One of the greatest features presented by Windows 7 (and maintained in Windows 8) is the way the taskbar has been improved upon. Until 7, the main section of the taskbar was divided in two parts: the “quick-launch bar” and the “open programs bar”, but with Windows 7 they were merged in a way that allows the user to lock some programs in the taskbar and to have the opened programs by their side. The ability to lock programs in the taskbar is called “pinning”.
While this really is a great innovation, it has also an important flaw: it does not allow the pinning of folders directly as it happens with programs. If a user tries to pin a folder, Windows will pin the Windows Explorer instance, instead of that specific folder. To solve this, a few independent apps were released, approaching this problem in different fashions. Today I’ll bring you TaskbarPinner, a small, portable and good-looking application which has proved to be an important ally to pin almost anything you want.
TaskbarPinner is a freeware application created by the Russian developer Sergey Tkachenko, the genius face behind WinAero site, in which he publishes various quite useful Windows 7 and 8 small applications. The latest version is 1.0.1, which fixed some minor bugs from the initial release.
The download package consists of a mere compressed file with a 204.98 kB size, which has both Windows 7 and Windows 8 versions. It is important that you use the version matching your OS and, since it is a portable application, it does not require any installation: just store it in a directory you find suitable and keep the version corresponding to your OS. Just as simple as that.
When you execute TaskbarPinner, four main options will be presented regarding the various classes of items that may be pinned: Pin a File, Pin a Folder, Pin a Shell Location and Pin a Library. Each one prompts its own window allowing the user to choose what should be pinned.
To pin a File or a Folder simply navigate to the respective location, using the explorer menus presented. TaskbarPinner also allows you to pin a Shell Location, in which it presents a list of all the virtual folders available, such as the Recycle Bin, the Control Panel, the Action Center, Printers, Network, Power Options, among others. Finally, you can also pin a Windows Library, such as Music, Video, Pictures or Documents.
TaskbarPinner also aims to have a good system integration. By enabling the respective option in the Welcome Screen, TaskbarPinner can be added to the right-click context menu, allowing an easier and direct pinning just by right-clicking a file or a folder. There is still another handy pinning option, which is to drag the files or folders directly into the TaskbarPinner executable or Welcome Screen, if opened. Could it get any simpler than this?
Since TaskbarPinner is a portable application, it will not take any more disk space than the few files it needs to work, which you may keep in any directory. There are also no hidden costs, pop-ups or something like that.
Despite the option you choose, pinning is very fast and takes no longer than a second. Opening pinned files or folders from your taskbar.
Both files and folders are pinned as if they were regular programs, but opening folders works differently than opening files. How is that? Well, whilst the opening of files acts exactly like pinned programs, opening the respective instance on top of the pinned icon, when a pinned folder is clicked the instance will not be opened over its icon, but in a different Windows Explorer instance. I know this sounds kind of confusing, but you’ll see that it very simple in reality, and it should not be a reason to doubt the effectiveness of TaskbarPinner.
A pinned file or folder may easily be removed from the taskbar using the usual way built in Windows: right-click it and select “Unpin this program from taskbar”.
I used other apps before finding TaskbarPinner, specially because of the Windows 7 inability to pin folders in the same way as it pins files. I tried a few apps that basically create a “virtual menu”, very similar to the ones you find on Mac OS X, but they had some issues regarding performance. This led me to search for other kinds of apps, ones that were more pragmatic and effective.
With TaskbarPinner I found a light, non-resource-consuming and easy way to pin whatever I want into my taskbar. Despite its quite simple nature, both in functionality as in design, this application is quite competent doing its job. There are no visible performance issues, and it does not consume any resources at all, other than a little space in your hard drive.
Some improvements may however be implemented, such as the possibility to change a folder’s icon during the pinning process, which is still something that needs to be done “by hand”. I would suggest something like a prompt window asking the user to input a .ico file to replace the default one, if desired. However, when you change your folder’s icon in the usual way (“by hand”), the respective taskbar pinned icon will also be changed to the one you chose.
I have been using TaskbarPinner for a few months now, and did not have a single crash or bug to report. I really recommend this app for anyone wanting to organize its OS and pin objects into Windows 7 or 8 taskbars.