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How to Drag Files to the Taskbar to Open Them in Windows 7

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always dropped files directly on the quick launch buttons to quickly and easily open them in the application the shortcut points to, but now Windows 7 doesn’t let you do that—by default, at least.

When you try and drag a file onto a taskbar button in Windows 7, you’ll be prompted to “Pin to Application”, instead of opening the file.

Pin to Notepad

If you right-click the taskbar button, you’ll see that now that file has been pinned there.

Pinned Items

What you need to do instead, is hold down the Shift key while dragging the file to the taskbar button, and it will change to “Open with Application” instead.

Open with Notepad 

It’s one of those simple tips that can seriously save you some time.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/13/09

Comments (9)

  1. Rufus

    I don’t have Windows 7 – can you not simply double click the file to open it with it’s associated application? I don’t see why this is a particularly important function (in any version of Windows, actually).

  2. Jerry

    Nice one!

  3. sam

    i guess if u wanted to open a file that wasn’t associated with that program?

  4. Chris

    Yeah, you can open one file. How about 20 html files dumped into Dreamweaver? It does not work. I just found this out. I’m in disbelief. Someone prove me wrong.

  5. Landy

    I wasn’t able to do the Shift n Drag to to open with multiple files but if you just highlight grab’em and use Alt + Tab and then drop in dreamweaver it will open them all.

    I also like how that opens up dreamweaver when you do it this way. Because the drag n drop method doesn’t open the program it only gives it the blinking highlight.

    :)

    Hope that helps you out.

    LK

  6. gewinnste

    Doesn’t work for me. How should Alt + Tab help there anyway? This lets you switch through the open applications!?

    Anyway, is there a way (change in the registry or similar) to do the drag to open WITHOUT pressing Shift? This is anoying and if I ever would need to pin a file to an application (which I never did so far) I’d want to do THIS by simultaneously pressing Shift.

    So, is there a way to swap those functionalities (i.e. “open with” vs.”pin to”)?

  7. Roi

    @gewinnste
    There probably is a registry key that does that. I will try to search for one but google around and see what you can find.

  8. Suresh

    Thanks a ton!! I have missed this feature the most from the time I was using a Mac. I didn’t know this existed in Windows 7.

  9. Joe

    Good tip, but doesn’t easily work in tablet mode (no shift key on the bezel..)

    If anyone finds a way of swapping this behavior (hold shift to pin, and simply drag onto the icon to open) please post here. I find that I rarely pin documents, but that I often want to open files with a non-default pinned program.

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