Seven apps that work really well in the Windows 7 taskbar

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So you’ve recently installed Windows 7 and become familiarized with the new Jumplist-enabled taksbar.

If you are looking for Windows7 taskbar-friendly apps then read on; this posting will present 7 interesting (and free) selections that work really well with the Windows 7 taskbar.

Here’s the list:

(1) Dexpot with SevenDex plugin, (2) Standalone Stack 2, (3) JumpList Launcher, (4) Gmail Notifier Plus, (5) 7Stack, (6) HideDesktop Icons, and (7) MenuApp.

Note that not all of the programs presented below are Windows 7 specific; in fact three of them (2,6, and 7) will work on XP and Vista.

Windows 7 taskbar apps screenshot

1. Dexpot with SevenDex plugin: Dexpot is a free virtual desktop program which you may be well familiar with from previous postings on this blog. You may know that it offers advanced functionality, supports both applications and icons, and is extendible through plugins; what you may not have known about is SevenDex, a Dexpot plugin that places an icon on your Windows 7 taskbar to enables quick, thumbnail-powered switching across the virtual desktops. It works extremely well.

Note that while Dexpot works with XP and Vista; the Sevendex plugin is specific to Windows 7.

Dexpot Screenshot with Sevendex plugin

To install, download Dexpot from the program home page (there are both an installer and a portable version), go to settings then the “plugins and extras” section (in the bottom left sidebar). You should find the checkbox for SevenDex there; check it and click OK.


Standalone Stacks2 Screenshot grid

2. Standalone Stack 2: makes any favorite files or folders instantly accessible on the Windows 7 taskbar by embedding a fan or grid-style stack within it (see screenshot above for a grid-style example).

I’ve mentioned the first version of Standalone Stack a number of times before on this blog. Standalone Stack 2 merely streamlines the app a little bit and makes it much easier to create and manage the shortcuts.

To use you will have to create a Standalone Stack 2 shortcut that points to a favorite folder (or a folder which in turn has shortcuts to favorite folders), and then pin it to your taskbar. Note that you can customize the icon of your shortcut to anything that you like

Three things to note about this one:

  • It allows you to browse into and out of folders (or folder shortcuts)
  • It allows you to quickly open whatever folder you are looking at in Windows explorer should you feel the need
  • It is NOT Windows 7 specific, and can be run on XP or Vista from the Quick Launch tray or anywhere else on the desktop.
  • You can pin as many Stacks as you want to the taskbar, and manually change their icons if you want to display different icons.

Download Standalone Stack 2 here.


Jumplist-Launcher-Screenshot3. Jumplist Launcher: is a Windows 7 taskbar launcher that lets you pin any combination of program, folder, or file shortcuts within it.

You can use Jumplist Launcher as a kind of third dimension, pinning your shortcuts vertically inside Jumplist Launcher instead of horizontally on the Windows 7 taskbar.

The latest version of Jumplist Launcher supports up to 60 items in the jumplist. Adding items is done though dragging and dropping on the open Jumplist Launcher program dialog. And although this program wasn’t designed to create multiple Jumplists on the taskbar, you could go around this by creating multiple copies of the executable (although in my experience having multiple jumplists on the taskbar seems to cause this program to not behave quite right, though I am not 100% sure).

Go here to download Jumplist Launcher.


Gmail-Notifier-Pro Screenshot

4. Gmail Notifier Plus: is a desktop based email checker that lives on the Windows 7 taskbar and can check multiple Gmail accounts. It lets you browse unread email right on the taskbar via the left/right arrows under each “thumbnail” (see image above), and clicking on the “open message” button between the arrows will open the corresponding message in the browser (although it will NOT log you in automatically, which is somewhat disappointing). Right clicking on the Gmail Notifier Plus icon will display your latest unread emails in a list, which is very useful, alongside a whole range of possible actions (compose, check email, etc).

This program feels more like a proof of concept than a fully functional app though, a demonstration of what is possible within the Windows 7 taskbar in the future. It does not quite feel as competent or practical as some other desktop Gmail checkers out there, but I suspect it never was meant to be.

Go here to download Gmail Notifier Plus.


7Stack-Screenshot5- 7 Stack: this one is similar to Standalone Stack 2, above, in both the function that it provides as well as the way it behaves. It will provide stacks on your Windows 7 taskbar that point to the directory of your choice and allows you to browse your directory structure in-place, as well as open the folder in Windows explorer if you choose to.

Like Standalone Stacks, you can configure your 7Stack shortcut icon (the icons shown in the screenshot

This program has a lot to recommend it: it looks good, and can be extremely useful. It does, however, suffer from performance issues where it can be somewhat slow and unresponsive. The responsiveness issue has been improved in the current version over the previous one, but still lingers; I am hoping that it will be further improved in future releases. Meanwhile try it out for yourself and see how you like it.

To download 7Stacks, go to the program home page.


HideDesktopIcons-Screenshot2

6- HideDesktopIcons: this is a single shortcut that, when clicked, will simply hide or unhide the desktop icons, the equivalent of checking hide/unhide desktop icons in the context menu. It can placed on the Windows 7 taskbar (or XP’s Quick Launch menu, or the desktop, or anywhere you like).

I’ve come to find this particular tiny app to be indispensable, as my work involved a lot of screen sharing and giving PowerPoint presentations, and the ability to clean up my (otherwise quite cluttered) desktop with a single click is, to me, extremely convenient.

Download HideDesktopIcons here.


MenuApp Windows 7 Screenshot

7- MenuApp: this little program has been around for a very long time (in fact, I first reviewed it in Nov 2006). It lets you create a shortcut that can point to any location on your hard drive and pop-up a cascading menu style browsable folder structure.

The reason it is included in a posting about apps to use on your Windows 7 taskbar is, obviously, because having browsable cascading menus of your favorite folders on your Windows 7 taskbar can be a really cool thing (see screenshot above).

In that sense, MenuApp really is very similar to both Standalone Stack 2 and 7Stack, with the exception that the cascading menus look more like what you expect to see when browsing.

To set up your shortcuts, see my previous review of the app. Note that to pin more that one shortcut on the Windows 7 taskbar you will need to make multiple copies of the MenuApp executable, as Windows 7 will not let you pin multiple shortcuts to the same app. Also note that I customized the MenuApp icon in the screenshot above.

Download MenuApp here.


Do you know of more interesting apps that work well in the Windows 7 taskbar? Please let me know in the comments.