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Read More About: 2000NT98 & 98 SEScreen Savers2000NT98 & 98 SE

Windows Tips

Change your right-click New menu to suit your tastes; welcome to the world of double-clicking; get a great screen saver.

Tuesday, April 18, 2000 12:00 AM PDT
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When I right-click the Windows desktop and select New to create a shortcut or folder, I get not only the options for Shortcut and Folder but also a lengthy list of documents representing every application that I have on my machine. Is there any way that I can change what appears on this list?

Larry Thompson, via the Internet

Though Microsoft does not make it easy for users to customize the New submenu on the right-click menu, you can do the job if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and dig into the Registry. Because Registry changes can cause serious problems (like not being able to start Windows), proceed at your own risk.

Add a menu item: First, decide what file types you want added to the menu and what applications open these files. You need no special preparations for applications such as Notepad, WordPad, and Microsoft Paint that always start with a new document open and ready for you to begin working. But applications that start with no documents open (like the $25 shareware image editor PolyView, available at the Polybytes Software site and from FileWorld) require you to create and save a template file first. For these applications, you should set up a typical document the way you want it and then save it in the Windows folder's ShellNew folder. This folder is hidden on some systems, so you may first have to choose View, Options (Win 95) or View, Folder Options (Win 98 or later, or Win 95 with Internet Explorer 4's Desktop Update). Click View, select "Show all files", and click OK.

Now start Windows Registry Editor: Choose Start, Run, type regedit, and click OK. Click the + (plus sign) next to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. You should see a series of folders in the left pane corresponding to the document extensions that Windows associates with particular applications (such as .doc, .xls, and .html). Find the extension of the file type you want to add to the New submenu, and right-click it. Choose New, Key. (In the Registry, each folder icon is referred to as a key.) Name the new key ShellNew, and press Enter to complete the naming process. With your new folder selected, right-click a blank area of the right pane and choose New, String Value. If you're using a file type whose program starts with a blank document by default, name the new icon NullFile and press Enter. On the other hand, if you're using a file type whose program starts with no documents open, name the icon FileName. Double-click the FileName icon (or press Enter), and for "Value data", type the full path and name of the template file you saved in Windows' ShellNew folder. Then click OK and exit the Registry Editor. Your changes should appear immediately on the New submenu.

Here's an example: To create a new Outlook Express mail message by right-clicking on the Desktop or in a folder (for example, to store copies of individual messages as separate files), launch Outlook Express and choose File, New, Mail Message. Add whatever boilerplate text you want to the message. Then choose File, Save As and save the file with a name like Blank in the ShellNew folder in your Windows folder. (Outlook Express will automatically add the .eml extension). Next, start the Registry Editor as explained above, and locate the .eml folder in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. Create the ShellNew key; then in that key, create the StringValue icon and name it FileName. Double-click the FileName icon and type c:\windows\ShellNew\Blank.eml (your path and file name may differ) in the "Value data" box. Click OK and exit the Registry.

To test the result, right-click on the Desktop, and choose New, Outlook Express Mail Message. A new message icon will appear on the desktop. Name it and press Enter. Double-click the icon and type your message. When you're done, click Send to place the message in the Outbox. Deleting the new message icon will not remove the message from the Outbox; this is just a technique for creating mail messages if you want copies stored as individual files outside Outlook Express (or any similar e-mail system).

Remove a menu item: There are various ways to remove items from the New submenu, depending on what you wish to accomplish. Here are three scenarios:

  1. To remove a file type whose program you no longer use, it's best to uninstall the entire application: Double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon in Control Panel, select the program name from the list on the Install/Uninstall tab, and click Add/Remove. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the removal of the software. This sequence should delete the item from the New submenu as well.

  2. If the menu item remains after you manually remove the software, go to Explorer, choose View, Options or View, Folder Options, and click the File Types tab. Select the type of file you no longer use and click Remove. Click Yes to confirm the removal. This will expunge the file type from the list of associated files, from the Registry, and from the New submenu.

  3. If you want to keep the application related to the file type but remove its icon from the New submenu, open the Registry editor as described earlier. Click the + next to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. Locate the folder containing the extension of the file type you want to remove, and click the + next to it. In the tree pane on the left, select the ShellNew folder under the proper extension. At this point, you can make a backup of just this branch if you think you'll ever change your mind. Choose Registry, Export Registry File. Designate a name and location, make sure Selected branch is selected, and click Save. Select NullFile or FileName in the right pane (whichever is present), and press Delete and then Enter. If you ever want to restore the item to the menu, find the .reg file you exported and double-click it to reinstate it in the Registry.

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[ Sept. 2007  pcd ]