How to Pin an External Drive to the Windows Taskbar

Do you have an external drive connected to your Windows computer and would like to access it from the Taskbar? Here we show you a workaround that will allow you to pin it to Taskbar.

We’ll show you how to add an external drive icon to the Taskbar in Windows 10, but this trick will also work in Windows 7 and 8.

You would think the process would be as easy as dragging the external drive icon to the Taskbar. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. If you try to drag the external drive icon to the Taskbar, it just adds it to File Explorer.

Then, if you right-click on the File Explorer icon, you’ll be able to access it from there. This might be enough for some users, but we want to add it to the Taskbar as an icon.

With a quick workaround, we can add the drive as an icon to the Taskbar. However, before doing this, we need to assign a persistent drive letter to our external drive. We’re going to add a drive letter to the external drive’s icon on the Taskbar, so that drive letter needs to stay the same every time you connect the drive to your PC.

Once you’ve assigned the drive letter to your external drive, right-click on an empty area on your desktop and go to New > Text Document.

Then, name the text file whatever you want and change the .txt extension to .exe . In our example, we’re adding the external N:\ drive, so we named it Drive N.exe . Press Enter.

After pressing Enter, you will see a dialog box asking if you’re sure you want to change the extension. Click the “Yes” button to finish changing the name on the file.

Now we have a “dummy” executable (.exe) file on the desktop. Right-click on the file and select “Pin to taskbar” from the popup menu.

The file’s icon is added to the Taskbar. Now, we’ll add the persistent drive letter you assigned to your external drive to the properties of the icon. Right-click on the file’s icon, right-click on the name of the file on the popup menu, and then select “Properties” from the second popup menu.

On the Shortcut tab on the Properties dialog box, change the “Target” to the drive letter of your external drive, such as N:\, and change the “Start in” to the same drive letter as well, as shown in the image below.

If you want to open a specific folder on your external drive using this icon, enter the path to the folder in the Target and Start in boxes, for example N:\My Work . You can actually use this technique to add any folder to the Taskbar too. The main thing to remember is changing the Target and Start in to the correct path.

Don’t close the Properties dialog box quite yet. While we’re on this dialog box, we want to change the icon to something more appropriate like a hard drive icon, so click the “Change Icon” button on the Shortcut tab.

You might see a warning dialog box telling you that the file has no icons. That’s fine. Click the “OK” button to close that dialog box. If the file has no icons, Windows automatically opens the shell32.dll file in the %SystemRoot%\System32\ folder, which contains a lot of icon from which you can choose. Click on an icon in the “Select an icon from the list below” box and click OK.

If you want to change the icon to something not included in Windows, check out our guide, How to Customize Your Icons in Windows.

The icon on the Taskbar does not change immediately. You need to restart explorer.exe for the selected icon to display.

Now we have a more appropriate looking hard drive icon and a quick method of accessing our external drive.

Although it might seem like a goofy method for simply pinning a drive or other folder to the Taskbar, the work around is effective. This will allow you to access the external drive with only one click and save a few steps in navigating to it.

Lori Kaufman is a 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 03/10/17
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