Here's a tip I learnt a couple of months ago and meant to post up before - totally forgot. Maybe it's force of habit, but rather than opening a new instance Internet Explorer, going to the address bar and typing in a web page, it's quicker to do start/run (ie Windows+R) www.microsoft.com instead. No, that's not the tip (but useful if you're doing it the long way now!).
The problem with the start/run way is probably due to my messy desktop - I already have the start bar expanded to allow for two rows of window icons and can't get used to the grouping of icons on the start bar - it's not uncommon to have 18 windows simultaneously (I just counted). Several of them are usually IE instances (and most of those with multiple tabs). Start/run will "hijack" the first started IE instance and lose your current page (which I usually want). Worse, the instance it hijacked may be a "pop-up" style window, either not re-sizeable or without toolbars. Not the end of the world as you can still click Alt-Left and go back, but it then means you have to do things the long way again.
The answer is to rather than start/run www.microsoft.com you do start/run explorer http://www.microsoft.com. OK, so the astute may be thinking here this isn't much of a shortcut - thats 16 extra keystrokes ("explorer http://") - yes, you must include the http:// prefix :(. However, you can get that down to 2 extra characters by creating e.cmd somewhere in your path (eg \windows\system32) containing 2 lines:
Then you can do just start/run e www.microsoft.com. Of course, you can take this much further by parsing %1 parameter in the batch file (or using a VBScript). How about looking to see if theres a www prefix missing and adding it - similarly, the .com. Now there's a thought - start/run e microsoft. Only just crossed my mind as I'm typing this. Hmmmm! Definitely on my list of things to do.
Now, if I can only find a way of doing this in a way which finds a suitable IE Windows (ie resizeable with toolbars and address bar), adds a tab to it and navigates that tab to the URL, I'll be even happier...
Hope that helps someone.Cheers,John.