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Last post Author Topic: Is an Organized Efficient Start Menu the Holy Grail of Daily Computing?  (Read 11268 times)

tinjaw

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This thread got me thinking. (I know. I know. Shut up. I have been know to think on occasion.) I was wondering if my personal quest of finding a Start Menu (Linux as well) organizational method that actually saves me time instead of wasting time is a universal quest. Lately, I have been finding a combination of FARR and Direct Access to be the closest to what I find the most intuitive, and only using the Start Menu occasionally. But I still feel the urge to reach Start Menu Nirvana.

For a while I used an alphabetical system with 26 lettered folders, but that didn't work particularly well and has been replaced by FARR. I always feel the urge to categorize all of my programs, with many programs being put in multiple categories, but that seems to be too much work to maintain and I can never seem to find a good category system.

I think if I could borrow, steal, or adapt somebody else's category system, and combine it with FARR and Direct Access, it might actually be productive.

Have any of you found a system that works particularly well for you?

Darwin

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My system is a combo of DirectAccess, TrueLaunchBar and DOpus. DOpus allows me to have the contents of two different folders displayed side by side (so any dual pane file manager will do... as this is a convenience, Windows Explorer will do just fine, actually!) I can then view my various Start Menu and Quick Launch folders and move links around between them and organise them. I'm pretty happy with this method - once you get your folders set up (Internet, Security, Productivity, Disk Management, File Management, etc.) it's pretty easy to drop and drag links to their appropriate folders.

PS I also have VistaStartMenu Pro installed and use it occasionally, too (went on a big kick to free up resources so its autostarting was a casualty along with things like SnagIt and Mophy Accents - DirectAccess abbreviations mean these are only a few taps on the keyboard away, anyway).
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
« Last Edit: June 18, 2007, 01:43:00 PM by Darwin »

Lashiec

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I personally combine xplorer², FARR and a bit of "Run" dialog. But I'm proud of my Start Menu organization, so I could live with it.

jgpaiva

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I can't find any use for my start menu. I only keep it around in the rare cases where i can't remember the name of the app i'm looking for. Still, in these cases i usually use google or DC search to find the app i'm looking for, because it's much faster than to search through all the junk i've got in the Start menu.

I honestly think there's no point to it. In the rare situations i use the mouse to access something, i use the quick launch bar, where i keep my 9 most used apps.

mouser

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There are some tools to help you organize your start menu; i always meant to write one myself..

masu

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Before I knew FARR I did categorize my startmenu like SYSTEM, GAMES, Graphics...

But today I just use FARR as my first choice. the order of my startmenu doesn't interest me anymore.
Thanks to FARR  :Thmbsup:
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jgpaiva

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Interesting thought: farr could be categorized as a "start menu disorganizer".
I guess it does make sense that mouser would like to make a "start menu organizer" to balance the plates :P

New Farr tagline: "FARR: making start menus unuseful since 2005"
« Last Edit: June 18, 2007, 02:27:37 PM by jgpaiva »

TucknDar

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New Farr tagline: "FARR: making start menus unuseful since 2005"
:D

I agree that the Start Menu is just messy. I have a shortcut for it in my LiteStep menu, but I use FARR 95% of the time, and LBC or Total Commander for the rest. Before I found FARR, I built my own menu in LiteStep, with my selection of apps, not the start menu stuff (who needs a readme or uninstaller in the start menu? I don't.).

Curt

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I am handicapped when it comes to the popular FARR: I have a visual oriented memory and cannot remember many program names. At least not when I want to use the program in mind! But I remember the exact location of the shortcut, and the look of the folder's icon!

For some time I was trying to organize my Start Menu by adding subject folders like "Photocenter", "Registry & Backup programs", and such, but I have not been up to the task - my Start Menu really has become a mess - so I hardly ever go there! Instead I have 60% of all my programs linked to True LaunchBar (in Windows' QuickLaunch bar).

urlwolf

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Nobody using the vista start button?

mitzevo

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hey tinjaw,

I'm a bit like you. I always seem to focus on having every thing perfect which is stupid. Especially when it comes to organizing stuff on your computer. In the end you just waste time, why bother with categorizing and and sorting, it's too much work..

Tagging is the way is think.

My Start menu is pretty organized, but like you said,  a lot of programs fall under different categories and vice versa.. it's the need to have every thing perfect that stops you from doing any thing.. Basically what I have now is Start > All Programs >

Office (contains Mobysaures Thesaurus, Openoffice, etc.)
Games
Internet & Network
Tools
Video & Audio
Development
Temp

and a few more..

The categorization is some thing that gets me too, some thing I'll have to get over shortly.
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

justice

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I used to think there should've been a utility that knows the type/categories of a piece of software, then looks at the organisational method the user created and sort all software itself based on logic. Result is an auto sorting start menu that uses a personal system. However it would be really hard to write and if its self learning (or centralised) then even more so. Most people will use similar systems however. There's a lot of effort required to make something this elegant, and no one will want to pay for using it. :(

There's too much effort in tagging unless a centalised system like delicious is used. Unless it's part of a launcher like FARR?

Nowadays I just use FARR and it finds applications better than any system I can specify myself.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2007, 04:01:49 AM by justice »

Darwin

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Tagging is a nice idea - it could hook into the TidyStartMenu, which I have licence for and find myself using less often (because I am less likely to use the start menu these days). Problem is, the end user still has to do all the tagging to make this system work... Unless, of course, developers can agree upon, and implement, some sort of tagging standard. Still a nice idea, though  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

mitzevo

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we need standards!

yeah, FARR seems to be the main solution for me atm; I will explorer tagging for my start menu and files shortly
(http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=7469.0 - small tagging files discussion)
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

Darwin

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I guess an alternative would be some sort of programme that is able to scan the Program Files folder (and subfolders) and recognise and organise the Start Menu based on the name of the exe files it identifies. However, what would it do with the GIMP?! Most software are cursed with names that have little or no immediately obvious connection to their function. Back to the drawing board. Also, you'd need user input to set up variables - some people might like separate categories for vector and bitmap graphics or for web browsers and e-mail clients where other users might be content with a single folder for Graphics and one for Internet...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

ak_

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However, what would it do with the GIMP?! Most software are cursed with names that have little or no immediately obvious connection to their function.
I think the best solution would be a program that searches exe through Program Files, then submits names to an online database to get matching categories.The idea being that the database is free and opened to anybody, so it would grow quickly.

justice

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Would it be any use though? it would still be slower than FARR? For power users, it would have to scan the start menu periodically as well as the user might decide to move the groups manually.

You can see microsoft has given up on the start menu (in my opinion), as in vista the list of programs in the menu itself. It is harder to find the right program, unless you use the search facility.  :tellme:

There is the same issue with the documents you keep. organising them can be a hell.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 03:57:13 AM by justice »

mitzevo

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I think you're going a bit overboard there Darwin - I don't really think any program can be made to organize the start menu based off Type of program/function/name/etc. The same thing happens.. one program will always fit into another category, and that's the main point of this thread I think.. no action because of an utter need to have every thing sorted correctly and efficiently.

Basically what I propose, under All Programs.. you have a similar linux/unix categorization scheme, which goes a little some thing like this:

Office
Multimedia OR Audio & Video
Tools
Graphics OR Graphics & Design
Games OR Entertainment OR Games & Entertainment
Internet OR Internet & Network
Accessories

^--- that, imo, seems to be a good starting structure, you can then add parent categories like "System Development", "Web Development", "Programming", etc.

Now you could get carried away for example:

you're thinking "hmm, some of the items in Multimedia come under Entertainment.. some of the programs in Graphics are Tools... how should I sort those  :huh:"

then you're thinking "some of the Games are multiplayer games therefor they could go into Internet & Network,


"this is a nightmare, how im gonna organize this shiz?  :-\"

that point is, there is none for this type of extreme and perfectionist type of categorization.
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 04:27:42 AM by mitzevo »

rjbull

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I am handicapped when it comes to the popular FARR: I have a visual oriented memory and cannot remember many program names. At least not when I want to use the program in mind! But I remember the exact location of the shortcut, and the look of the folder's icon!

Curt,

You might like Horst Schaeffer's Qsel



You have to set it up, but that's not difficult, and it gives you a very visual display.





Darwin

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Heh, heh, my suggstion about scanning the Program Files folder for exe names wasn't really serious! However, I like AK's suggestions as it is actually a feasible, user driven solution that would actually work. Nice  :Thmbsup:

PS Justice raises a good point, though - is the start menu dead! Hmm... sounds like the title for a new thread!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 09:01:59 AM by Darwin »

tinjaw

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[[ Maybe I can do something like this as a FARR plugin]]  :-\

I had kicked an idea around for a utility for a while. Let me outline it here.

1 : Makes a copy of your existing "Start" menu and puts it in a toolbar called "Old Start"
2 : As you open a program from the Old Start menu it asks you to tag the program.
 2a: Tags can be hierarchical. For example "Programming - Win32" or "Programming - Web" or even "Games - FPS - Doom".
 2b: Each program can have multiple tags. For example Graphics, Editor, and Pictures.
3: The new Start menu is built using folders for each of the tags, with subfolders for the hierarchical tags.
4: If you use the "Windows" key the new Start menu is filtered via incremental searching.
5: The last 10 programs you run are displayed and accessible via 0-9.

Also I would use:
 - larger icons, probably 64x64, 128x128, or maybe even 256x256.
 - dynamically generated hotkeys (similar to Vista Start Menu) that update as the incremental search filtering is applied
 - Large fonts

And when it detects a new entry to the Start menu from newly installed software, after the installer completes, it would ask you which icons you wanted to keep, which you wanted to delete, allow you to rename them, and then ask you to tag each one and move them to the new Start menu.

mouser

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i think this is a wonderful idea as a farr plugin, perhaps focusing on the idea of letting user TAG entries in the start menu with keywords/tag, and then browsing or searching using the keywords.

the built in farr VERSION2 aliases can kind of do this already for the most part -- ie make an alias called graphics and put all graphics programs in that alias, and when you type graphics youll get that list of programs, which you can then filter out more.

however, that farr alias search thing will only work for one keyword at a time, you couldnt find the intersection of graphics and smallapps tags.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 03:15:48 PM by mouser »

justice

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If you need ideas for a syntax see http://www.donationc...71.msg65525#msg65525
You can tag and list via farr.

cmpm

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How about organizing a start menu or command type deal and set it up to group by file associations? Automatically and also be able to customize it to cross programs, giving choices as to which program to handle a particular task.

Of course all this at the command of a click or 2.

I haven't tryed farr yet, but plan to.
Could already be in it as far as I know.

Not sure if this is understood.

Start-
--pictures
--documents
--utilities
--internet
--developing
--customize

and more, click one and an auto list of applicable programs opens
another click and the files it can use and handle

cmpm

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Thinking a bit more about this idea.
I wonder if it's already been done.

When loading various programs, like for music for instance, it wants to be the default player. As well as other programs for pictures, pdfs, documents and more.

Why not have the option to make all programs associate with what they can do with what is on your pc.

Have a list of the programs, and the ones you use most frequently be dropped in a favorites type section. With the rest of the programs below or listed somehow.

Has this been done? Anyone know? Or would it be impossible and a limitation in winxp or other os's.

I know there is the 'open with' command, but somehow modify that to show the programs that will run the file. Instead of showing programs that will not open the file.

An Auto file association checker or something, instead of random programs that won't work with the file selected.

And then generate a working menu of everything on the computer.
It would scan and show what files can be opened with what programs and give the user choices quickly.

Perhaps a explorer type interface on the left and the programs on the right.

Just thinking outload....