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     Quick Launch Toolbar missing - fix this or any other quick launch bar problem     
1a.   How to enable the QLB (in Windows 98, XP, Vista) or
1b.   How to enable the QLB (in Windows 7)
2.   QLB icons fail to appear after QLB has been enabled, or they suddenly disappear (Win 98 to Vista)
3.   QLB appears, when enabled as per Fig 1, but disappears after rebooting (Win 98 to Vista)
4.   QLB cannot be enabled.
5.   QLB handles & chevrons not visible
6.   QLB is twice as high as normal
7.   QLB is on RHS of taskbar instead of LHS
8a.   'Show Desktop icon' is missing (Win 98 to Vista)
8b.   All icons suddenly missing (Win 98 to Vista)
9.   Managing icons on the QLB
10.   No QLB when in Safe Mode (Win 98 to Vista)
11.   About the Quick Launch bar
T1   Tips if you have a normal QLB
T6   Windows 7 and the QLB

1a.  How to enable the Quick Launch toolbar in Windows 98 to Vista

The QLB (Quick Launch bar) is not enabled by default.  The main way to enable it, from Win 98 to Vista, is as follows: right-click either on an empty part of the taskbar or on the taskbar's clock > at the context menu which pops up, move the mouse pointer over the word Toolbars (see Fig 1) > at the submenu which appears, click on the item 'Quick Launch'.  If the menu is replaced by a warning message saying "Cannot create toolbar", go to step 2.  Normally, however, clicking on the menu item will cause the menu to close and the Quick Launch bar, with three default icons, will appear to the right or, ideally, to the left of the taskbar, as per Fig 1.  The QLB, once on the taskbar, will remain there permanently available unless it is later disabled (by unticking it on the context menu) or it suffers a mishap of some kind.

If XP or Vista is being used, there are three further, slightly longer ways of enabling the QLB.  We come back to them in item 4 during the troubleshooting solutions.

1b  How to enable the Quick Launch toolbar in Windows 7

If you are using Windows 7, first read Tip 6 in the yellow Tips box at the bottom of the RH column regarding pinning shortcuts to the taskbar as that is a more robust setup than a traditional QL bar.  But if, for some reason, the Windows 7 'Pin to taskbar' feature does not fulfil your requirements, you can resurrect an original style Quick Launch bar as follows...

If there are any icons presently pinned to the taskbar, next to the Start orb, right-click on them to unpin them and drag them temporarily onto the desktop (if they will go), where they can wait, ready to be dragged back onto the Quick Launch toolbar proper once it is in situ.  After clearing the taskbar of pinned shortcuts, right-click on an empty place on the taskbar > at the context menu which pops up, move the mouse pointer over the word Toolbars (seen in Fig 1) > click New Toolbar... > at the dialog box which appears, either (i) browse to the folder at C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch or (ii) type or paste in the following: %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch > click OK > right-click on the taskbar and, if there is a tick against Lock the Taskbar, click it to remove the tick (so that the grab handles on the QLB will appear).

If, after 1a or 1b, the QLB fails to appear after being enabled, or it does appear but there is some other QLB-related problem (such as being on the wrong side of the taskbar, or devoid of icons), click whichever of the above blue links best describes your anomaly and continue from there.

2.  Quick Launch bar icons fail to appear after being enabled (Win 98 to Vista)

When there are no quick-launch icons to be seen on the taskbar it is advisable to determine at the outset if it is just the icons which are missing or if the quick launch toolbar itself is missing (and has taken the icons with it).  If you can see the grab handles for the QLB (like you see in Fig 1) then you know it's just the icons which are missing, so you only need to work through those sections/steps on this page which deal with restoring the icons.  To make the grab handles visible in XP or Vista (they were visible by default in Win 98), make sure there is no tick against 'Lock the Taskbar' (as in Fig 1).  If you have done that, but no grab handles are visible, and there is definitely a tick against Quick Launch (as in Fig 1), you need to work through those sections/steps on this page which deal with restoring the toolbar itself.  Unfortunately though, there is a degree of unavoidable overlap and duplication between some sections - so your head may be in a bit of a spin by the time you eventually get to the precise bit which actually solves your particular problem.

Anyway, here we go with the first bit of mental gymnastics!  If your QLB icons were normal the last time you looked but have suddenly disappeared, take a look at step 8b in the RH column first or, if that does not solve or was not your problem, continue to the next paragraph.

If, after trying to enable the QLB as per step 1a or 1b, you do not see any of the expected icons on the taskbar (like those in Fig 4), this means a yellow system folder, relative to your user account, called 'Quick Launch' is either (i) missing (ii) has no icons in it (iii) has had the attributes of its contents changed to Hidden (iv) has had its name changed from Quick Launch to something else or (v) the 'Quick Launch' option on the context menu (Win 98 to Vista) is misbehaving due to a problem in either the registry or the OS.  The solution is to work your way through each of the following steps in this section until reaching whichever step resolves the issue.

2.1  Check if Quick Launch folder is missing

If, when you tried to tick Quick Launch on the menu, as per Fig 1, you received a message saying "Cannot create toolbar", that implies a system folder called Quick Launch is missing.  If you are using XP or Vista, make sure there is no tick against 'Lock the Taskbar', as per Fig 1.  Now look next to the Start button, you should see a vertical boundary marker for the quick launch area - if the distance between the Start button and the divider is a centimetre or more, the said system folder is present but not yet correct - in which case go to step 8b.  However, if the gap is only about 3mm, that confirms the system folder is the problem - in which case go to step 2.1.1.

The Quick Launch bar is depicted in Windows Explorer (or My Computer) as a yellow folder called Quick Launch, contained within a parent folder called Internet Explorer (which, confusingly, has nothing to do with Microsoft's internet browser of the same name).  If that Quick Launch folder is missing from your own user account, or from a new account you have just created for yourself, there are two ways to fix this.  Either by creating a brand new folder called Quick Launch, or by copying a Quick Launch folder from a different or former user account, or from the administrator account, provided a Quick Launch folder exists in one or other of those accounts.  In either case, the first step is to verify the original folder is actually missing.

2.1.1  Search for the parent folder

There would be no point using Windows to search for a folder called 'quick launch' if the folder is missing.  So, instead, search for the parent folder which, as stated in 2.1, is called Internet Explorer.  To do the search in XP (use equivalent steps if using 98 or Vista), click Start > Search > All files and folders > at 'All or part of the file name', type in 'internet explorer' (without the quotes) > at 'Look in', choose drive C: (if not pre-selected) > click 'More advanced options' > tick, if not pre-selected, the three items 'Search system folders', Search hidden files and folders' and 'Search subfolders' > Search.  After a successful search of the C: drive for 'files and folders' called internet explorer, the search results should potentially look like the miniaturised window you can see in Fig 6 in the RH column.  If the results are not in a list like Fig 6, change the window's viewing style to the Details view > then click the 'Type' heading until all the yellow IE folders are basically together at the top of the list > stretch out sideways both the window itself and the 'In Folder' column, so you can see the full path of each IE folder.  From the paths, ascertain which IE folder relates to your own user account.  It will be something like, for XP, C:\ Documents and Settings\ [Username]\ Application Data\ Microsoft or, in Vista, C:\ Users\ [Username]\ AppData\ Roaming\ Microsoft or, in Windows 98, C:\ WINDOWS\ Application Data\ Microsoft\.  There will be at least two folders called Internet Explorer (there are three in the example in Fig 6, though only the first two have paths which are relevant).  Having decided which is your IE folder in the search window, double-click its icon to open the folder.  If you see a yellow folder inside called Quick Launch then a missing QL folder would obviously not be your problem, in which case go to 2.2.  However, if there is no QL folder inside, go to method 2.1.2 or 2.1.3 below to replace the missing folder, using whichever method appeals to you most.  The first one is simpler and will produce an empty QL bar which will then need populating with some icons.  The second method will inherit whatever QL icons are already in the other user's account but also, possibly, some incidental Windows' settings from that other account.

2.1.2  Create a brand new Quick Launch folder

Open the Taskbar's right-click context menu (the one shown in Fig 1) and make sure there is no tick against either 'Lock the Taskbar' nor 'Quick Launch'.  Now return to the search window which has your own IE folder opened in it > right-click on the window > New > Folder > change the name of the folder from New Folder to Quick Launch > click anywhere in the window to make the new name take.  Double-click the new folder to open it as an empty window.  Now go back to the search results' window and look for any shortcut to Internet Explorer (there are three such examples in the specimen in Fig 6) > use the mouse's right-hand button to drag any IE shortcut and drop it on the window of the new Quick Launch folder > at the menu which pops up, choose Copy Here.  Now go down to 2.1.4.

2.1.3  Create a new QL folder by copying one from another user account

We were obliged to reader Jan P from Pittsburgh for providing the basis for this step in March 2009 after she found that copying the QL folder from her original user account to a newly created user account solved her own problem of no QLB in the new account.

Open the Taskbar's menu (the one shown in Fig 1) and ensure there is no tick against either 'Lock the Taskbar' or 'Quick Launch'.  Now return to the search window produced by step 2.1.1, the one showing all the files and folders on the C: drive called Internet Explorer (specimen shown in Fig 6).  Double-click on any of the IE folders until you find one which contains a yellow folder called Quick Launch > right-click on that QL folder and choose Copy > double-click on whichever is the IE folder which does not contain a Quick Launch folder (to open it) > right-click on the opened window > choose Paste > double-click on the QL folder you just pasted in (to open it) > ensure there is at least one shortcut icon in the folder (if there isn't one, copy an IE shortcut from the search results' window and paste that in) > then go to 2.1.4.  In the event that none of the IE folders contained a Quick Launch folder, meaning one could not be copied, go back to step 2.1.2 and create a brand new empty one instead.

2.1.4  Finalising the new configuration

After reaching the end of either step 2.1.2 or 2.1.3, close all windows which are open > proceed as per step 1a or 1b.  You should now find you have a Quick Launch 'folder' back in place on the taskbar with at least one icon in there.  If the QLB is over by the clock initially, use the handles to drag it across so it is next to the Start button.  You may find you have to drag the handles on either side of the QLB, in a two-stage process.  If, when you try dragging the QLB, it keeps springing back to the RHS, see step 7.  Once everything is the way you want it to be, do a normal restart of the computer so all the new configurations will be remembered.  Note that copying a Quick Launch folder (method 2.1.3) from another user's account may indeterminately change the odd Windows' setting from how it used to be in your own user account.  But you can easily readjust any such differences as and when they come to light.

If you find the all-important Show Desktop icon is missing from your new QL bar, go to the first of the blue links at the bottom of this page under "Related topics" for a simple way to restore that particular icon.

2.2  Check if the Quick Launch folder is empty

If you have already worked through step .1, this section cannot apply to you, in which case go to step 2.3.

If somebody has accidentally or mischievously deleted all the icons from your QL bar, or from the Quick Launch folder, the space for the toolbar, albeit empty, should still appear on the taskbar as a gap, about 1cm long, between the Start button and the button on the taskbar for any open program (like Notepad).  In XP or Vista, right-click on that gap and choose Open Folder (you may need to have unlocked the taskbar first in order to be certain of seeing the context menu for the QL bar as opposed to the context menu for the taskbar).  Choosing the Open Folder option will open the Quick Launch folder relevant to your actual User account.  Make sure it is in a floating (i.e. unmaximised) window.  If the window is devoid of any shortcuts, use the mouse's right-hand button to drag any existing, useful shortcut and drop it on the window.  If, after the drop, no icon appears in the folder nor, consequently, on the taskbar, the attribute for the folder's contents must be set to Hidden, so go to 2.3.  However, if you can see the dropped icon in the folder, that confirms an empty Quick Launch folder was the problem.  Close all open windows and do a normal restart.

2.3  Check if the Quick Launch folder's contents are set to Hidden

We were obliged to reader Chris Berry of Columbus, Ohio who first informed us that changing the status of the Quick Launch folder's Hidden attribute can result in problems.  We were further obliged to Cam Cochran from Nebula 8 (see, there really is somebody out there!) for providing further clues in April 2011 which have resulted in the definitive procedure next.

If you or somebody else with access to your computer has inadvertently or mischievously clicked on the Hidden attribute of the Quick Launch folder or, indeed, any of its parent folders, such as Application Data (AppData in Vista), this is likely to result, in XP or Vista (not 98), not as you might expect in the QL toolbar itself being hidden but, obtusely, in the quick-launch icons which are in it being hidden.  This solution essentially turns out to be a reworking of one that previously appeared, and is still there, in section 8b in the right-hand column.

The problem of hidden icons can be resolved at the Quick Launch folder level, even if it was a higher level folder such as AppData that was tampered with.  Right-click on an empty part of the taskbar > remove the tick form Unlock the Taskbar > look on the taskbar and you should see the boundary markers where the missing icons should also be > right-click on the empty QLB > Open Folder > click the window's up arrow to go to the window of the parent folder called Internet Explorer (nothing to do with the web browser of the same name) in which you will see the yellow folder called Quick Launch.  Right-click on that folder > Properties > click Hidden > Apply - and now you will see the problem.  In XP and Vista (not 98) a separate dialog opens with two options on it which totally fail to make it clear that what you do next could well hide all the icons on the quick launch toolbar.  Close this second dialog without doing anything, so you are back at the one with the 'Hidden' setting.  Click Hidden, more than once if necessary, until there is a tick against Hidden > then click Apply > at the second dialog which pops up, click the top option 'Apply changes to this folder only' > OK > OK.  This will return you to the window of the Internet Explorer folder.  If you can see that the missing quick-launch icons have returned to the taskbar, close the folder and do a normal restart of the computer to ensure everything stays okay.  If the icons did not reappear, double-click the icon called Quick Launch to open the associated folder, which will inevitably be showing as empty.  Drag any suitable shortcut onto the window and, if it appears on the taskbar, that will mean the folder's contents were not only set to hidden but the folder was also empty.  However, if you can't see the new icon you've just added, that means the Hidden status was not correctly overridden.  Meaning you will have to fiddle with the two dialogs again until you get the relationship between them exactly right.

If this step fails to solve your problem, you will, at least, by this stage, have determined that there is definitely a Quick Launch folder in existence relating to your own user account, that there is at least one shortcut in the folder (even if you can't see it), and the QLB is properly enabled (even if it doesn't show).  If that applies to you, continue to work through all remaining relevant steps in this section.

2.4  Check if interface is in Classic mode

If you are using Windows XP, failure of the QLB to appear, after ticking it on the menu, may happen if you have set the Windows' interface back to a 'classic' mode.  This can sometimes have the undesirable effect of disabling the Quick Launch bar.  If you are not currently in Classic mode, this is not the problem, so go to 2.5.  If you are in Classic mode, reset Windows XP's appearance scheme back to the default 'Bliss' scheme (i.e. the Teletubbies' landscape seen in Fig 1), then work through section 1 at the top of the page before continuing here with 2.4.  If that puts the Quick Launch area back in residence on the taskbar, you may be able to return to the Classic mode, if you prefer it, without losing the Quick Launch bar.  Try it to find out.

If changing the interface did not bring back the QLB, stay with the default Teletubbies' desktop, at least for now, and continue to 2.5.

2.5  Check if QLB is disabled in Registry

Another possibility with XP is that some other person (or administrator) with access to your machine might have deliberately restricted the Quick Launch bar in the Windows' registry without you knowing it.  Run Regedit to inspect the following Key:-  HKEY_Current_User\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Policies\ Explorer.  If the Key contains an item 'NoToolbarsOnTaskbar', change its value from a one (1) to a zero (0).  Do a normal restart of Windows to make sure the change takes effect and is remembered.  If there was no such key, or the key was already set to zero, that is obviously not the problem, so go to 2.6.  Before editing the registry, check out tip 3 [backing up the registry] in the tips' box in the RH column.

2.6  Check for disk errors

Still with XP, especially if using it with the default NTFS file system, another method that has been known to restore a recalcitrant Quick Launch bar is by running Error-checking (aka Check Disk or ScanDisk).

Be aware that Error-checking can take one or more hours to complete, depending on the size of your C: partition and the amount of stuff on it.  That is a long time to wait if it doesn't fix the problem.  But hey - it's something you're supposed to do periodically anyway.  If you don't know how to run the Error-checking tool, click Start > Help and Support > in the Search box, type error-checking - and follow what it says.

2.7  Re-sync the Quick Launch's parent folder

If you have earlier used step 2.1.2 and successfully created a brand new QL folder, but the QL bar still fails to appear, this step 2.7 is not relevant to you, so go to 4.2 (disregard the main heading to section 4).  If you did not need to apply step 2.1.2 because you already had a Quick Launch folder in your own user setup, but it cannot be enabled, then continue here...

As you still cannot see a Quick Launch bar, it is time to do some hands-on tweaking in the parent system folder (called Internet Explorer) containing the misbehaving subfolder called Quick Launch.  The aim of this step is to try to kick Windows' brain back into sync.  To do that, open Windows Explorer (or My Computer) > Tools > Folder Options... > View tab > at 'Hidden files and folders', enable 'Show hidden files and folders' > just below that item, untick 'Hide extensions to known file types' > Apply > OK.  Then, on the Taskbar's context menu (the one in Fig 1), untick both 'Lock the Taskbar' and 'Quick Launch'.  Now, staying with Windows Explorer, browse to the particular folder called Internet Explorer which contains your own folder called Quick Launch.  If there are multiple user accounts on the machine there could be multiple QL folders, so be careful to go to the correct one.  The path will be something like (a) in Windows 98: C:\  WINDOWS\ Application Data\ Microsoft\ Internet Explorer\. (b) in XP: C:\ Documents and Settings\ [User]\ Application Data\ Microsoft\ Internet Explorer\ or (c) in Vista+: C:\ Users\ [User]\ AppData\ Roaming\ Microsoft\ Internet Explorer\.

When at the appropriate Internet Explorer folder, double-click on it to open it.  This will reveal a single instance of a folder called Quick Launch.  Right-click on that folder > Rename > rename it to, say, xxxQuick Launch > close all open windows and do a normal shutdown of the computer.  Wait 30 secs for XP+, 10 secs for older systems, then switch the computer back on.  Do not miss out that shutdown wait as it is clearing any references in the system or volatile memory to there having been a folder named Quick Launch in your own user setup.  When the computer has rebooted back to the Desktop, open Windows Explorer again (or My Computer) > navigate back to the IE folder containing the folder which was renamed to xxxQuick Launch > open the folder so you can see the xxxQL folder > create a new folder in the window and rename it Quick Launch.  Now open the old folder called xxxQuick Launch and use the right-hand mouse button to select and copy the principal shortcuts from it and then paste them into the new folder which has been named Quick Launch > close all open windows and do a normal shutdown of the computer.  Again, wait 30 secs for XP+, 10 secs for older systems, before switching the computer back on.  Do not miss out that further shutdown wait as it is telling Windows to recognise there is now a reconfigured folder called Quick Launch back in your own user setup.  When the computer has booted back to the desktop, proceed as per step 1a or 1b.  Now, in all probability, you will find there is a QL area on the taskbar, though it may, initially, be over by the Notification Area instead of by the Start button.  If the QLB has not appeared, go to 4.2 (disregard the main heading to section 4).  If the QLB has appeared, do yet another restart of the computer, this time to ascertain if the QLB remains on the taskbar permanently.  If the toolbar disappears after the restart, go to the the following section 3.  If the QLB stays intact, but is next to the System Tray, drag both sets of the QLB's handles, one at a time, all the way over to the left, until a small QLB area is sitting by the Start button.  If any trouble doing that, see step 7.

Finally, sort out the icons which you want to be visible > then right-click on the taskbar and put a tick against 'Lock the Taskbar' > do another restart of the computer to check all is being remembered.

3.  Quick Launch toolbar appears when enabled but disappears each time the computer is rebooted

If you can successfully enable a Quick Launch bar, as per section 1a or 1b above, only to find it completely disappears (icons and handles) after rebooting the computer, this is a phenomenon which has a number of different possible causes.  Work through the following steps...

3.1  Consider possible software conflicts

This problem of a disappearing QLB has been known to affect people after installing software downloaded off the internet.  If that is what happened in your case, try uninstalling the program, ideally before using or configuring the said program.  Carry out the uninstall in Safe Mode, using the program's own uninstaller if it has one (that will be found, when in Safe Mode, via the Start menu > (All) Programs > look for 'Uninstall' in the program's own folder group).  If the suspect program has not provided its own uninstaller, open the Control Panel, while still in Safe Mode, and use the Add-Remove Programs tool.  After the uninstall, shut down the computer, wait 30 seconds, then switch back on.  If Windows refused to allow the uninstall in Safe Mode, which XP or later sometimes chooses to do, uninstall the program in normal mode.  If the uninstall does not cure the disappearing QLB, or this paragraph did not apply to you, go to 3.2.

3.2  Re-sync the Control Panel

If you are using Windows XP, try this fix for a disappearing QLB.  Click Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Taskbar & Start Menu > untick the box at 'Show Quick Launch' (or tick it if it was already unticked) > Apply > OK > close Control Panel.  Restart the PC for the changed settings to take effect.  After the computer has rebooted, repeat the foregoing sequence but, this time, ensure the box by Quick Launch either receives a tick or still was ticked.  Restart the computer again and, when it reboots, the Quick Launch bar will hopefully be present and correct on the taskbar.  If it isn't, right-click on the taskbar > Toolbars and (i) if there is a tick by Quick Launch already, the problem is obviously still there, so proceed to step 3.3 or (ii) if there is no tick by Quick Launch, click on it and, if the QLB then appears, reboot the computer to see if the QLB still disappears and, if it does, again, go to 3.3.

3.3  Check for a registry error

If you are using Windows XP, run Regedit to inspect the following Key... HKEY_Local_Machine\ Software\ Microsoft\ WindowsNT\ CurrentVersion\ Winlogon.  In the RH pane, the value of Userinit should be the file path "C:\ WINDOWS\ system32\ userinit.exe," (complete with the end comma and where 'C:' is the drive containing Windows XP.  If the key is correct, go to 3.4.  If the value is different, use Regedit to Export a copy of the registry branch to the desktop (as a fallback). Then enter the value (file path) shown above, close Regedit, and anything else which is open, and do a normal restart of the computer.  When back at the desktop, enable the QLB and do yet another restart to see if Windows is now remembering the settings.  If the QLB still disappears, right-click on the Export file on the desktop and choose Merge.  This will put the value back to how it was before.  Then go to step 3.4.

Incidentally, do not run a registry cleaner tool in the hope that it might fix a broken registry.  It can't.  If you have run such a tool recently, there is even a tiny chance it might have caused the problem of the disappearing QLB (more in 3.5).

3.4   Re-sync the Quick Launch folder

If you have not previously worked through the re-syncing step 2.7, do so now, to the exact letter (disregard the main heading to section 2).  If that does not prove successful, come back here and continue with step 3.5.

3.5  Registry damaged by a registry cleaner

The problem of a disappearing Quick Launch bar has been known to occur after running registry cleaners.  If you have not used any such tool, this cannot apply so move on to 3.6.  If it could apply to you, then, when a registry has been inadvertently corrupted by a registry cleaner, the simplest way to undo the damage is to revert to a precautionary backup of the registry which was made either by the registry cleaner tool itself or by a separate registry backup utility before the cleaner was run.  If you do not have such a backup of the registry go to 3.6.

3.6  Open a new user account

We were obliged to a reader, who's name we unfortunately mislaid, who told us, in June 2008, that he got round the problem of a misbehaving QLB by opening up a new user account for himself which, in turn, allowed him to enable a QLB which proved to be normal and stable.  So, if none of the preceding steps have fixed your own QLB, create an additional log-in for yourself.  Then log in as the new user, enable the QLB and reboot.  Log in as the new user again and the QLB will probably still be there.  If it is, you will then be left with the small matter of configuring your new log-in to make it the same as your old one (e.g. your personal settings for the desktop, documents, applications etc.).  But that is something you can do steadily over a period of time. Eventually, when everything is transferred over to your new log-in, you can delete your old user log-in from the Control Panel and delete the redundant duplicate data files from the old user's 'Documents and Settings' directory.  If this does not work for you, go to step 4.3 (disregard the main heading to section 4).

3.7  Damage caused by virus removal

This problem of a disappearing Quick Launch bar has been known to occur after removal of a virus. That would imply the problem is because the virus, or the removing of the virus, has corrupted part of the registry or the operating system.  Go to step 4.3 (disregard the heading to section 4).

3.8  Other causes

We have seen a few other suggested fixes in online forums for the problem of a disappearing QLB, including running Ad-aware or Spybot.  But such suggestions are never going to work if the underlying cause is a flawed registry or a flawed OS.  So, if you have got this far down without being able to stop the QLB from disappearing each time you reboot, go to step 4.3 (disregard the heading to section 4).

4.  Quick Launch bar cannot be enabled

In Windows 98 there was only one way to enable or disable the Quick Launch bar, and it was documented in the Help file in case anybody forgot how to do it.  Sweet and simple - and problems with the QLB in Win 98 were virtually unheard of.  There was also only one way in Windows 7.  But, in XP and Vista, there were, as with so many things in Windows, four separate ways of doing the same thing.  There really is no need for all this quadruplicating.  All it achieves is that Windows becomes ever more bloated, power-hungry, and prone to something going amiss in the registry or OS.  The latter being what has probably happened on your machine if you are having to read this part 4.

The heritage way (Win 98 to Vista) of enabling the QLB is by ticking the Quick Launch option on the Taskbar's menu (Fig 1).  However, if you have found the 'Toolbars' option is greyed out or the 'Quick Launch' option is greyed-out, absent or giving an error message, you will obviously not be able to tick the Quick Launch option to enable the toolbar.

If XP or Vista is being used, make a quick check if any of the alternative ways next, of enabling a QLB, will work - though it's unlikely, one out all out as they say.  The other ways are (i) right-click on a blank part of the taskbar > Properties > tick Show Quick Launch > Apply > OK, or (ii) right-click on the Start button > Properties > tick Show Quick Launch > Apply > OK, or (iii) click Start > Settings > Taskbar and Start Menu > tick Show Quick Launch > Apply > OK.  If all of them are dysfunctional, read on...

4.1  Check for Administrator restrictions

This kind of problem can be caused by taskbar restrictions intentionally placed on the machine by the present or a previous 'administrator'.  Reversing that restriction will restore the option.  If you are certain this cannot be the cause on your own machine, work through all practicable parts of sections 2 & 3 above on the off chance one of them might happen to fix the issue.  When doing so, disregard the main headings to sections 2 & 3.  If no joy, come back here and continue with step 4.2.

4.2  Boot to Safe Mode

If none of the practicable parts of sections 2 or 3 have worked for you, try this:-  boot into Safe Mode, logging in as the 'User' not 'Administrator' (if a choice is offered) > when at the Safe Mode desktop, proceed as per step 1a or 1b.  Irrespective of whether the 'Toolbars' option is there or not, boot straight back to normal mode, then right-click on the taskbar again to see if the QLB can now be enabled.  Switching to Safe Mode, and back from it, is sometimes an effective way of resetting a wayward taskbar so, with any luck, it might just kick the Quick Launch menu component into behaving as well.  If still no luck, proceed to 4.3.

4.3  Restore a registry backup

If, despite all of the above procedures, you have still not managed to satisfactorily resurrect a Quick Launch bar, not even by creating a brand new Quick Launch folder (step 2.1.1) or a new user account for yourself (step 3.6), there must be some inexplicable fault within either the registry or the Windows operating system itself.  The only way to fix a faulty registry in isolation is to restore a recent backup of the registry which was made prior to the Quick Launch problem developing.  If you have not been keeping backups of the registry, things are starting to look bleak - go to 4.4.  For general info on backing up the registry on a healthy machine, to avoid trouble in the future, see tip 3 in the RH column.

4.4  Restore a drive-image backup

If you were not in a position to restore a registry backup (4.3), but you have periodically been using drive-imaging software to make restorable backups of your entire C: drive or C: partition, you can repair a disappeared Quick Launch bar simply by restoring the most recent disk image which was made at a time when the Quick Launch bar was present and correct.  For general info on disk imaging, whether restoring an existing drive-image, or for the future, see tip 4.  If you have not been imaging your C: drive, it's looking pretty hopeless now - go to 4.5.

4.5  Restore a System Restore Point

If you were not in a position to restore a drive-image backup, but Windows XP or later is being used, and Windows has been allowed to periodically make its own System Restore Points, that may be a way of solving the problem.  Manually make a new restore point of the current setup (in case you need to revert to it), then restore the most recent restore point that was made at a time when the Quick Launch bar was believed to be present and correct.  If that reinstates the disappeared QLB, restart the computer to see if the QLB disappears or stays in situ.  If trying a restore point is not an option available to you, or it fails to restore the QLB permanently, or it introduces spin-off QLB problems, go to 4.6 or 4.7.

4.6  Reinstall Windows

If you are still without success, after reaching all this way down, the options for getting a correctly working QLB back have dried up, short of reinstalling Windows from scratch.  But do not resort to this extreme just for the sake of a missing Quick Launch bar.  Far less hassle just to live without it.  And, even though you will be deprived of the invaluable Show Desktop icon, you will find this particular asset is only a click away, at least in XP & Vista, if you right-click on a blank part of the taskbar.  Or, if you've still got some time to spare, you could take a look at get-out item 4.7

4.7  Third-party launcher

You may be aware that Mac computers lack the simple organised efficiency of a Windows- or Linux-style taskbar.  Instead of a discreet taskbar, Macs have a large launcher dock across the bottom.  Third-parties have produced copycat versions of the Mac dock for use on Windows.  These are available free off the internet and offer a possible alternative for persons who cannot get the Windows' QLB to stay put.  For more information, see tip 5 over in the RH column.

We have now exhausted all known ways of dealing with a missing or disappearing QLB.  The remaining sections below are only relevant to people who already have a normal QLB but need help with some other, relatively minor problem with it.

5.  QLB's handles & chevrons are not visible

In Windows XP+, the drag-handles (boundaries) of the Quick Launch bar, and the expander chevrons, examples of which can be seen in Fig 1, are hidden by default when the QLB is enabled for the first time...

5.1  To make the drag-handles appear

To make the QLB handles appear, at any time, right-click on an empty place on the taskbar or on the taskbar time and, in the menu which pops up, click on the item 'Lock the taskbar' to remove the tick which is normally by that item (see Fig 1).  The menu will close and the handles will appear.  Drag the RHS handle to the right to make more than three icons permanently visible.  Then right-click on the taskbar again to relock it to the new length.

5.2  To make the chevrons appear

The chevrons should appear on the QLB after there are four or more icons on the QLB and the length of the QLB has been limited so that at least one icon is hidden off the end of the QLB.  The chevrons are a reminder there is at least one non-visible icon on the QLB.  Click the chevrons to access the hidden icon(s).  To change a hidden icon into a permanently visible icon, click on the chevrons, use the left-mouse button to drag the required icon onto the display area of the QLB.  To make more than the default three icons visible, see 5.1 above.

5.3  Other options

If the steps in 5.1 and/or 5.2 do not result in the handles or the chevrons appearing, there is a problem in the registry or the operating system.  If you want to try to fix this, go to step 4.3.  Alternatively, open a new User Account and see if that creates a fully functional QLB (step 3.6).

6.  Quick Launch icons make the Taskbar too high

If enabling the Quick Launch bar causes the taskbar to increase to double its normal height (as in Fig 3), and you find you cannot drag it back down to its normal height, next is an original sequence of fixes© for this particular annoyance

6.1  Top border drag method

Close all open programs so there are no buttons showing in the main middle part of the taskbar > right-click on the empty taskbar > if an option 'Lock the Taskbar' is available, and there is a tick against it, click on it to remove the tick (if there was already no tick, click on the desktop to close the menu) > hover the mouse over the top border of the taskbar till the cursor changes to a vertical double-headed arrow > use the left mouse button to drag the taskbar down to its normal height.  If it won't drag down, go to 6.2.

6.2  If icons are double-stacked

If, after step 6.1, the taskbar still refuses to collapse back to single-row height, and you can see this is because the icons are double stacked on the Quick Launch bar, click and hold down on the Quick Launch bar's right-hand side grab-handle (the dotted lines which appear after you unlock the taskbar), then drag the handle sideways to the right, to stretch out the QLB, until all the icons are visible in a single, horizontal row > click on the top border of the taskbar and drag it down to single-height size.  If that worked, delete any superfluous icons while they are all visible, or hide them by dragging the RHS handle back to the left, then relock the taskbar.  If this didn't work, go to 6.3.

6.3  Remove the QLB temporarily

If, after step 6.2, the over-height taskbar still refuses to collapse, right-click on an empty area of the taskbar (Win 98 to Vista) > Toolbars > remove the tick against Quick Launch (and all other ticks, if any, which are showing).  The Quick Launch bar will have disappeared from the taskbar.  Now drag the taskbar down to size > right-click on an empty area of the taskbar > click Lock the Taskbar to restore the tick against it > right-click on the taskbar again > Toolbars > Quick Launch.  The Quick Launch bar will reappear.  In the unlikely event that the taskbar will again be raised to double its proper height, drag some icons off the Quick Launch bar, onto the desktop, so that there are no more than three icons left on the QLB.  Close any open programs > untick the Quick Launch bar again > do a normal restart of the computer.  After the computer has booted, re-tick the Quick Launch bar to enable it and it should now be single-height.  If not, go to 6.4.

6.4  Repeat the sequence if necessary

In the unlikely event, after working through the above three steps, the QLB is still at double-height, work through all parts of section 6, which are still practicable, again, including the restart operation in 6.3.  One way or another, the above procedure will definitely resize a double-height XP taskbar, no matter how obstinate it may appear to be.  So, if at first it fails, just keep trying until it finally does work for you.

Once your XP taskbar is restored to single-row height, right-click on it and relock it.

7.  QLB is on right-hand side of Taskbar

If your Quick Launch bar is on the right-hand side of the taskbar by the Notification Area and clock, and has resisted all logical attempts to drag it across to the favoured left-hand side using the QLB's drag-handles, then here is a process, which first appeared on here, which should sort it out.  Open a window, such as Notepad, so that it's button is the only running task showing on the taskbar > use the mouse's left button to grab the handle at the LHS of the Quick Launch bar and drag the bar to the left towards the Start button > when the bar will go no further left, release the mouse button.  When you release the mouse, the Quick Launch bar will probably spring straight back to the RHS.  However, if you now grab the handle on the LHS of the Notepad button and drag that one over to the right, as far as it will go, and release the mouse button, the Quick Launch bar will suddenly snap over to where you want it on the LHS by the Start button.  The technique is a bit fiddly, especially if you have never done it before, and it requires confident mouse control.  If you do not succeed at the first time of asking, just keep trying the very same thing over and over again until, voila, you will suddenly find you have cracked it.  Continued in RH col  >>.
Fig 1 (below)  The screen-clip below shows the Quick Launch bar enabled on a Windows XP computer, and in the favoured position next to the Start button.  The drag handles (dotted bars) were enabled just for this shot - they would normally be hidden.
Taskbar menu image
The three icons on the QLB above are, from left to right, Show Desktop, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player (the default icons for XP).  The chevrons indicate more icons are present and they would be revealed by clicking the chevron.  More than just the three icons can be permanently displayed by dragging the handle in front of the chevron to the right.  The said drag handle becomes visible only after unticking the item 'Lock the Taskbar', which can be seen on the primary menu above.  More about enabling the QLB (item 1 in LH col).
Fig 2 (above)  The above screen-clip, from a Windows 98 m/c, had a personalised desktop and well-stocked Quick Launch toolbar.  If you hover your mouse over the various icons you will see tooltips about the shortcuts this person had chosen to have visible on their PC.
Fig 3 image
Fig 3 (above)  When you first enable the Quick Launch bar on a Windows XP machine, or if more icons are added to it, you may well get a horrible double-depth effect like the one above.  It can also prove exasperatingly difficult to fix sometimes.  How to get it back to normal, as per Fig 4 below, is dealt with in section 6.
Fig 4 image
Fig 4 (above)  When you install new software, the programs concerned will, invariably, want to put their icons all over the place, including on the Quick Launch bar.  Such icons, like the three on the right in the above example, are often irrelevant to the everyday use of the QLB - in which case they should never be left on there as that just ruins the efficiency of the bar.  Hiding or removing superfluous icons is dealt with in step 9.2 and step 9.3 respectively.
Fig 5 image
Fig 5 (above)  A fairly common occurrence, affecting all versions of Windows from 98 to Vista, is for an icon's tooltip to be partly hidden behind the taskbar as in the above example.  Resolving this issue is dealt with in step 9.4.
Searched results for 'Internet Explorer'
Fig 6 (above)  When you search the C: drive for folders called Internet Explorer (which contain each user account's Quick Launch folder) you will see something similar to the above.  Connect this shot with step 2.1 and sub-steps 2.1.1 etc. in the LH col.

Cont. from 7 in LH col.

8a.  'Show Desktop icon' missing (Win 98 to Vista)

The most important item on the QLB is the Show Desktop icon, the icon which minimises/unminimises all open windows with a single click.  If it is missing from the QLB, look to see if the icon is anywhere on the desktop, in the Recycle Bin, or hidden by the QLB chevrons.  If it isn't, you can download a replacement Show Desktop icon via the first of the blue links in 'Related Topics' at the bottom of this page.  In Windows 7, the Show Desktop icon is independent of the QLB and hides over on the RHS of the clock.

8b.  All icons missing from QLB

We were obliged to Akos Groller from Hungary who drew our attention to the following Windows networking fault in Jan 2011 - and the somewhat obscure workaround.  If you have already worked through the fundamentally similar solution in step 2.3, ignore this item 8b and go back to where you were.  Otherwise, if your QLB icons were normal the last time you looked but have suddenly disappeared for no accountable reason either after rebooting or during the current session, instances have been known where a Windows XP networking error has somehow disrupted things.  'Refreshing' the Quick Launch folder's Hidden setting may fix things.  To try that, right-click on an empty place on the taskbar and ensure there is no tick against Lock the Taskbar > look down by the Start button and, if you can see a double set of (empty) grab handles where the QL icons used to be, right-click on the space between the pair of handles > from the context menu, choose Open Folder > move up one folder level > right-click on the icon called Quick Launch > tick Hidden > Apply > accept 'Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files' > OK > right-click on the icon called Quick Launch again > click Hidden (to remove the tick) > Apply > accept 'Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files' > OK.  Close all open windows and the QLB should be back in one piece.  If this does not restore your QLB, start from item 1 and step your way through all the other solutions to QL problems.

9.  Managing icons on the QLB

If you need assistance of some kind concerning the icons on the QLB, look through the several subheadings below for the one which describes your situation.

9.1  How to add more icons

If Windows Vista is being used, right-click on any existing shortcut icon anywhere on the computer and, from the context menu, choose 'Add to Quick Launch'.

If Windows XP is being used, use My Computer to browse directly to the target file, be it an application, document or a folder, and right-click on it to create a shortcut which can then be moved to the QLB.  The need to create shortcuts by this direct method in XP is to avoid an issue regarding what text will be seen as the shortcut's tooltip.  More about that is in 9.5.  If an earlier version of Windows is being used, such as Windows 98, use the mouse's right-hand button to drag any existing shortcut icon from anywhere on the computer until it is over the Quick Launch area and drop it there.

When dropping a shortcut on the QLB, with any version of Windows, the mouse's right-hand button should be released only when you can see the icon is overlaid with a grey vertical insertion bar.  If you drop the icon before or after the insertion bar has appeared, you will not receive the popup menu to copy the icon.  In that case, drag the icon again with the right-hand button  If you cannot successfully right-drag a shortcut as just described, the solution to that is to open the yellow folder called Quick Launch and drop the icon directly into the folder.  That will result in the icon appearing in the QL area on the taskbar.  To open the QL folder, if Windows Vista or XP is being used, right-click on an empty bit of the QLB > from the context menu choose Open Folder > then use the mouse's right-hand button to drag the required shortcut over the open window > drop it and, from the menu, choose Copy Here.  The shortcut will now be on the taskbar's Quick Launch area but, if chevrons are present on the QLB, the shortcut may be hidden initially.

The Quick Launch bar takes up valuable real estate on the taskbar - so the visible icons on it should basically be kept to about half a dozen, with any others kept hidden behind the chevrons.  The visible icons should be strictly limited to ones you will use very frequently and will need quick access to when other windows are maximised and, hence, obscuring the general icons on the desktop.  The QLB should not be cluttered up with shortcuts to ordinary everyday programs which are adequately served by being on the desktop, on the Start menu or on a Windows sidebar.  Icons which are particularly ideal for the QLB are ones pointing to any frequently used utility (e.g. a backup tool), to removable drives, or to a much-used folder.  See Fig 2 for ideas.  See tip 1 for help on how to add a shortcut pointing to a CD or DVD drive and to Windows Explorer.

9.2  How to hide icons on the QLB

If there are lots of icons on your Quick Launch bar, you can hide some of them so as to free up horizontal space on the taskbar.  To do this, first, drag the icons that are of most use to you, such as Show Desktop and Internet Explorer, closest to the Start button (see the example in Fig 2) > once your icons are suitably sorted, click on the grab-handle at the RHS of the Quick Launch bar and drag the handle to the left until all the less important icons are hidden.  You can hide all but three icons by this method.  You will be left with a visible, clickable double-chevron to gain access to any hidden icons on the QLB (see Figs 1 or 2).

9.3  How to remove icons from the QLB

Be ruthless with each unwanted icon on the Quick Launch bar and remove it.  Either (i) drag the icon with the right-hand mouse button onto the desktop > Move Here (where the icon will be out of the way) or, (ii) right-click on the icon > choose Delete while holding down the Shift key > Yes (to zap it for good).  If you encounter any icons that resist direct removal like this, or can be removed only to irritatingly reappear after a reboot or reusing a particular application, refer to tip 2 below.

9.4  If tooltips are obscured behind the taskbar

Occasionally you may notice, when you hover over an icon, be it on the Quick Launch bar, in the Notification Area or on a personalised sidebar, that the icon's tooltip, instead of floating in front of the icon, is hiding behind the taskbar or sidebar, so becomes unreadable (see Fig 5).  This is an obscure, known Windows' bug that seems to come and go of its own accord.  It is nothing to do with any of the procedures on this page.  The bug was not fixed even in Vista.

Occurrences of this unwanted behaviour are unpredictable as there is more than one possible cause.  The only known common trigger was first revealed here, in December 2007 - it being the simple act of connecting a computer to the internet.  One way of fixing that particular cause, should you experience it, would be to disconnect from the internet and restart Windows.  But for how long it would work is anybody's guess - possibly only until the next time you reconnect to the internet, or until some other indeterminate trigger sets off the misbehaviour once again.  Another fix which might work, albeit only temporarily again, is to right-click on an empty area of the taskbar > choose Properties > untick the box next to 'Keep the taskbar on top of other windows' (or other such wording) > OK > right-click on the desktop > Refresh.  If you had any maximised windows open, minimise them so you can see the taskbar again.  You should now find the tooltips are fully visible when you hover over the icons.  You can then go back to the Taskbar's Properties and retick the item 'Keep the taskbar on top of other windows'.  But, ironically, you may find this causes the tooltips to go behind again.

The tooltips like to hide a lot more on XP or Vista than they ever did on Widows 98.  But, at least, if you do experience this glitch on your own machine, you will now know the commonest possible cause (viz. connecting to the internet) and what you can or cannot do about it.  What we tend to do ourselves is the same as what all the people at MS did for ten years.  Which was, instead of rolling up their sleeves and fixing it, was to try to ignore it.  That said, we have found a little trick which helps.  If you have some hiding tooltips now, or at some future time, start by minimising any open windows to leave a clear desktop.  Then, instead of hovering with the cursor over the middle of an icon, which is the natural thing to do, start with the cursor hovering over the desktop, just above the taskbar, and slide the cursor down towards the required icon very slowly.  Approaching an icon this way will usually result in enough of a hiding tooltip to appear to allow it to be read.

If you do not use the bomb-proofing program called Deep Freeze on your Windows PC, skip this final paragraph.  If you do use Deep Freeze, one side effect of this program is that you may normally be able to see all tooltips but, when you hover the cursor over the clock in the Notification Area to check today's date, you will commonly find nothing appears.  If that happens to you, the date's tooltip is still there, it's just hiding.  To see it, close any maximised windows and use the 'slowly slide cursor down' technique (towards the clock) described in the previous paragraph to reveal today's date.  As a Deep Freeze user, you will also be aware of a related issue, as an aside, in that you are prevented from opening the SysTray's calendar by the normal method of right-clicking on the time.  If you try that, and choose 'Adjust Time/Date', you are presented with an alert message stating "You do not have the proper privilege level to change the System Time." -that happens even if you are logged on as the 'Administrator'.  This has confused many users but it is there by design to prevent anyone deliberately or accidentally thawing Deep Freeze by clocking the year back to a time before Deep Freeze was installed.  If you sometimes need to see a calendar in a hurry, the answer is to open MS Outlook and use its calendar or, better still, create a desktop shortcut directly to Outlook's calendar using the path and switch "C:\Program Files\ Microsoft Office\ Office14\ OUTLOOK.EXE" /select outlook:calendar (where Office14 should be changed to show the actual Office-version folder number on your machine).  Make the shortcut and check that it works.  If it does, restart the computer with Deep Freeze thawed for the next boot, remake the shortcut, locate it exactly where you want it to be, give it the label "Outlook Calendar", then immediately restart the computer so Deep Freeze will be active again.  If you are a Deep Freeze user and you actually need to adjust the time because it has lost a few minutes, that can also be done either by temporarily running Deep Freeze in 'thaw' mode or, more easily, perhaps, by rebooting into the computer's BIOS or CMOS window and adjusting the setup time in there.

9.5  Changing a shortcut's label or tooltip

If you create a new shortcut on the desktop, in readiness for moving it onto the Quick Launch bar or a personalised sidebar, the name you will see underneath the shortcut, while it is still on the desktop, will nearly always need editing to give it a shorter, tidier name.  To change the name of any shortcut, for all versions of Windows, right-click on the shortcut > choose Rename > type in the new name > click off the shortcut to make the new name take (or click OK if you were presented with a small dialog to do the renaming).

On older systems like Windows 98, the new name you gave to a shortcut automatically became the shortcut's tooltip which displayed when you hovered the mouse over the shortcut.  Sweet and simple.  However, in Windows XP and Vista, the name and the tooltip are controlled separately.  This is so that default shortcuts, especially those on the Start/Programs/Accessories menus can now have short names but long tooltips (to help Windows' beginners).  Unfortunately, though, the relationship between the text used for the name and for the tooltip behaves differently, particularly in XP, depending on which of several different methods is used for creating a new shortcut and/or where that shortcut is finally located (i.e. desktop, menu, sidebar or QL bar).

To edit a shortcut's tooltip in XP (not Vista, that one is two paragraphs down), right-click on the shortcut > Properties > Shortcut tab > at the bottom of the little window is a 'Comment' field.  This controls what appears as the tooltip but, to avoid this behaving erratically, (a) if there is a long explanatory tip already in the 'Comment' field of a shortcut, do not change it (reason in next paragraph), (b) if there is text in the 'Comment' field beginning with the word "Location:", and (i) the shortcut is going to stay on the desktop, either leave it like that or replace it with whatever text you prefer the tooltip to say or (ii) the shortcut is going to be dragged onto the QLB or other personalised toolbar, delete the text and leave the field blank as that will allow the name of the shortcut (which will be invisible on the QLB) to serve as the shortcut's tooltip. 

If the 'Comment' field on a newly created shortcut on the XP desktop contained a lot of text to begin with, the reason you should not change it is because the new, shorter text you give it would also be applied to the identical, original shortcut elsewhere on the XP computer e.g. somewhere on the Start/Programs/Accessories menus, thus spoiling the long style of tooltips used by default on those menus.  Those long tooltips do not cause a problem in the Start menu as they are out of sight most of the time.  But, for experienced users, having long tooltips flashing up all the time as they mouse over familiar icons on the desktop or QLB can be quite tedious.  The reason some of the icons on the desktop or QLB will have long tooltips in XP is because they either (a) are default system icons (like the original Internet Explorer icon in the Quick Launch bar) or (b) are shortcuts which have been copied from original ones which are on the Start menu and already had the long text as their default 'Comment'.  There is a way round this.  It means you have to remember, just in XP, never to copy existing shortcuts with long tooltips but to always create brand new shortcuts.  To do that in XP, open My Computer > browse directly to the actual target item (which can be a file, folder or, usually, an application like, say, notepad.exe) > right-click on the target > from the context menu, choose 'Create a shortcut'.  That shortcut can then be dragged, using the mouse's right-hand button, and dropped on the desktop (pending final moving to the QLB).  While the shortcut is on the desktop, right-click on it to tidy up the name underneath the shortcut (for instance, change notepad.exe to read just Notepad).  Right-click on the shortcut again > Properties > at the Comment field, for a shortcut created this 'direct' way in XP, you should find the field will be either blank or containing text beginning with the word "Location:".  If the said shortcut is going to stay on the desktop, not going on the QLB, change the Comment field so it reads the same as the name you gave the shortcut (e.g. Notepad).  If the shortcut is going to be moved off the desktop onto the QLB, make sure the comment field is blank.  That will allow the name of the shortcut (e.g. Notepad) to appear as the tooltip.  All of this can be done without any risk of spoiling the default (long) tooltip of the original (Notepad) shortcut on the Accessories menu.

In Vista, the XP issue just described has been addressed.  With Vista, it is once again safe to copy any existing shortcut from anywhere on the computer onto the desktop and edit its tooltip in the 'Comment' field without screwing up the default (long) tooltip of the original shortcut in, say, the Start menu.  However, if you are then intending to drag the new shortcut from the desktop onto the QLB, you will still have to remember, as with XP, to delete whatever was previously in the Comment field and leave it blank.  That, as with XP, will allow the name of the shortcut (which, of course, will be invisible on the QLB) to appear as a tooltip for the shortcut.  If, instead of leaving the Comment field blank, you were to type in the same text as the name of the shortcut, the tooltip would then show that name twice.  That will not look very good - unless it's a shortcut to New York.

9.6  Office icons won't work on Vista's Quick Launch bar

Some Vista users were not able to get icons for Office programs like Word 2007 or Excel 2007 to work from Vista's Quick Launch bar.  Some even had problems launching the apps from the Start menu.  This is possibly caused by a conflict with Vista's UAC 'security' arrangement whereby it does not like system folders and files to be altered or programs to be run from shortcuts if it has not specifically been granted permission by an authorised user.  Whatever the actual cause, the solution is simple - do not put Word or Excel on the Quick Launch bar.  Not even if they do work properly from there.  When the Quick Launch bar was originally conceived in 1998, it was never envisaged as a repository for general purpose icons like Word or Excel.  The main Desktop was always the intended place for such shortcuts, with the Show Desktop icon on the QLB being used to make the desktop's icons visible and accessible as and when necessary.

10.  No QLB when in Safe Mode (Win 98 to Vista)

If you ever have cause to go into Safe Mode, logged in as the Administrator rather than the User, you may find the Quick Launch bar is no longer showing on the taskbar.  In that case, try enabling it as per step 1a.  If the QLB still fails to show, that could mean the Quick Launch folder for the Administrator's area is empty but, more probably, could mean there currently is no Quick Launch folder for the Administrator.  You can fix either issue while still in Safe Mode, or later when back in normal mode.  Use My Computer to drill down [for XP or Vista] to C:\ Documents and Settings\ [User]\ Application Data\ Microsoft\ Internet Explorer\ Quick Launch > do not open the QL folder, instead, right-click on it and choose Copy > then browse to C:\ Documents and Settings\ [Administrator]\ Application Data\ Microsoft\ Internet Explorer > right-click on the IE folder and choose Open > if there is a Quick Launch folder already in there, right-click on it and rename it to, say, xxxQuick Launch > then, either way, right-click on the window and choose Paste (to paste in the folder on the clipboard).

In practice, few shortcuts will be needed on the Administrator's QLB, so delete all the ones which have been copied over except [Win (98 to Vista] the main two shortcuts i.e. Show Desktop and Windows Explorer (you should add the latter if it's not already there, as per tip 1.2 further down).  Deleting quick-launch shortcuts while logged in to Safe Mode as the Administrator will not have any effect on the icons on the QLB belonging to the User when booting back to normal Windows.

11.  About the Quick Launch bar

It was with Windows 98 that the Quick Launch toolbar first appeared on the taskbar.  That brilliant stroke of genius, by some unknown bright-spark at Microsoft - to give over a small, flexible, customisable area of the taskbar to users, so their most frequently used icons could always be seen, even when windows are maximised, and would require only a single click, immediately established itself as one of the best-ever efficiency aids in personal computing.

The term "Quick Launch" is merely a name given to a yellow folder somewhere on your hard disk, in much the same way that "Desktop" is also just a name given to another yellow folder.  The Quick Launch bar is, therefore, similar to the desktop, i.e. just a clever way of permanently displaying the contents of an open folder differently than in a normal floating window.  Because the Quick Launch bar is just a folder in disguise, that is why you can drag shortcut files (icons) on or off the toolbar in the same way as you can drag files on or off any other open folder's window.  The really nice touch, though, is that icons on the Quick Launch bar open with one click, so do not need a double-click as they do in a window or on the desktop, and are always visible even when the desktop is obscured by any maximised window.

  1   Adding really useful icons to the QLB

Most people use their CD or DVD drive, or My Computer icon, a great deal.  In which case, those would be very useful icons to put on the Quick Launch bar.  Except an icon not to My Computer but to Windows Explorer instead would be better.

1.1  To create a shortcut to a drive

Double-click on (My) Computer > right-click on the drive or partition you want easier access to (such as A: D: E:) > if Vista is being used, choose 'Add to Quick Launch', otherwise choose 'Create Shortcut' > then Yes (to place the shortcut on the desktop) > close My Computer > at the desktop, using the right-hand mouse button, drag the new shortcut from the desktop onto the Quick Launch bar > release the mouse button when an insertion point appears > choose Move Here.  If there is an issue with the text which shows as the shortcut's name or tooltip, see item 9.5 above.

1.2  To create a shortcut to Windows Explorer

Excepting XP, click on Start > All Programs > look down the list for Windows Explorer (if it isn't there, look in the Accessories submenu) > when you have found it, if Vista is being used, right-click on it and choose 'Add to Quick Launch', otherwise use the right-hand mouse button to click on the shortcut and drag it from there onto the Quick Launch bar > release the mouse button when an insertion bar appears > from the menu, choose Copy Here.

In the case of XP, do a normal search for 'Files and folders' on your C: drive for the file explorer.exe.  Assuming explorer.exe appears in the search results' window, right-click on it > Create Shortcut > Yes (to put the shortcut on the desktop) > close the Search dialog > at the desktop, use the right-hand mouse button to drag the new shortcut from the desktop onto the Quick Launch bar > release the button when the insertion point shows and, from the menu, choose Move Here > right-click on the shortcut again > Rename > rename it to 'Windows Explorer' > right-click on the shortcut yet again > Properties > at the 'Comment' field, delete the text and leave it blank.  If a search failed to display the file explorer.exe, repeat the search ensuring you have chosen to show all files.  If you happen to be following this search method on a pre-XP computer like Windows 98, you cannot choose to 'show all files' from the search box, you would have to go into Folder Options first and change the relevant setting in there.
  2 Removing obstinate icons

Most programs these days have a habit of slipping their own icons onto the Quick Launch bar, and it can soon start spilling over.  You may have tried deleting some unwanted shortcuts only to find they irritatingly reappear the next time you reboot the computer or re-open the program concerned.

Sometimes, programs will include a setting in their own Options to disable their icons from the Quick Launch (and/or Notification Area), so that is the first place to look.  Failing that, you may find obstinate icons on the QLB will prove resistant to all normal means of removing or deleting them.  Even uninstalling the parent program (if it's a program you no longer use) might fail.  And icons might even be invisible if you look for them in the actual Quick Launch folder, to try to zap them from there, though it is the right place to try next.

There is a handy shortcut for opening the Quick Launch folder in Windows XP and Vista.  This ensures you are always opening the QLB for your own user setup, not accidentally that of the administrator or some other user.  Simply right-click on any empty part of the Quick Launch bar itself > from the context menu, choose Open Folder.  It can be quite fiddly finding a genuinely empty place to click on.  If, at first, you get the wrong menu (one without the Open Folder option on it), keep right-clicking on different spots on the QLB till you get the correct menu, or unlock the taskbar so you can use the QLB's grab handles to extend it temporarily.

Once the Quick Launch folder's window is open, if you can see the unwanted obstinate icon, right-click on it > hold down Shift and press Delete > Yes.  If you cannot see the icon in the folder, despite being able to see it on your Quick Launch bar (and you are certain you are looking in the correct user's QL folder), on the folder's top toolbar, under the View or Tools menu > click the View tab > from the options available set all relevant ones (it's two or three depending on your version of Windows) to ensure all files, all system files and all file extensions will be displayed > Apply > OK.  On the opened windows' toolbar, click View > Refresh.  Any previously hidden shortcut in the Quick Launch folder should now be visible.  If the icon is still not visible in the folder, only on the toolbar, you must be in the wrong user's folder.  Or, if the shortcut is visible but it will not allow you to delete it, close all open windows and programs, including any open internet connection, and restart your computer.  When Windows has restarted, open the same Quick Launch folder as before and, without performing any other operations > right-click on the rogue icon > press Shift+Delete > Yes.  And that should be the end of it.

If you share your PC with other users, play it safe by going back into Folder Options and rehiding hidden files and extensions.

If even the above process fails to eradicate an obstinate icon, download the free program Necromancer's DOS Navigator and use it to browse to the icon's .lnk file and delete it from there (i.e. at a Command Prompt level).  There is a link at the bottom of this page for more info on the NDN tool.  Do not worry about the 'DOS' bit in the name, the tool will still do the biz in Vista or XP. 

After trying all the above actions, you may find a deleted icon still insists on putting itself back on the QLB when you next reboot the computer or run the program the icon pointed to.  If that happens, you could resort to uninstalling the parent program that is causing this nuisance.  But that is no use if you want to keep the program concerned.  In that case, you will have to bite the bullet and let the icon live on the QLB.  Though you can, of course, hide it.  To do this, unlock the Quick Launch bar [if a Vista or XP user] > drag the icons you want to be visible to the LHS of the Quick Launch bar >  then drag the handle on the RHS of the Quick Launch bar towards the left until the useless icons are hidden from view (thus no longer taking up any valuable, visible space on the taskbar).  Finally [for Vista or XP], right-click on an empty area of the taskbar and choose to relock it. 

Hopefully, after this, you will, at least, have got rid of some of your obstinate icons, if you were suffering from any, and hidden the rest.
  3 Registry backups

This tip is associated with a couple of troubleshooting steps in the main article which involve changing entries in the Windows' registry files.

Merely viewing the contents of the registry with the Windows Regedit tool is not a risky process in itself.  On the other hand, altering or adding entries, whether intentionally or accidentally, is seriously risky, especially as changes take effect immediately without any warning, and there is no Undo option where the registry is concerned.  To totally remove any such risk, it is advisable to make a backup of the registry first, so it will be possible to easily return to square one if anything goes wrong.  Utilities like WinRescue (inexpensive shareware) or ERUNT (free, but XP bias and much lower compression) are purpose-made tools for backing up and restoring the registry.

A wide variety of obscure, isolated Windows' glitches can usually be reversed by the simple act of restoring a good registry.  So keeping periodic backups of the registry is terrific insurance against all manner of unpredictable and unexpected Windows issues, not just problems with a QLB.
  4 Drive-Image backups

This tip is associated with troubleshooting step 4.4 in the LH column.

If you have recently used a drive-imaging tool to make a compressed image of your C: drive before a QLB problem arose, then restoring that image will bring back a normal Quick Launch bar even if all else has failed.

Before restoring a drive image, remember to (i) back up all important data on the C: drive to a different partition or drive because all data that is new or has been changed since the image was made will be wiped, and (ii) duplicate that data-backup to a different type of (removable) media if it contains any priceless data like wedding photos, financial accounts etc.  If there are multiple user accounts on the computer remember their recent data should be backed up too as it would also be at risk when restoring a drive image.
  5 An alternative to the Windows' Quick Launch bar
If you have tried all our suggested steps to cure a missing or disappearing Quick Launch bar, as per sections 1 to 4 on the left, but failed, it is probably time to give up on the Windows' QLB until such time as any additional problems on your machine eventually force you to either reinstall Windows from scratch or buy a new PC.  In the meantime, as a workaround for a missing QLB, you could consider installing an alternative third-party launcher.  There are several available which are styled after the bottom dock on Apple Macs.  We tested several and the most accomplished of these appeared to be a freebie by Aqua Dock, possibly available at this external link.  When not needed, a dock can tuck itself away, behind the normal Windows' taskbar, so it is not a big, permanently obtrusive thing like the real one is on a Mac.  Or you could go the whole hog and make your desktop resemble a Mac by moving the normal Windows taskbar to the top of the screen and having a dock visible across the bottom and loaded up with numerous shortcuts to all the programs you use frequently.

Aqua Dock has not been developed since 2004 and we only tried it on XP.  If you did decide to give the aquadock a look-see, here are a few minor tips to bear in mind, from our own experience on XP, once it has been installed.  (i) to remove any of the pre-loaded default shortcuts do not use the standard right-click > Delete method, as we found it intermittently caused any duplicate shortcuts on the desktop to be removed as well as or instead of the one on the QLB - instead use the left-hand mouse button to drag the unwanted icons off Aqua Dock; (ii) to add new shortcuts, do not use the left-hand mouse button to drag them on as that risks moving the original - instead, drag using the right-hand mouse button so that Copy can be chosen from the context menu; (iii) if you alter any of Aqua Dock's Options, write down the original settings because there is no provision to restore the defaults; (iv) when initially practising with Aqua Dock, it is easy to end up with more than one instance of the applet running, causing it to hang.  To terminate any hung or duplicated instances of aquadock.exe, use the Windows' Task Manager > Processes tab.  Apart from those quirks, Aqua Dock seemed fine as a workaround.  And, of course, you can always uninstall it if you are not happy with it and try one of the other alternatives available from
  6 Windows 7 - Quick Launch bar missing
In Windows 7, the old-style taskbar has been combined with the Quick Launch bar to become one, long superbar.  The past arrangement of a quick launch toolbar separated from the central taskbar area, as seen in, say, Windows XP or Fig 5, was a far more efficient way for working - but it has to be admitted the Windows 7 unified taskbar looked slick, professional and mature - better than anything that had gone before, be it in Windows, Mac or Linux.  With the Windows 7 taskbar, there was also the consolation that the problem of a Quick Launch toolbar (or a Show Desktop icon) going missing would not be able to happen [so Windows 7 users normally should never need to refer to this page.  Ouch].

By default, the Windows 7 superbar comes preloaded with just three quick-launch icons by default.  These are for Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player.  We were dead chuffed the middle one (Windows Explorer) had been promoted to being a default icon.  For eleven years we had advocated that Windows' users should always add a shortcut to Windows Explorer to their Quick Launch toolbar.  The mighty Microsoft finally latched on to the sense of doing that, thereby saving Windows 7 users having to come to this page to learn how to add a Windows Explorer icon by themselves.

When you open any application in Windows 7, Firefox for example, that program's icon will appear on the superbar - but only as long as the program is open.  To permanently fix any app's icon to the superbar, right-click on any existing shortcut to the said program, whether on the desktop or the Start menu, and choose 'Pin to taskbar'.

If you right-click on an empty part of the taskbar in Windows 7 and choose Properties, you will find there are several ways of reconfiguring the quick launch area/taskbar.  But they do not make matters better than the default setup.  None of them revert the Windows 7 taskbar to how it traditionally used to be in Windows 98/XP/Vista.  But there is a way to at least get back a separate quick launch bar, if you miss it too much, as per step 1b at the top of the LH column.

Related topics

Show Desktop icon - how to replace the all important Show Desktop icon if missing from the QLB.

Safe Mode - how to access and use Safe Mode.

DOS Navigator - a last resort for zapping obstinate third-party icons from the QLB, including any which might even be invisible in the Quick Launch folder.

Office Shortcut Bar - The QLB should not be cluttered with shortcuts for general programs like Word or Excel.   Better places for general shortcuts are on the desktop, or on a dedicated quick-launch sidebar or a pull-up shortcut menu.

Taskbar missing - fix all other taskbar problems.

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First posted here 23.9.03    Last amended 28.6.12 (dmy)    Copyright (C) 2003-2012 PM Designs    All Rights Reserved
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