Tutorial Thursday

One of the things that I’ve come to realize with using a computer is that you can never have too many ways to launch an application. The Quick Launch bar is probably one of the most famous ways of doing so, and I’ve seen people who have a Quick Launch bar that takes up more than 50% of the Taskbar. Crazy, I know.

Did you know that you can add toolbars, such as Quick Launch, to your desktop? You can, and it’s actually rather nice because you can have it dock to one side of the screen or even float around on your desktop. And why stop at just using it for Quick Launch? We’ll show you how you can add any folder to a floating or docked toolbar on your desktop!

–Add a Toolbar–

Create a new folder on your desktop (or using an existing one) and drag it to one of the sides of your screen. Windows will automatically turn it into a toolbar which we will further customize in a minute:

windows desktop toolbar 1

–Moving the Toolbar–

If you don’t like the fact that the toolbar eats up so much room you have two options available. The first is to right-click on the toolbar and set it to automatically hide. This will force the toolbar to only appear when your mouse hits the edge of the screen where it is located.

The alternate method, and the one that I prefer, is to drag the toolbar off the side of the screen so that it is no longer docked. I actually didn’t realize that this was possible until just a few days ago when one of my friends told me about it. To do it you need to click on the edge/border of the toolbar with your mouse (not on the portion where you resize it), and then drag it into the middle of the desktop. This diagram shows exactly where you need to click:

windows desktop toolbar 3

Even though the toolbar looks like a window it doesn’t actually show up in the Taskbar, and so you don’t have to worry about there being additional clutter.

–Customize the Toolbar–

Now that you have the toolbar positioned where you want it lets make it useful. If you right-click anywhere in the toolbar you can go to the Toolbars menu to select any pre-made toolbars, such as the Quick Launch one. That’s right, you can have all of your Quick Launch icons show up on your desktop instead of or in addition to the Taskbar!You can also use the New Toolbar option to browse for a folder on your computer to be added.

In the end here’s what my toolbar looked like after removing the “New Folder” that we temporarily added, I put the Quick Launch on there, and I browsed for the “My Computer” folder on my machine:

windows desktop toolbar 4

I normally remove the Show Title and Show Text features (located in the right-click menu) since both of those will consume quite a bit of room on your toolbar. You can also change the size of the icons (I’m using large ones in the screenshot above).

By adding the “My Computer” folder I have quick access to all of the drives on my computer, including USB drives that I might add and remove quite frequently. If there is too much to show in any of the toolbars there will be a small arrow along the bottom to display a flyout menu for the rest of the contents.

Pretty cool, huh?