Hack 23. Empower Windows Explorer with PowerDesk Pro
Supplanted by this most powerful utility, Windows Explorer will no longer draw curses or contribute to increased Macintosh sales.
I'm guessing that you have a Leatherman multitool. No hacker worth his weight in solder would leave home without it. In fact, I'll go further and guess that you have at least two. You probably have a large one that you keep in your glove box and a small one that you carry with you at all times, even to weddings (just in case). If I'm corrector if you're wondering where to buy such a useful toolyou will love PowerDesk Pro.
PowerDesk Pro is the multitool of utilities. This beast is no mere Swiss Army Knife. There's no unnecessary toothpick, leather punch, or nail file here; it's a pair of vise grips with four screwdrivers, a strong blade, wire cutters, pliers, an Allen wrench, a corkscrew, and a bottle opener. It's the software those guys on Junkyard Wars would use if they put down their cutting torches and picked up a computer.
OK, maybe I'm being melodramatic, but PowerDesk Pro really is a useful utility for your computer. PowerDesk Pro combines much of the functionality of Windows Explorer, the old Windows File Manager, WinZip, and a host of other programs. If you find yourself with more than one program open for manipulating files, you probably need PowerDesk Pro. While many of the features of PowerDesk Pro are available in Windows XP, PowerDesk Pro puts them all in one convenient location. PowerDesk Pro also runs on older versions of Windows, which might not have the advanced file-handling features Windows XP has.
PowerDesk Pro is available from VCOM at http://www.v-com.com/product/PowerDesk_Pro_Home.html. PowerDesk Pro sells on the VCOM web site for $49.95. You can also download an evaluation version that has fewer features.
When you install PowerDesk Pro on your computer, the installer will ask you if you want to associate zip and other archive files with PowerDesk Pro. If you already use a zip file manager, such as WinZip, you might not want to allow PowerDesk Pro to handle these types by default. After installing PowerDesk Pro, you should not need to restart your computer.
While PowerDesk Pro is a separate application, it is integrated into Windows Explorer, so you have access to many of its features even when you aren't running it. In Windows Explorer, if you right-click with the mouse you will see a submenu called PowerDesk, where you have access to many of PowerDesk Pro's functions.
When you start PowerDesk Pro you will be faced with a window that looks similar to the one shown in Figure 3-10. As you click around PowerDesk Pro, most of the things you see should look familiar. Those that aren't so familiar are grouped well, so they are easy to find and understand.
Figure 3-10. The PowerDesk Pro main window
Each toolbar that shows up in PowerDesk Pro is configurable. Use the Options Customize Toolbar menu item to modify the toolbars as you wish. The bottom toolbar in Figure 3-10 is called the Launchbar and is similar to the Quick Launch area of the Windows XP taskbar. You add programs by dragging icons onto the Launchbar and dropping them.
When you restart PowerDesk Pro, you are placed back at the location you were when you left. I find this to be such a simple, yet useful, feature. If you create a shortcut to PowerDesk Pro, you can force it to open at a specific location by putting the name of the directory after the program name in the Target field of the shortcut properties.
PowerDesk Pro has so many features that we could spend an entire chapter of this book describing them, and even then we'd miss some things. So, I'm going to give a brief summary of the coolest features and leave the rest as an exercise for the reader:
There is so much more to PowerDesk Pro than what I've outlined here. If the things you've read here interest you, download the evaluation version and try it for yourself.