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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).

View in HD (1280x720)

Transcript

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.

Article C4847 - June 17, 2011 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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15 Comments
Ziggie
June 20, 2011 12:50 PM

A very handy video - one of my biggest complaints though, moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 is the loss of the ability to dock additional toolbars around the window. I find my main toolbar quickly fills up with everything that I have open, and I am scrolling by the end of the day.

Any hints on how to create additional toolbars under Windows 7?

Well, the video shows how to make additional toolbars, so I'm probably missing the point of your question. I've never seen separate toolbars that you could place anywhere other than on the taskbar - even in Windows XP. You can, of course, make the taskbar wider if you run out of room, or use the technique in the video to access a toolbar as if it were a popup menu.
Leo
20-Jun-2011

Jim
June 21, 2011 9:04 AM

When I first started usiiing Win7 I found that the qick launch wasnt kept, like you Leo, I loved it. I googled quick launch for Win7 and there where lots of pages that had basically the same info, so I copied the info to a notepad doc.

~This will show you how to enable Quick Launch on the taskbar in Windows 7 as a toolbar. By default Quick Launch is disabled in Windows 7.

Quick Launch is used to open a program quickly from a shortcut on the taskbar. In this case in a toolbar The Quick Launch folder is located at a hidden system folder location:

C:\Users\(user name)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

Here we go:

1. Right click on a empty space on the taskbar and click on New Tool.

2. In the Folder line, type or copy:
%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

3. Click on the Select Folder button.

4. You now have a Quick Launch toolbar on the taskbar.~

This way I always have it handy if I'm reinstalling Win7.

Gerald
June 21, 2011 9:35 AM

In Windows XP you can detach the Quick Launch toolbar from the taskbar.

First unlock the taskbar. A vertical bar appears to the left of the Quick Launch bar. Right-click the bar and drag it to your desktop to create a free-floating tool-window or drag it to a site of your screen other than the one with your taskbar to dock the Quick Launch bar to that side of your screen.

This does not seem to work with Windows Vista or 7.

Larry
June 21, 2011 11:20 AM

I'm not sure about Win 7, but XP does allow you to position custom toolbars anywhere on the screen. I have mine at the top of the screen, so it's always visible, and doesn't take up space on the taskbar.

Stew
June 21, 2011 12:00 PM

Maybe I'm missing the point about Windows 7, but Libraries in the Quick Launch area on the taskbar works really well for me, and it seems to do all of the things mentioned above without the extra effort, and it's compact, efficient, and organized. It's "thee" great feature of Windows 7. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the way I see it.

Charlie Wilburn
June 21, 2011 12:05 PM

Good video, Leo. Even back in XP, I used the exact procedure you described rather than the official Quick Launch bar. One variation I've used extensively is to create a hierarchical structure of sub-folders in my toolbar. This allows me to have lots of links but not see so many when I open up the list. As long as the folders don't go more than 2 deep, it's not a problem to get to the link you're looking for quickly. Enjoy your newsletter, keep up the good work.
Charlie

Steinar Haugen
June 21, 2011 2:02 PM

I used to set up toolbars, also on XP, but after I discovered Launchy (www.launchy.net) I have not looked back. It's just that much faster to hit alt-space (or your hotkey of choice) and start writing any part of the name. It's smart, it remembers the choice you picked last time you just wrote "wrd" for "Microsoft Word" or "msw" for "Minesweeper". For me, at least, it is a huge time-saver. I've also configured it to look into document folders so that I can just type the part of the document name that I remember, to launch it. Take a look at it; if you use it for a week, you probably won't go back to launching using your mouse again! ;)

Steinar

James Hillier
June 21, 2011 3:09 PM

Hmmm, me no comprende.

Isn't the Windows 7 taskbar already one really long Quick Launch toolbar?

Simply select any application to 'Pin to taskbar', utilise small icons and away you go.

At least, that's the way I see it. :)

Randy G __RSG NetTech
June 21, 2011 3:46 PM

Thanks for the video Leo! You can enable the quick launch bar in Windows 7 but it is not straight forward as you would wish thanks to Microsoft. The three step process is outlined in the following link: http://tech.gaeatimes.com/index.php/archive/windows-7-hack-enable-or-disable-or-move-quick-launch-bar/. I've used it since installing Win7 and it cleans up your problem with the word Toolbar on your toolbar. Regards,

whs
June 22, 2011 12:44 AM

I like to add my own tutorial on how to use toolbars: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/72092-toolbars-how-use-windows-7-vista.html

Linda
June 22, 2011 1:47 AM

Too many things done in one video. A bit difficult to follow. I for one need smaller steps. Love your articles and newsletter.

J. Servis
June 24, 2011 2:30 PM

I may be wrong here but, I see no reason to complicate something already installed for use in W7. All one has to do is right click on a desired program or shortcut & pin to task bar. Click on said icon in the task bar when needed and there you have it. Mouse use is not a tremendous burden, nor rocket science.
Leo, love your work.

As I mentioned in the video, the taskbar can only hold so much. These toolbars are perfect for creating easily accessible shortcuts to much more than you would ever pin to the taskbar.
Leo
28-Jun-2011

Geoff Walker
June 25, 2011 2:42 AM

Leo, as one of the other commenters said, Win7 DOES include XP's Quick Launch toolbar; it's just a hidden folder that's disabled by default. Here's a link to a screenimage of what it looks like turned on: http://www.walkermobile.com/Win7_QuickLaunch.jpg. You can see that I have a LOT of Quick Launch icons. Note also that I'm using XP-style taskbar window labels, not the Win7 icons. The screen is a 1440-pixel wide laptop. Best Regards, Geoff Walker.

Mark J
June 25, 2011 4:43 AM

This was a great help for me. I missed the task bar so much. I wanted to restore the task bar exactly as it looked under XP. In order to do this I unchecked the "Show text" and added the "Show desktop" icon to the Quick Launch toolbar (I never got used to minimizing the windows from the right hand side of the Taskbar).

Bob
October 10, 2012 8:37 PM

you can make it take up less room if you call the folder something shorter than "toolbar" - in the spirit of XP, QL for quicklaunch seems fitting and it takes a fraction of the desktop "real estate." Thanks for showing how to do this, the absence of quicklaunch from Win 7 was a big drawback for me

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