Windows XP Tips 2

Taskbar and toolbar tips covering XP, Windows Explorer and IE6.

23rd June 2004 · Last updated: 21st December 2023

Windows XP Tips · Windows Explorer Tips · IE6 Tips · Comments

Windows XP Tips

  • You don't have to have the taskbar at the bottom of Windows XP as it first appears. Right-click on it and untick "Lock the Toolbars". Now you can drag it to any edge of the screen - left, right, top or bottom. What's more, you can expand it by hovering near the top line until the cursor changes to show a double-arrowed cursor. Now click and drag upwards until the taskbar changes height. I always have mine set to twice the default size - using two lines not one. That way I can open many programs and files and still see their names on the individual buttons.
  • Right-click on the Start button and choose Properties. Make sure "Start menu" (the top of two choices) is selected, then click on the Customize button. Have a good look through all the options - there are many worthy changes you can make here, especially on the Advanced tab. I like to turn off recently-opened programs and recent documents from being listed - it gives me more room on the Start menu to add programs.
  • Also on the Start menu Properties window is the Taskbar tab. Click on it to do things like auto-hiding the taskbar and showing the Quick Launch toolbar like Windows 98 used. I untick "Group similar taskbar buttons" here as well, so multiple files of the same type don't all fall under one button. (A neat idea, but frustrating in practice.)

Windows Explorer Tips

  • Right-click on the Standard Buttons toolbar at the top and untick "Lock the Toolbars". Drag the Address Bar to the top line next to the Help menu to save space. (If it isn't visible, tick it on the right-click menu.)
  • Type a letter into the Address Bar entry field to bring up a list of files, web pages or folders beginning with that letter.
  • Switch on the Links toolbar in the same way described above - you can drag favourite folders up to it. (Sadly they open in a new window.) Rename them to fit by right-clicking. Add program shortcuts here too.
  • Press F11 to go fullscreen!
  • Add useful folders to the Favorites list - it's not just for web pages.
  • Right-click on the toolbars again to choose Customize. Add the icons for Cut, Copy and Paste. They're very useful for dealing with files.
  • When you've finished adding and moving toolbars, remember to right-click again and tick "Lock the Toolbars".

IE6 Tips

  • The same tips above for the toolbars also apply here. Gain more browser space for web pages by putting the Address Bar on the top line.
  • If you have FlashGet installed, it adds another toolbar you can show. This gives you a variety of new buttons!

Comments (2)

Comments are locked on this topic. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment.

  1. Dewayne Mikkelson:
    Great Tips Chris!
    Very nice design on your weblog. I REALLY like your Current Reading Status Bars!!!
    How did you do that?
    What engine/software package are you running for this site?
    I have put you on my blogroll and will be looking in on a regular basis.

    Posted on 24 June 2004 at 1:55 pm
  2. Chris Hester:
    Now THAT's the kind of comment I like!

    "I REALLY like your Current Reading Status Bars!!! How did you do that?"

    It's a simple division inside a list (not sure if it's correct to do that or not but the page validates). This then gets a standard background image which is moved LEFT depending on the amount of the book read. I have several styles ready-made which match the percentage shown.

    The CSS looks like this. First I style all possible combinations with the common styles shared:

    border:1px solid #ccc;
    background:#ffffff url(
    images/progress.gif) repeat-y;

    Then I align the background image like so. Here's the line for 60%:

    background-position:-103px 0;

    I had to calculate the positions exactly, but since the division is a fixed size it was possible.

    Note also that the image used is repeated so when someone enlarges the text, it doesn't get cut off.

    As for the image itself, it was done very quickly, just a standard gradient in Photoshop that was lightened enough to make any text over it still readable.

    Glad you like the effect!

    "What engine/software package are you running for this site?"

    Great question - the answer is, I coded everything myself from scratch. I use nothing more than PHP. This is a long and painful process but when I started, I wasn't overly impressed by the 'blog' software available. Now the standard of such packages is quite high, and I often think if I was starting again today, I would just install something instead. BUT... doing it yourself enables you to tweak everything - to have full control over the code. (Sure you can do that with free packages as well, but only if you can figure out how they work!)

    Posted on 24 June 2004 at 4:26 pm