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How to Use the Windows Vista Quick Launch Toolbar

Are you tired of the Start→All Programs→Blah→Blah hunt-and-click routine in Vista? Do you have a small handful of programs you run every day? If so, learning to use Windows Vista's Quick Launch toolbar is going to make your computing experience a joy.

The Quick Launch toolbar contains small icons that let you open programs quickly. In its initial state, it holds little icons for showing the desktop, for the “Flip 3D” window switcher, and, if you’ve run the programs at least once, for Internet Explorer, Outlook or Windows Mail, Windows Media Player, and a few more programs (the company that manufactured your PC may have jimmied the mix a bit).

The Windows Quick Launch toolbar sits immediately to the right of the Start button on the Windows taskbar. It’s a convenient place to put your own icons so that launching programs — or even opening frequently used documents — is just a click away.

The programs available directly from my Quick Launch toolbar.
The programs available directly from my Quick Launch toolbar.

Of all the gadgets incorporated into Windows Vista, the Quick Launch toolbar stands at the top of the timesaving food chain. Here’s how to organize Windows for maximum efficiency, based on how frequently you use specific programs, folders, and so on:

  • Put programs and documents that you use several times a day on the Quick Launch toolbar. Each gets its own automatically generated hot key (Windows+1, Windows+2, and so on). You should assign your own shortcut keys to these frequently used programs and documents, as well.

  • Put programs, folders, and documents that you use at least once a day on the Start menu.

  • Use the Windows desktop as a temporary parking area and clean it up as frequently as you possibly can.

Following those three guidelines ensures that the programs, documents, and folders you use most are the easiest ones to find.

If you can’t see the Quick Launch toolbar next to the Start button on your Windows taskbar, that’s because you turned it off (accidentally or on purpose)! Here’s how to get it back.

  1. Right-click any open spot on the Windows taskbar.

  2. Choose Toolbars→Quick Launch.

    The Quick Launch toolbar will stay put until you forcibly remove it.

There’s no need to settle for Windows’ bone-stock Quick Launch toolbar. Any program, file, folder, or shortcut that you want to get at quickly can be added to the Quick Launch toolbar just by clicking and dragging it there.

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