Illustration: Richard Downs

Your files aren't getting any smaller or less plentiful. Whether they're Word documents, JPEGs, MP3s, or AVI movies, the files on your hard drive keep getting bigger and bigger, and the folders holding them more numerous than loopholes in political fund-raising laws. To prevent Windows from choking, you need techniques and tools to streamline file management and folder navigation.

Every time you want to make a new folder, you either select a folder in an Explorer window and choose File, New, Folder, or right-click in a folder window and select New, Folder. John Swan of Bakersfield, California, wants to know if there is a faster way. I know of at least three.

Get keyboard creative: With an Explorer window open, press <Alt>-F, and then N and F (in Windows 98); or <Alt>-F, and then W and F (in later versions). This shortcut works whether the active selection is in Explorer's tree pane on the left or in the folder pane on the right. My favorite approach is to press <Alt>-F <Enter><Enter>, although this strategy works only if nothing is selected in the folder window's right pane. If a single item is selected in the right pane, deselect it by pressing <Ctrl>-<Space>, and then press <Alt>-F <Enter><Enter> to create the new folder.

Do the dialog dance: Explorer's toolbar still lacks a New Folder button (a feature I first asked for in this column about seven years ago), but many Open and Save dialog boxes in Windows applications have just what the columnist ordered. If you're working in a program, choose File, Save As or File, Open, and click Create New Folder (a folder icon with a starburst in the top right) just above the file list.

Make a menu: Another approach is to add a Make New Folder command to your right-click, or context, menu. This saves you the trouble of navigating to the File menu's often slow New submenu. To create a new context menu item, open an Explorer window (pressing <Windows>-E is one way) and choose Tools, Folder Options. Click the File Types tab, and in the 'Registered file types' list, select File Folder and click Edit (in Windows 98) or Advanced (in later versions) to open the Edit File Type dialog box. Now click the New button. For 'Action', type the words that you want to appear on your context menu (such as New Folder). For 'Application used to perform action', type /c md "%1\New Folder" (in Windows 98 and Me) or cmd.exe /c md "%1\New Folder" (in Windows 2000 and XP), as shown in Figure 1

Figure 1: Create your own "New Folder" command for your context menus by editing the File Folder file type.

Click OK and then close the remaining dialog boxes. Now when you right-click a folder icon, your New Folder command will be available without your having to navigate through the New submenu (see Figure 2

Figure 2: Open a new subfolder one click sooner by adding a New Folder command to your right-click menu.
). Windows won't permit you to create two folders named "New Folder" in the same place, so you have to rename any folder you create before you can choose the command again.

If you make a mistake in Windows 98, return to the Edit File Type dialog box, select your new command, and click Edit to change it or Remove to delete it. However, if you make a mistake in Windows 2000, Me, or XP, you'll have to alter the command via the Registry Editor, or delete it and start over. For details on removing such commands from your context menus, see the section "Resort to Regedit" in last December's Windows Tips column.

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