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The Windows desktop can be a super productive work space, provided it’s set up right. Native toolbars can help you make it even more efficient by placing shortcuts and information at your fingertips. Being located in the Windows taskbar means you won’t have to close windows or open files and folders via Windows Explorer Hack Windows Explorer for Efficiency Boosts Hack Windows Explorer for Efficiency Boosts Windows Explorer -- known as File Explorer on Windows 8 -- is an application that you probably spend a good amount of time in. Even Windows geeks that avoid using any other Microsoft program tend... Read More to access them. Let’s see how toolbars can be useful for you.

How To Add A Toolbar To Your Taskbar

Right-click the Windows taskbar, pick Toolbars from the menu, and either select an existing toolbar, or click on New toolbar… When you’re adding a new toolbar, you need to select a folder on your computer that contains the desired content. You can create a new folder as you’re picking the location and add the content later.

Add Toolbar

Tip: If you store the content of a custom toolbar in your Dropbox or on OneDrive, you can use the same source with toolbars on different computers and make them automatically sync across computers How To Keep Your Files Synced With SkyDrive In Windows 8.1 How To Keep Your Files Synced With SkyDrive In Windows 8.1 Storing data remotely and syncing them across devices has never been so easy, especially if you're using Windows 8.1. SkyDrive received a significant update, improving its integration with Windows and adding interesting new features. Read More . You could even share your toolbars with colleagues, family, or friends.

Default Windows Toolbars & What They Do

Windows offers a set of default toolbars that may be useful to you:

Quick Launch Bar

The Quick Launch bar, a list of icons embedded in the taskbar, is a remnant of Windows 95 that survived until the release of Windows XP Forget the End of Life Woes: Windows 8 Has an XP Mode Forget the End of Life Woes: Windows 8 Has an XP Mode Windows XP mode is restricted to Professional versions of Windows 7. But there's a way to get Windows XP Mode running on Windows 8 anyway. All you need is a computer running Windows 8. Read More . Although not promimently featured as a toolbar anymore, it still survives in the depths of the Windows operating system, even in Windows 8. As the name suggests, it’s great for quickly launching your most used programs, but you can also add files you need to access frequently.

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Quick Launch Bar

To enable the Quick Launch bar, point the new toolbar to this path:

%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

To customize it, right-click and unlock the Taskbar. Then right-click Quick Launch and remove the checkmarks for Show title and Show Text. While the Taskbar is unlocked, you can also drag the Quick Launch bar to a different location. I like to have it on the left hand side, next to the Start button.

Short Notes & Lists In A Custom Toolbar

Do you keep looking up bits of information again and again? Maybe you have snippets of data on Post-It notes attached to your monitor or in text files on your desktop. How about organizing the information and making it more accessible via a toolbar located in your taskbar. This is great low tech solution for quickly creating a list of things you find hard to remember, like commands, shortcuts, or phone numbers.

Custom Toolbar Trick

To create this type of list, you need to create a new toolbar, pick an empty folder, and then fill that folder with files, whose names represent your notes. Since your note is the title of the shortcut file, your choice of characters and length are limited. Use Notepad files and save them as shortcut (.LNK) files; that way the file extension is never shown. You can also choose a custom icon: right-click on the file, select Properties, and click the Change Icon… button.

This tip was seen on How To Geek. They have a few more tips, including a way to add new notes automatically using a . bat file.

Start Menu Toolbar

Those of you running Windows 7, you can simply use and customize the existing Start Menu. If you’re on Windows 8, however, you could install a third party Start Menu 8 Features Missing in Windows 8 and How To Get Them Back 8 Features Missing in Windows 8 and How To Get Them Back Microsoft removed a variety of features from Windows 8. Many of them aren't great losses to most people, but they are if you depended on them. Luckily, Windows 8 isn't yet a locked-down mobile operating... Read More or wait until Microsoft brings it back later this year. We previously showed you how you can build your own custom Start Menu in Windows 8 How To Build A Desktop Start Menu Replacement In Windows 8.1 How To Build A Desktop Start Menu Replacement In Windows 8.1 Are you tired of the Modern interface? Windows 8.1 allows you to boot to the desktop. If only the restored Start Button would launch a proper Start Menu! Well, it sort of can. Read More by re-purposing the Apps View. Now here is another native solution.

You can use a toolbar to re-create the Start Menu Build A Custom Windows 8 Start Menu Using Toolbars Build A Custom Windows 8 Start Menu Using Toolbars You’re using Windows 8. You want the Start Menu back – but do you really need it? Instead of relying on a third party substitute, build a custom Windows 8 Start Menu with a few... Read More . Briefly, create a new toolbar, point it to the folder that will contain the content of your alternative Start Menu, add the desired content to the respective folder, and finally move the toolbar to the native Start Menu location on the far left of the taskbar.

Custom Windows Start Menu

If that doesn’t cut it or seems like too much work, maybe the Win+X Power User Menu 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor Windows 8 contains an almost hidden feature you need to know about! Press Windows Key + X or right-click at the bottom-left corner of your screen to open a menu you can now customize. Read More does the job for you. As the name suggests, this menu opens when you click the Windows + X keys; alternatively, right-click the Windows 8 Start button. You can find three more ways to make a Windows 8 Start Menu here Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Windows 8 brought down the axe on the Start Menu. This is a feature that no one paid special attention to for years but its untimely demise has caused all sorts of despair. Not only... Read More .

Did You Discover A Useful Toolbar?

The most useful toolbars probably are the ones you make yourself and can fully customize. So what type of toolbars are you using? Do share your ideas in the comments!

  1. Shirley Pipitone
    April 1, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I'm using Windows 7 and I think the toolbars disappeared after Windows updates. I find Windows updates are a primary cause of problems with any tailoring I do of my Windows setup. My system is very healthy and programs install readily. However I have modified Windows 7 a great deal (eg I use Classic Shell, I have removed libraries, I use Windows Explorer with my User Folder hidden etc etc). I have now switched to using Quicklaunch instead of toolbars on the taskbar and it seems more stable.

  2. Shirley Pipitone
    March 18, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    I have created my own toolbars on the taskbar twice and they have disappeared twice. How do I make them stay put?

    • Tina
      March 23, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      That shouldn't happen, Shirley. Unless your system is somehow deep frozen and reverts and changes you make as soon as you reboot. Can you install programs? What version of Windows is this?

      • Dale Woosley
        October 28, 2016 at 3:33 am

        Shirley and Tina - I have been on Windows 7 since it came out. A few days ago I installed an update from BitFefender and my toolbar, the one I have used to go to various websites, disappeared and while I can still get to those sites by "manual" sign on (complete with Used ID and Password each time) it costs me time and I am frustrated. I have tried at least 25 times to create or restore the Toolbar, but no luck. I will watch your postings to see if you have an answer to this perplexing problem.

        • Tina Sieber
          October 28, 2016 at 8:30 am

          Dale, did you check whether the (Links?) toolbar was just unchecked and thus doesn't show up anymore? Based on what you describe, the toolbar must have contained bookmarks. And it sounds like your browser used to log you into those websites automatically or you were kept logged in. Maybe BitDefender changed your browser behavior, e.g. how it stores cookies. Which browser are you using?

  3. Bogdan C
    July 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Doesn't pinning to the taskbar (”W7 proud user”) make the concept of Quick launch bar useless? Still I see programs that have this option.

    • Tina Sieber
      October 28, 2016 at 8:25 am

      It sort of does, except that the Quick Launch Bar also allows you to easily pin folders and files.

  4. QiiiQ
    June 2, 2014 at 3:25 am

    http://rammichael.com/7-taskbar-tweaker
    It is one of the greatest taskbar tweaker!

  5. Ashok K
    May 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    These beautiful tips always enhances my productivity and windows experience. Thanx.

    • Tina S
      May 30, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      I appreciate the feedback, Ashok.

      Are there any other Windows-related tasks you perform a lot that you could use tips for? Would love to hear!

  6. Ryan S
    May 30, 2014 at 5:45 am

    I've enjoyed Rocket Dock over the years for a taskbar. With Windows 'to each their own', but I don't understand Microsoft's force-feeding of 8 to everyone. I've been using 8.1 for about a year now and it seems like all they have done is added a second area where user's make changes to settings.

    • michel
      May 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Force-feeding must be a relative term. No one's forcing me to use Win8.

    • Tina S
      May 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks for mentioning alternatives to the Taskbar, Ryan.

      We've previously written about docks that can replace the Taskbar and RocketDock is the first one in the list; great tool!

    • Ryan S
      May 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      By force -feeding, I was referring to all Microsoft pushing users to newer versions (ergo no longer supporting XP and predecessors). Sorry.

  7. antman
    May 29, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks for the tips cutie. Quick Launch Bar only one I knew of.

  8. likefunbutnot
    May 29, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I don't know very many people who actually take advantage of Jump Lists and Pinned items for the Windows 7/8 taskbar items.

    If you right click on many common toolbar shortcuts in 7/8, you'll see a most recently used list of valid itesm (visited folders for File Explorer, web sites for your browsers, documents for whatever other pinned applications). If you want one or more of those items to be permanently listed, just right click and choose "Pin to this list."

    • Tina S
      May 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Great tip!

      For anyone not sure what they are, we have covered Jump Lists here:
      15 Best Windows 7 Tips and Hacks
      9 Ways To Bookmark Your Favorite Folders In Windows

    • Tony Karakashian
      May 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      Agreed, I use them constantly. I use the Outlook jumplists to open up email and meeting templates I use the most, Word & Excel jumplists to open files I access frequently, Firefox to get into frequent sites, Explorer jumplists to get to folders accessed freqently, etc, etc.

      Jumplists are one of my most-used and favorite upgrades in Windows 7!

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