Adding new items to Windows’ “New…” menu

OpenOffice.

I recommend OpenOffice to most people, especially with the new version 3 being such a well-rounded tool. Far cheaper than MS Office and the best of all the free office applications.

However, one thing niggles me about it and that’s the right-click menu you use on your desktop or in My Documents to create new files. By default, if you right-click and go to “New…” you have the option to create new files for all the sub-utilities you’ve installed – Calc, Write and so on – but in their own formats. The ODF formats used by OpenOffice are all well and nice, but nobody not using OpenOffice can load them (at least unless they get some kind of filter pack for their own application). This is much the same as sending a MSOffice 2007 .docx file to a colleague running Office 2003.

Creating a new MS Word-compatible (or Excel, or PowerPoint…) file within OpenOffice is easy. You either “Save As…” or set your default format within the preferences. However, I’m sure I’m not alone in prefering the old “Right-click… New… Word document” method on my workspace.

So – here’s how to do it. I’ll step through it for Word and let you work out the details for the other formats.

  • Create a new, blank Word-compatible file. This will be your template for forthcoming new documents so you could add extra information if you’re always going to follow one format. Save this with the filename “word.doc”.
  • Move this file to the folder C:\Windows\shellnew or C:\WINNT\shellnew. If the folder doesn’t exist, then create it. Note that “shellnew” must be in lower case.
  • Now the scary bit… Start button… Run… regedit. You’ll now be tinkering with the registry. You can seriously stuff your machine if you’re not careful, so take backups, follow instructions etc etc. I won’t be help responsible if you fluff this.
  • The top hive is called HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. Open this and scroll down until you find “.doc”. Open this up and right click it. Select New and then Key. Call this key “ShellNew” (no quotes). Again, note the capitals.
  • Right click this Key and add a new string value. The value should be named “FileName” and its value should be set to “word.doc” – again, no quotes in either.
  • It can take a while for this little change to filter down into the system, so either be patient or force a reboot. Once the context menu has been refreshed, you should now have an option to create a new “Microsoft Word 97-2003” document.

And there you go. It’s fairly easy to repeat for the likes of Excel and PowerPoint files.

If you want to complete the trick and get rid of the context menu items for creating new OpenOffice format files, locate the entries in the registry hive for .odt (text), .ods (spreadsheet), .odp (presentation) and so forth. You’ll likely want to keep the ones for maths and drawings.

For each of the ones mentioned, open the item up and locate the key with the item’s full description (usually the first key) – for instance “HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.odt\opendocument.WriterDocument.1”. Open this key and locate the “ShellNew” subkey. Highlight this and delete it. You will no longer have an option to create new “OpenDocument Text” files.

Repeat as necessary for the others.

I hope this is useful!

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4 thoughts on “Adding new items to Windows’ “New…” menu”

  1. Do people worship you as a god in far-off tribes who think technology is mystical?

    “Oh mighty Mosh – Hear my plea. I will sacrifice my first-born so it rains on our crops”

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