Desktop Media: get automatic desktop shortcuts when you plug in your USB drive or other media

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Desktop Media is a free program that can display shortcuts on the desktop to USB drives, CDs/DVDs and other media when you plug them in, and automatically removes these shortcuts when you unplug.

It can also alternately create so-called “hard links” to your media instead of shortcuts.

[Update Jul 24, 2008] This program has gone through several changes as to warrant an updated review and a “Freewaregenius Pick” award!

This program is similar to the afore-mentioned “Desk Drive” in that it aims to provide the user with automatic shortcuts to their USB and other drives that appear and disappear from the

desktop as the user plugs their media in and out. Shortly after posting the review for “Desk Drive” I received the following email from the author of this program, which pretty much sums it all: “I just saw your post on the Desk Drive application yesterday, and I thought it was a great idea ….. Unfortunately, I usually prefer not to install .NET apps, so I decided to write my own version of this… It also has a feature that Desk Drive does not, which is support for Symbolic Links via the Junction utility from SysInternals… Please let me know if you run into any bugs and I will be glad to fix them. This was a great idea for an application and I wanted to create an app with a small footprint to make it a little more appealing.” This about sums it all up. Here are more notes on “Desktop Media”:

  • Supported media: optionally supports any or all of: removable drives, fixed drives, network/remote drives, CD/DVD drives and RAM disks. Also allows the exclusion of specific drive letters that you might want to opt out of displaying desktop shortcuts.
  • Adding desktop to your taskbarHard links: you can opt for hard links rather than shortcuts. The difference is that while shortcuts point to the drive icon, hard links are equivalent to them (i.e. it is just like having a drive icon on your desktop). This might be handy for some file operations that might not work with shortcuts very well. Note (a) the program will automatically prompt the installation of the included Sysinternals “Junction” utility if you choose hard links, (b) to learn more about hard links see this related post, and (c) a suggested use for hard links: if you add your desktop as a toolbar on your taskbar (see screenshot)you can browse the media right from your taskbar.
  • Save icon position: provides the option to remember the placement of the icon(s) on the desktop, in order to display them in the same locations in the future.
  • User interface: lives in the system tray, but provides the option to hide that icon (whereby the program dialog can be accessed again from the start menu).
  • Note on removable media: e.g. USB drives and CD/DVD drives, Desktop Media, to quote the developer’s site, “will only add the drive to your desktop if it is present … if you have a CD/DVD drive, but no
    disc is present, you won’t see the icon on your desktop”.
  • Maximize windows: the option to open drives as maximized windows, (i.e. when you click on the drive icon, the window will appear maximized on your entire screen).
  • Memory use: approx. 4 megs. (Compared to Desk Drive, whose memory use is not 100% clear because of .NET – anywhere between 2 to 18 megs).

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict:

a very nice program that adds a very nice functionality to Windows. I prefer this to “Desk Drive” because it does not require .NET and because of its clear (and generally low) memory usage, as well as its support for hard links as well as shortcuts.

[Thanks Ian Perez for this wonderful app!]

Version Tested: 1.7

Compatibility: Windows XP; Vista.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 354K).