How to Make Folders Appear as Cascading Menu in the Quick Launch Toolbar

When you create sub-folders in the Quick Launch folder to better organize the shortcuts, the folders will appear in the Quick Launch toolbar correctly, but clicking them would launch Windows Explorer. Some people would like to view the contents of the folder (cascaded as a list) rather than opening the folder when clicked. Here is how to make folders in the Quick Launch toolbar cascade as menu when clicked.

Method 1: Use the CTRL key

Hold the CTRL key down and then click on the folder in your Quick Launch toolbar. This lists the folder contents as a menu.

Method 2: Apply a Registry Edit

1. Launch Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) and go to the following branch:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced

2. Create a new REG_DWORD value named CascadeFolderBands

3. Double-click CascadeFolderBands and set its value data to 1 (dword:00000001)

4. Exit the Registry Editor.

5. Logoff and login back for the change to take effect.

Now, click on the free space next to the folder icon (see where the mouse pointer is, in the image). This opens the menu listing the folder contents.

CTRL + Click (on the folder) would work as well!

Thanks to David.C for this hack, which should work in all versions of Windows (Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000).

Registry Fix

To automate the above, download and save to Desktop. Unzip and run ql-folder-cascade.reg. Logoff/login back. To undo the setting, run the file undo.reg attached with the zip file.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

6 thoughts on “How to Make Folders Appear as Cascading Menu in the Quick Launch Toolbar

  1. I find this puzzling, too. Windows 7 doesn’t even have a “quick launch” folder. They let you pin things to the task bar, which looks similar, but I haven’t been able to find a way to pin a folder there.

  2. @Julia (July 14th 2011)

    I initially thought the same thing. But on my WinXP systems I keep the Task Bar portion of the Quick Launch GUI as small as the settings allow (which it seems I recall is the default), leaving room for only 3 icons, none of which are folders in my case (i.e., Show Desktop, Launch IE, and Winamp).

    The rest of my Quick Launch items are displayed in the menu that slides up from the Task Bar when I click the chevron (double arrow) to the right of the 3 Quick Launch icons on the Task Bar. I have several folders in the slide-up menu, all of which slide open to the right upon mouse-over, and do nothing if single-clicked (but they do open the selected Quick Launch sub-folder in a new Explorer window if double-clicked).

    However, I found that if I drag one of those Quick Launch sub-folders from the slide-up menu down to replace one of the 3 icons on the Task Bar and then single-click on the folder, it Opens in a new Explorer window as described above. So maybe the “fix” is only relevant (and necessary) if/when one places Quick Launch sub-folders on the Task Bar portion of the Quick Launch GUI. In WinXP (at least), Quick Launch sub-folders on the slide-up menu already behave as intended by this “fix”.

    …I haven’t tried the above “fix” for folders on the Task Bar portion of Quick Launch yet, as I don’t need it with my configuration, but this may clarify what was puzzling to Julia (and to me) about whether this article is relevant to WinXP. [Looks like it is, if one has Quick Launch sub-folders on the Task Bar portion of the Quick Launch GUI. :)]

  3. I find this article rather puzzling. Perhaps this technique only applies in Vista and Windows 7? I am running Windows XP and I have never edited my registry in the way you describe. When I mouse over a sub-folder in Quick Launch, it opens instantly like a menu; no clicking is required. If I click once on the sub-folder, nothing happens. If I double-click, it launches Windows Explorer.

  4. I didn’t think that the registry key was working for method two with Windows 7, but I noticed your note of “click on the free space next to the folder icon”. Viola! This DOES work in Quick Launch. You just have to make sure you have empty space next to the folder.. and don’t click ON the folder.. just the space. Thanks for pointing that out. :)

  5. This does fully work for the taskbar but not the quick launch bar (at least not for me). In the quick launch bar I can add a folder but I must use the CTRL to expand the folder. The images included in the above solution show the taskbar not the quick launch bar.

  6. I should also point out that the cascading menu does work on Windows XP themes, but you have to click just to the right of the folder icon to activate the invisible drop-down arrow. Clicking the icon directly opens the folder in Windows Explorer.

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