Understanding Jump Lists

by Barry Dysert
(last updated December 14, 2015)

The concept of a jump list can trace its roots back to versions of Windows that display "recent documents." The idea behind jump lists is that applications (such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Notepad, etc.) can keep track of the documents that that application has most recently accessed.

Jump lists were first introduced in Windows 7. They appear on the Start menu as well as on the Taskbar. (Actually, they only appear on the Start menu in Windows 7 and Windows 10—there is no traditional Start menu in Windows 8.) Jump lists are maintained for each application in a "circular" data structure, meaning that when a jump list gets full, opening a new document drops the oldest one off the list to make room for the new document.

For applications on the Start menu, you can tell if it has a jump list because there will be an arrow to the right of the application name. The following figure is what's currently on my Start menu. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Start Menu items.

Of the items listed, the three of them have associated jump lists: Excel 2016, Word 2016, and File Explorer. This means that I can click the right arrow beside one of the applications and see the recently opened documents associated with that application. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. A jump list for Excel 2016.

This shows the three most recently accessed workbooks for Excel 2016. Clicking on one of these will open that workbook.

Jump lists also exist for applications that are on the Taskbar. To access the jump list all you need to do is right-click the application's icon on the Taskbar. Jump lists on the Taskbar are a bit different from those on the Start menu. Here, not only do you see the files most frequently accessed with the program, but you may also see a few other options that contain frequently used commands. As before, clicking an item causes the program to respond accordingly.

 This tip (12669) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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