Windows users have no doubt long noticed that the start button located on the task bar keeps a log of the usage statistics for each program initiated by clicking the Start Button and then navigating through the Start Menu.
The most used applications are at the top in order of the number of launches. Here is my Taskbar captured by Snag-it from Techsmith.
You can “Pin” items to the top so they are always where you expect them to be. These are the programs that sit above the gray line.
I have done this with Bitstream Font Navigator because I am often in a hurry when I need a font added. Character Map is invaluable for finding special characters like the © that appears at the bottom of my blog posts. Quicken is there for my wife so that she can find it. Interestingly enough, MS puts IE, Outlook and Windows Mail into this self-important position as well. Go figure.
The remaining applications are there by pure usage.
CorelDraw X3 is the big dog. I launch it more than any other program. I run a small design company specializing in CorelDraw so that makes sense. Even though X4 is out, I have been doing my client work through X3. Now that SP1 is out for CorelDraw X4, I will likely see the X4 rise and the X3 eventually fall.
I also do web design so MS Expression Web is near the top. Web sites require a lot of updates. MS Office Accounting is next because I diligently maintain books so I can get paid. The next one surprised me. MS Excel? I have no explanation. I must use it a lot. It is number 4 after all. Number crunching is not something I normally do. Perhaps closer evaluation is needed to determine its prominence. Lightroom is next. It would be higher but every time Adobe releases a new updated, it gives it a new executable file. The old are deleted and that is why Lightroom (1.41) is so low. Normally it would be third or second.
The bottom five tends to fluctuate more than the top five. Windows Live Writer (on which I am typing this post) is popular with me because I blog so fricking much. Notice that positions 6 and 8 are occupied by the same program in two different versions. Corel PhotoPaint is my workhorse editor but I am starting to use the new version more than the old. When it falls off and I am satisfied that SP1 has shored up the application, I will likely eliminate X3.
Firefox is in position seven because I cross test web sites on various browsers. SyncToy sits firmly in number nine position because I am a backup fanatic as some of you readers know. Sitting in number 10, just off the graphic is Snag-it which I used to grab the image for this post.
Photoshop didn’t make the top 10. It is languishing in number 17. PSP X2 is sitting at number 18. Combine all four image editors and they are probably number 1. MS Word is sitting at number 13. Now that I blog in Live Writer, Word is sitting lonely and seldom used.
Video applications are lower than I expected as well. Camtasia IV and Studio are in the top twenty but lower than I thought they would be.
Where is PowerPoint? Oh yes, it is on a desktop shortcut. Maybe we better talk about that next.
If you launch via a desktop shortcut or a quick launch toolbar instead of the start menu, your statistics do not appear to affect this order. I use Windows Media Player every day but it never appears on this list because I launch it from the quick launch bar. Likewise with Outlook (I guess that is why MS pins it to the start menu) and IE (my browser of choice today) and other sundry items either placed by me or for me by installation routines.
I think our start menus tell us much about our software usage habits. I can tell where the bulk of my work lies quickly by looking at the order of the icons. I can also tell when a version is replacing its older counterpart by watching one slide up the line as the other descends. By right clicking from time to time and expanding the icon list to a ludicrously large number I can see how many programs are hitting occasionally. Google Earth comes in at number 17. I could have sworn I played with that more often.
What does your start menu say about you?
Rikk Flohr © 2008