Windows

How do I get the Quick Launch Bar back in Windows 7?

Although it is not obvious, you can get the Quick Launch Bar so loved by many users of Windows XP back in Windows 7. Mark Kaelin shows you how.

I like Microsoft Windows 7, and I like the Windows 7 Taskbar interface. However, judging by the cacophony of voices in the Windows Blog, there is still a great deal of affection for the Windows XP Quick Launch Bar interface. In fact, you can almost guarantee that someone will call for a return of the Quick Launch Bar at least once in the discussion forum whenever the Windows 7 interface is the topic. Therefore, I offer this How do I explanation of how to get this feature back.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery and in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like the Quick Launch Bar and still use it on all the Windows XP machines I interact with -- my workstation where I am writing this blog post for example. But I also like the Taskbar of Windows 7 and find it performs the same function as the Quick Launch Bar -- at least as far as my computing habits go. But a vocal minority feels differently, so here is how to get Quick Launch back.

Quick Launch Bar resurrected

Figure A shows the Windows 7 desktop of one of my test machines. Notice that there is a Taskbar, but not Quick Launch Bar.

Figure A

Taskbar, yes -- Quick Launch Bar, no
Right-click on an empty part of the Taskbar to get the context menu shown in Figure B. Unlock the Taskbar if it is locked and then navigate to the Toolbars | New Toolbar menu item.

Figure B

Create a new toolbar.
The New Toolbar - Create a Folder dialog box, shown in Figure C, will be the next window you see. Click into the destination bar, type this location exactly, and hit the [Enter] key:

%appdata%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

Figure C

Type the destination path.
When you hit the [Enter] key, you should see a path similar to the one shown in Figure D. Click the Select Folder button to complete the process.

Figure D

Notice the path.
Now your Windows 7 Desktop should have a Quick Launch Bar (Figure E). However, it may need a little tweaking depending on your tastes.

Figure E

Now you have a Quick Launch Bar.
I like icon-only Quick Launch bars, so I'd recommend right-clicking the Quick Launch bar (Figure F), turning off the Show Text and Show Title settings, and changing the icon size to large.

Figure F

Tweak the Quick Launch Bar.
The Windows 7 Desktop shown in Figure G has both a Taskbar and a Quick Launch Bar.

Figure G

We now have both a Taskbar and a Quick Launch Bar.
Taking a closer look (Figure H), you can see that the Quick Launch bar on this test machine is automatically populated with Quick Launch icons for Outlook 2010, Internet Explorer, Show Desktop, and Switch Between Windows, but you can drag-and-drop any shortcut you want to your newly rediscovered Quick Launch Bar.

Figure H

It is back.

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

45 comments
tech
tech

In XP I could put folders in the SendTo folder and then folders in THOSE folders. In other words, I could group or "nest" folders in the SendTo folder. I can't find a way to do this in Win 7.Any subfolders I 'nest' in the SendTo folder fail to appear when I click on the "parent" folder. Any ideas on how to get back the XP functionality on this?

dmelliott
dmelliott

Get the free 'ObjectDock' from Stardock. It does all you want and more.

Marc Erickson
Marc Erickson

Is there any way to script adding the Quick Launch bar?

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

-Killing the UAC altogether. -Unpinning everything from the task bar -Customizing the start menu (small icons etc.) -Putting the quicklauch bar back where it belong. (with small icons and no text) -Running Live Messenger in Vista compatibility mode -Changing the way the security center pisses me off -Adding system monitoring gadgets -Disable the indexing

Malframe
Malframe

In windowa 7 the ability to pin icons to the start menuue surely makes a quick launch toolbar unecessary

miket
miket

Why is it that you can't pin an icon to the Windows 7 taskbar if the icon points to a network app?

Kevin@Quealy.net
Kevin@Quealy.net

With the quicklaunch you can have tiny icons squeezed close together. With the Taskbar you can have tiny icons but they have large space next to them. I guess it does allow you to have maybe everyday programs with large icons and then minor things with tiny icons to the side. If you're wanting to have A LOT of quick shortcuts then adding the Quick Launch could help.

M
M

In my experience, the main querie that I am asked regarding the Quick Launch Bar is dragging it OFF the Taskbar and locking it onto one of the other sides/top so that a whole host of icons can be dragged to it. What I used to do in XP was to have 4 Toolbars in one along the top edge, each one for a different genre of app. Leaving a toolbar on the Taskbar is no improvement on what Win7 already offers, IMHO.

moosh101
moosh101

Curious? The new Windows 7 taskbar allows you to pin your applications to it, such as your favourite browser, email client, etc in pretty much the same way as the old Quick Launch did. You also get instant access to jump lists and preview tabs. I am unsure why anyone using Windows 7 would want to use the old Quick Launch when the new taskbar is far superior. If you are used to the older XP style Quick Launch, the new Windows 7 taskbar may take a little to get used to. However, you will soon discover that it is indeed far superior to Quick Launch and you will soon wonder how you ever coped without it.

Flummie
Flummie

Great tip! Missed my bar.. Another thing i miss even more is the 'show desktop' icon.. I know you can rightclick on the taskbar to select this option but thats not as easy.. Any way to get that back?

diammeter
diammeter

Windows said it couldn't find Quicklaunch. Anyway why Internet Explorer and not Windows Explorer? I managed to add my e books folder to the taskbar though - very handy!.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Several readers of this blog have been asking for their Windows XP-style Quick Launch Bar, but now that they have it, what next. What do you quick launch from this new toolbar?

carlsf
carlsf

In XP and VISTA there was an option to use the "CLASSIC" option which set up and implemented a number of features. This is WHAT WE WANT BACK, and NOT workarounds for WIN7. Please put them back MS if you want a a large number of clients to migrate to WIN7 and NOT to another O/S which is happening.

Fyrewerx
Fyrewerx

One of the few things I dislike about Win 7 is the excessive height of the taskbar. Its intruding on my desktop.

mjwencl
mjwencl

Dell Dock is what I use to at least get some type of this function back. Try it if you are using a Dell Computer. It's free from Dell.

Aragorn7
Aragorn7

Unless you are wanting to do the very elaborate customization you are referring to, I don't know what all the hoopla is about. I have all my icons that I want to quickstart in the lower left of my taskbar just like I always have. I also am able to see what windows are active by hovering over the icons and easily pin or remove. In my mind it's actually an improvement until you want to do a rather sophisticated but useful customization as you were discussing. For others who just want to have the old quickstart in the the taskbar, I really just don't understand the complaint other than some people just don't like change. I am, however, open to the possibility that I might be missing some other esoteric view on the use of the original Quickstart.

rwpank
rwpank

Win 7's taskbar is quite an improvement over Quick Launch. IMHO

TaDaH
TaDaH

Hold the Windows key and press the D key. It's quick and easier than mousing to the show desktop icon.

SoldierJedi
SoldierJedi

Instead of the show desktop icon on the Quick Launch toolbar, click or even just hover over the little blank section of the tool bar *to the right* of the clock... That's where they moved it to. And why would you still need the Quick Launch bar when you can "pin" all the apps you had on that to the Win7 Toolbar anyway?

kristain
kristain

Right-click on Taskbar and choose "Toolbars -> New toolbar...". Now paste following string in the "Folder:" text box: Press Enter and select on "Select folder" button. It will immediately add Quick Launch toolbar to Taskbar. Now right-click on Taskbar and uncheck "Lock the taskbar" option. You'll see a placeholder to drag the Quick Launch toolbar. Right-click on the toolbar placeholder and uncheck "Show Title" and "Show Text" options. If you want to increase the icon size, right-click on the toolbar placeholder and enable "View -> LargeIcons" option. Drag-and-drop this toolbar to the left of Taskbar. You have the good ol' "Quick Launch" toolbar back. Now you can copy all desired program shortcuts in this new folder and they'll appear in Windows 7 Taskbar

ShineCC
ShineCC

Reading this thread was like watching people argue over they should eat bologna or pb&j. Some people prefer bologna and some like pb&j. Everyone has a different style of working and it sounds like those who are looking for the Quick Launch back have been trying to work with the Win7 taskbar and found that it doesn't really work for them. There is no right or wrong way to do it. What I miss most is the Sidebar. I loved having a dedicated area to have computer stats, alarms, MLB and NFL scores, etc. Now that they are all floating, I can't use the full screen mode on my second monitor. Also, when I'm trying to change a setting on a gadget, another gadget often gets in the way. I just want a black bar with my toys in it. :-) Let's try a little more understanding of each other and not just "you have to do it MY way". It would be really boring in the world if we all did things the same way. And you may learn something from how another person uses their computer.

vgm
vgm

So how can you move the quicklaunch tool bar off the task bar and tag it to the top of the screen like I can do in XP. That's the functionality I need.

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

Looking at the replies, one thing really stands out: we who want the QuickLaunch toolbar back are IT people who actually use our computers for .... *working!* We are not the 'mass market' users that Microsoft is pointing all their development towards. I, too, have about 20 items on my QL: PuTTY, WinSCP, multiple non-IE browsers, IP scanners, VMware, IRC, other diagnostics .. and yes, I use them constantly. My taskbar has a minimum of 2 levels (not expanded) of required open/active programs. The concept that I was supposed to pin all my QL things to the taskbar .. *then* add my open work programs is an absurdity. It's why I still run XP as a work machine. With the continued direction MS is going with computers being a social networking toy, not a tool, and everything being dumbed down to such an extent, keeping a good work machine is a must have.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

I use the keyboard short cut in Windows Vista to applications in the Quick Launch bar. For example, the Windows Key + 7 will open the seventh app in the Quick Launch bar. Before I make the changes on my Win 7 machine, will that keyboard short cut still function?

SoldierJedi
SoldierJedi

I used to have my XP workstation set up with a full-width Quick Launch toolbar above the standard taskbar, and it was full. After switching to Windows 7, I quickly discovered you can simply "pin" Applications to the taskbar, and this acts like a combination of quick launch icons and taskbar active programs display. As a result, I have a full taskbar of "pinned" apps, including Chrome, VNC, RDC, Office, Notepad etc, as well as the Address toolbar (which is almost redundant as it's the same function as hitting the windows key now...) I barely use the start menu and only have shortcuts to documentation on my desktop - all my apps get launched directly from the (in my opinion far superior) taskbar.

GRDavey
GRDavey

I had already worked out how to add a QuickStart bar but cannot find how to recreate the shortcut bar down the right hand side. I use a combination of the two to access many specific locations on the server relating to my daily work, single click access to all my common, and not so common applications, to my common documents. Also, as IT Manager, they give me single click access to the Server RDP, various utilities incl Services, event viewer, various ping locations and so the list goes on. The one area I do not like with Win 7 is that nothing stays in the same place for when you return to access something...Grrrrr!

1bn0
1bn0

I stil.l sue XP at work. I have my Quick Launch bar on top of the task Bar. (Double Height. Show Desktop, Explorer,ERP Terminal, Word,Excel,Intranet, Outlook. I set it as default for all regular users. I also have Partition Manager,ImageBurn,Opera,Computer Management,Remote Desktop,VNC,Nero,Active Directory Users & Groups, Regedit,Virtual PC and anything else I find myself using regularly.

quark
quark

Well said, Gringo. Puttitback, Microsoft - NOW!!!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I am sure by reading your comments on a forum, MS will soon get their act together to appease your small group of whiners. When you speak for many millions who will NOT adopt and OS due to a real flaw, you may have a voice, if you knew how to present it. Until then you are just using capital letters on a privately owned forum to make your point to nobody that really gives a toss. Talk about ineffective, did you see Gates' posting here somewhere or something? I think it is pretty clear that the handful of people represented here (and perhaps everyone you've ever met in your life, it just doesn't matter) want the classic interface. But reality is, everyone is asking for a feature they liked about WinXP, as if it was unique to WinXP also. In reality shutting off the XP menus was the only way it was SEMI stable when it came out. Therefore, brace your self and think real hard, you want Win7 to offer the features you liked in XP or in other words, you want Win 7 to be LIKE XP...or WinME or Win2K or Win98 of something that's already been done. Fortunately for people who are unable to write their own OS and simply whine about how someone else writes theirs, there are other people who decided to make an option available for you. Sorry, I know you don't want that because it's not from MS...but whiners can't be chooser. It's also not 2001 anymore or, if you want to start from when XP was finally a worthwhile operating system, it's not 2008 anymore. That's 7 years of horrendously poor code, more exploits than anything they had ever released to date and more crashes, compatibilty issues than anything else on the market. In short, if you prefer the features you found in XP you will be just fine; just don't change from WinXP.

dwdino
dwdino

when MS reaches the proverbial bridge and drops legacy support and finally cleans the code base? The day is coming when MS will have to cut bait and move forward. MAC did this recently and has improved tremendously. MS is staring the same bridge down.

Flummie
Flummie

Wooow! Thats it! I'm happy.. :) thanks!! Pin On the win toolbar: doesnt leave much space for tabs. Imho

jobaker
jobaker

Right mouse click on the taskbar & select properties. Modify the 'taskbar location on screen" option, you can't drag & drop apparantly, but you can relocate to top, right, left or bottom. Here you can also choose small icons to display as well as turn off the combining of same type files under their app icon, showing each seperately on the taskbar instead.

brian
brian

I'm an IT guy who actually uses my computer for working, usually with no fewer than 6 open applications, and often with multiple windows per each. I switched from a dual-screen XP setup to a single-screen Win7 box and have barely missed the second screen because pinned apps are so effective at multitasking. I just have to say, I don't get why you would want Quicklaunch instead of pinned apps. It doesn't take less space, in fact it takes more space because when you launch something it will pop an icon onto the taskbar and now you have two launchers for that app showing. You do know you can launch a second instance of any app by middle clicking right? More benefits of pinned apps and the Win 7 way: You can sort them by function and they stay in order so you can remember their locations for quicker access. You can quickly access recent documents and special functions for each app. It reduces duplication in the interface and uses less screen real estate. Don't say we only like the change because we don't do serious work. I can think of several equally inaccurate and impolite ways to explain why some people won't let quicklaunch go.

FTAdmin
FTAdmin

There are some MS Certified application providers who, for one reason or another, create Windows programs that don't behave exactly in the standardized manner. As such the applications are unable to be pinned to the task bar. QL helps to put these particular apps or favorite script shortcuts back into instant reach. Also, I like to put my Recycle Bin onto QL, so that I have nothing on my desktop other than temp files, which get regularly cleaned.

sdoone
sdoone

I don't get it. Why would you need a QuickLaunch Bar when the Win 7 taskbar does the same thing, and more elegantly?

register2@optonline.
register2@optonline.

I heartily agree. Until the techrepublic article, I didn't know that windows 7 was without a quick launch bar

SoldierJedi
SoldierJedi

I have the RDP Client pinned to the task bar. I then have my server RDC Connections pinned to the context-sensitive menu (right-click) so all I have to do is right-click the RDC icon, up pops the menu, and I select the server I need to connect to. Nothing moves, and I can connect to any of my servers in two clicks.

SoldierJedi
SoldierJedi

each app pinned on the taskbar, when opened, will have a translucent box around it to show it's running. When anything changes, i.e. e-mail client to show new message, it'll change colour. If you have a group of items open you'll see them as faded "echoes" of the box to the right of the front box. hovering over the active app with multiple windows open will pop up a thumbnail view of each window...

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

I have 20 needed items on my QL. I have then open on the taskbar, 14 more programs. All of those programs are in use and include browsers running proxies, browsers with up to 30 'resource' tabs .. all non-IE since IE doesn't meet security specs. Also, this number fluctuates during the workday, mostly increasing. .."You can sort them by function and they stay in order so you can remember their locations for quicker access".. The QL stays in order, too, and a quick drag/drop will set an order based on function for a new addition. I have yet to see it change without my doing it. I know exactly where everything is and the argument on it creating another taskbar item, yes, that's true. But these programs are accessed, used, and shut down. Not an issue. Quick access to recent documents? Start -> My Recent Documents .... I guess what I wonder, bottom line, is why for something so useful (yes, for those of us who use it) get rid of it? Did it take up 10 gb of coding space or something equally horrendous? Let's face it - we all don't work the same. Could I get 'used to' a different system? Of course. I just don't see the trade for something less efficient .. for me. I bet you wouldn't like my filing system, either! :) I'm not a mass-market, typical end-user. I don't like eye candy or other levels of bling .. or was that bing (don't like that, either!).

brian
brian

That's the only reason I can think of for them changing order. LMB -> task switching OR quicklaunch that app MMB -> quicklaunch new instance of app RMB -> pinning and shorcuts Drag file to icon -> pins a RMB shortcut to open that file in that app RMB -> click a pin on the Recent list to pin that recent file LBM or hover -> MMB on thumbnail to close Drag to reposition pinned apps and sort to your liking. RMB on empty space -> Toolbar -> New Toolbar to give a pull-out drawer full of whatever shortcuts you like. RMB on toolbar and you can choose whether to show text or titles. Turn both off if you really want to see all of those icons all the time, and you pretty much have a quicklaunch. (But launching that way will duplicate the icon onto the taskbar, and you don't get access to recent or pinned files, or app special functions.) I can imagine one potentially difficult usage scenario. In any mode except "Always Combine, Hide Labels" the taskbar starts to look bad and quicklaunch looks cleaner. If all of your apps have the same icon, that could pose a problem because you'd have to turn on the text labels.

GRDavey
GRDavey

....but, I accept I need to adapt and I still have a lot to learn with Win 7 - I am still experimenting with various settings and options to see what they do. However, at the end of the day, what is the problem with having something simple available like a shortcut bar down the side of the screen with all my favourites instantly available? There's no harm with it, is there?

SoldierJedi
SoldierJedi

If you have that level of complexity, why not adapt the RDP Client model I used above, to heirarchically organise context-menus with your apps etc directly from the taskbar, or is this not feasible with the different apps you run? I have 13 icons pinned to my W7 taskbar, but heirarchically from them I have 2-click access to over 40 other folders, files, profiles and apps. Works for me, but as always, YMMV...

GRDavey
GRDavey

But when you access any of the task bar items everything else moves along and when you have a lot of items open a task normally located near the LHS can be over to the RHS. Just my way of working.... What about everything else? If I put everything onto the task bar I would need to take up half the screen as opposed to my double height at present. I currently have 50ish icons down the RHS of my screen most of which I access on a regular basis.