Free Time-Saving Tools: Keyboard Shortcut Apps, Taskbar Pinner

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Remember last time, when I said readers were smarter than me? That's still true, but it turns out I'm not so dumb after all--just forgetful.

It all started when reader Jim asked how he could pin a frequently used folder to the Windows 7 Taskbar. I told him there was no straightforward way to do that, and that he should consider creating a keyboard shortcut to the folder instead. A few days later, reader Renee chimed in, noting that you can indeed pin folders to the Windows 7 Taskbar if you restore the Quick Launch toolbar. All the while, something was nagging at my memory. What other option was I forgetting?

I was forgetting Kishan Bagaria's Taskbar Items Pinner, a free utility that lets you add files, folders, Web sites, menus, and other goodies to the Windows 7 Taskbar.

After downloading this tiny app, make sure to run it as an administrator (by right-clicking the icon and choosing Run as administrator). Then just click the box next to any item you want to pin. If it's a file or folder, click the button next to Path, choose File or Folder, then navigate to the item you want. (Alternately, you can type in a Web address.)

Now for the only tricky part: In the Icon field, type %SystemRoot%\system32\SHELL32.dll, then enter a number in the adjoining field (3 for a folder, 13 for a Web shortcut--you'll have to experiment to find others). Finally, click Add Item and you're done.

If you ever decide to remove any of these newly added goodies, just right-click the appropriate Taskbar icon and choose Unpin this program from taskbar.

Okay, I think we've officially exhausted this subject. If there's yet another way to pin folders to the Taskbar, I don't want to know about it!

Create a Keyboard Shortcut to Insert Your E-Mail Address

Reader Richard is tiring of typing his e-mail address. Every time he logs into a site, shares an article with someone, registers for an online forum, and so on, he has to type it in. So he wants a keyboard shortcut than can "paste my e-mail address into everything." And while he's at it, how about a second shortcut that will paste in his nickname/username?

This is a really great question, as I'll bet many users would love this kind of timesaver. Here are three ways to accomplish it:

1. Google Toolbar. Among other great features, this browser add-on offers AutoFill, which can complete entire Web forms (including the e-mail address field) with just one click. It's not the best solution if you want to paste your e-mail address into other locations, like your word processor, but for everyday Web stuff, it's hard to beat.

phrase express
2. PhraseExpress. This killer bit of freeware automatically expands typed abbreviations. So to quickly insert, say, your e-mail address, you could type "em1" (as in "e-mail address #1"), and PhraseExpress would instantly paste in the complete address. Likewise, you could type "sig" to insert a custom e-mail signature (complete with images and/or HTML code) at the end of e-mails.

3. AutoHotkey. The tool for folks who like to monkey around with simple scripts, AutoHotkey can perform a variety of time-saving functions--including expanding typed abbreviations (just like PhraseExpress). It has a tiny footprint, so it won't impact system performance in the slightest, but there is a bit of a learning curve.

So there you go, Richard! I think PhraseExpress is probably the best option for your needs. And it's definitely worth a look for anyone looking to spend less time typing repetitive text.

f you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them in the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog. My 411: You can also sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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