Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Ultimate Desktop Layout Tip #1

The ultimate in efficiency (or laziness depending on how you look at it) is finding ways to reduce mouse clicks when working on your computer.  I don't like clicking my mouse button any more than absolutely necessary.  Clicking is simply too much effort, my finger gets tired.  I want everything just one click away.  Fortunately, we can reduce quite a few mouse clicks with this simple modification to the Windows desktop.  Over the next few tech tips I am going to focus on optimizing your Windows desktop to reduce mouse clicks.  Below is tip number one.  "Expanding the quick launch bar."
The quick launch bar usually appears crammed to the right of the Windows Start menu and to the left of your open task buttons on the taskbar.  The quick launch bar contains shortcuts to frequently used programs.  However, most of the time only a very few of these icons are visible.
My suggestion is to expand the quick launch bar so you can utilize it more prevalently.  The first step in doing this is to enlarge your taskbar.  It used to be that screen real estate was at a premium.  Now days, however, with dual monitors and ever increasing monitor resolution, we can spare a little extra room for the taskbar, especially considering the time savings it will produce.
To expand the task bar, right click on the taskbar where there are no icons.  This will pull up a context menu.  If there is a check beside "Lock the Taskbar," then remove the check by clicking on "Lock the Taskbar."  Otherwise, leave the "Lock the Taskbar" option unchecked.
This will free up the taskbar to be moved around.  The next thing you want to do is hover your mouse over the edge of the taskbar until the icon changes to indicate that you can move the taskbar.
Once you see mouse pointer change, click and hold your left mouse button and drag the taskbar up one notch so that you now have two rows for your task bar.
The next thing we want to do is move the quick launch bar so that it is on its own row and our open task buttons are on their own row.  To do this, hover your mouse over the dividing line to the left of the quick launch bar until the mouse pointer changes.  (Note that this dividing line only appears if the taskbar is unlocked which we accomplished above.)
Once your mouse pointer changes, click and hold your left mouse button and drag the quick launch bar to the lower taskbar row.
Now you have two rows on your taskbar, one for running tasks and one for the quick launch bar.  Now right click on the taskbar again where there are no icons and open the context menu again.  This time click "Lock the Taskbar" to relock the taskbar so you don't move things around anymore accidentally.
As you can see, this modification gives you an entire row of shortcuts at your disposal on your taskbar where you can place any number of shortcuts.  The beauty of this modification is since your taskbar is always visible, you only have to click once to launch any program of your choosing.  Also, an added benefit is we can now see the entire date on the right side of the taskbar without having to click at all.
Over the next few tech tips I will cover some really cool things we can do now that we have a dedicated row for our quick launch shortcuts.  Each of which will save time, effort and most importantly, clicks!
Happy Teching,
Ryan Williams
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