windows Explorer and the command prompt.

Often, when using Windows Explorer, I want to open the command prompt at the folder that's my current location. That takes too many steps: opening a command prompt and then navigating to my current folder. However, there's a quicker way: you can add an option to the right-click context menu that will open a command prompt at your current folder. For example, if you were to right-click the C:\My Stuff folder, you could then choose to open a command prompt at C:\My Stuff.

To add the option, run the Registry Editor, then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Classes/Folder/Shell. Create a new key called Command Prompt. For the default value, enter whatever text you want to appear when you right-click a folderfor example, Open Command Prompt. Create a new key beneath the Command Prompt key called Command. Set the default value to Cmd.exe /k pushd %L. That value will launch Cmd.exe, which is the XP command prompt. The /k switch puts the prompt into interactive mode. That is, it lets you issue commands from the command prompt; the command prompt isn't being used to issue only a single command and then exit. The pushd command stores the name of the current directory, and %L uses that name to start the command prompt at it. Exit the Registry. The new menu option will show up immediately. Note that it won't appear when you right-click a file; it shows up only when you right-click a folder.

While many of us like fussing around with the Registry rather than doing things the easy way, there's also a way to add this option to your right-click context menu without editing the Registry. Download and install a free copy of Microsoft's Open Command Window Here PowerToy from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/powertoys.asp.

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