Create a custom menu, add shortcuts for files, folders, URLs, and access it from a desktop shortcut with PopSel

Mar 11, 2021
Updated • Apr 13, 2021
Software, Windows software

Is your desktop or taskbar full of shortcuts that you use regularly? While it may be a quick way to access your programs, it doesn't look neat. Forget docks, take the minimalistic approach instead.

Popsel submenu example

PopSel is a freeware application that allows you to create a custom menu, add shortcuts for files, folders, URLs, and access it from a desktop shortcut.

The program is portable, run its EXE, and it'll say that a menu doesn't exist and offers an option to create a new menu, select it. A configuration window pops-up, this is PopSel's interface. It has dual panes, the left side which is empty will display a list of your shortcuts. The options on the right-hand side allow you to create shortcuts.

Popsel interface

Place the cursor in the Menu item field, and give your shortcut a name. Hit the browse button towards the right-edge of the window to pick an icon, you can select an EXE and the program displays all available icons in it. If you don't pick an icon, PopSel will use the selected EXE's default icon.

Popsel configuration window

The next step is to select a command, i.e., the shortcut that will be executed. In this example, I'm creating a menu item for Firefox's executable. You may optionally add advanced Parameters, and set the Directory used for running the shortcut. Click on the Ok button, and then on the Apply button and your shortcut will be added.

Popsel add a new shortcut

Want a quicker way? Just drag and drop a file or folder on to the menu configuration window to add it to PopSel. To access the pop-up menu, double-click on the PopSel.exe. Now, you may notice that the only option in the menu is your newly created shortcut. So, how do you access the program's configuration window? Run the executable, and hit the escape button while the menu is still visible. You can also click outside the menu, and it will display "PopSel Configuration", click on it to re-access the application's interface.

Now, that the interface is open, you can customize the menu to your liking. To add a new shortcut in PopSel, click the "New Item" option, and fill up the fields. The menu isn't sorted automatically, but you can use the arrow buttons on the screen to re-order the items. You may tidy up the menu by clicking the separator option. Though it may look like the program just adds a - in the list, the actual menu uses a straight line separator.

Create a custom menu, add shortcuts for files, folders, URLs, and access it from a desktop shortcut with PopSel

To make the menu look even better, you may want to use submenus. Select a shortcut, and enable the box next to the submenu option. This will add a ???/ in the menu item field. Replace the ??? with the name of the menu, e.g. Internet, Multimedia, Games, etc. Hit the Ok button and Apply, to save your changes. Select any shortcut below the newly added submenu, and click the "In submenu" option, and they will be added to the menu. To break a submenu, add a separator to mark its end point.

Popsel submenu

Aside from files, you may also add Folders and Web URLs to PopSel and access them quickly. The Run menu allows you to define the starting behavior for the shortcut. The options here include (run as) normal, maximized, minimized, or administrator. The T button places the PopSel configuration window stay on top of other programs.

The program stores its settings in its parent folder. You can create multiple menus by adding .LST at the end ofthe name (in the menu field). Create a new desktop shortcut to PopSel's executable, head to the properties menu, select the .LST file you want to use as the target, set a new folder as the working directory, and your new menu is ready to use.


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  1. bawldiggle said on March 17, 2021 at 9:00 am

    I am unashamed “fan” of this developer.
    For seveal years I have used his “Mempad” tree style (text) note taker.
    A methodical developer, with an eye for fine tuning features.

    I will definitely be trying “PopSel” …

  2. Kirin said on March 15, 2021 at 12:54 am

    Horst’s utils are well-made, tiny and light on resources, so that’s a real positive. An option to select and display icons alongside the menu items would be great.

    That said, I’ve added all the shortcuts that I want to the Win+X menu itself using WinAero’s editor, so don’t need this after all.

  3. Anonymous said on March 13, 2021 at 1:36 pm
  4. less is more said on March 13, 2021 at 5:49 am

    > Is your desktop or taskbar full of shortcuts that you use regularly?

    No, as I keep things organized, without any need for PopSel or the like.

  5. clriis said on March 12, 2021 at 10:01 pm

    Or you may drop all your shortcuts in a folder/subfolders, then add the folder as a Toolbar on the Taskbar. This way you get instant access and an easy customisable menu.

  6. Sophie said on March 12, 2021 at 11:21 am

    This is superb, thank you Ashwin! Great discovery, and I’m using its parameters field to specify different URLs that I find very useful : browser launching, and then going direct to a page. Very neat and tiny too. Love it.

  7. IzzyB said on March 11, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    I’m a big fan of PopSel. I find it much preferable to other launchers for two reasons.

    It’s very low overhead and thus very fast. Its working user interface is an unadorned Windows API menu, it doesn’t waste resources drawing a window. Ashwin’s correct about the advantages of minimalism.

    Also, it’s needs user configuration, an advantage. I’ve set it so my most used applications are a single keystroke on the high order menu: ‘c’ for the Command Prompt, ‘f’ for Firefox, ‘n’ for Notepad.

    Lesser applications require two keystrokes: ‘a’ for my Applications submenu, then ‘e’ for Excel, ‘a’ then ‘v’ for Visio. Jump around the file system in two keystrokes: ‘l’ for my Locations submenu then ‘e’ for the E:\ drive root, ‘l’ then ‘o’ for the Downloads directory (as in d&Ownloads, ‘d’ was used elsewhere).

    Set it up your way for your machine. Those magical index building launchers are left in the dust. To get a Command Prompt from the Windows 10 Taskbar menu takes three keystrokes: ‘com’.

    For more keyboard speed, I’ve got it Frankensteined off a global HotKey launcher. I wrote my own, but they’re out there if you look. In all cases you can pin a PopSel shortcut to the TaskBar and launch it with Win-1 (or the like).

    Add a ‘setup’ pseudo-command to the bottom of your top menu to cleanly enter the Configuration dialog. Down in the weeds there are other useful configuration functions Ashwin didn’t mention. Study the Help.

    As to limitations, it really only supports two levels of menus, but you can fudge in another layer or just chain off to another *.lst configuration.

    PopSel was written by Horst Schaeffer. His other work is worth your consideration. To my knowledge, and I don’t know him, his stuff all is written in PureBasic. PureBasic is worth your consideration too.

    …yup, I’m a fan.

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