Scott Hanselman

Windows Tip: Easily show your Computer Name in the Taskbar

September 10, '09 Comments [21] Posted in Tools | Win7
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For those of you (and me) who manage more than one computer or remote into many computers or virtual machines, it can be very hard to remember which machine you're on.

There are many solutions out there for stamping your computer name. Most often I see people creating custom wallpaper using a tool like BgInfo. However, you can't always see your desktop, I like a more persistent solution.

The only thing that is always on my screen is the taskbar. Here's how to add your Computer Name to the Taskbar.

  • First, go to your Documents folder, or any folder, really. Make a new folder and name that folder the same name as your computer. So, now I have c:\users\scottha\documents\HANSELMAN-W500.
  • Next, Right-Click on an empty area in the taskbar and click Toolbars, then new Toolbar.

image

  • Now, select the new folder you named the same as your Toolbar and click "Select Folder."

Bam.

image

Doesn't that look nice?

Thanks to Brad Wilson for the tip. I'll be doing this to all my machines.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009 12:55:53 AM UTC
I've been doing something similar for a while - I rename My Computer to be my machine's name, and add that to the toolbar. That way, my machine name shows up on the desktop, the start menu and the toolbar. Can't miss it then!
Thursday, September 10, 2009 2:15:43 AM UTC
A cool idea, but doesn't work well if you have your taskbar in vertical mode instead of horizontal.
Thursday, September 10, 2009 2:58:32 AM UTC
Wouldn't it just be easier to create a background with the computer name on it? So that it doesn't take up valuable taskbar realestate?
Thursday, September 10, 2009 3:18:04 AM UTC
And you can actually store useful stuff in that folder too! So you get double duty out of that... :D
Thursday, September 10, 2009 3:27:01 AM UTC
I like the little yellow thing on top of the screen in the RDP client. Would be neat to have something like that...

Oh, and for the command line windows:
prompt %COMPUTERNAME% $p$g
...and...
$PS1="\u@\h:\w$"

:)
Thursday, September 10, 2009 3:31:16 AM UTC
I use "BGINFO" from Sysinternals to dump all sorts of useful machine information onto my desktop wallpaper such as IP-Address, Host Name, etc...
Thursday, September 10, 2009 5:23:11 AM UTC
I actually like do it like Joel, by just renaming My Computer/Computer in the start menu to the computer name. That way I do not take up space in my taskbar, and the computer name is always just one click on the start menu away.

To rename My Computer/Computer in the start menu, simply right click on it and choose Rename, the rest should be obvious.
Thursday, September 10, 2009 6:12:12 AM UTC
What kind of software you are using to remote into your machines? With Remote Deskop you always see the name of the computer on top of the screen.
Thursday, September 10, 2009 6:49:31 AM UTC
This stopped my headache everything is clearer now thanks Scott.
We Exchanged Links With Your Blog Site
Thursday, September 10, 2009 6:56:11 AM UTC
Get your updates installed Scott!
Thursday, September 10, 2009 7:36:35 AM UTC
Hi Scott,

I showed your tip to the developer that works next to me, and he got all dismissive saying things like 'thats just the folder name, what if the computer name changes'. Please, please, please kick his ass. His name is Brian btw.

regards,
bil
bil
Thursday, September 10, 2009 7:43:21 AM UTC
Another option, rather than creating a folder with the same name as your computer, would be to use \\HANSELMAN-W500. This would be the default directory for your network shared files, and is the same as your computer name anyway!

This also works nicely on Vista too!

Thanks for the tip Scott!
Thursday, September 10, 2009 9:59:01 AM UTC
Nice tip, please keep them coming!
Matt
Thursday, September 10, 2009 10:17:32 AM UTC
You use your family name in your computer name? Gee, did you go to military school or something? :)
Thursday, September 10, 2009 12:13:21 PM UTC
I like it but I prefer the renaming computer (My Computer) option provided by others. I'm sure there are lots of good ways of doing htis though.
Thursday, September 10, 2009 1:00:17 PM UTC
I know it would not always be visible, but I think a desktop widget displaying the computer name as well as other user-selected system properties could be handy.
Dippy Dawg
Thursday, September 10, 2009 2:20:46 PM UTC
I immediately thought I could create a folder with the name "%computername%" and it would resolve to the name of my computer. But it doesn't. Neither a the time I create the folder nor at the time the the thing shows up in the taskbar. Now I have an entry that is called "%computername%" - very generic and utterly useless unless you have a resolver for environment variables in your brain.
For you nitpickers out there: I am aware that I would wind up with a folder with the correct name if i would use a command prompt for creating the folder.

ralf
Monday, September 14, 2009 6:05:56 PM UTC
I do testing with different login accounts as well as different machines, by adding my login name to the name of the folder and storing it in My Documents, then when I log in I can see at a glance both what machine and which account I am using. Thanks for the great tip.
Kelly
Monday, September 14, 2009 6:12:16 PM UTC
i use Moo0 System Monitor....which displays everythin..no matter what position u prefer.. @adivik2000
Aditya
Wednesday, April 07, 2010 12:11:33 PM UTC
A nice application. Thank you very much. because I'm always connected with dedicated machines. that the start / run away from the desktop to open the link was made. seems much easier.
Thursday, June 03, 2010 2:37:22 AM UTC
Thanks for sharing, really like your view. I can see that you are putting a lot of time and effort into your blog. I have bookmarked this page and I love to share this with my friends and circle of influence.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.