Use a Shortcut or Keyboard Shortcut to Access the Safely Remove Hardware Dialog Box

If you use USB devices, such as USB thumb drives or external USB hard drives a lot, you are most likely very familiar with using the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the system tray. You must click this icon to bring up a menu allowing you to eject external USB devices.

Safely Remove Hardware icon in system tray in Windows 7

We will show you a method for creating a shortcut you can use to quickly access the Safely Remove Hardware dialog box.

Right-click in any empty space on the desktop. Select New | Shortcut from the popup menu.

Creating a new shortcut

The Create Shortcut dialog box displays. Copy and paste the following line into the Type the location of the item edit box. Click Next.

RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll

Typing the location of the item

Enter a name for the shortcut in the Type a name for this shortcut edit box and click Finish.

Typing a name for the shortcut

The default icon for the new shortcut does not really represent the purpose of the shortcut very well. We went to http://www.iconfinder.com and searched for “usb” to find an appropriate .ico file that can be used as an icon for the shortcut and downloaded a free icon file.

To change the icon for the new shortcut, right-click on the new shortcut and select Properties from the popup menu.

Getting Properties for the shortcut

The Properties dialog box displays. Make sure the Shortcut tab is active and click the Change Icon button.

Clicking the Change Icon button

The Change Icon dialog box displays. To select a different icon, click the Browse button.

Clicking Browse on the Change Icon dialog box

Another Change Icon dialog box displays for selecting an icon file. Navigate to where you saved the .ico file you downloaded, or to the location of the .icl, .exe, or .dll file containing the desired icon. Select the file and click Open.

Selecting the icon file

You are returned to the Change Icon dialog box and the icon file you selected displays in the box. If you selected a file containing multiple icons (.icl, .exe, .dll), all the icons in that file display in the box. Click on the desired icon and click OK.

Clicking OK on the Change Icon dialog box

The icon displays at the top of the Shortcut tab on the Properties dialog box.

You can also add a keyboard shortcut to run the shortcut you created. To do this, click the mouse in the Shortcut key edit box on the Shortcut tab on the Properties dialog box. Press the keys for the keyboard shortcut you want to use. The keys are automatically entered into the edit box.

Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.

Adding the Shortcut key and closing the Properties dialog box

The shortcut with the custom icon is available on the desktop.

Eject USB Devices shortcut on desktop

Double-click the shortcut to quickly access the Safely Remove Hardware dialog box.

Safely Remove Hardware dialog box

If you want to access the Safely Remove Hardware dialog box with only one click, you can pin the new shortcut to the Taskbar. To do this, right-click the shortcut on the desktop and select Pin to Taskbar from the popup menu.

Pinning the shortcut to the Taskbar

The shortcut is now available on the Taskbar. Simply click it once to access the Safely Remove Hardware dialog box.

NOTE: Remember you can also use the keyboard shortcut you defined for the shortcut.

The Eject USB Devices shortcut on the Taskbar

You can create this shortcut in Windows XP as well. However, if you want to pin the shortcut to the Taskbar in Windows XP, you must use a third-party tool. We wrote about a free one called ViGlance, that makes the Taskbar in Windows XP look like the Windows 7 Taskbar and allows you to pin programs to the Taskbar. See our post, Make the Windows XP Taskbar Look Like the Windows 7 Taskbar, for more details.

by Lori Kaufman

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