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Personalize Your Computer
Fast Access to Your Programs

Posted: August 24, 2001

Want to keep the programs you like to use within easy reach? Windows XP lets you customize the Start menu, taskbar, and desktop so you can launch your favorite programs more quickly, without having to search for them. Here are three ways Windows XP makes it easier for you to stay focused on your work, instead of on your computer.

Pin Programs to the Start Menu

You can easily pin, or assign, programs to the Start menu.

To pin programs to the Start menu

(In our example, we’ll pin the Windows XP Calculator program to the Start menu.)

  1. Click Start, and then click All Programs.
  2. Click Accessories and point to Calculator.
  3. Right-click Calculator and click Pin to Start menu.

    Pin Calculator to the Start menu

  4. Click anywhere on the desktop to quit the Start menu.

That's all there is to it. The above works for any program on your computer, putting those programs on the Start menu until you decide to remove them. By the way, removing programs from the Start menu is even easier.

To remove programs from the Start menu

  1. Click Start, and then point to the program you want to remove (in this case, Calculator).
  2. Right-click Calculator and click Unpin from Start menu.
  3. Click anywhere on the desktop to quit the Start menu.

Use the Quick Launch Bar

The Quick Launch bar makes it easy to access frequently used programs with a single click. Windows XP loads several programs in the Quick Launch bar, including Show Desktop. Show Desktop minimizes all the programs on your desktop with a single click; click it again, and they are restored just as you left them.

To display the Quick Launch bar

  1. Right-click an empty area on the taskbar and click Properties.
  2. On the Taskbar tab, under Taskbar appearance, select the Show Quick Launch check box and click OK.

It's easy to add programs to the Quick Launch bar.

To add programs to the Quick Launch bar

  • In My Computer or Windows Explorer, click the icon for the program you want to add and then drag it to the Quick Launch portion of the taskbar located next to the Start button. The icon for that program appears next to the other Quick Launch icons on the taskbar.

Add Shortcuts to Your Desktop

Another quick way to start your programs is to place a shortcut icon on the desktop.

To place a shortcut icon on your desktop

  1. Right-click Start, and then click Explore.
  2. Locate the folder, file, or program for which you want to create a shortcut, and then click the item to open it.
  3. Click the icon representing the item.
  4. Click File on the toolbar, and then Create Shortcut on the drop-down menu that appears.
  5. Right-click on the shortcut icon that is created.
  6. Choose Send To from the drop-down menu, and then click Desktop (create shortcut) on the submenu that appears.
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