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Take a closer look at Windows 7's Jump List feature

Jump Lists are a new feature in Microsoft Windows 7 that are designed to make it easier to find what you want and perform common operations associated with an application. Greg Shultz introduces you to Windows 7's Jump List feature. He shows you the Jump Lists for several applications and describes the feature in more detail.

Jump Lists are a new feature in Microsoft Windows 7 that are designed to make it easier to find what you want and perform common operations associated with an application. Jump Lists appear on the Start menu as well as on the Taskbar when you right-click on an icon. As I've been working with Windows 7, I've learned to take advantage of Jump Lists and really love the boost in computing efficiency.

Recently, I was extolling the benefits of the Jump List to a couple of friends, and one of them blasted my newfound penchant, saying that the Jump List feature was nothing more than a glorified My Recent Documents menu. (Obviously, he is still using Windows XP.) I responded that he was actually right, but he was also wrong.

It's true that the Jump List feature is an enhancement that can very easily trace its origins to the Recent Documents feature, which by the way first made its appearance on Windows 95's Start menu as the Documents menu. However, delivering a listing of recently opened documents is but a small piece of what the Jump List provides.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll introduce you to Windows 7's Jump List feature. As I do, I'll show you the Jump Lists for several applications and describe the features in more detail.

Note: Keep in mind that this is a prerelease version and that the look and features of Windows 7 that I will discuss here may very well change between now and the time the operating system is actually released.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Jump List feature in a nutshell

The Jump List feature is designed to provide you with quick access to the documents and tasks associated with your applications. You can think of Jump Lists like little application-specific Start menus. Jump Lists can be found on the application icons that appear on the Taskbar when an application is running or on the Start menu in the recently opened programs section. Jump Lists can also be found on the icons of applications that have been specifically pinned to the Taskbar or the Start menu.

Jump Lists on the Start menu will appear a little different than Jump Lists on the Taskbar. However, they will provide the same functionality.

By default, the Jump List can contain the application's shortcut, the ability to toggle pinning, the ability to close one or all windows, access to specific tasks associated with the application, and once you begin using the application, a list of recent documents or destinations depending on the application.

Now that you have a general idea of how Jump Lists work, let's take a look at the Jump Lists for several applications.

Internet Explorer

Let's begin with the Internet Explorer Jump List. In Windows 7, the Quick Launch bar is gone, and the Taskbar itself acts as a place to both launch applications as well as access running tasks. By default, Internet Explorer is pinned to the Taskbar and has a Jump List.

When you right-click on the Internet Explorer icon, you'll see a Jump List like the one shown in Figure A. As you can see, the Jump List shows two sections, which are referred to as the Tasks section and the Destinations section. In this case, the Destinations section contains the History category, which as you can see is a standard History list, and the Tasks section contains the Taskbar tasks, which allow you to launch Internet Explorer and unpin or remove the application icon from the Taskbar.

Figure A

Internet Explorer's Jump List shows two main sections.
When you launch Internet Explorer, the Close Window task is added to the Tasks section, as shown in Figure B. Of course, this new task allows you to close Internet Explorer.

Figure B

When an applications is running, a Close Window task appears in the Tasks section.
As you would expect, the items showing in the History category will cycle out of the list as new items are added. If you want to keep a specific item from the History category on the Jump List, you can pin it to the list. When you hover your mouse pointer over the right side of an item, a thumbtack icon will appear. If you click the thumbtack icon, that item will be pinned to the Destinations section of the Jump List in the Pinned category. This procedure is illustrated in Figure C.

Figure C

You can keep items by pinning them to the Jump List.

Windows Media Player

By default, Windows Media Player is also pinned to the Taskbar and has a Jump List. However, since Windows Media Player is a different type of application, its Jump List works and looks a bit different, as shown in Figure D.

In this case, the Tasks section has two separate panels, with the Tasks panel containing what are called User tasks and another panel containing the Taskbar tasks. The Destinations panel contains the Frequent category, which in this case lists frequently accessed locations inside of Windows Media Player. As you can see, this Jump List also has a Pinned category.

Figure D

Windows Media Player's Jump List works and looks a bit different.

Paint

Now let's look at a more standard type of Jump List , such as the one associated with Paint. When you launch Paint, its icon appears on the Taskbar, and right-clicking on the icon reveals a Jump List like the one shown in Figure E. You can see that this Jump List contains the Pinned category, the Recent category, and the standard Taskbar tasks. In this case, notice that the last item reads Close All Windows, because there are multiple instances of Paint running.

Figure E

The last item in the Tasks sections is Close All Windows, because multiple instances of Paint are running.
Applications that appear on the Start menu, either in the recently opened programs section or the pinned section, have a slightly different look. For example, the Jump List for Paint shows up as a submenu that appears when you hover over the icon on the Start menu, as shown in Figure F. You can launch the application by clicking its icon, or you can load any of the files from Pinned or Recent categories by clicking the item.

Figure F

The Jump Lists for applications on the Start menu appear as pop-out submenus.

You'll notice that in this example Start menu, there are Jump Lists for XPS Viewer, Adobe Reader, Getting Started, Sticky Notes, Notepad, and WordPad. All these Jump Lists are similar to the one in Paint.

What's your take?

I've shown you just a few of the Jump Lists that you'll find in Windows 7, but there are many others that provide similar features. And, as applications begin to appear that are designed for Windows 7, you'll start to see custom categories appear on the Jump Lists.

What do you think about the Jump List technology? Do you think that it will improve efficiency? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

31 comments
ElijahKam
ElijahKam

As I have done with the previous operating systems, I will get rid of all that nonsense and restore my own system of organizing my work. Why does Microsoft insist on making decisions for us? Jump lists and the like should be available as downloads and not automatically installed.

GWK
GWK

First time I've studied this. Could be very good, IF it doesn't demand too much from the PC - ie is fast, even first-time round. The more context-relevant options that can be carefully (and clearly) offered, the better - that's how I tend to want to work.

jimcbb
jimcbb

Have Windows 7 running on 4 different platforms - a netbook, a laptop and 2 desktops, all of which also boot some version of Vista and/or XP (one if which even still has 2K!). Whenever I'm doing something on one of them not using Windows 7, I get extremely frustrated, because to me, it's the first time MS did something so intuitive that I don't usually have to think about for a moment before doing something, as with most prior OSs. I'm also really frustrated listening to all the whining about the changes. Just because someone spent a lot of time and effort becoming an ultra guru on some OS doesn't make it a law a nature. I'm sure MS will extend support on the older OSs long enough that these Luddites can extend their illicit love affairs with their antiquated OSs as long as they like. Features like Jump Lists, Snaps, the new "Taskbar" thing (which I happen to like the way it is out of the box), the way an open app displays when hovering over one of its instances, and a whole rash of other things make this OS a delight. At 70+, going strong after 50+ years in and around computer technology, I want to see the new, the imaginative, the different and the daring - not business as usual. Jim

GreyTech
GreyTech

I find it interesting that some Tech guys hate change or insist that command line is best. Horses for courses I say. I have been using computers since they were built with tubes (thermionic valves) through all types of OS on PCs since before CP/M and DOS. Most have been improvements to most users. All have left enough of the old system to keep the slow uptakers happy and the command line typers still able to do their support tasks efficiently. We still get those who bitch and whine at moving forward because they are too slow to learn new tricks. I relish each new OS, yes even Vista, it just takes a little learning to make it work for you. Not everyone will customize it the same way but I would still rather have Vista than DOS. Now W7 looks and feels great. Yet another little gem in jump lists that I hadn't spotted but see good use for as soon as I have got to grips with it. Keep up the good work Greg.

kapearlman
kapearlman

It's nice. I'm not a technological whiz - I'm just a person who uses a computer. I like that it remembers things, but keeps it out of the way unl;ess you're looking for it.

RichA
RichA

Don't do it, Greg. Don't look into the light.

bcdalai
bcdalai

Can you please List out all the features in Win 7 ranging from UAC, Networking, system and other new features....... Prior to the RC release. bcdalai http://bcdalai.blogspot.com

tjbud
tjbud

We go through this cycle every time a new version of Windows is released - "I don't like this", "What happened to that?". Change is inevitable!! Certainly, no one will be "happy" with everything, but they (Microsoft) do test these things out on people - these aren't invented in a vacuum. Admittedly, I was reluctant to use the new-fangled UIs when first introduced: I ran 95 in 3.1 mode for the longest time, then ran XP in 95 mode, sat out Vista (no need for it). But I eventually got used to the new interface. I may not like everything about it, but I got used to it... HOWEVER, Windows 7 is the first version that I'm actually looking forward to. I think the Jump Lists are a great way to organize and access your recent lists - instead of 1 recent list, I have 1 for every app (we'll see how true that becomes) right up front. Currently, when the "documents" list overflows you have to open the app and select from its list (not efficient) or drill down thru Windows Explorer. This reduces the chance of that being necessary. Hey, I won't like all the changes - I personally don't like the "web" interface with big fluffy icons. I like lists of things - File Manager style. As long as you can customize, all is well.

ymir
ymir

This 'feature' provides nothing that isn't currently there in Window's XP. We need to see a change in the programs powers & ability to multi-task without robbing system resources to the point of a halt, not 'just another way' to access data. I hope Microsoft has been using it's time wisely! We need 'new' features, not repackaged old ones!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What do you think about the Jump List technology? Do you think that they will improve efficiency? Personally, I think it will take some getting used to, but I think, in theory, the idea is a sound one and look forward to trying it. How about you?

five.cent.family
five.cent.family

It's amazing how many so-called tech guys are so reluctant to try new features just to see if maybe it might help them be more productive. If these guys were in charge, we'd still be redirecting our DIR output through the FIND command to locate specific files. Don't knock it until you've tried it, people.

Claes57
Claes57

and would you drop xp to vista? We still have a problem - WHY is vista here? Not every step m$ makes is a step forward. "I relish each new OS, yes even Vista" Where have xp failed? Vista is to xp, what winme was to '98 - nothing but money...

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

Im not sure I understand. I freaking live on Wikipedia

rcfoulk
rcfoulk

As I?ve noted more than once this is mostly geek candy. The typical business environment for users is very locked down with access limited to only applications needed for job function. In addition 95 percent of business users need nothing other than basic functionality from software. I?ve maintained for years that Word Pad with a spell checker would suffice for 90 percent of users. All the cute interface tricks and redundant ?new? ways to get the same thing done that is already very well understood is simply rearranging deck chairs, not launching the boat. When it comes to users and training there is a true value for keeping it simple. There is simply not for the majority any payback for trying to teach them several new ways to do the same otherwise simple thing. And with respect to the classic menu let me say that I?m very pleased that you are content with a new structure every Windows release. But for those of us that really need to get work done and would rather not retrain for each release there?s not much pretty about it. Frankly the vast majority of people intuitively understand the ?old? hierarchical approach to menu structure. The alleged simplified versions often more confuse than assist, particularly when there are typically only four to seven options available in a well bolted down desktop anyway. It?s the ongoing war between cool and geeky versus simple and practical.

bsmi021
bsmi021

It was good to hear someone who can speck the truth! For all of you folks who do nothing but complain i have a list of ideas, here is the list of items that tou can turn off after reading this post: 1) hd tv 2) i pod 3) suround sound 4) your can not do with out import car with all the do dads you had to have or else 5)your computer ( mac or windows) and i am sure there are many more but i hope that all of you folks who do nothing but while might take notice!

ph.fisher
ph.fisher

Hear Hear their are always those that have to pick holes and find fault, I have been running Windows 7 since it became available and so far it has worked flawlessly, I love some of the new features and the fixes from Vista, is it the best release yet? we will have to wait and see; but it is looking good so far.

tim uk
tim uk

As features go, this is pretty trivial. Can't MS devote some resources to making a "lite" OS which boots in few seconds, runs on reasonable spec equipment, is bug free & has none of this extraneous stuff? That's what I'd like to buy.

tiggertx
tiggertx

The look and description (though not quite the layout) are very similar to the way OSX's taskbar works. right click on one of the icons and you get a menu with a set of options. Word, for example give you on Open recent submenu plus several other options similar to the Task section you describe above. Nice to see this feature appearing in Windows now as I really like it.

Ron_007
Ron_007

Thanks for a look at an interesting feature. I haven't taken the time to look at Win 7 so I like this type of article. I am not a fan of most UI changes. My general take on it is that I've invested years learning the old UI (and it's predecessors) so I'm not partial to changes for change sake. Especially if I don't have an option to fall back to the old style when I am in a hurry and just want to get my work done! For example I absolutely loathe the Ribbon "gooey" introduced with Office 2007. Functions have been moved to new "tabs", it wastes 3 "rows" of screen space and the damn thing is dynamic so it never looks the same when I resize the app. I hear it has unfortunately been extended to more apps in Win 7. But this jump list feature looks like a handy extension of "shortcuts". One question, does the user have any way of controlling number of items in each of the sections of the jumplist. ie in Word 2007 you can now increase the number of items in the "Most Recently Used" (MRU) list from a former max of 9 (a limit left over from the days of VGA resolution, REALLY) to a new max of 50 (which I use). I also already have several files pinned. Off hand, it sounds like Jump Lists is an extension of the improved MRU in Office 2007 (one of the few improvements I like in the Ribbon) throughout the OS.

mailboweb
mailboweb

It's an nice little feature. But really a minor one and it has no further options so it not an wow thing. I find it conviniant and I use it nonetheless. About the interface and the people using the classic interface. Well really whats that all about. If you are an tech person or an poweruser then I can't see why with every upgrade you come up with the same lame( sorry) excuse not to use it. Really. Can't figure out the way it works? Can't keep on top of it? I don't thingk so. And who are you punishing here. You can't slow this progress down, people are using it. Even Cmders like me. I have been using windows from Dos till dawn, allways using and loving the new and payed for interfaces. I also use and switch backgrounds ones in ... And I can tell you as an professional user, the interface of Windows 7 is just so so, but its beta and will get different ones it gets in the stores. I hope so. But I find the Glass look an great improvement and less confining if you are working on the desktop. If you don't like it you can always run Core But to honest, I still havn't found what I was looking for. The reason to upgrade.

armamatt
armamatt

Looks like I will be sticking with XP. I hate how Microsoft keeps changing the look of its menus. I sure hope W7 comes with a way to change back to classic views. I find too much of the stuff you have done in the past keeps popping up on menus. Hate it. Leave well enough alone. XP keeps looking better and better.

mark-at-pirate-hill
mark-at-pirate-hill

I like it. Some people have a hard time accepting any change. Years ago we bought my folks a microwave. Dad would not go near it for almost a year. After he found out how handy it was, he started to use it every day.

dogknees
dogknees

The system has to work efficiently not only for the average user, but the power-user and other high end users as well. Or, should we all dumb down our use to match theirs?

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

Im insulted. I don't roll with windows or mac at home.

hicksricky
hicksricky

The 7 Jump list feature is a not only a very efficient way to find what window you wish to be working in, it is also very good looking. I too have been working with MS since the DOS days and am always trying to find 'shortcuts' to the end result of getting the job done. I used batch files as often as I could to automate tasks then and see the producivity increase of using jump lists today. Windows 7, so far, is an improvement of Vista.

willistanner
willistanner

This may be cool for some, maybe the kids?, but I have no use for all these goofy add-ons. I use my pc as a tool, not a toy. They do nothing for me.

john3347
john3347

The classic look is available in Windows 7 except for the start menu itself. Hopefully that will be corrected before RTM. Most of the new features of the new taskbar, even though of dubious - or debated - value, are still available and have a more "professional" look than the default "Fisher-Price" look that Microsoft has adhered to since XP appeared.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

but only once you know the system. Remember defaults are there for the largest user base. Only a fool would think otherwise.

i.t
i.t

It doesn't strike me that using this new 'jump menu' feature will change the way people navigate too drastically, I think its a great idea, I hate loosing the last document I opened in a program. I also don't think that this will effect business users much, in fact it seams more of a benefit than a hindrance.