Windows 7 Features: The Taskbar and Start Menu 4

The taskbar and start menu in Windows 7 are some of the most talked about and hated features in the Operating System.  People have complained about the fact that Microsoft did away with the Quick Launch and the old style for the taskbar.  Some have even gone so far as to make tweaks that return the old look and some semblance of the Quick Launch.

My take is this.  In it’s default setting, the taskbar isn’t very helpful.  But, with the right tweaks, you can make it suit your needs and help to make yourself more productive.  I ask you this.  Of all of the things on your Quick Launch, how many of them do you really use?  And how many of them are hidden behind the double-arrow?

It’s really simple to customize the taskbar to suit your needs.  Do you use Windows Media Player at all?  No? Then unpin it.  Same with Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer.  Do you use Outlook?  Pin it to the taskbar then.  Same with Word, Excel, Netbeans, or whatever programs you use on a regular basis.

Jump lists will help you turn those pinned items into productivity machines.  How? you ask.  Simple.  A jump list shows the most recently used tasks/items/webpages/documents that were opened in the program.  So, if you’ve been working on that spreadsheet in Excel, you don’t have to “Open Excel”—> Open —> find the spreadsheet.  Now, you simply right click on the Excel icon in your taskbar (you DID pin it there, right) and click on the spreadsheet.

Ok, you didn’t pin it to the taskbar, but it is pinned to the start menu’s MRU list.  Same thing goes then.  There will be an arrow next to it, showing the most recently used files (if you select this option in the “Start Menu Settings”).

For your main programs, you can either pin them to the taskbar or the start menu.  My personal suggestion is this.  If it’s something that you use on a constant or daily basis, pin it to the taskbar.  However, if it’s used on a regular basis, but not daily or constantly—pin it to the start menu.  And take advantage of the Jump Lists to speed up your production.

The combination of pinning and jump lists are designed to help you get back to work on what you were doing as quickly as possible.  And the smaller icons with the “Vista-style previews” of what’s happening inside of the open windows are designed to make sure you can take better advantage of the available real estate that is the taskbar.

Next I’m going to discuss LIbraries.  It’s another hate or love feature of Windows.  And with a little luck, you’ll learn to love them too.

Have a great day:)

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4 thoughts on “Windows 7 Features: The Taskbar and Start Menu

  • Anonymous

    Netbeans doesn't work so well – it still launches a separate taskbar icon. When you try to pin that taskbar icon, it pins the JRE… kind of annoying.

  • PatsComputerServices

    The way to get NetBeans to work is this.

    1. Unpin whatever you have pinned for it currently, and close the program if it's open.
    2. Right click on the shortcut on your desktop, or it's name in the All Programs menu.
    3. Select Pin to Taskbar.
    4. Try opening that up.

    I tried this on both the RC and the RTM versions, and it worked. But it has to be closed, and you have to pin the shortcut there.

    If that doesn't work, I'll try to figure something out.

    Have a great day:)

  • PatsComputerServices

    It's strange that it didn't work. I tried it on both the RC and the version that you can buy in the stores right now. It worked on both of them.

    If you're creating Java Desktop Apps, are they all closed when you do this? I've only created the Java Applications, so I don't know how any of the other options function.

    Netbeans has to be completely closed, and you right click on the shortcut on the desktop and choose "Pin to Taskbar". Also make sure there are no other "netbeans" pinned there, or it may just try to combine them (which won't work).

    Otherwise, I'm clueless about how to get it pinned. You could also try pinning it to your Start Menu. Then maybe pinning it to the taskbar from there.

    Sorry that I couldn't be more helpful. If you do figure it out, please post it here, so others can benefit. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    Have a great day:)