Using the Quick Launch Toolbar

The optional Quick Launch toolbar, which appears just to the right of the Start menu, is another handy tool for starting programs. It gives you quick access to frequently used programs that are on the Start menu. For example, the third icon in the Quick Launch toolbar shown in Figure 1 is for Windows Media Player. To start Windows Media Player, you can either click the Start button and choose All Programs > Accessories > Entertainment > Windows Media Player (that's 5 mouse clicks). Or you click on the Media Player icon in the Quick Launch toolbar shown below (that's 1 mouse click). Hence the name "Quick Launch".

Figure 1

I don't know exactly what buttons are in your Quick Launch toolbar right now. Because, like I said, not all computers contain the same programs. There may be more icons on your Quick Launch toolbar than first meet the eye. If you see a >> arrow at the right side of the Quick Launch toolbar. you can click on that to reveal additional buttons, as in the example shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Like everything else in Windows XP, you can make the Quick Launch toolbar visible or invisible. And you can customize its appearance to your own liking. Here's how:

  1. Right-click the Start button and choose Properties

  2. In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box that opens, click on the Taskbar tab.

  3. Make sure that the options selected in Figure 3 are also selected on your computer.

Figure 3

  1. Click the OK button at the bottom of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box to save all your changes and close the dialog box.

The Quick Launch toolbar will now be visible on your screen (if it wasn't before). .

If you left the "Lock the taskbar" option unchecked in the dialog box shown in Figure 6, you'll see little dragging handles (sort of like non-skid surfaces) on the taskbar. You can drag those left and right to size the portion of the taskbar that's to the right of the handle.

Figure 4

For example, if you drag the sizing handle shown in Figure 4 to the left or right, you'll expand or shrink the area to the right of the Quick Launch toolbar, thereby making more, or less, room for Quick Launch buttons.


Figure 5

When you lock the taskbar, all the sizing handles disappear. You'll probably want to leave the taskbar locked most of the time, as doing so prevents you from accidentally resizing things while you're whipping around with the mouse doing other things. You can easily lock, or unlock, the taskbar at any time just by right-clicking the current date in the lower right corner of your screen and choosing Lock the Taskbar.

Alan Simpson