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How to Arrange Shortcuts into Groups on the Windows 7 Quick Launch Bar

00_lead_image_free_launch_bar

The Quick Launch Bar is a handy tool for quickly and easily launching applications. However, if you’ve put a lot of shortcuts on the Quick Launch Bar, it can get quite cluttered and you cannot rearrange the shortcuts or sort them into groups.

By default, the Quick Launch Bar is hidden in Windows 7. However, you can easily add the Quick Launch Bar to the Taskbar. We’ve previously written about a free tool that creates a launcher in the Windows system tray that is similar to the Quick Launch Bar.

There is also a free tool, called Free Launch Bar, that allows you to group shortcuts on the Quick Launch Bar and add titles, separators, and submenus. It is fully compatible with the Windows Quick Launch Bar because it is uses the same folder for the shortcuts.

To install Free Launch Bar, extract the .zip file you downloaded (see the link at the end of this article). Run the appropriate executable file, depending on whether you are running a 32-bit or a 64-bit version of Windows.

01_running_freelaunchbar_install_file

If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.

NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

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The Welcome screen on the setup wizard displays. Click Next.

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Read through the License Agreement and click I Agree to continue.

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There are no optional components on the Choose Components screen, so click Next.

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The Choose Install Location screen displays. If you want to install Free Launch Bar to a different location other than the default location listed in the edit box, use the Browse button to select another location. We accepted the default location. Click Install to continue.

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The progress of the installation displays and then the Quick Start Guide displays when the installation is done. Click Next when you are ready.

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Once the installation is done, the Completing the Free Launch Bar Setup Wizard screen displays. Click Finish to close the setup wizard.

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As stated in the Quick Start Guide, to start Free Launch Bar, right-click on the Taskbar and select Toolbars | Free Launch Bar from the popup menu.

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By default, the Quick Launch Bar displays as a toolbar on the Taskbar.

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To create a group or a folder on the Quick Launch Bar, right-click anywhere on the bar and select New | Menu from the popup menu. The New submenu also allows you to insert separators on the bar and create new shortcuts.

Enter a name for the new menu in the edit box. If you want to accept the default settings for the new menu, click Finish. Otherwise, click Next to change the settings for the new menu.

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First, choose the View Mode. We selected the Default option for this setting. Click Next.

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Select the size of the icons on the menu. We chose Small icons. Click Finish.

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Initially, your new menu is empty. You must add shortcuts to it. This is as simple as dragging and dropping shortcuts from elsewhere on the Quick Launch Bar to the new menu.

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You can also drag and drop shortcuts from the desktop to your new menu on the Quick Launch Bar.

NOTE: If you want to keep the shortcut on the desktop as well as on the Quick Launch Bar, press Ctrl before dragging the shortcut to the new menu to drag a copy of the shortcut to the Quick Launch Bar.

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Here’s our Browsers group on the Quick Launch Bar.

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You can rename any of the shortcuts on the Quick Launch Bar, whether they’re in groups or not. To do this, right-click on the shortcut and select Rename from the popup menu.

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The Enter name dialog box displays. Enter a new name for the shortcut or folder in the edit box and click OK.

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The shortcut has been renamed.

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You can also add titles to your Quick Launch Bar to indicates groups within a group. Titles are essentially separators with text. To do this, right-click on a shortcut above which you want to place a title. Select New | Title from the popup menu.

On the Enter name dialog box, enter a title in the edit box and click OK.

20a_entering_a_title

Here is the menu we built using one menu with shortcuts separated by titles.

Notice the tip that displays on the menu pictured above. You can choose the style of the tips or turn them off completely. In addition to tips, there are a lot of other settings you can change to customize Free Launch Bar. To access the settings, right-click on any part of the Quick Launch Bar and select FLB Settings from the popup menu.

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The Settings dialog box displays with a menu on the left side. To turn off the tips, click Tips in the menu on the left side and then click Disable tips in the Tips style box. If you like the tips, you can choose a different style of tips, such as Balloon tips.

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You can also assign a hotkey to a shortcut by right-clicking on the shortcut and selecting Hot key from the popup menu.

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In the Button key edit box on the Hot key dialog box, type the hotkey you want to use and click OK.

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The hotkey displays to the right of the shortcut on the menu and in the tips, if the tips are enabled.

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Manage your hotkeys on the Settings dialog box by clicking Hotkeys in the menu on the left.

Change any other desired settings and click OK to save your changes and close the Settings dialog box.

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If you want to “turn off” the Free Launch Bar, right-click on the Taskbar and select Toolbars | Free Launch Bar, without the ellipses (…), from the popup menu. To turn the Free Launch Bar back on, right-click on the Taskbar again and select the only Free Launch Bar, with the ellipses, from the popup menu. Your menus, groups, titles, etc. should be displayed again.

NOTE: You’ll notice that the Free Launch Bar option has replaced the Quick Launch Bar option on the Toolbars submenu.

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Download Free Launch Bar from http://www.freelaunchbar.com/.

There is a paid version of Free Launch Bar called True Launch Bar, which has additional functionality, such as plugins, skins, and virtual folders support. However, if you’re looking for a basic way to group your Quick Launch Bar shortcuts, Free Launch Bar should be sufficient for the job. You can create an unlimited number of groups and submenu levels with the free version.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 05/2/12

Comments (14)

  1. Howard

    Fails to install correctly on 64 bit … completes the the install but no wizard or program shows …. the library has just 2 files and the start menu lack an executable.

  2. RobCr

    If MS allowed Classic Start Menu
    And you organized your Start Menu into Categories, you would not need to be building up a pour cousin in the Quick Launch Bar.

    Find a free program that will allow you to revert the start Menu to what it should be (instead of the horrible Win 7 Start Menu, with it’s Lucky Dip Search box)

    Then go into -
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
    and create meaningful category folders
    And then do your organizing of your shortcuts

  3. rayuman39

    I use “Fences” from Stardock.com

  4. rattlehead

    I have the same problem as Howard, only 2 files in the C:\programs\free launch bar folder and neither are an executable. It wont run unless there is some special trick I don’t know about.

  5. rattlehead

    My mistake, I guess it pays to read what the installer says, after installing right click on the task bar then click on tool bars then click free launch bar. It’s all there, works fine, Thanks Geek and sorry for the confusion.

  6. bmwbiker

    I assume that Free Launch Bar would work in Win8CP as there is a Quick Launch Bar option in that OS also. If so, it might be a nice substitute for the missing start button, and certainly an improvement over the brain-dead Metro start screen.

  7. NotSteve

    Doesn’t this kind of defeat the purpose of a quick launch? Looks like it is buried just as deep as clicking on the windows button and then all programs.

    Although the hot keys functionality is nice.

  8. Jakeu1701

    Something I did not see and might have missed, jump lists on the combined apps.

    When the apps are combined, will you still be able to right click and see the standard jump lists pull down or over to the side? Or are they not available when using this app?

    Have not tried to install on 64bit, but that is all most have now a days.

    Would it work in compatibility mode?

  9. edmenje

    I use 7 stacks with a series of grouped icons in quick launch (graphics, net, office…etc). A lot neater and more stylish (full aero compatability). I also use classic shell for the classic layout of the start menu which also allows aero transparency for when I do need to get to a program not in the stacks.

  10. Wayne

    Too much work. Send your apps to the desktop as shortcuts. Organize them into folders. Add the desktop toolbar to your task bar. Organized, easy to access and the popup looks just like the result here without additional software. If you like a clean desktop, turn off icons and you can still access everything through the popup menu. Works especially well when you assign the task bar to the top edge of the screen.

  11. Bud Vitoff

    TANSTAAFL! Come on! Everybody knows there aint no such thing as a free lunch!

  12. R J Sheppard

    I always create a new Toolbar, whenever I setup a new computer, which is named “Computer” (which is a shortcut to the upper level of all my drives.) Open this toolbar to find a stack of all your drives, from then on just hover with your cursor over the drives and subsequent folders and sub folders. Very fast finding something looking at the actual folder hierarchy.

  13. macaronsoup

    What is the point of all this when already without installing anything you can add any program to the taskbar and you can open the start menu and right-click on “All Programs” to organize programs into categories in the start menu. You can even change the folder icons in the start menu if you right click on folder > properties.

  14. Ninetoes

    Looked good,installed fine,became total nightmare! Open anything and windows explorer crashes.,repeatedly. Had to turn off Freelauncher in order to uninstall it..Nice idea,but no way!

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