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Toolbars

Toolbars are used to provide quick access to frequently used functions in a program. Windows comes with several toolbars, including those found in Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, Wordpad (and other applications), and the Quick Launch toolbars on the Taskbar (see Figure 3-32).

Figure 3-34. Wordpad’s toolbar provides access to eleven of the most commonly used functions, such as Open, Save, Print, and Find


Usually, the buttons in a toolbar don’t provide any functionality that isn’t otherwise accessible through the menus or via a keystroke or two. Toolbars are almost exclusively mouse oriented, so a toolbar that works with the keyboard is a rare occurrence.

The toolbars in most modern applications are configurable; that is, you can rearrange the tools to your liking, add new items, and remove the ones you don’t use. It’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to configure the toolbar with the features that you use the most, especially since the default toolbars in most applications are set up to showcase the most marketable features of the product rather than to make the program easier to use.

The configuration and features of a particular toolbar is typically the responsibility of the application that owns it, although most modern applications use Microsoft’s toolbar controls, which afford a good degree of consistency.

You can often right-click on an empty portion of a toolbar to change its properties or to add or remove buttons. Toolbars can usually be “docked” to the top, bottom, or sides of an application, or they can float. Play around with toolbars to get a feel for how they respond to being dragged and resized; there’s no substitute for 30 seconds of fooling around. Some newer toolbars can be “locked” so that they can’t be accidentally moved, resized, or closed. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I’ve gotten from frantic friends and relatives telling me that they’ve lost their toolbars! Locking is a welcome feature, indeed.

Many larger applications, such as WordPerfect Office and Microsoft Office, support multiple toolbars, including custom toolbars you can create as needed. These toolbars can typically be rearranged by dragging them around, although you may not get any visual feedback until you let go. To hide a toolbar, try right-clicking on it, or just drag it (if it’s docked) so that it floats and then click the close button in the toolbar’s titlebar.

A quick way to customize the buttons on toolbars is to hold the Alt key while dragging or right-clicking (to move a button or changes its properties, respectively). Pressing the Alt key puts the toolbar into “edit” mode temporarily; in fact, you can even drag buttons from one toolbar to another with this method. Note that Taskbar toolbars (see below) are always in edit mode, so the Alt key is not needed.



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