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Create a Web toolbar

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Create this useful toolbar in minutes and save yourself time when accessing your favourite Web sites.
Create a Web toolbar

Windows is great, but it's complex. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate or expert, there's always something new to discover. Most people don’t exploit the new features of Windows 98 to the full, which is a shame because, after a little experimenting, you’ll find there’s a lot of really useful stuff you can do with Windows 98 that you can’t do with Windows 95.

What we’re going to look at here are custom toolbars. To show you their effectiveness we’re going to help you create your very own personal Web toolbar containing links to your favourite Web sites.

A Web toolbar is a useful toolbar that takes you straight to your most frequently visited Web sites with just one click. Yes, you’ve got IE’s Favourites, but it’s not quite the same. For one thing we’ve used icons to represent our Web-site links rather than plain text, so the toolbar looks good as well as being functional.

Second, because the Favourites folder tends to get overcrowded very quickly it can take ages to trawl through looking for a specific Web site. With our Web toolbar one click fires-up your Web browser and takes you straight to the site. Third, Windows was designed to be customised, so creating something that not only looks good but also serves a purpose is simply using Windows in the spirit in which it was intended.
Toolbar time
You create custom toolbars by right-clicking on the Taskbar (the grey bar at the bottom of the screen) and choosing Toolbars, New Toolbar. Custom toolbars need a folder to run from, so you’ll first be asked to enter the folder you wish the toolbar to point to. For example, you could point the new toolbar at your IE5 Favourites folder or your My Documents folder to get quicker desktop access to your essential files.

In the example shown below, a slightly different method is used. We’ve created a blank folder for the toolbar first, then dragged and dropped links into it straight from our Web browser – these links actually appear as files in this folder. When you’ve added a few you can check this by looking in the C:\Shortcuts folder on your hard drive. It should contain the Web links you’ve created.

The toolbars you create initially appear as part of the Taskbar. You can make the Taskbar bigger to accommodate them if you like, but you may prefer to drag them off and float them on the desktop. You’ll find that if you move them near to the edges of the screen they snap to fit, which is the method we’ve used when creating this Web toolbar.

When it comes to creating icons for our Web links, we’ve saved our icons as Windows bitmap files (*.bmp), but renamed the files with the .ico file extension. Once a bitmap has an .ico file extension it’s treated as an icon and you can select it as the icon for a file in its Properties dialog box. Read on to find out how to create your own custom toolbars. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to create some exciting toolbars of your own.
How to create your first Web toolbar

It’s easy, flexible and powerful. Here’s how to create a quick access toolbar to any Web site you like. In this case, it’s to

1. The first step is to create a folder on your hard drive. Just open Windows Explorer and click on your C:\ drive once to select it. Next, choose File, New and then Folder. A new folder appears on your C:\ drive, and by default it gets named New Folder. Rename it Shortcuts.

2. Next, right-click on the Taskbar and select Toolbars, New Toolbar from the pop-up menu. A file-browser window will open asking which folder the toolbar should point to. You need to select the new Shortcuts folder you’ve created on your C: drive.

3. Drag your new Shortcuts toolbar off the Taskbar and position it on the left-hand edge of your desktop. It will snap to fit as a vertical column. You need to right-click it, select Always On Top and then change the View menu to Large Icons. Finish tidying it up by unchecking both Show Text and Show Title.

4. Now you’re ready to start putting some content into your new Web toolbar. Open your Web browser and go to one of the Web sites you access on a regular basis. (We’re using here as an example).

Once you get there simply drag and drop the little IE icon in your Address bar on to your fancy new new toolbar.

5. You’ll see the icon appear in your new Web toolbar. Now you need to create a nice icon for the Web link, something that represents the page you’re linking to.

You can use any graphics program you like that’s capable of performing a cropping function – we’ve used the shareware version of Paint Shop Pro.

6. Maximise your browser window on-screen and press the [Print Scrn] key.

This pops a copy of the screen into the clipboard. Go to Paint Shop Pro and select Edit, Paste – the screen shot will appear as a graphic.

Choose the Crop tool from the left side of the screen and carefully draw a box around the ‘B’ of BBC, then select Image, Crop.

7. Use File, Save As to save the image in your Windows/System folder as a Windows Bitmap file (.bmp). Now here’s the clever bit - manually change the file extension to .ico while leaving the Save as Type box as Windows or OS/2 Bitmap (*.bmp). You’ll now be able to use your bitmap picture as an icon file, as you’ll see in the next step.

8. Right-click on the BBC icon in your Web toolbar and choose Properties. Click the Change Icon button. A Change Icon dialog box will appear.

Choose C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\bbc.ico in the File name section. Your icon will appear in the window – click OK twice.

9. Don’t be alarmed that the icon in your Web toolbar hasn’t changed instantly. You need to right-click on the toolbar and select Refresh to see your new icon. You’ll find that clicking on the icon takes you straight to the BBC Web site with no fuss and no messing around. Now repeat the procedure for all your other favourite Web sites until you have a toolbar full of useful links.
This material is the copyright material of or licensed to Future Publishing Limited, a Future Network plc group company, UK 2004. All rights reserved.

Article ID: 835828 - Last Review: 07/08/2008 13:51:11 - Revision: 3.2

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