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December 25, 1995 / January 1, 1996

Win95 start menu tips: How to make submenus stick

The new start menu in Windows 95 provides an easy way to keep your favorite programs at your fingertips. To review, you can place a shortcut to any program on your top-level Start Menu by dragging the program from an Explorer window and dropping it on the Start Button.

For more control over the placement of items on the Start Menu, open an Explorer window focused on your C:\Windows\Start Menu folder by right-clicking the Start Button, then clicking Explore. In the window that appears, you can navigate down to the submenu where you wish to add a program (such as Programs\Accessories), then right-click an empty space in the window and click New to create a new shortcut or folder. Folders you create in this way result in "cascading" menus on the Start Menu, which automatically show submenus with their contents.

One of the gripes about the new Windows 95 interface, however, is the way submenus appear and disappear on the Start Menu and other places. In Windows 95, clicking the Start Menu and moving your mouse up and down the menu causes submenus to automatically pop out. However, getting to a submenu or a sub-submenu requires sliding your mouse perfectly through each selection. Moving your mouse even a hair off a submenu causes it to disappear. Submenus of the Start Menu are not "sticky." This can be annoying if you are used to the Windows 3.1 interface, where menus that are pulled down stay down until you click something else.

Fortunately, there's an easy and cheap way (actually it's free) to get the good old sticky menu behavior back in Windows 95.

Step 1: Run REGEDIT.EXE, the Registry Editor utility found in your C:\Windows folder.

Step 2: In the window that appears, click the plus sign to the left of Hkey_Current_ User, then click the plus sign to the left of the Control Panel subfolder. In the items that appear underneath the Control Panel, click the Desktop folder to select it.

Step 3: Right-click a blank space in the right-hand window of RegEdit. In the pop-up menu that appears, click New, then click String Value.

Step 4: Type in the variable name MenuShowDelay. Press Enter.

Step 5: Right-click the word MenuShowDelay in the right pane, then click Modify. In the dialog box that appears, type in the value 65534. This sets the maximum delay before submenus pop out. The value is in milliseconds (65534 represents about 65 seconds). Windows 95's default delay value is 250 milliseconds (one-quarter of a second), in case you change to 65534 and ever want to go back to the original behavior.

You can set the delay value all the way down to zero, if you like. This results in no delay at all for submenus to appear. However, a delay of zero is actually very irritating because Windows constantly flashes submenus at you any time you run your mouse down a menu.

Step 6: After you've set the variable to 65534, click OK, then exit RegEdit.

Step 7: You must restart Windows 95 for your change to take effect. A quick way to do this is to click Start, Shut Down, Restart The Computer -- but hold down the Shift key while you click the Yes button. The Shift+Yes combination makes Win95 simply restart itself rather than cold-boot your entire PC, which takes longer.

Once Windows has restarted, click the Start Button and test your menus and submenus. If you set MenuShowDelay to 65534, you should be able to click any menu with a submenu and have that submenu stay put while you figure out your next move. Pure bliss.

Brian Livingston is the coauthor of the new Windows 95 Secrets and author of three other Windows books (IDG Books). Send tips to or fax: (206) 282-1248.

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