7stacksScreenshot I installed Windows 7 on my laptop a couple weeks ago and have been really enjoying it.  I had Vista installed before and had very few problems, but Windows 7 is a nice improvement.

One of the bright features of Windows 7 is the new taskbar, also known as the Superbar.  A nice add-on to the superbar is a Mac OS X stacks-like utility called 7stacks from Alastria Software.

The 7stacks utility allows you to create a shortcut on your desktop which can be pinned to your taskbar.  When you run the shortcut, it pops up a “stack” showing the contents of the folder.  It provides three different ways to view the contents:

  • Stacks or Vertical Lists (shown)
  • Grid
  • Menu

This little utility is likely to become a permanent part of my stable of utilities.  There are a few improvements I’d like to see made, however.

  1. Context menus – I’d like to be able to right-click on items in the stack and see the same context menu that appears in any other view.  With v1.2, right-clicking does nothing. (verified implemented in v1.5)
  2. Support for Windows 7 libraries – You can create a stack for your desktop, but it doesn’t include the contents of the public desktop.  You can also create a stack for the “Common Desktop” (aka the public desktop) but it won’t show items that are only on your desktop, not on the public desktop.
  3. It’s too easy to make changes and then click the Close button on the dialog box that is displayed when you create or edit a stack, thus losing your changes.  I would recommend having OK and Cancel buttons and make the user launch the dialog box again to create more stacks or to make more changes.
  4. Creating a stack requires that you create it on the desktop.  Sure, you could move it to another location before pinning it to your taskbar, but it would be a lot more convenient to be able to specify where it goes.
  5. The application allows you to specify whether you want to close the stack by clicking anywhere outside the stack or by clicking the stack’s icon again (like Mac OS X).  I’d like both behaviors.  I find myself clicking it again like a menu and then realizing that I have to click somewhere else.  I tried setting it to close when I click on the icon, but then found it stuck around too long when I clicked on it and decided to do something else.

Bugs I’ve Found in v1.2

  • Shortcuts for documents launch the application but the document is not loaded. (verified fixed in v1.5)
  • The icon for the stack cannot be changed using the Edit Stack dialog box.  Instead you must either recreate the stack or modify the icon for the shortcut on the desktop and then repin it to your taskbar.
  • Renaming the folder to which a stack shortcut refers causes the stack to no longer work.  To rename the folder, you must unpin and then repin the stack shortcut.  Note that doing this will reset the stack type.
  • Changing properties on the stack pinned to the taskbar, such as icon size, stack type, etc., only seems to apply when click the taskbar icon. Those changes don’t apply when double-clicking the icon on the desktop.

New Features in v1.5 (beta)

Derek at Alastria has been hard at work on v1.5 and he’s added some really nice new features.

  • You can now right-click on an item in a jumplist, whether in a vertical list, a grid, or a menu, and view the standard Windows Explorer properties.
  • You can show a vertical list or a grid without text.
  • You can specify the icon and font size for the vertical list and the grid stack types.

All in all, however, this is a terrific utility, and I recommend it whole-heartedly.