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Four ways to add fast, easy access to files and folders to your Windows 7 taskbar

The improved taskbar -- or Superbar, as it's really called now -- in Windows 7 offers loads of features which make getting at the files and folders you use frequently easier and faster. The four options I'll cover here don't require any additional software. They're all possible using features built right in to your OS, you just might not have realized it yet!

Pin 'em to your Explorer icon (pictured above)
The most obvious solution, and the one you're most likely to have tried already. The Explorer icon sits on the Superbar by default, so every fresh Windows 7 desktop should have it. Pinning a folder is as simple as it gets: find a folder you want to add to the Explorer Jump List, click on it and hold your mouse button down, and drag it to the Explorer taskbar icon.

There's another way to add items, too. Folders you use frequently automatically appear on the Jump List. Right-click the Explorer icon to display it, and then click the thumbtack icon to pin anything you'd like to show up at the list.

The Quick Launch toolbar
This one's been part of Windows for ages -- it's not new to Windows 7. Now, in fact, it's kind of tucked away out of plain sight. Putting the quick launch toolbar back is easy enough. Here's how to do it:
  • right click the Superbar and choose toolbar from the top of the context menu
  • click new toolbar from the bottom of the slide-out submenu
  • paste the following path in the box labeled folder (quotes and all): "%appdata%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick launch"
You'll see the toolbar appear on your Superbar. To easily add shortcuts to other folders, right-click on the Quick launch text and choose open folder. Any shortcuts you create in that Explorer window will automatically appear on the menu you just created.

You can also drag-and-drop shortcuts -- just be careful where you let go of your mouse button or your shortcut may wind up somewhere you didn't want it.
The Desktop toolbar
One very handy default toolbar is Desktop. Add it, and all the icons covering up your snazzy wallpaper appear right on the taskbar in a compact menu. Once you've done that, you can right click your desktop, choose view, and click on Show Desktop Icons. *poof!* Your desktop is squeaky clean, and you still have easy access to everything you stashed there.

You can still drag and drop items on your desktop or right-click a file or folder and choose send to -> desktop, too. Instead of appearing there, they'll show up on the menu!

Adding the desktop toolbar is even easier than the Quick Launch:
  • right click the Superbar and choose toolbar from the top of the context menu
  • click Desktop
Bonus: this also acts as a way to get a functional recycle bin icon on your taskbar!

The Start Menu -> Recorded TV Library button

Sure, technically the Menu isn't on the taskbar itself, but the Windows button is, so let's just go with it...Starting with XP, Microsoft added a section of folder buttons to the right-hand side of the Windows Start Menu. They give quick access to things like your Documents, Music, and Photos.

In Windows 7, you can add two more: Downloads and Recorded TV. Fast access to the Downloads folder? Heck yes! The Recorded TV library, however, really isn't going to be that useful to you if you don't use your system as a PVR -- but you can easily change it to something that you'll find much more handy. It's a three step process (with multiple sub-steps).

Step 1: add the Recorded TV library button to your Start Menu
  • Right-click the Windows button and choose properties
  • Click the customize button when the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window appears
  • Scroll down through the list (it's alphabetical) until you find Recorded TV
  • Change the selection to either display as link or display as menu. Display as link means a new Explorer window will open when you click the button. Display as menu will slide out your Library's contents when you hover over the button with your mouse.
Step 2: change the name to something more meaningful
  • Click your Windows button to make the start button appear
  • Right-click the Recorded TV folder and choose properties
  • Click the General tab
  • Replace Recorded TV with whatever you want (Miscellaneous Debris, etc.)
Step 3: add the folders you want to the library

  • Click your Windows button to make the start button appear
  • Right-click the Recorded TV folder and choose properties
  • Click Include a Folder and browse for the folder you want
  • Click the Include Folder button to add it
  • Repeat until your library is complete
  • Click the drop-down under Optimize this library for and set it to the most appropriate type (I use General)
Got another method for fast and easy file and folder access which doesn't require additional software? Share it in the comments!

Tags: features, hacks, how-to, howtos, superbar, tips, windows, windows 7, Windows7