We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, April 23. 2011
Enter 'Classic Start Menu' (where do they dream up these wild and crazy names?), a free replacement that mimics the old style menu perfectly. It's also quite configurable so you can get rid on any unwanted Start Menu entries, like "Help & Support", the ultra-worthless 'Search' box, and arrange the columns and icons to just the right size.
But the main thing is that the menus auto-expand — like in the old days — so there's no unnecessary clicking. If I want to access 'Process Explorer' inside of my 'Tools' Start Menu folder, that's 5 mouse clicks with the stock Start Menu, 2 with Classic.
Additional info (and some other program suggestions for Win7) is below the fold.
Look in the Start Menu for the 'Classic Start Menu' entry. In the box that pops open, click on 'All Settings' at the bottom.
To size everything down, choose 'Small Icons' on the 'Skin' panel. To get rid of the 'Windows' logo running down alongside the menu, uncheck 'Caption'.
You'll want to glance over the 'Special Items' panel and uncheck anything you don't want. For 'Shutdown', I think 'menu' is easier to use than 'link'.
If you want to get rid of the pesky 'Location' box that pops up when hovering over an entry, set both 'Infotip' settings to '0,0' on the 'General Behavior' panel. I did the same for 'Menu delay' (just one zero) and unchecked 'Delay loading of icons'.
As with the XP Start Menu, right-clicking on the 'Start' icon, 'Open', opens up the 'Start Menu' folder in 'Users'. In there, I keep my main category folders ('Audio', 'Games', 'Graphics', etc) and a shortcut icon to the 'Start Menu' folder in 'ProgramData' for easy organizing. You can also use the 'Open All Users' entry from the 'Start' button to access the second group.
Organizing The Start Menu
What makes this confusing is that there are two places where Windows puts the icons for the Start Menu. You might have noticed that many programs ask during the install if you just want the program accessible to you, or to "all users". That's why there are two areas.
What makes it additionally confusing is that, rather than putting the 'all users' icons in the 'All Users' folder in 'Users', it stuffs them deep in the 'ProgramData' folder.
— Right-click on the 'Start' button and select 'Open'. That opens the Start Menu folder in the 'Users' folder. Shove the folder to the side.
— Again right-click the 'Start' button and this time select 'Open All Users'. You'll see a 'Programs' folder. Make a shortcut icon of it, rename it to something like "Start 2" or "Other Start" and then d-r-a-g it over to the first Start Menu folder and drop it inside the 'Programs' folder. Now, when you open the 'Programs' folder to access any fresh entries, you'll have easy access to the second Start Menu folder.
On the subject, the actual program icon will usually be in the second Start Menu folder. There will often be a folder for the new program in the first Start Menu folder, but it'll be empty.
— In the first Start Menu folder, make folders for your main categories, like "Audio", "Games", "Graphics", "Info", "Music", "Tools", whatever. You can also make sub-folders.
— Roll up your shirt sleeves, freshen up the coffee, take a big swig off the nearest bottle of Jack Daniels and then open up every program folder in both Start Menu folders and drag the actual programs to their new homes. Then delete the original program folders to tidy things up. There will also be a handful of single program icons floating around.
— Now take a small twig or rolled-up piece of rawhide, clench it between your teeth to ward off the pain, then proceed to open all of your category folders and rename every icon to just the program name, eliminating any company name or version number. "Microsoft Corporation Digital Word Processing Algorithmic Unit Version 103.34452b" would become "MS Word", for example.
Here's what mine looks like:
('DTP' stands for 'Desktop Publishing', like word processors, dictionaries, etc, and I keep the Task Bar at the top of the screen as any good ex-Amiga or Apple user should. The menus are, after all, called drop-down menus, not drop-up menus, right?)
As noted, you can also create sub-folders. In this case, I put my main tools in the main 'Tools' folder, fix-it & tweak tools in 'Diagnose', some batch files to change the screen's resolution for testing purposes in 'Res', and a handful of disc-related tools in 'ROM'. So do whatever fits your system.
Other Win7 Proggies
— To organize/eliminate (most of) the entries in the right-mouse-button 'context' menu, try FileMenu Tools. Look through the 'Commands of other applications' tab, uncheck things, hit the 'Save' button, test it out. Another one to try is ShellExView.
— To organize/eliminate (most of) the entries in the 'New' menu, try ShellMenuNew.
— To replace the now-worthless Search feature, try Super Finder. Be sure to do the tweaks on the page after you install it.
— If you're still looking for a replacement for the fabled Outlook Express, try Thunderbird. It handles multiple identities even better than OE did.
— For the most kick-ass Win7 setup page you've ever seen, try this.
Doc's Computin' Tips: Windows 7 review (redux)
Now that I'm actually using Windows 7, I'll have to take back all of those cruel, nasty, horrid things I said about it in my initial review. I hereby take them all back. So, to sum up: — If you're an average user who just grabs the ol' email and
Weblog: Maggie's Farm
Tracked: May 07, 10:15
Doc's Computin' Tips: Index
Every now and then I like to run this post up the flagpole. I can't guarantee all of these will work on every Windows operating system, but most should. If I know it's only for one OS, I'll point it out. Programs AutoSizer — This has two
Weblog: Maggie's Farm
Tracked: May 15, 10:00
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That's a cute shell logo up in the corner too, but the oil company is going to be kicking someone's ass. Those folks are VERY protective of their logo.
Nice article. Thanks.
Funny, I thought the same thing. Unfortunately for the guy, Shell Inc. will probably be able to prove in court that they came along long before 'shell' computer programs. :)
It's a great program, hope you enjoy.
Thanks as usual for the computer tips, Dr. Mercury. I'm still just getting to know Win7.
This is a little off topic, and I'm asking for free advice I know. Feel free to ignore this, as I'm sure your time is valuable. I won't hate you in the morning if you do.
I recently got a new computer running Win7, as my old XP was dying. Funny enough, it died the very day I fired up the new one. Here's the question:
Are you aware that a standard full backup file from my XP machine (Comodo Backup, in this case) cannot be recognized by Windows 7?
Or am I just an idiot, doing something wrong... that wouldn't surprise me. I wanted to do your "image file" method of backing up, and I just couldn't make heads nor tails of it, so I gave up.
Big A -
"Are you aware that a standard full backup file from my XP machine (Comodo Backup, in this case) cannot be recognized by Windows 7?"
I would assume it wouldn't. Not only are you trying to leapfrog an entire version (Vista), but XP and Vista/Win7 are wildly different operating systems on a number of low levels.
And making an image file of it certainly wouldn't have worked. You would have overwritten your new computer with your old XP system, which wouldn't have done any good.
Basically, you'll just have to take it from scratch. You first burn all of your personal files to disc, install Win7, then start putting programs and files back in. Internet Explorer's 'Favorites' can be saved, and you can usually save an email program's database and address book to files, which can (it says here) later be imported into a new program.
Putting in Windows, itself, is no biggie. There's lots of info on the last link in the post.
Thanks, your time and comments are much appreciated.
You confirmed what I sadly had become mostly aware of, but hoped I was somehow wrong! Yes, I will be using another computer to slowwwwwly burn stuff to disks, and transfer it all that way. Sigh....
Even though you were too... too... (gropes for proper word) ... too digitally-challenged to handle the system backup routine, there's still some good info on the site in regards to saving your files in general.
The good news is that the last time you installed a Windows, you probably had a bunch of driver discs to deal with, whereas Win7 will probably gobble everything right up. The only 'extra' thing I put in was a PS/2 driver from the Logitech program to increase the functionality of my mouse.
The bad news is that not all of your programs will work, and that's especially true if you put a 64-bit Windows on it. But you do want the 64-bit Windows if your machine has more than 3 gigs of memory. Whether or not the company has issued a program patch (for Win7, for 64-bit systems, or both) is anybody's guess.
The new computer, a gift from my sister, was a breeze. It came preloaded with Win7 64-bit, 4 gigs of ram, 20" touch screen, blah blah blah. I love it!
So no Windows installation issues, just the hassle of getting some of my old files, desktop links etc. (I don't do "favorites." I make folders. Call me "digitally-challenged," haha!) over to the new system.
Thanks for the suggestion on looking for a patch from Comodo, I'll do that. I had pretty much given up hope.
Next step is to decide if I want to use my Office2000 discs, or go with openoffice or something, sincde this thing only has a trial version of Office2007. AND, migrating to IE9.
I love how much time and labor computers save us (sarcasm).
Big A - I'm using the Office 2000 version of MS Word on my Win7 64-bit system and it's working just peachy. (I HATE the layout of later versions)
As far as IE 9 goes, well, soo-prise, soo-prise! I installed it last night and, three right mouse clicks later, it looked almost identical to version 8. The only real difference is that they eliminated the tool bar by default and put a few of the icons, like 'Home', over where the search box used to be. But, restore both the tool bar and menu bar and voila -- exactly like version 8. I'll whip up a review on it later.
"I love how much time and labor computers save us (sarcasm)."
My mom's famous expression for dad buying her a computer was, "In the old days, it took one day to sort the bills, then one day pay them. These days, it takes one day to sort the bills, one day to pay them -- and one day to enter all the data in the computer!"
Thanks for the report on Word2000. I was really afraid that wouldn't work either, and I totally agree with you... hate the later layouts!
Looking forward to the IE9 review. Sounds like it went rather seamlessly, and my understanding is that it's WAY more secure, and supposedly faster for loading pages.
(And it takes one day out of five, pro-rated over the life of a computer, just to set it up and deal with all the problems to keep it running!)
"What is this Windows 7 you speak of?"
I'm surprised you haven't heard of the new thermal-pane-x windows, and how much more environmentally friendly they are than even dual-paned windows. Now in their 7th generation, I'm pushing for a Congressional mandate to outfit every American home with them. As wise commenter "BD" notes, the "Meaningful Standards for People Of Sanity" (or "MS POS" for short) guarantees we're seeing the best that technology has to offer, and to turn it down should be deemed a moral crime, if not an outright one.
Or, you might be referring to the hot new MicroSoft Product Of Serenity ("MS POS" for short) that's just been released. As I'm sure you know, you're pretty much nobody unless you're using Win7. Even Bird Dog, famed Luditte that he is, is using it. Quite frankly, knowing that, I'd be ashamed to admit it in public.
Now, I will admit that I might have said a few harsh things about Win7 in my review, lo!, those many moons ago, but times have changed. Or, more specifically, my latest fave program, Google Earth, ran like shit on XP when making video tours, but smooth as silk on Vista and Win7. Then I discovered that my Verizon Wireless ran faster. Then I discovered that video files rendered faster.
At that point I had no choice but to switch. I hate the way Win7 handles windows and icons and a bunch of other small things, but I sure like the increased speed.
Dr. M - you mentioned replacements for Outlook Express, actually, hidden within the fetid bowel of Windows 7 there is an almost identical program, WinMail.
This site shows how to set it up, http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/5481-windows-mail.html
As I mentioned, it is almost identical to Outlook Express, and less a PITA than Thunderbird. Only difficulty I had was setting up an old MSN account as it wouldn't let me get past the msn.com bit - the work around is to set up the account with a phony address, e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org instead of msn.com, put in the msn POP3 server addresses, then go back and change zipzap to msn.
Other than that, it works great, all other accounts set up with no glitches, which leads me to believe that Microsloth was trying to force old MSN accounts into the "Live" bullcrap,
AFBoR - I'll have to re-check that out. I remember looking at it years ago, when Vista came out and they'd disabled OE's multiple Identities, but I thought there was some major flaw with it, hence my continued hunt for a replacement.
Or, it might have simply been that WinMail, like Outhouse Express, makes you jump through a hoop to get to another identitiy, whereas The Bat and Thunderbird don't. When on that initial hunt, it wasn't because I was switching to Vista, it was simply because I'm a geek and wanted to know. As soon as I discovered the slick way The Bat (and T-Bird) handled multiple identities, that was it for OE.
And, just to note, Thunderbird does the whole 'new account' thing automatically these days. It does the online sites, like HotMail and GMail, just fine, but you might have to change the port numbers if using a web hosting company. Either way, it wasn't any big deal, and its few faults (doesn't minimize to SysTray, doesn't allow order of identities to be changed) can be fixed with add-ons. It's a little funky when it comes to font sizes and such (The Bat was even worse), but otherwise I like it. I have a review of it here.
"ultra worthless search box"
You should stop giving people computer advice. Never a more stupid thing has been said.
Anyone who actually knows anything can tell you that with only a few keystrokes you can bring up any program, applet, file, folder, website, etc, by using that "ultra worthless" search box correctly.
Why don't you do everybody a favor, reinstall windows 2000, and leave off the advice column?
I knew one of you would drift along at some point. If you want to manually type program names into a box to open them, please be my guest.
By mere coincidence, that's also how we opened programs in 1986.
1986! That was a Reagan year! Why do you hate Ronald Reagan? Why don't you just tend to your computer advice and shut about politics?
"Ronald Reagan"? Wasn't he some actor from the 40's or something? A bunch of greasy old black & white westerns?
It's not that I hate Reagan -- I just hate old westerns! Those fake shoot-out scenes and that awful "Ooh, ya got me, pard!" dying scene? Those Indians riding around the circled wagons getting picked off like a carnival air-gun booth? Pathetic! If this "Ronald Reagan" guy was part of it, then clearly he had reached his level of incompetence and thus been relegated to the dust bin of history. I don't expect to hear his name again.