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Windows Vista hints and tips 11

Tips index

Customise the Send To menu

When you right click the mouse on a file or folder on the desktop or in an explorer window there is a Send To menu with various options on. For example, you can send the item to a compressed (zipped) folder, which will create a zip file. You can send it to another disk drive or the Documents folder.

You can add your own items to this right click Send To menu and then you can send files and folders to other places. A really useful item to add to the Send To menu is Notepad. You can then click any file and send it to Notepad. Notepad will open so you can view the item. It's great for viewing files like HTML web pages, .inf files, .reg files, .XML files, .ini files and anything else you care to view.

The items on the Send To menu are actually stored in a folder on the disk drive. Click Start, Computer to open an Explorer window. Now navigate to C:\Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo. (When customising Windows it's best to use an administrator account with User Account Control turned off. You should enable hidden and system folders too - in an Explorer window tap the Alt key to show the menu and select Tools, Folder Options. On the View tab select Show hidden files and folders, and clear the tick against Hide protected operating system files.)

Vista Send To

OK, now you've got an Explorer window showing the SendTo folder, you can place programs in here or create shortcuts to them. Find Notepad on the Start menu, then right click it and select Copy. Right click in the SendTo window and select Paste. You now have a Notepad item on the Send To menu. Open an Explorer window and try right clicking a file (anything that contains text). Select Send To, Notepad and it'll be displayed in Notepad.


Modify file associations

When a file is double clicked Windows will open it in the program that is associated with it. For example, files that have a .txt extension always open in Notepad and files with a .doc extension open in Word if it's installed. When software is installed it can take over ownership of a file type and instead of .bmp files opening in Paint or Windows Photo Gallery (the picture viewer), it opens in some other program, like a photo editor.

Sometimes this is useful and when you install new software it's handy to be able to open files for editing just by double clicking them. It's not always useful though and the program that opens the file might not be the one you actually want to use. Even worse, a file type might be associated with a program that you have uninstalled and no longer have.

For these reasons you might want to modify file associations occasionally. Right click a file in an Explorer window or on the desktop and select Open With. You'll see a short list of programs and if you see the one you want, you can select it to open the file in that program. To use a program that's not on the list or to permanently change the program that is associated with a file type, select Choose Default Program. Select the program if you can see it, otherwise click the Browse button and locate the executable file on the hard disk drive. For example, find mspaint.exe if you want to use Paint to open a particular file type. Tick Always use the selected program to open this kind of file and click OK. You've now associated a file type with a program and it will always be used when you double click a file.

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