Tip o’ the Week #83 – some more IE9 tweaks
Docking & Undocking tabs
Have you ever found a time when you’ve got two tabs open in IE9, and you’re flicking between them? Maybe cross referencing some information – like a flight or train timetable – with some other application? Watching training videos whilst trying to surf the web? If so, one solution would be to right-click on the IE icon on your taskbar and click on “Internet Explorer” – this will launch a new instance of IE, and you could open up the 2nd site in that window, thereby allowing you to do side/side window comparisons, move one to a 2nd monitor etc.
Well, there’s an even easier way – simply click on the tab you want to move, and drag it away from the group of tabs within IE – it will now spawn a second window with only that one tab in it. Brilliant! When you’re done, you can even drag the tab from the 2nd window and drop it back onto the tab group of the first window to consolidate them back again.
Did you know IE9 recently trounced every other browser at blocking “malware”, in an independent test, scoring 100% effectiveness against the 13% scored by Chrome, Safari & Firefox..?
Turning websites into Apps
IE9 has so many features besides its excellent security – faster performance, hardware-accelerated graphics, HTML5 (etc etc), but one of the top usability ones is the ability to pin websites to your taskbar.
Some sites will expose Windows 7 jump lists, so once you’ve pinned them you can go straight to specific parts of the site (like your messages, calendar, favourites, friends lists and so on). This is the first part of treating a web page more like an application.
The jump lists can do more than just help your navigation on the site – take the excellent National Rail enquiries IE9 experience that was mentioned in ToW #74. The jump list lets you go straight to the departures/arrivals board for your most commonly used stations – it really does start to feel like a custom application rather than a simple website.
To pin any site to your taskbar, just open the page in IE9, and drag the tab (similar to the method for spawning a 2nd window), but this time just drop it onto the task bar. An alternative is to drag & drop the icon to the left of the site’s address.
When you click on the docked icon on the taskbar, it will launch the page in its own IE9 window, and also displays an icon of site’s logo – clicking on this takes you “Home”: back to the main page of the site, rather the normal IE home page. Again, just like an application rather than a web site.
As you can see from the screen grabs above, there are plenty of popular sites which implement jump list support as a minimum – check the Beauty of the Web site or or this Softpedia article as a starting point to identifying which pages may support IE9 specifically. Of course, you can always just try adding a site directly and see if it does support jump lists or not.
Now, pinning web apps to your task bar is all well and good when you only want one or two, but if you have a selection you’d like to pin, it could clutter the whole taskbar up. There is something of an alternative, however: simply open your page, press the ALT key to show the menu, click on Tools and select Add site to Start menu. You don’t see jump lists in the Start Menu but if you right-click on the icon and Pin to Start menu, or if the icon shows up in the list of most recently used programs, then the jump list will be visible.
This shortcut on the Start menu can be moved around, put into groups, dragged off the menu onto your desktop or other folders, and yet whenever you launch the app, it will be in its own window, with its “home” button, so just like an application.
As it happens, you can turn any shortcut into an “app”, by renaming the extension from .url to .website
· Copy a shortcut to your desktop
· Launch a command window (WindowsKey+R then enter cmd)
· Change to the desktop folder (normally that will be just by entering cd desktop)
· Rename your shortcuts by entering ren *.url *.website
· Close the command window and test your new “app” by opening the new shortcut…