Windows 9x: Right-click for faster Windows navigation

Why click through three menus, two windows, and a couple of dialogue boxes just to get to a file, folder, or application? Left-brainers can remember shortcut keys; everyone else, think right! Your right mouse button's shortcuts take you where you're going, quickly. So limber up those fingers and get ready to right-click.


If you want to close, tile, minimise, maximise, or otherwise arrange several application windows, don't fuss with each individually. Hold down as you click the taskbar buttons of the windows you want to arrange or close. Then right-click one of the depressed buttons and choose the action you want from the menu. For example, if, amongst a glut of open windows, you want to view two windows side by side, just select one window, and then, while holding , right-click the other and select Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically.


You can launch Backup (if it's installed), ScanDisk, Disk Cleanup, or Disk Defragmenter by choosing Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools, but if Windows Explorer is open, it's faster simply to right-click the drive you want to work on and choose Properties. In the General tab, click Disk Cleanup to launch that tool for the disk you right-clicked (in Windows 98, 2000, and Me), or select the Tools tab to open one of Windows' other system utilities.


Don't open the Control Panel to set the date, time or time zone. Instead, right-click the clock in the taskbar and choose Adjust Date/Time. Better yet, double-click the clock.


Control Panel isn't the fastest route to your display properties, either. Just right-click your desktop and choose Properties. Right-click the taskbar and choose Minimize All Windows to expose the desktop, and right-click the taskbar and select Undo Minimize All to restore your windows.

GET TO SYSTEM PROPERTIES WITHOUT CONTROL PANEL To access System Properties, right-click My Computer and choose Properties. If the My Computer window is already open, right-click the system menu icon in the upper-left corner of the window (near the File menu) to see the same menu, minus the Rename option.


The quickest way to reach your network settings is to right-click the Network Neighborhood icon on the desktop (My Network Places in Windows Me) and choose Properties. As with My Computer, if the Network Neighborhood window is already open, right-click the system menu icon in the upper-left corner of the window (near the File menu) to see the same menu, again without the Rename option.


To map a network drive to your computer - or to disconnect a drive that's already there - right-click either Network Neighborhood (My Network Places in Windows Me) or My Computer and choose Map Network Drive or Disconnect Network Drive.

The sensible sort

If you prefer the Details view in your folder windows, you probably know that this view lets you sort the items in a folder by clicking one of the column heads (Name, Type, Size, or Modified). Unfortunately, clicking the Type head only sorts the files by the description given to the file by Microsoft or by the application that created it, such as 'GIF Image' or 'DAT File'. Some of the descriptions take up way too much space with advertising (for example, every Office file type begins with Microsoft). And the file types may not be grouped in a logical manner.

One solution is to manage files using PowerDesk 4, a free Windows Explorer replacement available from Ontrack Data International. To Windows' file-sorting options, PowerDesk adds the ability to sort files by their description or by their three-letter extension. You can download PowerDesk from our cover CD or from Ontrack itself (

For even more file-sorting options, edit the descriptions of the file types you use most often. For example, if you work with Web graphics, you can change the descriptions for .bmp, .gif, and .jpg files from 'Bitmap Image', 'GIF Image', and 'JPEG Image' to Images-BMP, Images-GIF, and Images-JPEG to group all your image files together when you sort by type.

To change your file-type descriptions, choose View-Options, View-Folder Options, or Tools-Folder Options (depending on your version of Windows) in any folder. Click the File Types tab and scroll through the list of file types to find the one whose description you want to edit. Select it and click Edit or Advanced, depending on your version of Windows. In the Edit File Type dialogue box, enter your new description, click OK, and close the remaining dialogue boxes. Repeat these steps for all file types whose descriptions you want to alter.

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