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QuickLaunch Toolbar for Windows 7

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DanRollins
Coming to Win7 from XP, you might wonder where the QuickLaunch toolbar went.  This article describes how to get back that "QuickLaunch" functionality.

First, be aware of the Win7 idea of pinning programs to the Taskbar; that feature provides some important new capabilities.  For instance, you can right-click a pinned item and see (and then open) documents that you have opened/edited recently with that pinned program.  That's a handy feature and a big time saver.

But the familiar old XP QuickLaunch bar has always been a great place to park a pile of programs and documents, from often-accessed folders to seldom-used (but hard to locate) tools to ultra-favorite website links -- basically anything that you might want to Launch Quickly, with one click and no hassle.Click the chevron to pop up a menu of QuickLaunch toolsIt turns out that Win7 has this capability, but it's not a separate item -- it's just a customization of the built-in Windows Explorer support for user-defined Explorer toolbars.


To create Your QuickLaunch Toolbar...

1

Create a folder for your QuickLaunch tools.
In previous articles, I've recommended creating a folder named MyTools in the C:\ProgramData folder -- that location is easy to find and accessible without UAC issues.  In the MyTools folder, create a new folder named QuickLaunch

2

Populate the folder with a starter set of tools.
Drag a few items from the desktop into your QuickLaunch folder and/or right-click and choose New Shortcut.  For instance, I created shortcuts to Notepad.Exe, Calc.Exe, and Google Chrome.
 Create a folder to hold the tools

3

Add the toolbar to the Taskbar
Right-click the taskbar and select Toolbars > New Toolbar...
Browse to point to the new folder, or type in:
       C:\ProgramData\MyTools\QuickLaunch
(or whatever location you chose for saving the tool folder).
Click OK.  The new toolbar appears on the right-hand side, next to the notification area.
Add Toolbar... (goes to right-hand side of taskbar)

4

Set the Properties to match the familiar "QuickLaunch look."
Right-click on the drag handle and uncheck Show Text and uncheck Show Title
Right-click on the drag handle and choose View > Small Icons

5

Drag the new toolbar to the accustomed position.
This is the only tricky bit... At least to me, it seemed like I had hopelessly screwed things up.  As you drag the toolbar, the rest of the taskbar scrambles around wildly, but have courage!  When you get to the "Windows Marble," release the mouse button.  The QuickLaunch toolbar will stay positioned right there.  
Drag to the left ("normal" QuickLaunch location)Now just grab the drag handle of the main ("running programs") part of the task bar and move it toward the left, leaving the desired amount of room for your QuickLaunch toolbar.

Working with the QuickLaunch toolbar

Here are some tips and hints for getting the most out of your QuickLaunch toolbar:

Reposition the tool icons:  Just drag and release.  Put things where you can find them easily.
Give yourself a good Tooltip.  Right-click and select Rename.  Since all you have is a naked icon, this is the only place you can label things.  A good tooltip is especially important for folder icons and Internet shortcuts.
Access the folder:  Right-click the drag handle and choose Open Folder.  This simplifies operations such as adding a series of new shortcuts or other maintenance operations.
Shorten the QuickLaunch Toolbar and let it act as a popup menu.  When there are more icons than can be displayed, a chevron appears and you can click it to view the rest of the items:
Click the chevron to pop up a menu of QuickLaunch toolsThis is very convenient.  You can put your most-often accessed items in the visible portion for one-click access and the rest will still be available with  just two clicks -- all while using a minimum of taskbar space.
Turn the entire Taskbar on its edge. You can set the Taskbar to be on the left side of the screen rather than the bottom.  This just makes good sense:  With wide-screen monitors, there is plenty of screen-width to spare, but vertical space is still a precious commodity.   Just right-click on the taskbar, select Properties and set Taskbar location on screen to Left (or just click on an empty part of the taskbar and drag it to the left).Put the Taskbar on the left side of the screen.  Be brave!It may take a while to get used to this layout, but I recommend that you give it a try.  There are a number of small advantages that you may come to appreciate.

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Author:DanRollins
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11 Comments
 
LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:tigermatt
Dan,

Great, useful article. The new taskbar and icon "pinning" was something I struggled to get to grips with initially in Windows 7. The Quick Launch toolbar has some benefits over the pinning, as many others will likely appreciate and put this article to good use.

Voted "yes" above.

Cheers,

tigermatt
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by:jeffreywsmith
Thanks for the article, Dan.  I had earlier found another solution to making the Quick Launch toolbar available (http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/888-quick-launch-enable-disable.html) ... Anyway, just thought I'd throw in a screen shot of how I've set up my Quick Launch & Taskbar.  It seems to give me an optimal balance of  single-click access to an expanded set of tools without taking a lot of screen space to do it.  Of course, you don't have to expand the Taskbar to two rows but if you run a lot of apps at the same time and/or you don't like the Taskbar to "Combine" anything (because that means an extra click to get there), then the extra Taskbar row is helpful in visually managing the open apps (a 'bonus' is that with two rows, you see Time, Day and Date on the Clock in the system Tray). If you like it, this is how I set it up:

1) Right-click the Taskbar and ensure ' Lock the taskbar' is unchecked (click it if it is)
2) Drag the top of the Taskbar up to make it two rows
3) This can be the tricky part - when you unlock the Taskbar, a 'handle' will appear on the left of the Taskbar components so you grab the handle for the Quick Launch component and try to drag it to the bottom of the screen (this can be a bit of trial and error and you may have to drop it first on the left, then from there try to drop it on the bottom - eventually, you'll be able to get it there)
4) Right-click the Taskbar and select 'Lock the taskbar'  to make that choice active

My two cents.

Jeff

Two-row-taskbar-with-Quick-Launc.gif
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LVL 49

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by:DanRollins
Interesting!  Great tip -- I did not know that toolbars could be made horizontal like that.  

And what's more... for those of us who put the Taskbar on the left side (as shown at the end of this article), it is possible to move the QuickLaunch toolbar into a second column, like in the attached image.  It would never have occurred to me!
QuickLaunchOnLeft.jpg
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LVL 3

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by:Libion
Thank you for the article.
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by:medpipes
Dan:
Thank you for the article. I followed your instructions and I am using my new toolbar.  Question: I included some web links in my quick launch.  All of them have the same world globe icon so they are not quickly distinguishable.  Any solution for this?
Peter
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LVL 49

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by:DanRollins
All you can do is change the tooltip text (as described near the end of the article) so that when you do a mouse-over, the site name (or other useful identifier) is displayed.  Your custom text also shows up as the menu text when it shows as in Fig 1-4

You can also right-click, choose Properties, and under Shortcut, click [Change Icon]

Some websites provide icons and others do not.  With IE8, the icon appears in the Address bar and if you drag that to your Quicklaunch toolbar, the website icon will be used.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:Wayne Taylor (webtubbs)
Thanks, Dan, this is awesome! I missed the Quick Launch area from XP when I upgraded.

It might be worthwhile pointing out that you should first unlock the taskbar before doing this so you get the drag handle.
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Expert Comment

by:rberke
Another tip:  Don't ever turn the quicklaunch toolbar off.  If you do, all your efforts at sequencing and changing the icons will be thrown away and you will have to start over.  

Toolbars are a handy way of grouping items together and arranging them in whatever order I want. So it is strange that Microsoft made them be temporary !!!  right click your task bar and you will see something like this
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by:rberke
Another tip:  Take a look at my quick launch below. Each of the letters points to a folder that I am working on this week.  For instance H stands for Hanover Project,  C stand for Chase Project (or sometimes Cardinal) and G stands for Garden State.  I can now switch from one project to another with a single click.  I don't even have to read a tooltip.

What is great is that it takes only about 5 seconds to create a new quick launch entry this way.  I simple drag the desired folder to the desired location in the quicklaunch while holding down ctrl shift.  Then, I right click on the icon > properties> change icon >c:\ah.ico and I am done.  

When I am done working with Hanover, I will right click on the "H" icon and delete it.  Or, if I have a one week pause in activity, I will drag the H icon so that it hides under the chevron.

About two years ago, I created 26 icon files c:\aA.ico, aB.ico, ... aZ.ico. If anybody is interested, I will put them somewhere for EE folks to grab.

temp.jpg
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Expert Comment

by:Sparky345
Excellent tip, thanks.
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by:LeeTutor
Nice article, Dan!
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