Desktop Icons on the Fly

Thanks again to Lifehacker for bringing to my attention another great utility.  It’s called Desktop Media and it gives Windows functionality which other operating systems have had for many years.

It will create, on the fly, a shortcut icon (soft link) or a symbolic link (hard link) on your desktop whenever you attach a drive-like device (removable storage and its cousins, including CD/DVD drives).

When you remove those same devices, this utility will then remove the icon.  Right-clicking also includes an eject option in the context menu.

With this utility installed you can happily disable the useless security risk and resource hog known as AutoPlay for all devices.  There is nothing more annoying than attaching your two TB external storage device and watching your system freeze up while Windows scans the entire contents of the drives.

Disabling AutoPlay is very easy:

  1. Open the Group Policy editor (Windows-R or Run—> gpedit.msc).
  2. Drill down until you get to Local Computer Policy —> Computer Configuration —> Administrative Templates —> System.
  3. There you will find an entry for “Turn off Autoplay”. Right-click it and bring up Properties.
  4. You must “Enable” it and select “All Drives” from the “Turn Off Autoplay on:” drop down menu.
    (Could they have worded it more confusingly?)
  5. Then OK your way out of this.

No more AutoPlay.  And you won’t miss it.

Desktop Media shows up in your system tray (where your clock hangs out) and if you right-click it and choose Options, you can have it create hard links instead of mere shortcuts.  They are less pretty than the shortcuts, perhaps, but then the link acts as a folder rather than a marker.  Many folks won’t notice a benefit from the hard links but I use it so I can drill into these folders from my Desktop toolbar (right-click the taskbar and choose Toolbars —> Desktop).

Happy hunting.


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