In last week’s Tech Tip, I outlined how to customize your taskbar for easy access to your favourite programs and folders.

Read: Clean up your computer desktop

This week, I’ll show you how to take taskbar customization to a whole new level with a free tool from Alastria Software.

7stacks helps you organize your programs, files, and folders in a way that makes sense to you, and makes them all accessible from your taskbar.

The program installs quickly and is easy to use.

Read: Technology changes client interaction

First, you group programs under a single shortcut and drag the shortcut icon to your taskbar.

That allows you to access those programs from a menu that slides up from your taskbar when the icon is clicked.

In this example, I called the shortcut OFFICE and I grouped the following programs: Excel, Notepad, Outlook, Paint, and Word.

Here’s the process:

  • Right-click your desktop and select New, then Folder. That creates a new folder on your desktop; call it Shortcuts. Create another folder inside the Shortcuts folder and call it OFFICE (or whatever you want).
  • Open the OFFICE folder and drag in the shortcut icons of all the programs you want to launch from this master shortcut. Remember, you can drag them from your start menu, your desktop, or anywhere they reside on your hard drive.
  • Open the 7stacks program and browse for the folder you created inside the Shortcuts folder.
  • Select a stack type (the image above is a vertical stack). The other choices are Vertical Stack Without Text, Grid, Grid Without Text, and Menu. Experiment with the different stack types to find your preference.
  • Choose an icon.
  • Click Create Shortcut On Desktop.
  • Drag the newly created desktop shortcut to your taskbar (then delete the shortcut from your desktop if you wish).

Repeat the process for other programs or folders you want to access from the taskbar. You can clean up a lot of icons from your desktop with this tool. If you want to go extreme, you can actually eliminate all desktop icons.

If you need to add or delete shortcuts from the master shortcut on the taskbar, you don’t have to repeat the entire process. The master shortcut already points to a folder. Simply add or delete shortcuts from that folder.

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All shortcuts in the folder will be immediately available by clicking the taskbar icon. Remember to select a unique icon so you’ll be able to distinguish your shortcuts from each other.

Next week, I’ll explain how to organize all your forms and make them accessible from the taskbar.

David Dagley, CFP®, is a software developer and Adobe javascript expert, with 15 years of financial planning experience. He is the owner and president of Forms Doctor Inc., a company specializing in workflow automation solutions and financial planning calculators for investment dealers, financial advisors, and investment firms.
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