Optimizing Toolbars in Vista

9/5/2010 9:37:34 AM

Several toolbars are available for the taskbar. The toolbar that most users are familiar with is the Quick Launch toolbar, which provides quick access to commonly used programs and the Windows desktop. The taskbar can display other toolbars that come with Windows Vista, and users can create their own toolbars as well.

Displaying Toolbars

Toolbars available for the taskbar include:

  • Address Provides an Address box into which you can type Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) and other addresses that you want to access, either on the Web, on the local network, or on the local computer. When full file paths are specified, the default application for the file is launched automatically to display the specified file.

  • Links Provides access to the Links folder on the Favorites menu of Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Vista. To add links to files, Web pages, or other resources, drag shortcuts onto the Links toolbar. To remove links, right-click the link and select Delete. When prompted, confirm the action by clicking Yes.

  • Desktop Provides access to all the shortcuts on the local desktop so that you don't have to minimize Windows or click Show Desktop on the Quick Launch toolbar to access them.

  • Quick Launch Provides quick access to commonly used applications. By default, this is the only toolbar displayed on the taskbar.

To display or hide individual toolbars, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the taskbar to display the shortcut menu.

  2. Point to Toolbars and then select the toolbar name in the list provided. This toggles the toolbar on and off.


By default, a name label is displayed for all toolbars except Quick Launch. You can turn off the name label by right-clicking the toolbar and then choosing Show Title to deselect that command. If the taskbar is locked, you must first unlock it by selecting Lock The Taskbar on the shortcut menu.

Customizing the Quick Launch Toolbar

The Quick Launch toolbar is displayed to the right of the Start button on the taskbar. By default, this toolbar includes buttons that provide quick access to the Windows Desktop and the default Web browser. If your organization has custom applications or a preferred suite of applications, you can add buttons for these applications on the Quick Launch toolbar. If an application that has an icon on the Quick Launch toolbar is no longer used, you can remove the button to prevent users from accidentally starting the application.

To add a button to the Quick Launch toolbar, follow these steps:

  1. Use the Start menu to find the item that you want to add to the Quick Launch toolbar.

  2. Right-click the item and then select Add To Quick Launch.

To remove a button from the Quick Launch toolbar, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the button on the toolbar and then select Delete.

  2. When prompted to confirm the action, click Yes.

Restoring the Show Desktop Button

The most useful button on the Quick Launch toolbar is Show Desktop. The first time you click this button, the operating system brings the Windows desktop to the foreground in front of all open windows. The second time you click this button, the operating system restores the original view, sending the desktop to the background. Users often start deleting buttons and accidentally delete the Show Desktop button–one of the most common problems encountered with the Quick Launch toolbar. Users might not tell you that they've removed this button accidentally (indeed, they might not even know that they did it), and they might get frustrated when they can't get to the desktop quickly. Fixing this problem is easy, but it requires a few steps.

As with other aspects of the menu system, the Quick Launch toolbar options have a representation in the file system. You'll find Quick Launch options in the %UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch folder. Although the original Show Desktop button was created using a shortcut, you can re-create it using a Windows command file called SHOW DESKTOP.SCF.


AppData is a hidden folder. To view this folder, you'll need to select the advanced folder option Show Hidden Files And Folders. In Windows Explorer, select Folder Options from the Organize menu and then select the View tab. On the View tab, select Show Hidden Files And Folders and then click OK.

To restore the button to the toolbar, you have several options. You can copy SHOW DESKTOP.SCF from another user's profile data, or you can recreate the file. To recreate the file, follow these steps:

  1. Start Microsoft Notepad and then add the following lines of text:

  2. From the File menu, select Save As and then save the file in the %UserProfile%\ AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch folder. Use the file name SHOW DESKTOP.SCF.


If you don't know the actual value for the %UserProfile% environment variable, open a command prompt and type set userprofile. The command prompt then displays the variable value, such as C:\Users\Williams.

Creating Personal Toolbars

You can create personal toolbars for users as well. Personal toolbars are based on existing folders, and their buttons are based on the folder contents. The most common toolbars you might create are ones that point to shared folders on the network. For example, if all users have access to a CorpData shared folder in which corporate information is stored, and a UserData folder in which personal information is stored, you could add toolbars to the taskbar that point to these resources. When users want to access one of the folders, they can simply click the corresponding toolbar button.

You can create personal toolbars by completing these steps:

  1. Right-click the taskbar to display the shortcut menu. Point to Toolbars and then click New Toolbar. This displays the New Toolbar dialog box.

  2. Use the Choose A Folder list box to select the folder you want to make into a toolbar.

  3. When you click OK, the folder is displayed as a new toolbar on the taskbar. If you add shortcuts to the toolbar view, the shortcuts are added to the folder. Similarly, if you delete items from the toolbar view, the items are removed from the folder.


When it comes to personal toolbars, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that most users find them valuable. The bad news is that if a user decides to close the toolbar, it must be recreated before it can be viewed on the taskbar again.

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