From The Tips Box: File Extensions, USB Charging, Time Tracking

From The Tips Box: File Extensions, USB Charging, Time Tracking

Readers offer their best tips for quickly showing and hiding file extensions, charging devices with your computer turned off, and using a mobile phone as a long-term stopwatch.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons — maybe they’re a bit too niche, maybe we couldn’t find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn’t fit it in — the tip didn’t make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Email it to tips at

Show File Extensions With a Hotkey

PlatypusMan shares an AutoHotkey script that makes it easier to show and hide file extensions:

I’ve noticed that, in Windows, a lot of people set it to show file extensions for known file types so that it is easier to edit things, but I prefer it to be easier to look at. However, I don’t like going through the Tools menu and all that (which took me forever to find in Windows 7 — just hit the Alt key in explorer for the menu bar to show up), so I wrote a small script in #Autohotkey that I find to be very helpful.

This sets Windows+X to toggle whether or not known file types are shown:


RegRead, Extension_Status, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced, HideFileExt

If Extension_Status = 0

RegWrite, REG_DWORD, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced, HideFileExt, 1


RegWrite, REG_DWORD, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced, HideFileExt, 0

WinGetClass, eh_Class,A

send, {F5}


As far as I can tell, it works seamlessly. I adapted it from a different script I found that does basically the same thing, but with the option for showing or hiding hidden files, but I don’t remember where I got it from (probably here).

Charge USB Devices Without Turning on Your Computer

TechnoGeek shows us how he keeps his devices charged at his workspace:

If your monitor has USB ports, you can charge your iPod/iPhone even when your computer is off. Just plug it into your monitor and leave the monitor on. Once you turn off your computer, your monitor should time-out. But don’t turn off the power. Your device will continue to charge.

Use Mobile Phone Timestamps as a Long-Term Stopwatch

Photo by Oracio Alvarado.

Micah Tanis shows us a reliable, easy method of time tracking:

Create a START and END contact on your phone to keep track of timed tasks.

Dial and end a call to START or END to create timestamps for time tracking.

Create Custom File Paths in the Quick Launch Bar for Easy Access

Jake712 shows us how he utilises Quick Launch shortcuts:

This is something I’ve been doing since XP came out but I’ve never seen anyone else doing it and I don’t see it mentioned much:

I keep Windows Explorer shortcuts with customised file locations on my quick launch bar. If I want to get to my web server folders or my folder with my Nikon photos I just click the customised explorer icon that will take me right there. The image shows my right-most quick launch item which is my most accessed as well.

To make them go through the Start menu to Programs/Accessories, right click Windows Explorer and pick Copy. Now go to your desktop, right click on it, and choose Paste Shortcut and the icon will appear. To customise it, right click the icon and choose Properties. You can change the destination by editing the Target field, for instance my photos are in C:DATAPhotos and Home VideophotosNikon D90. You can rename the shortcut in the same window but under the General tab, this is the name that shows up if you hover over the icon.

When you’re done just drag it to your quick launch bar and you’re all set. You can get pretty fancy with the Target location including options to expand folders, etc. For a list of the various options here is Microsoft’s reference: []

This works up to Vista 64 but I haven’t tried it on Windows 7, in fact I don’t even know if 7 has a quick launch bar.


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