How-to: Make your Browser Open on Start-up and Auto Open Your Frequently Used Sites

[easyreview title=”Complexity rating” icon=”dummy” cat1title=”Level of experience required, to follow this how-to.” cat1detail=”The Geek had this info in his back pocket but I managed to complete it and get it running after a 2 minute conversation. Seriously, if I can do it your granny can!” cat1rating=”1″ overall=”false”]

Here is an interesting little How-to. Well I thought it was. Geek, who put me onto it just laughed and said it was obvious stuff but he is a geek after all.

My issue was that whenever I powered up my PC I found myself going through the same old ritual of starting a browser session, opening up a tab for each of the websites I use or regularly monitor during the day. A tab for my AdSense account, YouTube and Gmail. Then another for my banking, Bendifroot website and good old Geek & Dummy and another for my 4×4 club, the Lowrangers. All a bit of a pain. A right pain if I inadvertently closed my browser session and had to open each one again.

So, I wanted something that when I fired up my PC, automatically opened Chrome and all of these sessions. Even better, something that could be kicked off again subsequently without any major headache.

Okay, the Startup menu folder can be used to open individual programs on login, but I wanted something more controlled and flexible. Geek explained it was very easy to create a batch script in Notepad that listed the actions you required to be completed on login. Sounded like witchcraft to me but it’s actually very simple.

First thing: open up Notepad. Whichever version of Windows you’re running, it will probably be in your Start menu under Accessories/Notepad. This is a very rudimentary text editor that has none of the MS Word type formatting options.

There’s some very basic syntax. I’m assuming you use Chrome (because I do) but the concept works equally well with other browsers.

start chrome --new-window

This does exactly what you would think. Opens Chrome in a new window. After that it’s a simple matter of listing what tabbed sessions you want Cchrome to load for you.
Here’s an example of my own:

Now the key part: you need to save this as a .bat file. Call it what you like. I call mine “internet.bat”. Then save it into your Startup folder. This can be in slightly different places depending on your user profile settings but most likely Windows/Start Menu/Startup.

I also create a shortcut to the .bat file on my desktop. If I inadvertently close my browser session, I can start it all again with a double-click.

And there you go; simples. A nice easy way of creating a batch script your PC automatically runs, and you can manually run too. I bet you feel like a computer programmer now don’t you?!

SOLVED: “Access is denied, unable to remove” when deleting printer

It’s amazing to see that many years after I first wrote this post, visitors are still finding it useful!

If you really want to understand what’s going on under the hood, the Windows Internals books are the place to start. In the interests of transparency: this is an affiliate link. See my affiliate disclosure page for an explanation.

Many organisations push out printer installations via Active Directory. If you want to tidy up those printers (removing ones you don’t use) you may find Windows 7 doesn’t let you delete them, even though you may be a local administrator and even if you use an elevated Explorer session:

Access denied error

Use the following steps to resolve this annoyance.

From an elevated command prompt:

C:\Windows\system32>net stop spooler
The Print Spooler service is stopping.
The Print Spooler service was stopped successfully.

Then fire up regedit. Navigate to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Printers\Connections and delete the offending printer:

printers regedit

Finally, restart the print spooler:

C:\Windows\system32>net start spooler
The Print Spooler service is starting.
The Print Spooler service was started successfully.

Windows: keyboard layout has changed spontaneously

keyboard I’ve recently noticed that the keyboard layout on my Windows XP PCs is spontaneously changing from UK to US. I suspect that this is linked to a piece of software I use called Input Director (which allows you to control several PCs/monitors from one keyboard/mouse).

Whatever the cause, from time to time my UK keyboard starts operating in US mode (so, for example, the following symbols are all swapped around: ", ', #, £). This is inconvenient, to say the least.

The logical place to look would be in Regional Settings/Languages, within the Control Panel. Nothing had changed there however: UK was the only layout showing as installed. Advanced Text Services were switched off and all the relevant keyboard shortcuts were disabled.

In my search for a solution, I came across this page, which describes a similar situation. Within the comments on that page, one contributor has posted:

Try holding ‘alt’ and pressing ‘shift’ three times.

The mysterious Jim doesn’t explain why this works – and I have yet to find any documentation, but, sure enough, Alt-Shift-Shift-Shift does indeed reset the keyboard layout back to UK. Further repetitions of the keyboard combo have no other effect, so this is a reset rather than a toggle.

Office has a mind of its own

Microsoft Office products can exhibit a similar behaviour. If you’re finding that some MS Office product is using the wrong keyboard map (but other programs are fine), try this: First click on the Office program, somewhere you can enter text. Then press the left shift and alt keys together. You should be returned to your default keyboard mapping.

You can actually remove the unwanted keyboard layout from Office – note this is separately managed from the Windows keyboard layout, for some reason. In one of the Office programs (for 2010 onwards), click File -> Options -> Language. If you see more than one “Editing Language” in the list, select any you don’t want and click “Remove”.

Keyboard image copyright © yum9me, licensed under Creative Commons. Used with permission.