Where did all this stuff come from?
Jul 23, 2012 / 5:00 am
You really are the boss of your computer --- not the other way around. I can show you how to keep some of the “annoyanceware” out, or at the very least clean up after it. This week: Get a handle on the context menus, save important installers, and stop those stupid toolbars from installing in the first place.
Declutter the Context Menu
When you put your cursor over a file in any version of Windows and click the mouse button on the right, you will see a Context Menu. It gives you choices based on the type of file you’re right-clicking on. If you right-click on a document, you’ll get choices that pertain to documents. Right-clicking on a file folder will give you some of the same choices, but some different ones, too.
As we install new programs, they add choices to those context menus. “Play with VLC player” or “Add to Media Player playlist” might be useful, but sometimes we need to pare down those menus a little bit.
When I right-click on a document, I get a choice to “Include in EaseUS Todo Backup” which is not useful to me because everything in my Documents folder is already included in EaseUS Todo Backup. I’d like to get rid of that choice.
There are really, really geeky ways to do that which involve editing the Registry, and I’m not going to discuss any of those ways here. Instead, I’m going to tell you about a really simple tool that’s built into the new version of Ccleaner from Piraform.
As I write this, the most recent version of Ccleaner is 3.20.1750. Previous versions don’t have the Context Menu tool, so either head to the Ccleaner site, here: http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download and download the new version. Install Ccleaner, then:
- Open Ccleaner.
- Click on Tools | Startup | Context Menu
- Click on an item you don’t want to see in your Context Menu
- Click on Disable
- Close Ccleaner
You have removed the offending item(s) from the Context Menu. I recommend Disable instead of Delete if you are new at this and might want to change your mind, AND if you are NOT new and this and might want to change your mind! If you change your mind, go back and enable the items.
Honestly, this is the best, easiest tool for editing Context Menus I have seen, and I have seen lots. If you must make things more complicated, see the second best tools for this, ShellExView here: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/shexview.html and ShellMenuView, here: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/shell_menu_view.html. Both are from NirSoft.
Save your downloaded programs
It used to be that we installed all our programs from CD's. Nowadays, many of us download programs from various websites and then install them.
These programs can really pile up in your Downloads folder, making it impossible to find the most recent version of a program you need to install again or install on a new computer. It's even worse than digging through a pile of CD's!
After I install a program I move it to a folder I created and named “Installed” on my hard drive. The file doesn't clutter up my desktop or Download folder, but it's available if I need it. Periodically, I backup the “Installed” folder to an external drive, and delete the older installed files from my hard drive, just to keep things tidy.
Choose “Custom” instead of “Typical” when installing software
Malicious software and "annoyanceware" can creep into your computer while you are installing the programs you actually want. You have the power to keep that from happening.
We all have a habit of clicking OK, OK, OK, OK ALREADY! during software installs. Do that one time too many, and you'll have unwanted tool bars in your browser, and popups all over the place warning you about potential infections.
Sadly, a "Typical" install often means "Sure, go ahead and install that MyWebSearch toolbar, and the weather bug, too." If you have a choice called "Custom," go for that instead of typical, and just say no to the unwanted extras. And when you do find a program that doesn't try to sneak this stuff past you, consider rewarding the author with a donation.
Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!
Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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