Windows 7 Start menu search
For those no longer tied down to Windows XP, the Start menu in Windows 7 (and Vista) allows for unsurpassed efficiency in launching programs and searching for files.
Microsoft has dramatically improved the functionality of the Start Menu with Windows 7. By incorporating search capability, it is possible to very quickly find and launch programs and documents. Not only can you more quickly launch frequently-used programs, but it also means no more searching through a large tree of folders looking for a program you haven’t used in a year.
To start, click the Start menu button or hit the Windows Key. Notice that at the bottom of the menu a search box sits, waiting for your input.
If you start typing as soon as the menu appears, the Start menu will list programs and documents matching your search terms. For example, typing “smart” will list the programs “Sprint SmartView” and “PPC’s SMART Practice Aids” as well as any file or folder with “smart” in the name.
From here, you can select what you want with the mouse or use the arrow keys and hit enter. I like to hit the Windows key, type the first few letters of a program, and hit enter.
For XP users, try Launchy
For those still running the tried-and-true Windows XP, a free third-party application handles the task of indexing and quick-launching programs and files. The elegant Launchy performs the task admirably.
Setting up and using Launchy is very easy and straightforward. Visit Launchy’s help page for a quick primer.
As an added bonus, I have been able to eliminate 99% of my desktop icons due to tools like this. Now I only keep bare essentials and the recycle bin on the desktop, giving me a nice clean, stress-reducing look: