Microsoft

Take full advantage of Jump Lists in Windows 7 with these tips

Greg Shultz describes the basics of Windows 7's Jump List feature and provides tips that show you how to take advantage of it.

As you probably know by now, the new Jump Lists feature in Microsoft Windows 7 is designed to make it easier to find what you want and perform common tasks associated with an application. Jump Lists appear on the Start menu as well as on the Taskbar. Like anything new, Jump Lists may take awhile to get used to using. However, if you jump right in (pun intended) and start using Jump Lists, you will surely begin to recognize the boost in efficiency that they can bring to your everyday computing life.

In this edition of the Windows Vista & Windows 7 Report, I'll describe the basics of how Windows 7's Jump List feature works. Then, I'll provide you with a host of tips that will show you how to really take advantage of the Jump Lists feature.

(If you want a basic introduction to Jump Lists, check out my "Take a Closer Look at Windows 7's Jump List Feature" article. Keep in mind that even though this article was written before Windows 7 was actually released, the basic functionality of the Jump Lists feature is the same now as it was back then.)

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

The 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 or on the Start menu.

On the Taskbar, Jump Lists appear for applications that you've pinned to the Taskbar and applications that are currently running. On the Start menu, Jump Lists appear for applications that you've pinned to the Start menu and applications that appear in the recently opened programs section. (Jump Lists don't appear in All Programs section of the Start menu.)

Jump Lists on the Taskbar are a little bit different from Jump Lists on the Start menu, as shown in Figure A. Jump Lists on the Taskbar will contain a shortcut to launch the application, a command to toggle Taskbar pinning, and a command to close one or all open windows. Jump Lists on both the Start menu and Taskbar can contain specific tasks associated with the application as well as a list of recent documents or frequent destinations depending on the application.

Figure A

Jump Lists on the Taskbar contain a shortcut to launch the application, a command to toggle Taskbar pinning, and a command to close one or all open windows.

No unintentional duplication

While what I'm about to describe in this section really isn't a feature that you can take advantage of, it's nice to know about. If you have an application pinned to the Taskbar, that application's icon will never appear in the recently opened programs section on the Start menu. Likewise, if you have an application pinned to the Start menu, that application's icon will never appear in the recently opened programs section. As such, there will be only one Jump List for that application.

Now, when you unpin an application from the Taskbar or the Start menu, that application's icon can and will appear in the recently opened programs section.

On the other hand, you can pin an application to both the Start menu and the Taskbar. When you do, there will be two Jump Lists for that application. However, that application's icon will still never appear in the recently opened programs section.

Alternate access

Accessing Jump Lists on the Start menu is very intuitive as they function just like a submenu — you can access the Jump List by hovering over the application's icon or by clicking the submenu button. Accessing Jump Lists on the Taskbar is accomplished by right-clicking on the application's icon.

However, because Windows 7 is also designed for use on new touchscreen computers, where there is no right-click, there is an alternative way to access a Jump List on the Taskbar that is very efficient with a mouse. To use this alternative, just click the icon and hold down the mouse button as you drag straight up. As you do so, a translucent Jump List will appear behind the Taskbar and you will essentially drag the Jump List up to the screen, as shown in Figure B. While it may not sound like much of a time-saver, it really is once you get used to it.

Figure B

You don't have to right-click to access a Jump List.

Even though this is a nice benefit for mouse users, it is really designed for touchscreen users and is also handy for laptop touchpad users. On a touchscreen, just tap an icon and swipe your finger upward to access the Jump List. On a laptop touchpad, just slowly tap the icon twice and then swipe your finger upward.

And, while I am talking about access, you may be wondering what happened to the old right-click menu. Well, it's still there. To access it, you just press and hold down [Shift] as you right-click on the icon.

Configuring the size

The main section in the Jump List is the Recent/Frequent section, which is automatically populated with a list of the items that you have recently accessed or frequently access. By default, the Recent/Frequent section will display up to 10 items. Once you reach that threshold, older items will drop off the list as new items are added.

While items appear to drop off the list, they aren't actually removed from the list — they just aren't displayed. (In fact, if you right-click on any item in the Recent/Frequent section and select the Remove from This List command, you will notice that the item that was most recently dropped off the list will reappear at the bottom of the list.)

If you want to increase or decrease the number of items that appear in the Recent/Frequent section of all Jump Lists, you can. Simply right-click on the Start button and select the Properties command. When the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box appears, click the Customize button. When the Customize Start Menu dialog box appears, locate the Start Menu Size section at the bottom and use the spin button to change the number for the Number of Recent Items to Display in Jump List setting, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You can increase or decrease the number of items that appear in the Recent/Frequent section of all Jump Lists.

Pinning items

While the Recent/Frequent section is automatically populated with a list of the items that you have recently accessed or frequently access, you can actually pin an item to the list. When you do, a new section titled Pinned is added to the Jump List and that item will remain on the list until you manually unpin it. Now, there are a couple of ways that you can pin an item to a Jump List. There are also several items that you can pin to a list that might not seem obvious:

  • Standard: If the item that you want to pin to the Jump List already appears in the Recent/Frequent section, you can pin the item simply by clicking on the pushpin icon. When you do, the Pinned section is added to the Jump List and the item is moved to the new section, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

You can pin an item to the Jump List by clicking on the pushpin icon.
  • From one to another: If you have an item/file type that can be opened in either of two applications and the item appears on the Jump List of one of the applications, you can pin the item on the other application's Jump List as long as destination icon appears on the Taskbar. Click and drag the item from the first application's Jump List and drop it on other application's icon on the Taskbar. When you do, the item is copied from the source Jump List and pasted/pinned to the destination Jump List.
For example, Figure E shows an item being copied from Notepad's Jump List and pinned to WordPad's Jump List.

Figure E

You can copy a pinned item from one Jump List to another when the item/file type that can be opened in either of two applications.
  • From Windows Explorer: If you are browsing your hard disk with Windows Explorer and encounter a file that you would like to pin to a Jump List, you can drag the file from Windows Explorer and drop it on the application's icon on the Taskbar. When you do, the file will be pinned to that application's Jump List.
  • From a shortcut: If you have a shortcut to a file either on the Desktop or on the Start menu that you would like to pin to a Jump List, you can drag the shortcut to the Taskbar. If the application that opens the file type is pinned to the Taskbar, the shortcut is pinned to that Jump List. If the application that opens the file type is not pinned to the Taskbar or is not running, the application will be pinned to the Taskbar and the shortcut will be pinned to that Jump List.
  • Pinning folders: While the Jump List for Windows Explorer will automatically show the folders you access in the Frequent section, those will eventually cycle out of the list. Fortunately, you can pin your favorite folders to the Windows Explorer Jump List. To do so, you can use any of the pinning methods.

Pinning searches

If you regularly perform searches for certain files, you can pin a search operation to the Windows Explorer Jump List. Launch Windows Explorer, fill in the Search box, and when the Search results window appears, click the Save Search button. Once the saved search appears in the Navigation pane, just drag and drop it on the Windows Explorer icon on the Taskbar. When you do, the Search will be pinned to the Jump List, where you can easily access it. If you want to free up space in the Navigation pane, you can remove the saved search by right-clicking and selecting the Remove command.

Pinning templates

If you have any type of template that you're using over and over again, you can save yourself time and effort by pinning the template to the application's Jump List. This can be useful for e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and much more. Now, when you need to use the template, it is easy to locate and use from the Jump List.

Cleaning up

If a Jump List's Recent/Frequent section becomes crowded with too many items, you can clean it out. To remove a single item from Recent/Frequent section, right-click on the entry and select the Remove from This List command. To remove all entries from the Recent/Frequent section of all the Jump Lists, right-click on the Start button and select the Properties command. When the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box appears, clear the Store and Display Recently Opened Items in the Start Menu and the Taskbar check box, as shown in Figure F, and click Apply to clear the Jump Lists. Then, to re-enable the Recent/Frequent sections, re-select the check box and click OK.

Figure F

You can remove all entries from the Recent/Frequent section of all the Jump Lists.

What's your take?

What do you think about the Jump List feature? Does it improve your 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.

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