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In Windows XP, you could separate toolbars from the Task Bar by dragging them to the desktop. They could then be left lying about anywhere on your screen or, my preferred option, docked to any side of the screen.

I found this particularly useful to keep a handy list of common phone numbers quickly accessible. I'd create a new toolbar pointing to a custom folder, and put a bunch of dead shortcuts in the folder that had names and numbers as their file names. I'd then dock the toolbar to the left side, set it to auto-hide and always on top (options which could be set separate from the Task Bar as well) and it would be readily available no matter what else I was doing on my system.

However, on my Windows 7 system, I seem unable to perform the crucial step of pulling the new toolbar off of the Task Bar. This is of course with the Task Bar "unlocked" so that I can move all my toolbars around.

Is there something I'm missing here, or is this a feature that's been disabled in Windows 7? Is there any way to re-enable it, or otherwise achieve similar functionality? I'd rather be able to do this without additional software, if possible.

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you cant do that in 7... are you willing to use a third party tool? –  tumchaaditya Jul 10 '12 at 4:49
    
@tumchaaditya It largely depends on who the third party is, but I might consider it. –  Iszi Jul 10 '12 at 14:10
    
you can use something like rainmeter.. –  tumchaaditya Jul 11 '12 at 2:35
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7 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+50

Is there something I'm missing here, or is this a feature that's been disabled in Windows 7? Is there any way to re-enable it?

No. According to Microsoft Support Engineer Chris H., all toolbar are now pinned to the taskbar (link).

I found this particularly useful to keep a handy list of common phone numbers quickly accessible.

For this purpose, you could use a Desktop Gadget like Vista Contacts gadget for Windows 7.

It monitors all contacts in %USERPROFILE%\Contacts, and you can access it easily with the key combination Win + G.

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Not my preferred method, but it seems to be the only one of these that's even close to what I was hoping to achieve. Thanks. –  Iszi Jul 12 '12 at 20:37
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No, I'm afraid that deskbands have indeed been removed from Windows Explorer as of Vista. It has been suggested that you can offer feedback in the hopes of getting them back in the future, but don't get your hopes up.

There are some third-party programs that can provide the same functionality more or less. One that is pretty good is Cylog's ToolBox which has lots of extra features.

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My solution is to use a Windows 7 Gadget. It is a free option. There are some gadgets that allow to launch any application you add to it from Desktop. For example, here are three gadgets for this purpose (app launcher, circle dock and speed launcher): http://windows7themes.net/windows-7-app-launcher-gadget.html

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is it OK for you now, @slm? :) –  chelder Apr 28 '13 at 23:06
    
Yup that's fine now, thanks! –  slm Apr 28 '13 at 23:10
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Have you ever looked into Fences?

http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/

enter image description here

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I use Fences, but you'll need to be more specific as to how it can be used to mirror the functionality I'm looking for. I want a toolbar-like object that is docked to the side of my screen, auto-hides, and is accessible by moving the mouse to that screen edge even if other programs are on top of the Desktop (i.e.: maximized windows). Also, it should be able to display objects in a list-type view (small or no icon, with file name on the same line). –  Iszi Jul 3 '12 at 16:38
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For the specific purpose of phone numbers and lists, you could use bginfo, which will update the desktop background image with text. You can set up user fields and run scripts from it that can do things such as parse and display text.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897557.aspx

It refreshes at boot and is not "live" but can be set to run on a schedule or run manually to update the desktop image.

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The problem with this is its very nature - it's a background, only available when all other windows are moved out of the way. The solution I'm trying to duplicate was available all of the time. –  Iszi Jul 6 '12 at 18:19
    
put aero peek to use man! it will even easier than auto-hiding bars of XP +1 to the solution...this would be amazing for windows 7 in specific.. –  tumchaaditya Jul 10 '12 at 4:51
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In Windows 7, I create more toolbars on the taskbar by

  1. Right-clicking the task bar.
  2. Clicking New Toolbar.
  3. Navigate to My Computer.
  4. Click ok.

The toolbar will appear or right-click and add it. Once you have it there just click to open a drive and and just hover your cursor over appearing folders, no need to click everything... very fast finding files.

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That's not what he is asking about. What you described is tethered to the Task Bar. In Windows XP you could drag a folder to the edge of the screen and create a floating toolbar called a deskband (I'll add a screenshot tonight). –  Synetech Jul 9 '12 at 20:33
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There is no way to re-enable it, but I found an excellent third party utility that does more or less exactly the same thing. It is called "true launch bar" and you can find it at http://www.truelaunchbar.com/. At the moment it costs $20 and there is a 30 day trial (without need for registration) so you can check if it works for you.

After you install it, what you'll be looking for is the "true launch bar standalone". It's a normal executable and not part of the W7 native task bar system, rather, a separate taskbar program that emulates the old behavior of the 'pre-W7 launch bar in a detachable desk band.'

( I am not associated with the authors of this program in any way )

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