Those who have read, well, pretty much anything I've ever written about using computers may have noticed a common theme: it annoys me when some computer programmer out there decides for me that I'm too stupid to see the whole picture of what's going on in my computer.
Today I got my first look at Windows 2000. Much to my dismay, some programmer decided that we've all just got too much stuff in our Start menu, so now instead of showing you what's really on your Start menu, Windows 2000 only shows you the most recently used programs. A rather amusing Web site called www.WebPagesThatSuck.com refers to this type of user interface tactic as "mystery meat navigation." Much like those Web sites that don't work unless you happen to mouse over a particular area, in Windows 2000, you don't know until you hold your mouse around for a while, what programs really exist on your computer. It's dumb.
Mystery meat navigation often ends up being the source of a lot of unnecessary confusion. Office 2000 does the same thing. The shortened menus tend to make users go nuts wondering where half their menu commands went ("I used to be able to do it in Word 97, but now I can't find the command!")
Fortunately, you can switch your settings in both Windows 2000 and Office to get rid of mystery meat navigation. To turn on ALL your menu items in Windows 2000, right click over the Task bar (that's the gray bar that runs along the bottom of the screen). Choose Properties from the pop-up menu. Click to remove the check mark next to Use Personalized Menus. I've always liked to remove the Microsoft advertisement on my Start menu, so I also put a check mark next to Show Small Icons in Start Menu. (Although the "personalized menus" are a new thing, changing the Start menu settings works the same way in prior versions as well).
To put your menus back into Office 2000 programs, in whichever program you are using (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) choose Tools|Customize and remove the check mark next to Menus Show Recently Used Commands First.
Mystery meat navigation impedes your productivity, so with a few quick clicks you can start working with your software instead of wondering what on earth it's doing.