7Stacks: brings mac-like folder stacks to Windows

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7Stack is a free utility that can display the contents of any folder in a Mac-like vertical-style or grid-style stack, or otherwise in a cascading-menu style similar to the XP start menu.

7Stack shortcuts can be placed on the desktop, added to the Quick Launch tray (for XP, Vista), or pinned to the Windows 7 taskbar in the manner of a jumplist.

Folder stacks can be used to browse folders and subfolders in-place without using Windows Explorer.

Why this app is cool: it provides a really neat way to browse folders in-place from a shortcut or on the Windows 7 taskbar. I am finding this a great substitute to keeping files/icons on the desktop, by stashing these in folders while keeping them instantly accessible via stacks.

Here are more notes on this app:

  • Stack Types: vertical stacks, grid stacks, and menu style. In Windows 7 you can have up to 10 stacks on the taskbar.
  • Stack behavior: can be customized such that stacks”close” whenever you click anywhere outside of them, or otherwise only close when you either click on an element in the stack or on the stack icon itself.
  • Stacks are Browsable: you can move in and out of folders in place. Menu stacks cascade like the start menu in XP.
  • Opening a folder in explorer: the last entry in your stack will always be the option to open the folder you are browsing in explorer, which is a great idea.
  • Windows’ context menu: right clicking on file or folder within a stack displays the default Windows context menu items, making it possible to perform normal file operations on these.
  • Icons: for the stack itself is customizable; it will prompt you when you set a stack up or simply change the shortcut icon for your stack after it is created.
  • Customizability: you can change the height and font sizes of stack items, you can choose between white font on black background or the opposite, and you can choose whether to have text and icons or just icons in your stacks. You can also choose to display a thumbnail preview for image files although this will not show if you make your icon size too small.

Wish list (or how this app can be even better)

  • Using vertical stacks, I encountered a bug whereby if you browse down a couple of levels (subfolders) and then attempt to right click on a file or folder you get an error message and the windows context menu doesn’t show (on Windows 7 64 bit).
  • Editing a stack: when right clicking on a stack icon in Windows 7 in order to edit the stack, only the last created stack seemed editable.
  • I wish that the “back” and “open in explorer” entries in the stack would use distinctive icons, such as arrows or something like that. It would make a very positive difference in the user experience I think.
  • Skins: I wish there were more of them.

The verdict: a potentially very useful program (especially on the Windows 7 taskbar, imho). This app is somewhat similar to previously mentioned Standalone Stack, and when stacks are browsed as cascading menus 7Stacks is very reminiscent of MenuApp. However, 7Stack is different from both of these in that the stacks are browsable and more interactive. I like the way some of the behavior is handled, esp. with respect to stacks being open until their icon is re-clicked, and also the fact that items in the stack are can be right-clicked on to perform normal file or folder operations on.

Having said this, there are a number of bugfixes and little changes that can be made to make this program much better (see the wishlist above), and I hope that the developers will address these in future versions.

Version Tested: 1.5 beta 1

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 2.74 megs).