Outsmart the start menu

Three tips this week to make your computing experience a lot nicer.

Open something more than once; quit scrolling through the Windows 10 start menu; and, kill that space-hogging tools list on the right side of Acrobat Reader.

It’s easy when you know how.

Open more than one

Sometimes it comes in handy to have more than one instance of the same program open.

For example, it’s so much easier to move files from one place to another when you have two file manager windows open.

I often work with more than one Word document at a time, and sometimes with multiple Excel files.

You could just keep going back and forth to your start menu or your documents folder to open things, but there is an easier way to do this.

If the item you want to open is on your taskbar, you already know that clicking it will open it.

If you want to open another instance of it, hold down the shift key while you click on the icon.

You can keep doing that until you have as many windows open as you need (or until you overwhelm your computer and it freezes).

If you want to open more than one instance of file manager, you can do it with the shift-and-click method, or you can just press the Windows key and the letter E (WinKey + E) simultaneously.

Again, you can do that to open as many windows as you need.

Then, you can use the live thumbnail over that icon to move between windows.

Outsmart the Windows 10 start menu

The Windows 10 start menu combines the familiar Windows 7-ish start menu on its left side with the tiles of Windows 8.1.

Allegedly the best of both worlds, it still takes some getting used to.

Down the left side of the menu, the programs and apps appear in alphabetical order.

That’s useful if your frequently used programs all begin with A or B. But if you often use Google Chrome, Sticky Notes, Mozilla Firefox or Word, you’re doing a whole lot of scrolling.

You can pin a program to the Taskbar, or you can pin a program’s tile to the right side of the menu. If you use a program frequently, either or both of those choices are good.

But if you just need to find something quickly now and then, click on any letter you see in the start menu and all the letters will be displayed.

Click on the letter you want, and then on your program.

Never scroll again!

Turn off that stupid panel on the right side of Acrobat Reader DC

Every time I open the new version of Acrobat Reader DC, there’s a list of tools down the right side of the window.

That’s annoying.

I figured out how to hide the tools pane until I need it (which is usually “never”), but it always showed up again every time I opened Reader.

I finally found out how to banish it completely. You have to hide it first, then you have to tell Reader to remember it’s hidden.

To hide the tools pane:

  • Open a PDF in Reader
  • Click on view, show/hide
  • Remove the check mark next to tools pane
  • To keep it hidden next time you open Reader:
  • Click on edit-preferences and then documents
  • In the open settings area, check the box for “remember current state of tools pane”
  • Click on OK

You can always toggle it on and off with the view-show/hide menus, but if you rarely use it, this will keep it turned off.

More Getting Along With Your Computer articles

About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

Computer Care Kelowna

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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