Windows

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.

36 comments
bitsbin
bitsbin

Love your work Greg. Is it possible to Pin Office 2010 <Templates> folder to the jump list in Windows 7?
For me this would be a logical workaround for the old 'Open New Office Document' command on the Start Menu in XP. Thanks Mate.

jonnyhotchkiss
jonnyhotchkiss

To backup your settings, use nirsoft/sysinternals tools to track changes.


I pin folders of interest via favorites where the folder name (end of path) is non-intuitive, ie


(favorite, link renamed to 'implicit lnks') C:\Users\Jonny\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\ImplicitAppShortcuts\7e4dca80246863e3


whilst keeping most of my "stuff" in my "stuff" library (automatic and customdestinations)


This will tell ya which -ms file is storing the info re pinned/recently visited... 


It has been suggested that ya can write a batch, to delete this file, re "specific application" recent-files-management... but a better solution (I think) was one I've not been able to re-locate, it was a comment on a page, one of a million, just like this...


The tip was, once you know which file is for which 'recent/pinned' app shortcut... you can back it up. You can also preserve it's state (I THINK!!!) by going to it's permissions, and disabling the system's write access. 


Now THAT's a hack. 


More soon!!! 

mandymackey
mandymackey

Many of the documents I use on a regular bases at work are buried in folders on various drives. Jump lists have made me much more productive. It is so easy to have the documents just a click away.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...just click the icon and hold down the mouse button as you drag straight up." Unless you've moved the Taskbar to the top or sides. In those cases, click and drag the icon toward the desktop, as if you were going to move it onto the desktop. It won't move, but the Jump List will appear.

ElijahKam
ElijahKam

I can't see anything that I can't already do in XP or Vista, and do it more simply and with less clutter.

1001001geek
1001001geek

I have 3 main uses of jump lists so far. I have pinned websites to the IE Icon. With Vista, I used to have 6 tabs open each time I launched IE which represented my 6 most used websites. Now, with right click launch I can just open the 1 I need using less system resources. With VirtualPC, I can select/launch the VM of my choice. With notepad, I can pin files I am working on and keep them in the directory structure without having to explore to them. This is a huge time saver for me. Jump lists have provided me with better use of all resources, mine and the machines. I do want to make note that I probably would not of used them prior to reading your first article though; and for that I thank you! Cheers,

GreyTech
GreyTech

Great article Greg. I can see me using them all the time. It is quicker than Favorites, and easy to populate and depopulate as the need changes. I particularly like the ability to pin to a list then clear the recent and frequent. I still have not found Libraries useful, rather the opposite. For instance I have pictures in a series of folders "Masters", "Editing" and "Albums" with sub-folders using the date yyyymmdd downloaded as the name. Libraries seems to put the date folders together from all the main folders even those from another PC networked in a Homegroup. This becomes dangerous to use as it is not always obvious which folder "Masters" or "Editing" you have selected. Whereas if I stick to the directory tree there is never any doubt.

krbentley
krbentley

I wish you could pin favorites to IE as a jump list

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

The jump list feature in Windows 7 is hands down the one feature that will keep moving forward with MS's vision of their new Operating System. No going back here. I find it (and also the automatic window-sizing hot spots) to be outstanding time-saving features.

ElijahKam
ElijahKam

Since I don't have Windows 7, I suppose I should not talk. But Jump Lists apparently consists of all things that I try to get rid of when I get a new computer or operating system. I hate lists of Recent anything, and I don't like crowded taskbars. QuickLaunch has served me very well in both XP and Vista, and I hope that Windows 7 will permit me to set up a toolbar that performs the same functions.

oneal.j
oneal.j

That ANY online system is perceived as pervasive? Anyone on techrepublic? Do you really believe that everyone is baiting their time absorb what they already know? Windows 7 is a better system .. but it will not save you any more time than you already wasted, if your reading this article then you've already wasted more time than the average user who only wants to get to the information that everyone around them has promised. If you really want access then be responsible and start using the internet for it's intended use... as a library. Not a replacement for relationships, purchasing or otherwise.

g_keramidas
g_keramidas

i like it, i just wish there was a way to delete multiple entries. it's either one at a time or all, and since it stores over 140 items, it's a real pain to get rid of them.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Are you using the new Jump List features of Windows 7? I am starting to use them more and more and find Jump Lists to be very efficient, what do you think?

mike2k
mike2k

Jump lists serve me no use. I setup a Toolbar that I add everything I need to it. One click access. (2 clicks to launch a second instance of an app if it is "pinned") As for Libraries, where is the option to remove them from the system, or just disable them completely? Oh you can't because M$ integrated them into WMA. I found that WMA all but requires the use of Libraries to work, so I had to use another program to listen to my music. I did find a registry hack to completely remove libraries from explorer which was very helpful. And if you want to free up real estate in explorer even more, you can remove Homegroup from there as well. I love the performance of Win7 over any other previous OS, but the loss of "Classic" start menu and taskbar option is a severe disappointment. The option to remove/disable Libraries and Homegroup should also be made available. Windows explorer has become a complete disaster because of these features.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Thanks for sharing your favorite uses for Jump Lists. Glad that my article spurred you to investigate!

mdimran1
mdimran1

I like jump list feature of taskbar. only one thing annoys, Well that about this: when exploring nested directories, in the left pan, when Tree structure is big, it scrolls down, the last selected folder ( whose contents you are browsing now in right pane) highlights near bottom of the tree in left pan, unlike XP, where last selected folder stays where it was in folder tree, untill we move the left pan slider. This helps me to see what other folders are in the tree after my selected folder.

rjbrown94
rjbrown94

I always hated the "Recent Files" directory, too. I think it was because it was a random mash of files that were opened. Jump lists improve this because now those recent files are application specific. Now I'm not sorting through junk to find what I want.

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

Seems to me the Internet is intended for whatever purpose suits enough people to make the feature a reality. Though I wonder about those who choose it as a replacement for relationships.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

LOL is all I can say about understanding what the point is.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have read and reread your post and I admit to failing to understand what message you are trying to communicate. We are talking about Jump Lists in Windows 7 - a new navigation feature. No relationships were replaced that I know of.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What brought that on? If we're wasting time here, what do you call your participation? And who died and made you "Determiner of the Purpose of the Internet"? The beginnings of the Internet as funded by DARPA was to enable data transfer between research universities, not as a library. That's still it's purpose: data communication. The Internet CAN'T be used as a library; it has no storage capacity. You've mistaken the network for the servers connected to it.

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

Waste of time writing messages to convert people away from what they already believe. I am evaluating W7 and will try jump lists because of this article. (Thanks Greg.) Regardless of if it will save me time, I shall learn something from the exercise. I shall also save a link to this article, effectively making it part of my library of useful tips. And as for uses for the Internet... I met the mother of my 4 year old daughter through online dating. I had wasted nearly 20 years trying to get dates with incompatible people, or those not interested. First persom I met online - job done. There is also a perfectly good library just 15 minutes walk from my house. They have story telling, singing and drawing activities for my daughter, and an excellent selection of the books I like to read, both professionally and for relaxation. The exercise of walking also helps ward off that heart attack, so I win all round. I hope you haven't wasted any time ready my reply to your post, because I don't expect you to understand my views, any more than I understand yours.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...folder for Jump Lists at C:\Users\{Username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent Items where you can delete multiple entries. Keep in mind that in order to drill down to this folder, you must configure Windows Explorer to show hidden files/folder. Let me know if this works for you.

rasilon
rasilon

When I started using W7 (RC), I eventually found Libraries and said "Hey, that's what I need to replace my nested menus in my W2K Start menu on WXP.". Then I read about jump lists. This is, to me, the biggest single feature that makes W7 stand heads above XP or Vista. You can talk about Aero Shake or such. But I have found my productivity is increased a *LOT* since I started using Jump Lists.

fishwalker
fishwalker

Is there a way to exclude a folder or drive from ever showing up in jump lists?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It isn't alphabetic, and it isn't 'most recent on top' or 'most recent on bottom'. I don't use it because I could never figure out what order the entries are in. In the time it takes to find what I'm looking for, I can navigate to the file in Explorer.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Maybe intended for another discussion? The world may never know.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can't figure out what they're good for, and I can't figure out how to make them go away. I'm one of those anal-retentive types who long ago developed a directory structure for my files. Everything goes in one directory, with subdirs created as needed. Libraries strike me as a tool for people who haven't been taught directory management and leave files scattered all over their drives. They don't appear to do anything for me that I don't already do for myself, but I could be wrong. Since they don't, I'd like to make them go away and quit cluttering up the left pane of my Explorer window. I removed the pre-created libraries, but they keep recreating themselves. I don't listen to Music or watch Videos, but the libraries for them keep reappearing. I'd like to make the entire Library category and all its little b@st@rd children disappear.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

I think that Jump lists are a terrific feature and I am glad to hear from someone else who thinks so too! Anyone else realizing the benefits of Jump Lists?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...and a good idea. I haven't seen such a feature but will look into it.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

My most commonly-used files all have shortcuts in a folder in the Quick Launch toolbar. Click. Click. I spend more time waiting for OpenOffice when I open the first file.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

In order to add a network drive to a library, your system must index that drive. Some of our network drives are local, but some are on the other end of the WAN. I've seen the XP's indexing of an on-board internal drive cause a considerable hit to system performance. I make a point of turning it off before deploying a system. My concern is the impact of indexing external network drives, especially those across the WAN.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Hello, The use of the libraries across machines or drives is what made me try them. I use files on different machines I have in a library. So, main machine has a library that includes files or folders on different machines that I can use. You can delete a library and return the default libraries. I believe those started in the Vista OS; I'm like you, I have folders with subs I used in XP. The library seems to be that if you make it like that. You can add folders and locations from all over the LAN. A new concept that seems to work well.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That might work at home. Here at work, I don't want to open in My Docs; I want to see the Favorites, Computer, and Network groups. However, I didn't know about the 'Don't Show' option. That has reduced the amount of screen space the Libraries group takes up, although there isn't a 'Don't Show' option for Libraries itself. Lacking that, I'd like to change the order so Libraries appears at the bottom, beneath the three groupings I use. Thanks.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

I haven't found a way to completely disable Libraries, but I have discovered a way to make them appear to go away... Locate the Windows Explorer shortcut (All Programs | Accessories) Access the Properties and reconfigure the Target to read: %windir%\explorer.exe /n,::{450D8FBA-AD25-11D0-98A8-0800361B1103} This will open directly to My Documents folder. Now, pin this shortcut to the Start menu and always use it to open Windows Explorer. The Libraries will still show up in the Navigation pane, but you can remove them by right cling each one and selecting the Don't show in navigation pane. What do you think?

martian
martian

Can also be translated to: "how do I hide my pR0n?" ;) It's going to come up for some service techs out there!