Desktop Organization: RUNit, FileBox EXtender, 4t Tray Minimizer

by JL Beeken on 3-18-2007

This has nothing to do with genealogy, except if you consider more easily navigating around your files and folders an important issue for sanity’s sake.

I have no doubt there are numerous options available for desktop organization. I’ll just tell you what I found to fit the bill. Once it was all working I had no need to look any further.

I used to have shortcuts all over my desktop and then I would get tired of looking at them and delete them all. Then I’d bring a few back, and a few more, until I couldn’t stand it again and delete them all again. Then I discovered a most curious trick in Windows. If you have My Documents on your desktop you’re ready to go. If not, go to your start menu, right click and send it there. OK, now, drag the icon all the way over to the left side of your screen as far as you can and let go of it.

If you don’t like it, you can right click on an empty space in the toolbar and close it. If you seem to have no empty space to click in try the tiny space right below where it says My Documents. If you’re going to keep it you have the choice of either large or small icons. I’ve done the same thing with My Computer on the top edge of the screen. Actually it will work with any folder but there’s only 3 edges so choose carefully.

Desktop Organization

Now I have one-click access to the top-level content in either of these two folders and that’s a lot. My desktop is cleared for ATNotes and program installers passing through. All that open space feels good. Maybe I’ll even put on a more inspired background picture someday.

There is a new program on the Internet called RunIT. This new one is a cross between a file indexer and a desktop organization tool. You add items to the list yourself along with identifying keywords, and then later you can search by keyword. Search will bring up a box showing you files connected to that keyword from which you choose the appropriate item. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

The simplest thing is to use the Quick Launch taskbar in Windows. Just drag and drop your shortcuts into it. Sometimes, you have the option while installing software so the shortcuts go there automatically.

I wasn’t looking but more recently I came across another one that fits right in, called FileBox EXtender. Since the arrival of Vista the developers are not interested in having to redesign the software to comply so they’ve put it out as a free offering, for anyone still wanting it. You choose to create a list of often-used files and folders for simpler access. It’s very easy to add new items or delete ones no longer in constant use. Again, the idea is speed. It’s a good place for sub and sub-sub folders that take a couple extra clicks to get to the old-fashioned way.

FileBox EXtender

The “configure” screen looks like this:

FileBox EXtender

When you click on “new item” another box comes up where you browse to the file or folder you want added to your list. When you’re finished there, you click “Hide” and there will be only an icon in the system tray. Left-clicking on that will bring up your list from anywhere.

Another one I like is called 4t Tray Minimizer. What this does is put any program, file or folder you minimize into icon form in the system tray, rather than piling up the extended versions along the taskbar Windows’ style.

4t Tray Minimizer

If you have it starting up with Windows by default, all you have to do after that is use the button to the left of the Windows’ minimize button, on any program. (It will show in most.)

4t Tray Minimizer

The free version is just fine. For $20 you can have more options.

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