Shell Tools is a collection of Windows enhancements that add five functions to the right-click context menu that allow you to do the following: add notes to any file, right click to toggle view hidden files on/off, copy URLs from IE bookmarks, load or install fonts, and register/unregister COM servers for DLL, OCX, and EXE files on demand. You can choose to enable any or all of these modules on your system as you wish.
I know a lot of readers share my love of Windows shell extensions, especially those that add cool functions to the right-click context menu. Shell Tools is a very interesting collection in its sheer originality – the functions provided are none of the typical context menu additions that we see frequently. Here’s a description of each of the available modules.
- Anyfile: right-click on any file in order to create and edit notes that are associated with the file. These will be saved in a text file placed in the same directory as the original file, and this file will have the same name as the original file (e.g. for “iTunesSetup.exe” the note will be saved in “iTunesSetup.txt”). What’s interesting is that you can configure the module to create a hidden text file by default so that, if you do not have “view hidden files” enabled in your folders you do not have to see the proliferation of these files as you set about creating notes (you can still access the note by selecting the original file and right-clicking filenote in the context menu). There is no support for creating folder-related notes.
- Folderbackground: with this module, a “show hidden files” entry is installed in your context menu that can quickly toggle showing/hiding hidden files in Windows’ folder views. Seems like the perfect companion to the Anyfile module (above), or if you generally like your hidden files not to be visible but would like to be able to quickly toggle them on and off on occaision.
- FontFile: provide 4 context menu entries whenever you right click on a fonts file: Load, Unload, Install, and Uninstall. The difference between load and install is that the former loads that font for use in that session (i.e. font is not available on a reboot), while install installs the font in the registry such as it loads on Windows startup.
- URLFile: can copy URLs from IE bookmarks in 3 ways (1) Copy URL: copies the URL from the bookmark (e.g. ’http://www.freewaregenius.com/’; (2) Copy Link: copies bookmark as html tag, i.e. ’< a href= “http://www.freewaregenius.com/” >Freewaregenius< /a >< br >’, and (3) Copy name: copies title followed by URL (e.g. ’Freewaregenius: http://www.freewaregenius.com/’).
- Register server module: a tool for developers and admins to replace Microsoft’s “regsvr32.exe” program that will add “Register Server” and “Unregister Server” commands to the context menu for .DLL, .EXE, and .OCX files”. If you know what this means, you may be excited about the prospect of having these context menu entries. If not, you can move on with the rest of us.
- Fresh icons utility: included in the program install is a small utility that simply rebuilds the icon cache, useful, say, if you change icons or file associations and find that the icons do not change and the old program’s icons are displayed.
The verdict: original though these modules may be, I cannot help feeling that Shell Tools is a hodge-podge of disparate modules. I cannot imagine that too many people would want all of these modules installed simultaneously but the good news is that each module above can be activated/deactivated seperately, such that you can install only the ones you want.
Although the “Anyfile” notes system is very interesting, my personal opinion is that if you have notes associated with files you need to be able to somehow view these within a column in Windows ’details’ view, much as Hobcomment does.
On the other hand, depending on what you use your computer for, having the link-copying, font loading/installing, and DLL server registering entries in the context menu may be very useful to you; if these provide a function that you can use I imagine that you will find Shell Tools to be a unique and useful program.
[Thanks to reader GuesttWatt for pointing me to this developer’s freeware offerings in the comments section of a prior posting]
Version Tested: 1.0.1
Compatibility: Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista (32 bit only).
Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 1 meg).