What happened to Quick Launch in Windows 7?

Forget the Quick Launch bar, Windows 7 lets you pin programs to the taskbar.

If you've moved from Windows XP to Windows 7, you may have noticed the absence of the "Quick Launch" toolbar. These are the little icons just to the right of the Start button that served as one-click access to things like Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer and Show Desktop.

The bad news is that the Quick Launch toolbar is gone, and you can't get it back without some slightly advanced hacker. If you're interested in try it out How To Geek has an excellent run down on how to regain Quick Launch.

For everyone else, let's push on because Quick Launch has been replaced by something better.

It's called the Taskbar, and is easier to use, with a lot more functionality than Quick Launch. Yes, a taskbar existed in XP, but with Windows 7 this basic feature of Windows is far more advanced and much more usable.

In case you don't know what we're talking about, the Taskbar is the long blue bar at the bottom of the screen. With Windows 7 can now add programs to the taskbar very simply, through a process known as "Pinning."

We've got a more complete Taskbar Pinning tutorial with step-by-step instructions, but here are the basics. Open the Start menu, right-click on a program icon, select "Pin to Taskbar" in the context menu, and your program is now always available to you on the taskbar. No more searching through the Start menu for commonly used programs. Just pin them to the taskbar and they're always there.

The taskbar also does many things in Windows 7 that weren't available in XP:


The Windows 7 taskbar shows you several open windows of a given program in one spot. Instead of a spot on the taskbar for every single open program, which is what XP does. Windows 7 compresses them all into one spot automatically.

Sneak a peek

Having all your open windows of one program compressed might be a pain if it wasn't for the fact that you can peek at every single open window thanks to a feature called Aero Peek. Hover over a program on the taskbar and every open window shows up as a preview right above the icon on the taskbar. Figure out which window you want to use, click it, and you're off to the races.

More than three

By default, XP's Quick Launch Bar contains just three icons. You can add more, but that quickly gets unruly and intrudes into the taskbar. That same problem doesn't happen as easily on Windows 7 since a pinned program takes up the same amount of space on the taskbar whether it's open or closed.

Notification Area

Notifications in XP could quickly clutter your taskbar with all kinds of information on the far right. In Windows 7 only a minimum of notifications compete for your attention and everything else hides in an overflow area underneath that mysterious upward facing arrow.

Desktop Peek

Want to have a quick look at what's on your desktop without any windows getting in the way? Hover over the show desktop button at the absolute far right end of the taskbar with your mouse, but don't click it. After a few seconds, all your windows will disappear showing just your desktop space. Move your mouse pointer away and the windows return.

The Windows 7 Taskbar takes some getting used to, but it will definitely make your Windows experience much better.