After rebuilding my TabletPC recently, I hadn't set up all of my little taskbar shortcuts quite yet. Every time I rebuild a machine, I spend some time trying out different ways to organize my taskbar shortcuts, hoping to find new time savers... this time I did.

I almost always have a custom toolbar folder with shortcuts to my development tools, displayed in full on the taskbar... an icon for each app (VS.NET 2003, VS.NET 2005, Query Analyzer (yes Query Analyzer still), source control programs, etc.).

Well, this time I decided to try something new for this concept. I already have a folder with all of these tools in it... a folder I created for my Start Menu->Programs->Development Tools. All development tool applications have been moved into that folder. Pretty common stuff there... So I thought, I'll just create a new toolbar on my taskbar that points directly to that folder. Everything's there already...

Well, there's one problem. When you have a toolbar that contains folders, and you click on the folder, it actually opens the folder in a Windows Explorer instance. BUT, when the toolbar was added to my taskbar, not everything was visible, because my Developer Tools folder has quite a bit of stuff in it. So I get the little » button at the edge of my screen. I click on it and get a popup menu showing the rest of the folders in Developer Tools that weren't directly visible. I move my mouse over one of them, and viola... a submenu! Okay, I think I knew it did this already, but it sparked an idea...

So, I rearranged some things so that none of the items in the toolbar were visible, I simply get the » button. Then all of the subfolders are accessible. Pretty neat I think, because this saves me from clicking Start->All Programs->Developer Tools... I just click Developer Tools now. But the best part I think... is that it's FAST. Everyone has probably been annoyed at some point at how slow the Start Menu is... Well, this is just lightning fast -- right now.

So then I expand on this idea. I create another toolbar, pointed directly to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs. Then I arrange it so that nothing is visible on the taskbar and everything's in the » menu. I realize, wow, this is fast too. So I tweak some more and I'm now thrilled with this concept. The taskbar menus are tons faster than clicking on Start. And with Programs being right there, I don't see myself clicking on Start->All Programs ever again.

Here's a little screen shot of this in action: