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Annoying Windows Thing

When your start menu hides programs from you because it figures you haven't used them in a while and thus aren't interested, this feature is called Personalized Menus. Knowing that, you can turn it off with the "Use Personalized Menus" checkbox in your start menu's advanced controls. (Not sure which versions of Windows that applies to. If yours isn't doing this, don't worry about it.)

Office XP does the same thing with it's menu items. To change that, right-click the taskbar in any of it's applications, select Customize from the pop-up list, and find the "Always Show Full Menus" checkbox on the Options tab.

...and with that, I think I've finished messing with the UI.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
speedball
May. 23rd, 2002 01:00 pm (UTC)
I actually wouldn't mind that feature. There are a few items I use normally, and then there's stuff that I don't use as often, and it'd be nice if the system learned between the two and prioritized based on that.

Kurt
self
May. 23rd, 2002 02:36 pm (UTC)
Mac users. Gotta love 'em.
No.

It's not at all intelligent. And how could it be? It doesn't detect your preferences, because your usage can't possibly provide enough feedback to determine them. It just wants to shrink your menus down to some arbitrary size.

In the start menu, this means never knowing where any of your icons are, because even if they're not hiding, your layout has changed. So, you take a moment to make it display the rest of your icons, you find the one you're looking for, and selecting it replaces some other icon. Next time you click the start button, your layout is once again different than you remember it. And every new program you install makes it that much more likely the icon you're looking for will not be found.

In Office, this means that when you click the File menu, there's a pretty good chance the Print function will be hiding because your priority a moment ago was clearly to edit rather than print the document.

If you're not sure where something is, you can no longer run your mouse across everything to scan their contents - you have to know where it's supposed to be, which means memorizing a layout you'll never see.

You could always define and arrange your own toolbars. You can organize the start menu however you want it. If you want commonly used functions to be more prominent, this is easy to accomplish. But it should be done by you, to your liking. It should never be done by the OS by default.

In trying to simplify things for the user, it forces them to actively look for things they would have intuitively known where to find. And if you think about it, there's really no way to impliment it that would do anything different. It's what I like to refer to as a "user requested" feature. No programmer would have ever come up with this, or even joked about doing it. And yet, there it is.

Trust me. I would never have put in this much work researching how to turn it off if there was any reason not to.
self
May. 23rd, 2002 03:04 pm (UTC)
analogy
Imagine getting into the back seat of a friends car, and discovering the controls to open and close your window have somehow gone missing. The driver reaches for a button to reveal them, and explains that nobody's sat back there in a while. You go to fasten your seatbelt, and find yourself asking him to press the button again. As you buckle in for safety, you notice the eject button and one of his radio presets fading from the stereo's front panel.

We're not talking about essential functions like windshield wipers, headlights, or the emergency brake. Let's assume those have been programmed to stay put. The question then becomes, why hasn't everything else?

Isn't it enough that controls be organized intuitively? That they don't get in the way, but you can still find them without taking your eyes off the road? Why would you let someone change any part of that? Why would you demand it?
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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