How To Customize Quick Access In Windows 10 (Navigation Pane And Toolbar)

Getting around the operating system quickly is something that everyone desires. In Windows 10, Microsoft has provided a Quick Navigation pane as well as a dedicated toolbar. You can find these quick-action elements in File Explorer.

In this section, we will demonstrate how to customize these elements that will allow you to perform tasks at a click of a button, which previously took a good deal of time and effort. Before we begin, let us explain the Quick Access pane and toolbar.

Quick Access pane vs. toolbar in Windows 10

Most Windows 10 users are likely to be familiar with the Quick Access pane. File Explorer opens this section by default. Furthermore, it is also visible in the navigation pane on the left side of the Explorer. The Quick Access navigation pane can be seen here.

QA pane

The Windows Explorer navigation pane allows users to pin folders and other settings for quick access anywhere within the Explorer. In addition, this section displays the frequently visited folders as well as the recently accessed files and folders.

The Quick Access toolbar can be found at the top of Explorer, below the menu ribbon. Similar to the pane, this toolbar can also be customized to include options for quick configuration, such as creating a new folder or changing the type of view.

QA toolbar

Here we will discuss how you can customize the Quick Access pane, and then we will also discuss how to customize the toolbar.

How to customize Quick Access navigation pane in Windows 10

The first thing to understand is that the Quick Access pane cannot be used to pin commands. This can only be done in the toolbar. However, the pane can be used to access folders quickly with a single click of the mouse. Let us continue to see how to achieve different tasks in customizing the Quick Access pane.

Pin folder to Quick Access navigation pane

To pin a folder to the Quick Access pane, simply right-click on the folder you want to pin and click Pin to Quick access from the context menu.

pin

Alternatively, you can also drag and drop the folder directly into the navigation pane on the left and place the folder access manually. The pinned folders are the ones with the pin icon in front of them.

pinned

Remove folder from Quick Access pane

You can also remove a folder from the Quick Access pane just as easily. To remove a folder, right-click on the shortcut in the pane that you want to remove and click Unpin from Quick access from the context menu.

unpin

Display only pinned folders in Quick Access pane

In addition to displaying frequently accessed folders, the Quick Access pane also displays the most recently accessed folders. If you would like it to display only the pinned folders, you must do the following:

Click on View in the menu ribbon and then click Options.

view options

In the Folder Options window, under the General tab, uncheck the boxes next to “Show recently used files in Quick access” and “Show frequently used folders in Quick access.” Click Apply and Ok when done.

uncheck 1

You will now no longer see random folders in the Quick Access section, only the pinned folders.

How to customize Quick Access Toolbar in Windows 10

With the toolbar at the top, you can link ribbon commands directly to it. This includes options like quickly changing the view type of Explorer, creating a new folder, or mapping a network drive. Continue reading to learn how to customize the Quick Access toolbar.

Add command to Quick Access toolbar

To add a setting or a command to the Quick Access toolbar at the top of the explorer, just right-click on the command that you want to add and then click Add to Quick Access Toolbar from the context menu. here is an example:

add to QA toolbar

The “Sort by” menu can now be seen as a drop-down menu in the Quick Access Toolbar which can be accessed from anywhere within the Explorer.

toolbar added

This can work for any ribbon commands. It also includes the commands which are in the drop-down menu.

Remove command from Quick Access toolbar

You can also remove a command from the toolbar. To do so, right-click the shortcut you want to remove from the Quick Access toolbar and click Remote from Quick Access Toolbar from the context menu.

remove

Move Quick Access toolbar

You can also move the Quick Access toolbar to a more desirable place that suits you better. However, there are only 2 options to place it:

  • Above the title bar ribbon
  • Below the title bar ribbon

You can select this option by right-clicking on a blank space on the Quick Access toolbar and then click Show Quick Access Toolbar above/below the ribbon from the context menu.

show above below

Backup Quick Access toolbar

Each individual has their preferred configurations. These settings can be lost in the blink of an eye when something goes wrong. Therefore, people tend to have backups and restore points they can use if something were to go wrong. Similarly, you can also backup the Quick Access toolbar configurations just in case.

Backing up the toolbar buttons requires accessing the system registries. We recommend that you create a system restore point before proceeding further so that you can return to the restore point in case something went wrong.

Launch the Registry Editor by typing in regedit in Run, then paste the following into the address bar at the top for quick navigation:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Ribbon

Now right-click the Ribbon key and then click Export from the context menu.

export

In the pop-up window, enter a name and location to save the .REG file and then save it.

save

Your backup of the Quick Access toolbar has been created. All you need to do is keep the exported file safe and run it on the PC you want to restore these settings to.

Reset Quick Access toolbar

If you think you have created a mess with the Quick Access toolbar, rather than deleting one item at a time, you can reset the whole thing in one go and then start over.

Resetting the toolbar requires manipulation of the system registries. Therefore, we suggest that you create a restore point before proceeding forward as wrongful manipulation can turn fatal for the operating system.

Open the Registry Editor by typing in regedit in Run, and then paste the following into the address bar at the top for quick navigation.

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Ribbon

From there, right-click the DWORD “Qatitems” in the right pane and click Delete from the context menu to remove the entry.

delete 1

Now close the Registry Editor and reboot the computer. When you return, you will find that only the default buttons are present in the Quick Access toolbar in the Explorer.

Alternatively, you can also paste the following into a text file to create a .REG file and run it. This command will automatically delete the system registry “Qatitems.”

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Ribbon]
"QatItems"=-

When pasted in a text file, save the file by any name and append it with a suffix “.reg” to create a registry file.

save2

Now simply run the .REG file and restart the computer to reset the toolbar

Closing words

The Quick Access navigation pane and the toolbar can be very helpful for the people that use their mouse more than their keyboard. It gives you one-click access to folders and certain ribbon commands.

We would also like to add that removing the Quick Access pane from the navigation bar on the left side of the Explorer is something that some of the Windows 10 users want. However, we have discovered that doing so often damages the explorer.exe process. Therefore, we do not recommend that you try and perform it at the moment.

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Subhan Zafar
Subhan holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and has completed several system and network certifications including Huwaei, Cisco and Microsoft certs. He mostly researches and writes about the Windows world.

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