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Windows 7 doesn't have the 'Quick Launch Bar' that Windows XP did. I'll show you how I made my own.
I very much miss Windows XP's Quick Launch bar in Windows 7.
As soon as I switched to Windows 7, I set about looking for a suitable alternative. I found that you could add your own toolbars to the Windows 7 taskbar and then I discovered an unexpected way to use them that made them even better than the old Quick Launch bar.
In this video excerpt from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll show you what I discovered.
Download the video: MakeYourOwnToolbar640.mp4 (32M).
I miss Window XP's Quick Launch bar. I understand what they are attempting to do with the Taskbar and the fact that you can pin things to your Taskbar. But even on my primary computer where I have lots of real estate, my Taskbar, if I used it to pin everything that I wanted to be pinned, it would simply be too overwhelming; it would take up too much space.
And, God forbid if I tried to remote desktop to it from another computer with a smaller screen the problem is actually multiplied. I did not realize, for example, that if you put enough things your Taskbar [Windows] will add a scrollbar to the Taskbar so that you can scroll up and down between multiple levels of Taskbar items.
So when I first moved to Windows 7 as my primary machine, I came up with, well I found the technology or the options that Windows 7 has to allow you to add toolbars but then I did something funny with it and I'd kinda like to show that to you because I suspect that I'm not the only person who has this issue.
So, what we're gonna do is start with Windows Explorer. I am going to, on the local disk, it doesn't really matter where, I'm going to create a folder and I'm going to call it Toolbar. You can probably guess from the name what it is going to be used for. Now, into Toolbar, I'm going to get another copy of Windows Explorer to make this a little easier. I'm going to drop some shortcuts. For example, you probably all know me well enough to realize that I use Process Explorer a lot. So I'm going to create a link to Process Explorer here. If you really know me well, you understand that I also spend a lot of time in the Command Processor, CMD.EXE. So we're going to find that here in System32 under Windows and I'm going to create a shortcut for that over here as well. And finally, I don't, but I should, I should play more games. In fact, the game that I should play more is chess. So I'm going to create a shortcut to chess.
So what I have here is a folder; it's just a folder. And in that folder, are some shortcuts to programs that I use frequently, or in the case of chess, I should use more frequently. Next, we're gong to unlock the toolbar. Then, in Toolbars, we're going to say 'new toolbar'. The path for this toolbar that I just created, in my case, happens to be C:\Users\LeoN\Toolbar. That's the folder I'm going to say is my new Toolbar. Now you'll notice that's it's over here but you can't see any of it. So if we pull it over, make it bigger, you can see that each of the items we added in our shortcut folder, now appear on this toolbar in the Windows 7 Taskbar. It's not exactly what I want it to be yet, but it's better.
We're gonna do two things here. First ... what we're going to do is we're going to turn off 'show text'. All of a sudden it's starting to look a little bit more like our old friend, the Windows XP Quick Launch Bar, and in fact, if that's all you wanted, go ahead, lock the Taskbar and you're done. You now have a collection of icons down here that will start the program that you want and the rest of the area available for the normal operation of the Windows Taskbar.
That's not good enough for me; that's not what I wanted. So I'm going to 're-unlock' that; I'm going to move the toolbar to the other side of the Taskbar. So all I really did was drag things around to reorder them. So you might think this is would be the place to stop bit I'm going to a little further and hide most everything, in fact, right about here is where it stops. Then I'm going to lock it. Now, what's happened here is you've still got the title for the Toolbar and sometimes you'll actually get like a partial icon for the very first shortcut that's on that toolbar but what you also have is this, and when you click this, you get a pop-up menu that has the shortcuts you want. I have two of these on my primary desktop, one is just a list of applications that I use all of the time. The other is a list of machines that I remote desktop to all of the time. In fact, if I take a look at it, I've probably got about 14, 15 applications on the apps toolbar and then I've probably got 20 or 30 different machines that I remote desktop to. I find this incredibly useful. [I think it's, clearly,] not by design, if it were by design, this partial icon would not be showing.
Now, let me show you one other thing that I do with the toolbar, or Taskbar I should say, that also can make this a little bit less intrusive from a visual perspective. You'll notice that this video is being shot in 1280 x 720, or at least the computer portion of the screen here is 1280 x 720. I'm planning for HD video when this finally gets saved. So the screen is wider than it is high. Much more so than the traditional monitors we've seen in the past they make the televisions 4:3 aspect ratio; this is the true 16:9 HD aspect ratio. That means that putting the Taskbar along the bottom is taking up an awful lot of real estate. So I click, I hold, and I drag it off to the side. I make sure that this is resized once again about as small as it can go and I once again lock the Taskbar. Now the toolbar is still here, it still pops up with the menu that you want. Your Taskbar is still there on the side as it has been but the Taskbar, in total, is now taking up significantly less screen real estate than it did before.
Again, this kind of stuff, where you like your Taskbar is a familiarity thing, it's a comfort thing, but I at least wanted to show you those as options. Particularly, for those of you that like to start, or have lots of different programs to run, I just find this little pop-up menu approach to be an incredibly valuable way to basically throw a bunch in the shortcuts, quick access from your Taskbar.
One other thing that I failed to mention before I closed that window is that to add to this menu all you need to do is to drop a shortcut into that folder. That's it. The next time you pop this menu up, that shortcut automatically appears here. You can also, let's see; we open folder, there's the folder; all I did was right-click on the name of the thing - toolbar, open folder, and that gives me the folder that we configured. Now, I'm also not a big fan of the word 'shortcut' so also tend to take the time to go ahead and edit the word 'shortcut' out of here. What I'm doing to do this, by the way is I'm pressing F2 to go into Edit mode and then just editing the text that is the Shortcut title. If I were to drop something else in here, like say, this is effectively, it's what you'll see on your computer as My Computer, this should have a parent magically shown up here in the pop-up menu. In this particular case, since that is My Computer it just fires up Windows Explorer on my computer.
So, a comment from Graham, 'Installing a new program often has a checkbox to add to Quick Launch which will work too.' My experience is exactly the opposite: Quick Launch is a Windows XP artifact, as far as I can tell. It works well in Windows XP. It will put on the Quick Launch bar for Windows XP but Windows 7 technically doesn't have a Quick Launch bar and when we make one ourselves, it's outside of the scope of the Quick Launch bar. So, I've not found the Quick Launch and the Add the Quick Launch bar option when I install a program in Windows 7 to actually have any effect.
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