This week, I've been looking at a few productivity enhancers built directly into Windows 7, with the aim of making life a little easier for people who work with tons of files on a daily basis. On Tuesday I suggested a useful way to select multiple folders with checkboxes. Today I'm going to show you how to expand your Windows 7 Jump Lists to give you quick access to more of your recently viewed documents.
Almost everyone I know works with dozens of Word or Excel documents daily. So why is it that Windows 7 Jump Lists--those little lists of recent documents that appear next to an application icon in the Start Menu only show you the last 10 documents? Quite often I find that I need to go back and review or change a document that I last edited more than 11 tasks ago, and that requires either searching for the document in the Start Menu or browsing for it in Windows Explorer. Fortunately, you can easily tweak the Start Menu to show as many recent items as you like, so you'll seldom have to go scrounging for a document you had open earlier in the day.
To expand the size of your Jump Lists, right-click on the Start Menu and click Properties. Next, click the Start Menu tab and click Customize. In the resulting Customize Start Menu window, look at the very bottom of the pane and you'll find a box labeled 'Start menu size,' which consists of two items: Number of recent programs to display and Number of recent items to display in Jump Lists. Both of these entries give you a little box that you can use to increase, decrease, or just type in a number. Change Number of recent items to display in Jump Lists to any number you like, and then click OK. Click Apply and OK in the Customize Start Menu dialog to exit.
How many recent items should you choose to display? That's likely to be a matter of personal taste, and could be dictated by factors like the size of your screen, the number of files you work with on a daily basis, and your patience for looking at long lists of files when you're launching an application.
In my case, I typically work with about 15 to 20 Word documents a day, and I'd rather avoid presenting myself with a staggering list of old files every time I see the Jump List for Word, so I set mine to 20. This is just enough recent items to keep me from foraging through my Documents library needlessly, and few enough that it doesn't make the Jump List itself too cumbersome to use. Your own magic number will likely be different from mine, but as long as it's more than 10, it's well worth spending the 20 seconds or so required to tweak the size of your Jump Lists.