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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Add programs to Windows Explorer Favorites

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Explorer is probably the most used program on Windows PC and it is used to view the contents of the hard disk drive, CDs, DVDs, USB flash memory drives and so on. It is used to start programs, create, delete and move files. How much do you know about it though? It actually has more features than you might think and the left-hand pane can be used to store shortcuts to your favourite applications. It is useful to have a few favourites here and adding them is easier than you might think.

Open an Explorer window by clicking the icon in that taskbar. There should be a pane on the left containing Favorites, Libraries, Homegroup, Computer and Network. If this isn't visible, click Organize, Layout, Navigation pane.

At the top is Favorites and there are several items there by default, such as Desktop, Public, Downloads, and Recent Places. Navigate to C:\Users\YourName\Links and you will see that this is where the Favorites list comes from. It is simply a regular folder on the disk and we can add other items to it and they will appear in the Favorites list in Explorer windows.

Try this for example, right click in the Links folder and select New, Shortcut. The Browse button can be used to select a file, folder or program on the disk, but instead just type notepad.exe into the box. Windows knows the location of Notepad so we don't even need to tell it which folder it is in. Click the Next button, enter Notepad for the name and click Finish.

Notepad magically appears in the Favorites list on the left in the Explorer window. Click it and Notepad opens. Drag a file, such as any .txt file, from the Explorer window and drop it on Notepad in the Favorites list and Notepad opens it. OK, you could have just double clicked the .txt file to open it in Notepad, but some files are plain text even though they don't have a .txt extension and it is useful being able to drag and drop these on Notepad to open them.

You could put other useful programs in the Favorites list. It's up to you to customise it the way you want it.

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