Windows 9x - The Links toolbar

One of Windows' most versatile features is also one of the most underused: the Links toolbar. You can customise other Windows toolbars by adding shortcuts to launch applications, documents, folders, and Web sites (for Windows 95, doing this requires using the Desktop Update portion of Internet Explorer 4). The Links bar goes beyond these capabilities, letting you add multiple custom menus, for example. Any toolbar can be placed on the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen, positioned on any screen edge, or floated anywhere on the screen. You can also put the Links toolbar at the top of all folder and Windows Explorer windows, and in all Internet Explorer browser windows.

Note: if you use Windows 95 without the Desktop Update feature of IE 4, these tips will work only in the IE browser window, not on the Taskbar or in folder windows.

PUT 'ER THERE

To add the Links toolbar to the Taskbar, right-click the Taskbar, choose Toolbars, and select Links on the resulting menu. Drag the Links toolbar off the Taskbar to make it float anywhere on the desktop, or dock it on any edge of the desktop.

ADD YOUR LINKS

Place shortcuts onto the Links toolbar by dragging them from Explorer to a spot on the toolbar. To add a shortcut to the Web page currently open in your IE browser, drag the Control icon (the little blue 'e') in the upper-left corner of the browser and drop it onto the toolbar. You can drag shortcuts from the Start menu or its submenus to the Links bar, too (except for certain built-in Start menu items, such as Help and Run). To remove an item, just right-click it and choose Delete.

ADD CUSTOM MENUS

You can add your own custom menu to the Links bar via the Links folder, which holds the shortcuts whose icons appear on your Links toolbar. To open this folder, click Favorites on the Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer menu bar, and then double-click Links. Right-click an empty area of the folder, and choose New-Folder. Type a name for the folder and click OK. In another folder window, select the application (.exe) files, documents, Web links, or other files to which you want to create shortcuts, and right-click and drag them to the new folder icon. Release the mouse button and choose Create Shortcut(s) Here. When you click the icon for your new folder on the Links bar, a menu will pop up showing the shortcuts you added.

Note: if you're using the first edition of Windows 98 or Windows 95 with IE 4's Desktop Update, the menus appear as pop-up toolbars. When they're visible, you can customise them by right-clicking and choosing the same options as you would for other toolbars.

SHORT AND SIMPLE

You can create as many menus, sub-menus and shortcuts as you want, but adding too many will slow your access to the files. You'll either get lost navigating through the items, or you'll have to click the double greater-than symbol to view all your Links shortcuts. Just add shortcuts to the items you use most often. A good example is to make an 'Apps' menu for often-used programs, a 'Folders' menu for folder shortcuts, and a 'Web' menu for favourite Internet sites.

To save space on the Links toolbar, eliminate the icons' descriptive names. If your Links bar is free-floating or on the Taskbar, right-click an empty part of the toolbar and uncheck "Show Text". When the Links bar is on a folder or IE browser window, hiding the text is more difficult, but you can name each icon with a single punctuation mark. If you have IE 5 or later, right-click an icon on the Links bar and choose Rename. In IE 4, open the Links folder, click its name (or press ), type your new name and press .

GET THE LOOK YOU LIKE

It's easier to locate icons on your Links toolbar and its menus if each one has a distinctive look. This is especially true for generic Web and folder shortcuts. To change a shortcut's icon, right-click it and choose Properties. With the appropriate Shortcut, Internet Shortcut, or Web Document tab in front, click Change Icon and select an icon. If you don't see one you like, click Browse, then locate and open other files that contain icons. These include Progman.exe, Moricons.dll, and Pifmgr.dll (look for these files in your Windows, System, or System32 folders), as well as icon files downloaded from the Web. Make your selection, and click OK twice.

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