Category Archives: Shortcuts

Tips ‘N’ Tricks – Windows – Adding Toolbars for Quick Access to Frequently Used Folders, Applications, and Documents

We often create a directory structure (with sub-directories etc.) to maintain files on our computers. When we want to open a particular file or a folder which requires going from one directory to another (say directories are nested up to 5 or 6 levels or even more), it requires us to keep double clicking on each of the directories to get into the next directory till we reach the directory which contains the file/folder which we want to open. This is the usual approach and many people follow this approach. However, there is one more simple approach, which I am going to demonstrate in this tip.

There is a feature called Toolbars in Windows. This feature allows us to create a Toolbar which points to one of our directory (usually the top most directory like a particular Project Directory etc.). Using this toolbar, we can quickly navigate to the files/folders of our choice. Let’s see how it works.

Right click on the Taskbar, Go to Toolbars | New Toolbar… as shown below.

Navgating to New Toolbar Option

In the New Toolbar window, navigate to the directory (usually this is the topmost folder which contains your most frequently used files/folders like your Project Folder etc.) and select it as shown below. Note that, the name in the Folder text box is updated automatically based on the selection in the New Toolbar window and you cannot change the name in the Folder text box.

New Toolbar Window

This creates a Quick Access Toolbar for you which is located towards the right hand side on your Taskbar as shown below.

Now let’s say you want to open a file named “Audit Table Design.sql“, which is located under SampleProject | 5.Design | 3.Design | Tables, then you can click on the Double Right arrow next to SampleProject Quick Access Toolbar and start navigating to the Tables folder and click on “Audit Table Design.sql” file to open it. This makes is really simple and quicker to navigate to various files/folders within your computer.

Navigating to Files and Folders using Newly Created Toolbar

I usually create a set of shortcuts for frequently accessed application. On this note, I have a set of pre-defined batch files which contain Command Line Instructions for managing various Windows Services associated with SQL Server. I have created a separate Quick Access Toolbar for this these set of batch files so that I can quickly manage the SQL Server Services without actually going to Control Panel each and every time.

Below is screenshot of the Manage Services Quick Access Toolbar which contains various batch files for managing SQL Server related Services.

Sample Toolbar with Shortcuts for Managing SQL Server Services.PNG

That makes my life a lot simpler and helps improve my productivity at work. So what’s your favorite Windows Trick? Do let me know by leaving a comment below.

Note: The above demonstration is based on Windows XP. Approach is pretty much same as above for Windows 7 as well.

Take a look at the other Tips and Tricks in this Series on Tips, Tricks, Techniques, and Shortcuts to Improve Productivity, and Design and Coding Skills.


Tips ‘N’ Tricks – SSMS – Write Queries Faster and Cleaner Using System and User Defined Query Templates

I had blogged about a tip recently on Scripting your actions in SQL Server Management (SSMS) which helps us to easily generate T-SQL Scripts even for those operations for which we do not remember/know the exact the syntax in T-SQL. That definitely is a nice approach, however, there is one more approach which can be used to quickly write-up scripts for most of the common tasks which we perform on a database in our day-to-day work. This approach, however, provides a template and we need to fill in the details to get the script completed for the intended task.

This feature called Template Explorer in SSMS, offers a list of various pre-defined T-SQL Templates for performing majority of the common tasks using T-SQL which we perform in our day-to-day work.

To bring up the Template Explorer, Go to View | Template Explorer or alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Alt+T.

Below screenshot shows a list of all the available Templates categorized into different categories based on the type of object/operation.

Template Explorer in SQL Server Management Studio

For a step by step instructions on using these templates, take a look at this article: T-SQL Coding Made Easy with Inbuilt SQL Server Templates.

Using Template Explorer we can perform the following tasks:

  • Edit the existing templates to include additional details like parameters, fields, comments, formatting etc.
  • Create new templates for commonly used scripts in a module / project so that they can be reused by other team members and also across various modules / projects.
  • Rename existing folders / templates as per your convenience (Though this is not required 99.9% of the times as all the folders which ship with SQL Server are named appropriately).
  • Create new folders / Renaming existing folders to add new or existing templates.
  • Re-organizing the templates by moving them across folders.

Following are few of the advantages / benefits of using Template Explorer:

  • These templates act as a quick reference for getting the syntax in the absence of locally installed SQL Server Books Online or Access to Internet.
  • Saves time required for formatting the T-SQL code since the templates are pre-formatted hence ensures consistency in terms of formatting across various modules / projects.
  • We can share commonly used scripts across all the team members working across modules / projects.

What is your favorite way of writing T-SQL Scripts? Let me know by leaving a comment below 🙂

Take a look at the other Tips and Tricks in this Series on Tips, Tricks, Techniques, and Shortcuts to Improve Productivity, and Design and Coding Skills.

Tips ‘N’ Tricks – Windows – Split Screens to View Two Active Windows Side-by-Side in Windows 7

This is one of my favorite feature in Windows 7. The feature of Split Screens allows us to easily resize two windows (Two Active Windows, from a Viewing Standpoint, at any given point in time).

To split two windows follow the below mentioned steps:

  • Bring up the first screen which needs to be part of Split Screens.
  • Press Windows + Left Arrow – This will Split the screen to 50% in width and positions it to the left of your screen.
  • Bring up the second screen which needs to be part of Split Screens.
  • Press Windows + Right Arrow – This will Split the screen to 50% in width and positions to the right of your screen.

In the below screenshot, SSMS/SSDT has been placed to the left (by pressing Windows + Left Arrow) and Microsoft Lync has been placed on the right (by pressing Windows + Right Arrow).

Split Screens In Windows 7

This is a very handy tip and I use it very often especially in scenarios like if I am chatting with someone on IM, then I can position my Microsoft Lync window on right and continue to work in my left window and keep an eye on what the folks on the conversation window are typing and if my attention/intervention/response is required in that conversation. This is very useful especially when you are in a conversation with multiple folks where your intervention might be required in the conversation once in a while and not every time.

If I don’t use this feature, what happens is that whenever anyone types something in Microsoft Lync (when Lync is minimized and I am working on some other active window), then it blinks to indicate that someone has typed something. But I would not know whether that requires my attention/response/intervention or not, unless I open it and see what has been typed.

What is your favorite Windows 7 Feature? Let me know by leaving a comment below 🙂

Take a look at the other Tips and Tricks in this Series on Tips, Tricks, Techniques, and Shortcuts to Improve Productivity, and Design and Coding Skills.