Windows From the Keyboard Tips, Task Bar – A Productivity Tool, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year! All the best for 2020. This is Gerry Chevalier from the GTT Edmonton Chapter. This weekly blog provides tips that I find useful as a keyboard user of Windows. The information is for Windows10 and Office 365, although many tips still apply to older versions.  The tips do not require a screen reader unless specifically noted. Thus, the tips apply whether you are a keyboard user or low vision mouse user. Here is this week’s tip.

 

Windows Task Bar – A Productivity Tool

We have devoted several tips to using the desktop to make it easy to open folders, apps, and web sites. However, the Windows Task Bar is also very useful for quickly launching and switching to frequently used apps. You can easily reach the Task Bar in 2 ways:

From the Desktop press TAB multiple times until you reach the task bar, or from anywhere, press Windows Key + T.

While on the Task Bar you can arrow across and find apps that have been pinned to it or apps that are currently running. If you press the Applications key on any Task Bar item, a context menu opens that allows you to do various things such as closing the app, pin the item to the Task bar if it is not already pinned or unpin it if it is pinned. Pinning an item makes it available to launch quickly from the Task Bar by just pressing Enter on it. Or, from anywhere, you can press Windows Key +1, Windows key + 2, Windows key + 3 etc. to launch the first, second, third etc. item in the Task Bar.

 

Office apps such as Word or Excel may be useful to pin to the Task Bar. For example, to pin the Word app:

  • Launch Word so it is running.
  • Pres Windows + T to focus on the Task Bar.
  • Arrow across to find the running task for Word.
  • Press the Applications key to open its context menu.
  • From the menu, select Pin to Task Bar, and press Enter. Word will now be on the Task Bar permanently even after you shut down and restart your computer.

 

This does not mean Word will always be running when you start your computer. Rather, a shortcut to launch it will always be on the Task Bar. If it is positioned as the 4th item on the Task Bar, then simply pressing Windows key + 4 from anywhere will launch it. If you focus on the Word icon on the Task Bar and press the Applications key, you will find recently accessed Word documents listed on the resulting context menu also referred to as a jump list. Simply press Enter on any of those documents to open them in Word. If you later decide to remove Word from the Task Bar, the unpin option is also available in its context menu. IF you unpin it, any remaining pinned items after it will be renumbered. Any time you pin a new item it is always added as the last item on the Task Bar.

 

By default, File Explorer is pinned to the task bar which is very handy. You may also press the Applications key on it to open a jump list of recently visited folders as well as choices to open your Documents and Downloads folders.

 

Pinning a browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox to the Task Bar may also be useful because their jump list will remember recently visited web sites so you can quickly return to them.

You can access the jump list for your task bar icons directly without focusing on the task bar itself by inserting the Alt key. For example, Windows+Alt+1 will open the jump list for the first task bar item, Windows+Alt+2 will open the jump list for the second task bar item and so on. Thus, if Word was pinned as your third task bar item, you could bring up the jump list of recently used Word documents by simply pressing Windows+Alt+3 from anywhere.

 

That’s it for this tip. Until next Wednesday, happy computing.

 

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