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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pocket PC Tips and Tricks -- Skin Task Bar



By: The Authors of Pocket PC Tips and Tricks

SKIN THE TASK AND MENU BARS
Of all the things on your Pocket PC, the one you'll end up using the most is the Task Bar. With the right skin application, you can make that Task Bar do incredible things. The Menu Bar is at the bottom of the screen, but it tends to get ignored. You can optimize the Menu Bar as well, making it more useful.(continued...)

First off, think about functionality; the Task Bar is packed with it. The Task Bar also contains the Close button, or rather the "Smart Minimize" button, since it doesn't actually close anything. Microsoft thought it would be a good idea to simply minimize all applications to the background instead of closing them, in the hopes that they would open up faster the next time they were accessed. While this is a good idea in theory, it usually just gums your system up with apps that are gulping memory but not doing anything useful. Almost every Task Bar skinning application will fix this little problem for you by getting rid of that minimize business. As long as you're running the app, your programs will actually close.

The best thing about the Task Bar skins is Wisbar, which is available in two iterations - a free version and a pay version. The free version works just fine, and the pay version, Wisbar Advance 2, includes some nice bells and whistles that are missing from the free version.



These include a cascading start menu (just like Windows), tap-and-hold functionality on every icon in the Task Bar and the ability to skin the volume dialog and all application buttons. It can also skin the Menu Bar. Combined with a good Today theme, a Wisbar Advanced 2 skin can really make your Pocket PC look nice. Wisbar Advance 2 is $9.99.

There's another version of the original Wisbar, called Icbar. It's also free, well-supported and has a good number of skins available. If you want to keep things simple, there are several applications that will just skin the OK/Close button. These generally have a tap-and-hold pop-up menu that allows you to choose the application to close, in addition to providing true "close" functionality. Examples of this type of application include Magic Button and SmallMenu.

Source: Pocket PC Tips and Tricks

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