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- This Week's Free Computer Tip -

103 - Personalized Menus – Don’t Use Them

In Windows applications, there are literally thousands of “features” to learn about. The learning curve is very demanding. Most of you can remember sitting there with your blood pressure rising, trying to do something simple but not being able to remember where to find it or how to do it.

There are several things working against you when you’re in that situation. First, Microsoft gives you several ways to do what you want to do, and each has it’s own sequence of steps. They seem to believe that it’s a service to the customer to have multiple ways to do things. I disagree. It’s just more things to have to remember and it adds to the confusion. Second, no two computers are the same. Seeing it done on one person’s computer may not help you when you get home (yours doesn’t work that way). Third, and this is the one we can do something about, in a misguided attempt to make things easier for us, Microsoft has come up with Personalized menus, and they just make learning more difficult.

Here’s why. The idea behind Personalized menus is this: why not have the computer “remember” what this user is doing most of the time, and move the items he/she is using the most to the top of the menu. The theory, of course, is to make those items easier (and faster) to locate when they are needed. In practice, it accomplishes just the opposite.

Again, here’s why. Every time you click to open a menu, it can potentially come up with a different content. Just when you think you remember where something is, it changes. The menus look different! You sit there having this conversation with yourself: “I was sure I saw it there last time, but now it’s gone? Maybe it wasn’t under ‘Tools’? Maybe it’s under ‘Format’? Nope, not there either . . .”, and on and on. So what did happen to it? Where did it go? You finally remember that you need to open the full menus. You slide your cursor down to those little arrows at the bottom of one of the menus, and click.

Now, the second trick is played on you. The full menu re-sorts itself into alphabetical order. The items you were just looking at at the top of the menu, are now sandwiched alphabetically in between the newly visible items. More mental foot work. I suggest that this ever-changing menu content is a serious impediment to people who are still struggling to learn how their computers work. It saps your concentration and makes you frequently miss seeing the items you are looking for.

Here is the good news – if you currently have menus which behave this way, you can turn this feature off and not use it. There are differences between versions of Windows so the following instructions may vary a little from your machine. They should give you the general idea though.

You need to reset this feature in two places. In three of the latest version of Windows, they call the option “Personalized menus” and it must be turned off separately in the start menu and Internet Explorer.

Click on the Start Menu –
Taskbar and Start Menu
The Start Menu Tab
Locate “Use Personalized Menus” and de-select it
Exit back out and you are done with this part.

Open Internet Explorer –
Click Tools
Select Internet Options
Click the Advanced tab
Find “Enable Personalized Favorites Menu” and de-select it
Exit out and this part is done as well.

If you have any problems making these changes, be sure to write it on your list of questions for Computer Skills Group. We will be happy to assist.

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This Week's Free Computer Tip
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