Get organised with Windows 98 toolbars

Tip In case you haven't noticed, Windows 98 and Internet Explorer 4 add tonnes of new toolbars to the screen. Just right-click an empty area of the taskbar or one of its toolbars, select Toolbars, and choose one or more of the following options:

Address gives you a handy command line for accessing Web sites, opening folders, and launching applications. Links is a good place to drag and drop favourite Web addresses and other objects. Quick Launch can hold the Show Desktop button and Shortcuts to any app or file. Desktop provides a quick way to access desktop objects when the desktop itself is obscured by open windows. New Toolbar creates a toolbar to show the contents of any folder.

Though these toolbars represent potential time savers (or at least click savers), how do you cope with the visual noise they add? Here are some ideas:

Turn off what you don't need. For example, the Links and the Quick Launch toolbars do basically the same thing -- they hold program or folder Shortcuts and Web links. Drag the best items from one onto the other; then nuke the empty one. (You remove a toolbar by right-clicking the taskbar, choosing Toolbars, and unchecking the toolbar's name.)Go vertical. If you need two or three toolbars on screen, save space by dragging one or more of them to another edge of your screen. For example, you might keep the taskbar and the Quick Launch bar in a single vertical column on the left or right margin. But keep the Address toolbar, which needs a lot of horizontal space, at either the top or bottom of your screen.

Float them. If screen real estate isn't an issue, you can simplify the taskbar by turning toolbars into floating palettes. Just position the pointer near the toolbar's title (or where the title would be, if you've hidden it) and drag and drop to the desktop.

Keep frequently-used toolbars on top. If you frequently use objects on a floating palette, you can keep the palette accessible by right-clicking it and choosing Always on Top. Though toolbars lack Minimize buttons, clicking the Show Desktop button on the taskbar will hide floating palettes (except those set to be Always on Top). The palettes will reappear the next time you restore a window or click Show Desktop.

Create a folder toolbar. If you regularly access a folder of files, you can transform the entire folder into a toolbar with icons representing each file within. Simply drag the folder (or a Shortcut to it) to any edge of your screen to create an instant toolbar displaying the folder's contents.

Shrink icons and remove labels. Right-click any toolbar and choose View--Small to shrink the icons, or uncheck Show Title to eliminate the toolbar's title. Finally, you can save a lot of space by hiding the name of each toolbar icon: right-click the toolbar and then choose Show Text to uncheck this option. You can always hover the pointer over an icon until its explanatory "tool tip" appears.

Hide what you don't need. If you have additional toolbars on different edges of your screen, you can minimise clutter and gain space by right-clicking a toolbar and choosing Auto Hide. The toolbar will disappear when not in use but pop back into view when you move your pointer to its edge of the screen.

Combine two or more into one. If you want multiple toolbars without cluttering the desktop, drag one toolbar onto an existing palette. Presto! The two toolbars become a single connected palette, while maintaining the attributes (icon size, visible titles or text, and so on) ascribed to each. Drag the separator to adjust the space each gets, or drag any edge to resize the entire palette. You can't drag two floating toolbars together to form a single floating palette, but you can drag a toolbar from the taskbar and drop it onto a floating palette to create a connected floating palette.

Rearrange buttons to suit your needs. Don't rely on anyone else to put your toolbar buttons in the order that's fastest or most logical to you. You can rearrange the buttons on any toolbar or palette just by dragging. In fact, you can do the same for anything on the Start menu.

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