Some of us cringe at the thought of having a desktop covered with shortcuts and other icons. Although that’s technically what the Windows desktop is used best for, we often prefer to be free from such a mess so that we can show off our snazzy wallpaper and other desktop gadgets. There are several alternative approaches you can take to easily access your most commonly-used applications, like using the Start menu or an application to launch programs via hotkey, but the point-and-click ease of a desktop can never be beaten.
With that under consideration, be advised that the Windows desktop can easily be replicated. Why not just create a folder on your desktop and toss all of your important shortcuts inside of it? If that’s not your cup of tea, let me introduce you to a portable application that can make storing your shortcuts a whole lot easier.
Don’t allow the rather ugly and empty website turn you away from this application just yet. While they don’t do the best job of presenting Shortcuts Pool on their website, I assure you that this is a pretty neat program.
Shortcuts Pool works on versions of Windows from 2000 forward. I’m currently using Windows 8 Pro and it ran just fine for me. It comes available as a hard installation or in an archived format that you can just extract to a folder and run as a portable application. The application comes from a former shareware called Windows Launch Center, and the executable and documentation is still present in the archive. Be sure that you run the correct application.
Upon launching Shortcuts Pool, you can see that the interface is a little bland. Many of the program icons are stock icons you see with Windows, but aesthetics have no real effect when it comes to this program. The Popular tab is shown in the right pane, which includes applications that you’ve launched most often.
If you’ve yet to use the application before, there’s a strong likelihood that these will just be several items that are already on your desktop, in alphabetical order. Shortcuts Pool takes a bit of time to gather the data to determine with applications are “popular” for you.
Hovering over an icon in this list (and any list you see from here on in the application) will activate all options in the menu above the pane. You’re able to edit the name or remove existing shortcuts, as well as add new ones manually. You can also change the view between three different types: thumbnail, list, and report. The default view shows thumbnails. Here is what the report view looks like:
The Folders tab is similar to the Popular tab, but exclusive to your folders.
Though this will be one of your most lonely and empty panes in the entire application, I find it incredibly helpful. I access folders that exist on flash drives and external drives a lot, and it’s great to have any listed here. Navigating to them through Windows Explorer adds so many extra steps to the process.
The Programs tab is nearly as extensive as the Add/Remove Programs options you’ll see in the Windows Control Panel. This tab will show most (if not all) of the applications installed on your system. Be advised that, depending on how many you’ve got installed, this tab could get a little bulky and slow. The option expands into a tree, in the left pane, with several categories that allow you to organize your application collection. It’s extremely useful to have practically every executable on your system in one place.
The Recent tab is a mere integration of a feature already existent in Windows, available in the Start menu. Nonetheless, it’s a good addition to an application that would otherwise include practically every useful shortcut other than these.
The Windows tab includes five of the most important shortcuts to help manage your system: Computer Management, Control Panel, Registry Editor, System Info, and Windows Explorer.
The last tab is the Trash tab, which should show the contents of your Recycle Bin. However, it is the single feature of the application that does not work on Windows 8. It’s arguably the least significant of what Shortcuts Pool has to offer, so it isn’t a big setback for users running Windows 8.
If used correctly, Shortcuts Pool can be a great way to manage your entire Windows system. At worst, it’s a rehash of information that you already find easy enough to locate. At best, it can save you very much time and completely replace the Windows desktop.
What do you think of Shortcuts Pool? Let us know in the comments!