How now purple cow?

Reading time: 2 mins

If, like me, you have a USB drive (or two), you’ll no doubt have it filled with wonderful applications, sync’d with a directory or three on your hard drive, you’ll be using it to store some personal details in a nice secure little application, and maybe even booting from it and other fancy schmancy things.

I’m not going to talk about any of that though, instead I’d like to introduce you to Moo.

Say “hello Moo” (she’s the one of the left in the silver/purple getup).

her ladyship

And here is what Moo looks like when I plug her into my PC.

exploring her ladyship

Moo is no ordinary USB drive though, in fact Moo has a couple of special features that give me a lovely warm glow and make her my favourite USB drive… at least until I can a newer model. Yes, as you can see from the above picture, Moo has her own name and her own icon. Cute, right?

I’ll leave the why for another time but, in case you are interested (and if you’re not, why are you still reading?), here’s the how.

Giving Moo her own icon
To get an icon to display when you plugin in your USB drive:

  1. Copy your favourite icon to your USB drive, don’t bother putting it in a folder though.
  2. Create a text file and add the following lines to it:
  3. Save the file to your USB drive, and name it AUTORUN.INF.

Done. Now, when you plug in your USB drive, it’ll show up with the icon of your choice. Ain’t that pretty.

Changing the name of your USB drive is pretty easy. Just open up My Computer, right-click your USB drive and select Rename.

For the more technically minded, you can also set the drive letter permanently.

The really clever bit
There is one other reason I love Moo so dearly and that’s because, unlike other removable media, Moo doesn’t ask me “what do you want to do” when I plugin her in (this is beginning to sound slightly dodgy, like some weird USB porn movie… I digress) … no no, Moo just opens an Explorer window straight away. She’s so considerate. I love you Moo.

So how does Moo achieve this? Simple really.

Open up My Computer, right-click on your USB drive and select Properties. On the Autoplay tab, select the content type (mixed files for most people), and in the Actions list, select to “Open folder to view files using Windows Explorer”. Click Apply, then click OK.

One caveat to this: If the letter assigned to your USB drive changes (which can happen if you plugin another USB device), then the default Autoplay settings will be reset.

And that’s it.

You now have a nice name and a pretty picture (icon) that will be displayed when you plug in your USB drive, and the computer is now smart enough to know that you just want to explore the contents of the drive straight away.

Now, anyone know where I can get some cow-hide fur? I want to make Moo a jacket for the winter.

Additional Info
If you want to create an encrypted USB drive, you can use TrueCrypt and this set of instructions. Personally I just use my Lexar Jumpdrive to hold any information I want to keep secure.

Thumb, pen, flash, stick, card and other names are all used to describe these little USB connected memory wotsits. If ever something needed a market leader to set the accepted term it’s the USB drive.