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Get the most from the Windows task bar

Things to do and tell users about the task bar.

Most people know that they can dock the Windows task bar to different sides of the screen, drag the task bar's edge to make it larger, and AutoHide the task bar when the pointer is somewhere else on the screen. (The latter feature is found in the Properties dialog box that opens when you select it from the task bar's context (right click) menu. But the Windows desktop task bar offers several more features that may speed your work. You may wish to configure your users' task bars to take advantage of them, and train your users how to do it.

The context menu of the toolbar contains a Toolbars command whose submenu lets you add the Address and Links toolbars. These are the same two toolbars that you see in Internet Explorer, the former lets you enter a URL and click the Go button to open your browser to view that address. To get to local addresses, enter the address in the format file:///C:/pathname/filename, which will open that file in its associated application. The latter toolbar puts your favorite links onto the screen giving you instant one click access to those sites or locations. If you install the Language feature of Office XP, you will see the Language toolbar in the list, which gives you access to speech tools and the microphone for speech recognition, and to the new Windows writing pad and drawing pad. You should try these latter two features if you haven't used them before.

The task bar feature also allows you to create toolbars based on folders. That's essentially what you get when you select the Desktop command from the Toolbar submenu. But you can drag any folder from your desktop or Windows Explorer and it will create a new toolbar, which may be of particular use to you when you have a commonly accessed file such as a book project underway.

Finally, when you get your toolbar in the state you want, you can use the Lock the Task bar command on the context menu to save the task bar's state.

Barrie Sosinsky ( president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.

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