How to be More Efficient by Managing Quick Access Links

To see this process in action, watch the video that accompanies this post.

Increasing efficiency often feels like a goal that is difficult to obtain. How can we measure efficiency to verify there has been an increase ? How can we consistently increase it without wearing ourselves down? Luckily there are settings in Windows that can be set to best meet our specific needs. For example, modifying the links in the Quick access section in File Explorer can be accomplished within minutes and greatly increase efficiency.

The Quick access section in File Explorer houses links that reference files, folders, shared drives, or Windows locations like the Desktop or Downloads folders. Quick access links appear in the top left section of every File Explorer window which makes it a great place to link frequently used files and folders. Typically, the longer you have a computer the deeper folders get created. Folders are often organized by year or topic with sub-folders created inside. Creating links in the Quick access section to commonly used, but deep sub-folders, can be a huge time saver.

Modifying the settings for the Quick access section

To remove a link listed in the Quick access section:

  • Open File Explorer.
  • Right-click on the link to remove.
  • In the popup menu, select "Remove from Quick access".
  • The link will disappear from the Quick access section.

To create a link in the Quick access section:

  • Open File Explorer.
  • Navigate to the desired drive, folder, or file to add to the Quick access section.
  • Left-click and drag the item to the Quick access section.
  • Release when prompted with the "Pin to Quick access" prompt.
  • The link will appear in the list.

To re-order items in the Quick access list:

  • Open File Explorer.
  • eft-click and drag a link up or down as desired.
  • Be sure to move the link until a solid black line appears and the text "Pin to Quick access" appears rather than "Copy to X (folder location)" before dropping the link.
  • Continue to move items until the order is as desired.

Modifying the File Explorer window

Most settings available to the Quick access section are managed directly within that section. However, there are two additional settings managed within File Explorer Options. The first setting manages whether File Explorer windows open to This PC or to Quick access links. The second setting manages if links are automatically added to the Quick access section and what type of links are added.

To change what File Explorer windows open to:

  • Open the File Explorer Options window.
    • Option 1
      • Search for Control Panel.
      • Change the View to "Small icons" if necessary.
      • Open "File Explorer Options".
    • Option 2
      • Open File Explorer.
      • Click on the "View" tab.
      • Click the down arrow under Options and select "Change folder and search options".
  • On the General tab, at the top next to "Open File Explorer to:", select "This PC" or "Quick access" in the drop down option.
  • Click "Apply" and "OK".

To change if links to recently used files or folders are automatically added to Quick access:

  • Open File Explorer Options as explained above.
  • Go to the Privacy section at the bottom of the General tab.
  • Check or uncheck the boxes next to the options to add recently used files or folders as Quick access links. Enabling these two options means the Quick access list will change automatically and more frequently. Disabling these options means the Quick access list will remain static until you make changes or enable these settings.
  • Click "Apply" and "OK".

There are a variety of configurations that can be modified with Quick access links. Updating the Quick access section to best suit your needs increases efficiency. Within the Quick access section you can add or remove links, re-order links, and decide if links should be added automatically or be a manual process. Allowing links to be added automatically can be faster, but provides less control. These options can be changed at any time.

As always, shortcuts that can increase efficiency and are easy to implement are worth the time to set up!