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Hidden right-click options in the Windows Vista Shell

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Some of the new options in Microsoft Windows Vista don't pop out at a systems administrator right away, such as the changes to the Vista Shell and the Vista interface. In fact, sometimes the only way for an administrator to discover these changes is to coax them out or else stumble across them.

After reading a post about hidden Vista Shell options at Raymond Chen's The Old New Thing blog, I decided to check these changes to the Vista Shell out myself.

In Windows Vista, if you hold down the Shift key and right-click on an item in Explorer, the right-click context menu changes slightly. As Chen explains, the rationale for this is to conceal certain advanced options from users, so they don't blunder into them by accident. (Whether you agree with the wisdom of this is another matter.)

Here's a list of some of these hidden Vista Shell options. (Note: The list is not exhaustive, as it's entirely possible for a program to register its own advanced options with a given file type.)

  • Pin to Start Menu: Places the selected item on the Start Menu for quick future access. To remove it, right-click on the pinned item in the Start Menu and select "Remove from this list."
  • Add to Quick Launch: Adds a shortcut for the selected item to the Quick Launch menu.
  • Copy as Path: Copies the filename for the item as a full pathname. This is a handy way to extract the path to an item without having to open its Properties pane or look at it in an Explorer folder.
  • Open as Read-Only: When selected, the item in question is opened as read-only. Any changes will have to be saved to another file. This only works for Office 2007 documents (and possibly Office 2003 too, although I have not tested that).
  • Open Command Window Here (Shell folder): Shift-right-click on a folder and you'll get this option, which lets you open a command-line prompt in that folder. Note: This is a standard user-command prompt, not an elevated command prompt.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of experience working with Windows, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and other TechTarget sites.

This was first published in August 2007

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