Here’s a tip I gleamed from today’s Windows Secrets newsletter. You may well be familiar with the ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ icon which appears in your notification area (or ‘system tray’ if you must) when you plug in a removable hard drive or camera (or whatever). You may also notice that the icon sometimes isn’t there – and this is a problem which my parents’ computer randomly suffers from – which means it’s difficult to safely disconnect removable devices. The answer: a desktop shortcut.
Right-click on the desktop, select ‘New’ and then ‘Shortcut’. For the item location, copy and paste the following:
RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL HotPlug.dll
Then click ‘Next’. Call the shortcut ‘Safely Remove Hardware’, and you should be done. If you want to make it look snazzier, right-click the icon, choose ‘Properties’ and then the ‘Shortcut’ tab, click on ‘Change Icon’ and in the ‘Look for icons’ box type:
The first icon in this file matches the ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ icon so you’ll be able to recognise it more easily.
Now, if the normal notification icon doesn’t appear, all you need do is double-click your new desktop icon to safely remove any disks before unplugging them.
Update (November 2023): This was written back in April 2007, but it still seems to work in Windows 10.