How to Pin Documents to the Taskbar and Declutter A Desktop

Get your desktop files organized with the taskbar.

As more and more of our miscellaneous files end up on our computers, it's essential to quickly locate frequently used files and applications. In Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced the concept of pinning items like documents and applications to the Start Menu. In Windows 7, Microsoft took the next step and allowed users to pin their favorite applications and documents to the taskbar. That feature that still exists on Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10.

Microsoft also introduced jump lists, which allow you to view recently opened documents and your pinned favorites without having to open the individual applications. The files are associated with the applications you're working on, so if you regularly use a group of Excel files you can pin them to the Excel shortcut on the taskbar.

This guide applies to Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10.

How to Pin Documents to the Taskbar

To pin a document or application to the taskbar, follow the instructions below.

  1. Click and drag the application to the taskbar. To pin a document to an application shortcut on the taskbar, click and drag the file to the respective program icon.

  2. A small tip will indicate the item will be pinned to the application you selected. So, if you want to pin an Excel document, drag it to the Excel icon on your taskbar.

    Dragging an Excel doc to the Taskbar
  3. Now right-click the program icon in the taskbar and look for the "Pinned" section in the jump list.

    The Pinned section
  4. Once pinned, you can access your favorite files right from your desktop.

How to Pin Items to the Start Menu

Alternatively, you can choose to pin items to the Start menu instead of the taskbar. To do this:

This feature is for Windows 10 only.

  1. Select the Start button.

  2. Right-click the program you want to pin to the Start menu.

  3. Select Pin to Start

    The Pin to Start command

It's an easy way to easily get at files and in Windows 10 you can easily access all your pinned items across multiple desktops.

Now all that's left to do is sort out those documents sitting on your desktop. We highly recommend you don't pin a program to your taskbar for every possible document you need to sort out. Instead, look for the most commonly required programs or the most essential (depending on the types of documents you have). Then, sort each file to an appropriate folder on your system before pinning your essential files to their respective programs on the taskbar.

If you don't sort your files first, they will still be on your desktop looking cluttered as ever. You'll just have an improved way to access them.

Once your desktop is cleared try to keep it that way. It may seem easier to just dump everything on the desktop, but that gets confusing fast. A better solution is to funnel all your various downloaded files into appropriate folders on your system. Then, at the end of every week (or every day if you have the bandwidth) dump anything on your desktop into the recycle bin. 

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