TUCOWS ARTICLE

How to Organize the Programs Menu in Windows XP

When you buy a computer it comes with a lot of software on it. Whether you buy Dell, Gateway, Compaq, Toshiba or any other name brand, you get about 500 megabytes of software. That's right, about half a gigabyte is filled up with either free programs or lite versions of programs you can pay to upgrade.
Published: Aug 1, 2005
Author: Michael E, Callahan
This question submitted by Eileen Sunna, Paul Browers, Gerald Croft and numerous others. When you buy a computer it comes with a lot of software on it. Whether you buy Dell, Gateway, Compaq, Toshiba or any other name brand, you get about 500 megabytes of software. That's right, about half a gigabyte is filled up with either free programs or lite versions of programs you can pay to upgrade. Then you start installing programs and when you go to look at your Programs menu it often spans the entire screen. I've had friends ask me for help with their computer and that's one of the first things I notice. This Program menu that just keeps going and going and going. It gets to be very hard to actually select something from this menu that spans multiple tiers. So, when dealing with my friends, the first thing I ask them is, "do you really use all these programs?" And, the answer I almost always get is "No! But I don't know how to get rid of them." Well, I've got a little process that I use on all my computers and it's also what I do to help clean up my friends Program menus. So, lets give this a try. First you need to get to the spot where you can easily edit the Programs menu. Under the Windows XP default layout click: Start - Control Panel - Appearance and Themes - Taskbar and Start Menu - Start Menu tab - Classic Start menu - Customize If you're old-fashioned like me and use the classic menus click: Start - Programs - Settings - Taskbar and Start MenuOne you've clicked "Customize" click "Advanced" and you'll see the layout of your programs menu. On the left-hand side you see the Documents and Setting folder and under that are the configurations for each person who uses that computer. So, just as an example, for user "Betty" you'd see folders laid out like this:
  • Betty
  • Cookies
  • Desktop
  • Favorites
  • Start Menu
  • Programs
Now, on the right-hand side double-click on the Programs folder. There you'll see most of the folders that span your screen. Yes, it's very crowded, but it won't be for long. Here's what you do: Right-click on an empty spot, select New - Folder and create a new folder. I call mine "Windows Folders," but any name will do. "Stuff," "Extra Programs," "Extra Folders," whatever makes sense to you. Now, just start right-clicking on the folders of programs you don't use and drag them to the "Windows Folder." Move them there. Each time you drop a folder the Windows Folder will move around, but just look for it and you'll get faster and faster at it. For most people, just removing the programs you never use or seldom use will really clear out the programs menu. Ahhh, but another step. Once you've moved what you wanted from the Programs folder to the Windows Folder (or whatever you called it) double-click on the Windows Folder. That's right -- you're now in the folder that contains all the folders that contain all the programs you seldom or never use. Now, right-click and select New - Folder and name it "A to L." Make another one and call it "M to Z." Now, just do what you did before and start moving programs to the appropriate folder based on the program name. When you're done you have a simple set-up that has the Programs folder which contains only the folders of the programs you use, the Windows Folder (or whatever you called it), and folders A to L and M to Z. You've greatly simplified what you're going to see the next time you click on Start - Programs. If you feel up to it you can do the same thing for every user. You can also do it under the All Users section. This will further clean-up what you see when you're working with Windows. The effect is most often quite dramatic and it makes it so much easier to use the programs you actually use. Remember, you aren't actually moving the programs, you're just moving the folders and icons that represent the programs. You won't cause any problems with the way any program runs, you just make it easier for you to work. All those programs are still there under Windows Folders, A to L or M to Z, for easy access. Next week I'll respond to other user questions about how to organize the programs that you actually use. Thanks to Eileen Sunna, Paul Browers, Gerald Croft and numerous others for asking this question If you have a question on how to do something on the computer you can submit it via e-mail by clicking HERE. You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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