Clean up your desktop

The Windows 98 taskbar offers a number of convenient quick-access options for launching programs, managing files, and fine-tuning system settings. (Many of these features are also available under Windows 95 if you've previously installed Internet Explorer 4's Desktop Update.) The Quick Launch toolbar, which appears next to the Start Button by default, includes icons for minimising all open windows, launching Internet Explorer, and launching Outlook Express. (Machines with IE4 also sport a "View Channels" icon.) But the Quick Launch bar isn't limited to Microsoft's pre-installed shortcuts. You can add shortcuts pointing to Windows Explorer, an ISP connection profile, a printer, a document folder, or programs that you run on a regular basis.

The Quick Launch bar lets you reduce icon clutter on the main desktop and launch programs (or open folders) with one click instead of the usual double-click. Plus, Quick Launch shortcuts are always at the ready, unlike desktop shortcuts, which can be covered up by windows.

Assuming the Quick Launch bar is in its default configuration, you can expand it to make room for more icons by hovering the mouse pointer over its right border (the cursor becomes a double-ended arrow), clicking and holding the left mouse button, and dragging to the right. Reverse the instructions if the bar is on the right end of the taskbar.

To create one-click shortcuts to programs, folders, or documents, just drag the icon you want from the Desktop, an open folder, or Windows Explorer onto the Quick Launch bar and drop it. In the same way, you can create shortcuts to Control Panel tools such as Add/Remove Programs or Sounds. You can even drag items directly off the Start Menu, but if you drag from there, hold down the Control key, otherwise your Start Menu items will disappear when their Quick Launch counterparts are created.

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