Tutorial Windows: Create Your Own Windows Startup Dashboard

Programming is starting to become quite an accessible activity, given the amount of online tutorials and SDKs that require less and less code knowledge, because of intuitive, visual building methods.

Some computer applications are completely dedicated to enhancing navigation and access. Some tweaks can be made so that everything left behind on shutdown automatically pops back up on logon, as well as an abundance of third-party desktop enhancements.

However, you can use programming to your own advantage and create small utilities to help you with some tasks. For instance, just as we found out from the web, it’s incredibly easy to create a custom dashboard to launch any application and keep your desktop clean. Here’s how you can make a dashboard yourself:

Creating a custom dashboard

Step 1: Download and install Microsoft Visual Studio.

Step 2: If you’re prompted for a developer license, go ahead and grab one for free.

Step 3: Choose to create a New Project. In the prompt window, expand the Visual Basic tree to Windows, and click on Windows Desktop. Now just select Windows Forms Application from the center pane and hit OK.

Step 4 (optional): Access the View menu and select the Toolbox, or press Ctrl + Alt + X. You can also pin it because it’s needed later on.

Design Tip: In the Toolbox under the All Windows Forms tree, identify Label and drag it over the design. Select it, go to the Properties panel and identify Text in the Appearance section. Change “Label1” with anything you would like to appear. (i.e Choose your program, what you want to do today, list of programs, etc.)

Step 5: Expand the All Windows Forms tree until you see the Button entry.

Step 6: Drag it over the design. Feel free to change its shape by dragging the borders, and placing it in a suitable spot.

Step 7: In the Properties pane under the Appearance section, change “Button1” to the program you want to link it to, or anything else you want.

Step 8: Double-click the button to link it to a program. The application now takes you to the piece of code that represents the button.

Step 9: Without any actions, simply write down Process.Start(). Leave the Code window active.

Step 10: Navigate to the location of your target program, right-click the executable (or desktop shortcut), and access the Properties panel.

Step 11: Copy everything in the Target field, including the quotation marks.

Step 12: Paste it between the Process.Start() brackets so that it looks like this:

code
 
Process.Start("C:Program Files (x86)GoogleChromeApplicationchrome.exe")

Note: Whatever you do, make sure quotation marks are at the beginning and end of the address.

Step 13: Switch to the Design tab. Go to the Debug menu and choose to Start Without Debugging to see if it works.

Step 14: Repeat Steps 5 to 12 for any other program you want to add.

Design Tips:

-> Select the form window. Scroll all the way to the Window Style section in the Properties pane.

-> Set MaximizeBox and MinimizeBox values to False so they don’t appear anymore.

-> The Opacity value can be used to set entire window transparency.

-> In the Appearance section, change FormBorderStyle to None to remove the window border and title bar completely.

-> Modify BackColor for a custom tone or BackgroundImage for a custom picture.

-> Manually add a StartPosition in the Layout section, or choose from the few presets.

-> Change AcceptButton and CancelButton to existing buttons, or create new ones.

Design Note: You can experiment with the same values and fields for buttons. It’s possible to add even extra form elements, such as pictures.

Step 15: Under the Build menu, choose to Build Your_program_name.

Step 16: Navigate to the location specified in the Output panel. It’s usually under this form: c:usersyour_windows_userdocumentsvisual studio 2015ProjectsWindowsApplication2WindowsApplication2binDebug.

Step 17: Create a shortcut of your new program, or copy it on your desktop.

Step 18: Press Win + R, write down shell:startup and press OK.

Step 19: Copy the application shortcut to the Startup folder.

In conclusion

This is only one of the many things you can accomplish with Microsoft Visual Studio. Even this simple trick can be exploited with more buttons and visual customization. Once added to the Startup folder, it’s going to start at every Windows login. If not, you can launch it with a hotkey or add it to the taskbar, while keeping your desktop empty.

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