The Windows AutoPlay feature is the bane of many-a-PC user, particularly because of nasty DRM histories and other intrusive business, but what about when you actually want to use the AutoPlay feature? For example, let's say you're a fan of Lifehacker's very own DVD-ripping tool, DVD Rip, and you want your computer to automatically start ripping DVDs as soon as you put one in (making the simple one-click solution even simpler). Here's how it works.
First, if you don't have it already, you'll need to go download the most beloved of Windows PowerToys, TweakUI. Once it's installed, fire up TweakUI and then head to My Computer -> AutoPlay -> Handlers.
We're looking to add a new option to the AutoPlay, so hit the Create button. You'll see a new window that allows you to define the new AutoPlay handler. To start, enter a description (like "Rip the DVD to your hard drive") and followed by the name of the program you're using in the next textbox (e.g., "DVD Rip"). Next you need to point TweakUI to the program that will run when you insert the media, so click the Change program... button and point it to the application you want to run (in our example, that's DVD Rip.exe). Finally, tick the boxes next to the media you want your new AutoPlay options to show up with.
When you're finished, click OK, apply your changes, and you're done. In our example, next time you insert a DVD, DVD Rip should be included in your AutoPlay options. If you want it to automatically run every time you insert a DVD, tick the box labelled Always do the selected action and hit OK.
What about Vista?
Now for the bad news: As far as I can tell, so far there isn't a comparably good and simple solution to add a new entry to the AutoPlay menu in Vista. Vista does have a great AutoPlay tool for selecting your options, but it doesn't offer an option to add programs, and the old TweakUI doesn't work for Vista. If you're aware of a method for doing the same for Vista, let's hear about it in the comments.