It is very likely that everyone knows how to pin folders and Start Menu items to the taskbar. However, that's not everything that you can pin to it. Today, we will see how to pin special Windows folders like This PC, Computer, Libraries, Administrative Tools, and whatever components of the Control Panel you would like. As you will see from this tutorial, the procedures are more or less the same in Windows 10, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Let’s get started:
NOTE: This guide covers all the modern Windows operating systems: Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. Because most things look and work the same, we’ll primarily use screenshots taken in Windows 10. However, when it’s needed, we’ll also include illustrations from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
How to pin File Explorer categories like This PC or Network to the taskbar, in Windows 10
Open File Explorer (in Windows 10 or 8.1) or Windows Explorer (in Windows 7) and look at the left side of the window. Everyone's screen is going to look slightly different, depending on what's installed and how it's organized, but some of the categories will be the same for everyone. In Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, you’ll probably have categories like This PC and Network, and in Windows 7 you’ll probably see categories like Favorites, Computer, Libraries, and Network.
In Windows 10, some categories from the File Explorer, like This PC and Network, can be pinned to the taskbar rather easily. There are two things you must do for that: drag and drop the category you choose on your desktop to create a new link to it and then drag and drop the shortcut on your taskbar. It’s not straightforward, but it works.
Note that if you try to drag and drop these categories directly on your taskbar, they are pinned to File Explorer instead of the taskbar. Unfortunately, in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, this happens for all the categories when you try to drag and drop them directly to the taskbar. For these situations, read the next section of this guide.
How to pin Windows/File Explorer categories like Quick Access or Favorites to the taskbar
If you want to pin categories like Quick access from Windows 10, you must first create a shortcut to the category you chose, on your desktop. For that, drag and drop the category to the desktop.
In Windows 7, if you drag and drop the shortcuts from the Favorites category to the desktop, you'll move them out of Windows Explorer and onto the desktop. If you do this by mistake, pressing Ctrl-Z is the universal Undo command.
If you want to put some of those Favorites shortcuts on the Desktop, select the item you want, press Ctrl-C to copy, then click on the desktop and press Ctrl-V to paste (or right-click and choose the commands off the menu).
Creating the shortcut is just the first step in the process, though. Unfortunately, you can't drag and drop the new shortcut to the taskbar. So here's what you have to do next:
First, you will need to create a folder to house all the items you just put on the desktop. Right-click or tap and hold anywhere on the desktop and choose New -> Folder. Give your folder a descriptive name. Then move all the shortcuts you just put on the desktop into that folder.
Open the folder by double clicking and just drag and drop the shortcuts inside.
If you don't want to leave this folder on your desktop, move it somewhere else, where it won't be deleted. If you remove this folder, your pinned folders go away.
Open the folder, right-click (or tap and hold) on the first item that you want to pin to the taskbar and choose Copy, or select the item and press Ctrl-C.
Then, right-click (or tap and hold) anywhere there's empty space in the folder and select “New -> Shortcut.”
In the Create Shortcut wizard, paste the information you just copied, by pressing Ctrl-V. Move the cursor to the beginning of the line and type the word explorer followed by a space (space is essential). Then, click/tap Next.
Name your shortcut whatever you wish, and click Finish.
Your new shortcut is now created. This is the one you can drag to the taskbar or right-click (tap and hold) and choose “Pin to taskbar.”
Note that most shortcuts you create and pin to the taskbar this way use by default the Windows/File Explorer icon. If you pin more items like this on the taskbar, you might end-up with something like ten Windows/File Explorer icons one after another. They will open different things but they will look the same, which is not helpful is it?
To overcome this mishap, before pinning the shortcuts to the desktop, you should change their icons to something individual for each. So make sure you assign them new icons before pinning them to your taskbar.
If you don’t know how to change the icon of a shortcut, read this guide: How to change the icon of any shortcut in Windows.
How to pin Control Panel items to the taskbar
If you want to pin the entire Control Panel to the taskbar, you've got it made: open the Control Panel and you'll then see the Control Panel icon on your taskbar. Right-click (or tap and hold) that and choose “Pin to taskbar” or "Pin this program to taskbar" and you're done.
If you just want to pin a few individual Control Panel items, the procedure is just the same as detailed above. Drag the item you want to the desktop to create a shortcut, move those shortcuts into your taskbar-shortcuts folder, and from there follow the instructions in the previous section.
How to pin Administrative Tools to the taskbar
Go to “Control Panel -> System and Security -> Administrative Tools.” Everything in the Administrative Tools window is already a shortcut, so you don't have to move them to another folder. Just right-click (or tap and hold) the one you want to be pinned to the taskbar and choose “Pin to taskbar” (in Windows 10) or “Pin to Taskbar” (in Windows 7).
Pinning most things in Windows to the taskbar is easy. However, there are also components which are not so simple and straightforward to pin, like the categories from the File/Windows Explorer. But, although it takes more clicks/taps and shortcuts to shortcuts, in the end, you can set up your taskbar exactly the way you want it so that you have quick and easy access to the tools you use most. What do you have pinned to your taskbar? What would you recommend to others? Let us know in the comments.