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How to get to your programs faster in Windows

by Tris Hussey on February 15th, 2007

How long does it take you to get to the programs you use everyday?  Should really be two clicks at most, and there are two easy ways to do this built into Windows without needing to install any extra software.

Sure there are programs like Launchy, but I’m on a path to keep my new Vista install as clean as I can (Omm fewer installs omm…) so I’m looking at tips and tricks that don’t require additional installs.

The first under-used tip is the Quick Launch toolbar on the Task Bar.  Can’t see it?  You might just be ignoring it.  It’s right next to the Start button.  To make sure you can see it, right-click on the Task Bar, go up to tool bars and select Quick Launch and make sure it’s checked.  The next thing I like to do is to unlock the tool bars if so that you can make the Quick Launch toolbar larger.  The idea here is that you can drag shortcuts to the applications you use most often too quick launch so you can access them with just one click.  So to get started with the Quick Launch toolbar the only thing you have to do is to run shortcuts down to it and you’re there.  Personally, I have my toolbar adjusted to show about five or six icons.  You can reorder them however you want by just dragging them around.  Now all these applications are available to you with just one click. 

Now let’s talk about pinning to the Start menu this is really in under-used feature that most people don’t really use.  Did you know that you can pin applications to the start menu that you use a lot?  It’s very simple to set up, all you have to do is navigate through your All Programs menu, right click on an application, and select Pin to Start menu.  This gives you a list of applications you use a lot, only two clicks away.  I’ve put all of the Microsoft Office applications on my start menu, in addition to email and web browser.

So I have two ways to quickly get to my applications, one is quick launch and the other is the Start menu.  I use Quick Launch for the applications I use a lot things I want to launch fast.  Things like Outlook, FTP, MindManager, text editor, web browsing.  These are apps that I use publish so often that I don’t want to have to navigate anywhere to get to them.

And again this is a simple tip, it’s built right into Windows, and doesn’t make your system run any slower, unlike adding an additional application.

Go ahead and try this now you’ll be surprised at how many times this is going to save you from having to go to the start menu.


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POSTED IN: Vista, XP, Windows, Time savers, Software tips

2 opinions for How to get to your programs faster in Windows

  • Tom Hodgers
    Feb 15, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Hi Tris,
    I did something similar on my laptop. I opened a folder on my desktop called “Shortcuts” and, using the “Send To” right click feature on often used programs and folders, I sent the shortcuts to the desktop and then dragged them into this folder. Then I dragged this folder into the Quick Launch bar.
    So now to open any program or folder with files etc. all I have to do with two clicks is:
    1. Click on the “Shortcuts” folder in the Quick Launch bar and,
    2. Click on the shortcut to the program or folder of interest in the opened shortcts folder.
    I’ve been using this system for a number of years now, it really saves time, especially when you have programs on different drives and you might not remember where they are.



  • Tris Hussey
    Feb 15, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    That’s a great one Tom! I do something similar with my commonly used folders. I put a shortcut to them in Quick Launch. It’s a great way to quickly naviagate through a heirarchy of nested folders with one click.

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