Divide and conquer your Favorites menu

If you use Windows 98 or Internet Explorer 4.x with Windows 95, you know what an effective navigation tool the Favorites bar is, letting you jump quickly to your, er, "bookmarked" sites and to local folders. (What? You didn't know you could save folders as Favorites? Read on.) Unfortunately, while some people prefer to separate their favourite sites from their frequently accessed local files, the Favorites bar insists on displaying both together. Here's a quick-and-dirty workaround, inspired by the nice separator line you get with Netscape Navigator's Bookmarks menu.

First, make a Shortcut you can use as a dividing line: open your Favorites folder (C:\Windows\Favorites) or choose Favorites-Organize Favorites in Internet Explorer. (If you have IE 5, you must go directly to the folder; the new Organize Favorites dialogue box won't let you create Shortcuts.) Right-click in an empty part of the folder and choose New-Shortcut. When prompted to provide a command line, type the path to any useful file or folder - for example, c:\windows\favorites - and click Next. For the Shortcut name, type a line of underscore marks or hyphens. Click Finish.

Now make the icon less conspicuous: right-click the Shortcut and choose Properties. Click the Shortcut tab, and then click Change Icon. Choose one of the available tiny icons, such as the small Shortcut arrow, and click OK twice. If you're using IE 5 and working in the Organize Favorites dialogue box, click Close. Click the label Favorites at the top of the pane and hit (refresh) to apply the new order.

Now choose your Favorites menu from the Explorer menu bar, and drag and drop icons so all Internet folders and icons are on one side of the line and all Shortcuts to often-used files and folders on your computer or network are on the other.

Oddly, unless you have IE 5, you may have to perform this chore multiple times - once to arrange the Favorites menu on the Start menu, once to access Internet Explorer's Favorites menu, and again to reach the Favorites Explorer bar (the one you see when you choose View-Explorer Bar-Favorites). But once you do, a Favorites menu is much easier to navigate. What happens when you add new items to the menu? If you put new items into the appropriate folders within the Favorites folder, things will take care of themselves. If you add Shortcuts to the Favorites folder directly, you may need to do some periodic drag-and-drop maintenance to keep things in order.

For those of you who didn't know, here's how to add files and folders to the Favorites menu: right-click My Computer and select Explore. Click the Favorites button on the toolbar (the one that looks like a folder with an asterisk), navigate through your system to the files or folders you want to add, right-drag them to the Favorites pane at the left, and select Create Shortcut(s) Here. If you're using Internet Explorer 5, select the file or folder you want to add to Favorites, and click the Add button at the top of the Favorites pane.