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.
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.
The Welcome screen on the setup wizard displays. Click Next.
Read through the License Agreement and click I Agree to continue.
There are no optional components on the Choose Components screen, so click Next.
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.
The progress of the installation displays and then the Quick Start Guide displays when the installation is done. Click Next when you are ready.
Once the installation is done, the Completing the Free Launch Bar Setup Wizard screen displays. Click Finish to close the setup wizard.
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.
By default, the Quick Launch Bar displays as a toolbar on the Taskbar.
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.
First, choose the View Mode. We selected the Default option for this setting. Click Next.
Select the size of the icons on the menu. We chose Small icons. Click Finish.
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.
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.
Here’s our Browsers group on the Quick Launch Bar.
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.
The Enter name dialog box displays. Enter a new name for the shortcut or folder in the edit box and click OK.
The shortcut has been renamed.
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.
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.
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.
You can also assign a hotkey to a shortcut by right-clicking on the shortcut and selecting Hot key from the popup menu.
In the Button key edit box on the Hot key dialog box, type the hotkey you want to use and click OK.
The hotkey displays to the right of the shortcut on the menu and in the tips, if the tips are enabled.
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.
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.
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.
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