QAP 101: What should I know about Quick Access Popup before I start (and can’t stop) using it?

VIDEOS
> Quick Access Popup Installation Demo (9 min.)
> First steps with Quick Access Popup (9 min.)

When you run it, Quick Access Popup (QAP) adds an icon in the Notification Area and awaits your orders. When you want to open a frequently used folder, launch an application or work on a document, open the Quick Access Popup menu.

  1. There are different ways to to open the Quick Access Popup menu. The most common are:
    • click the Middle Mouse Button ANYWHERE on your Desktop;
    • or if you are a keyboard shortcut addict, press Windows + W.

Quick Access Popup icon in the Notification Area (System Tray)

You can also open the QAP menu from the Quick Access Popup icon in the Notification Area (System Tray).

Launching favorites

In the QAP menu, select your favorite folder, application or document. Quick Access Popup will instantly launch it!

You are already working in a Windows Explorer and just want to change the folder in the current window?

Click the Middle Mouse Button while the mouse pointer is over the Explorer window (or press Windows + W while the Explorer window is active). In the popup menu, select the desired folder. Quick Access Popup will instantly navigate your Explorer to the selected folder! Changing folders in file dialog boxes (Open, Save As, etc.) is also available if you enable this option (see  Can I change folders in file dialog boxes?).

Customize your menu

Now, you can’t resist to customize your popup menu? Adding your own folders, applications, documents, web links or FTP site is very easy.

  1. Open the QAP popup menu (Middle Mouse Button or Windows + W) and choose the Customize menu.
  2. In the Customize window, click the Add button, select the type of favorite to add (for example Folder, Document or Application) and click Continue.
  3. In the Add Favorite window, enter the menu name and the path to your favorite folder, application or document. There are plenty of options to discover in the other tabs but all you need to enter is in the first one justly named Basic Settings.
  4. Click Add when you are finished with the favorite’s settings.
  5. Back in the Customize window, use the various buttons to add, reorder, remove or edit your favorites. Don’t forget to click the big Save & Close button in the Customize window to keep your changes.

There are other ways to add favorites:

  • Add folders or web pages on the fly. When you are in a favorite folder or web page, open the QAP popup menu, select the menu Add Active Folder or Web page (or press Shift + Control + A) and enter the menu name of this new favorite. See more info about the Add Active Folder or Web page feature.
  • Drag & drop favorite folders, documents or applications from your file manager to the Customize window and give them a menu name. That’s it!
  • Add favorite folders, documents or application using the Windows Explorer context menu. See Which QAP commands are available using Explorer Context menus?
  • There are special items in the My QAP Essentials, My Special Folders, My Snippets and My Windows Apps allowing to add new QAP Features, new Windows Special Folders, new Windows Apps and new Snippets.

What else should I know when I’ll get familiar with the basics?

  1. Can I change folders in file dialog boxes?
  2. What are these special folders in the My Special Folders menu?
  3. What are these options in the My QAP Essentials menu?
  4. Gather favorites in submenus.
  5. Launch groups of related favorites.
  6. Harness the Alternative features
  7. Iron the QAP icon in the Notification Area
  8. What are the QAP global options?

How do I display the Quick Access Popup menu?

QAP has two types of triggers to open two different menus. Each menu can be open with a mouse button and a keyboard hotkey.

1) Main QAP menu triggers: the default mouse trigger is the Middle Mouse Button and the default keyboard trigger is Windows+W.

  • These triggers show the QAP popup menu over any window (except those excluded, more info about exclusion list).
  • In the QAP menu, the favorite you choose is launched in a new window.
  • But, if the favorite is a folder and the target window where you open the QAP menu supports folder navigation (Windows Explorer, Console or other file managers), the window location is changed to the favorite folder.
  • Folder navigation is also available for file dialog boxes (Open, Save As, etc.) but this has to be enabled in Options window (see the Options window, General tab, first checkbox).

Using a touchpad
Most of the touchpads can be configured to emulate a click on the middle mouse button (for example, by doing a three fingers tap). Check the documentation of your touchpad. You will find more info in this How-To Geek article.

Open the Alternative menu with Shift + Middle Mouse Button or Shift + Windows + W

 

2) Alternative menu triggers: the default mouse trigger is Shift + Middle Mouse Button and the default keyboard trigger is Shift + Windows + W.

  • These triggers show the Alternative menu over any windows.
  • In the Alternative menu, you select the actions to apply to one of your favorites (see the list of Alternative menu features in: What are the Alternative menu features?).
  • Then, in the main QAP menu, select the target favorite on which the Alternative menu feature will be executed.

Using Explorer Context menus

You can also show the popup menu from the Explorer context menu (right-click menu). On the Desktop, right-click anywhere except on icons and select Show Quick Access Popup menu. To use the Alternative menu, hold Shift key while you right-click the Desktop and select Show Quick Access Popup Alternative menu.

Using the Ctrl+Ctrl hotkey

You can also open the main QAP menu by pressing twice the left or right Control key. Enable this feature in the Options, Popup Hotkeys.

When do I need to use the QAP icon in the Notifications Area?

The Quick Access Popup icon in the Notification Area (System Tray) has two functions: menu launcher and System menu.

Right-click the icon in the Notification area to open the QAP System menu:

  • open the Customize dialog box;
  • select one of the commands available in the Customize menu bar (File, Favorite, etc.)
  • select the Suspend Hotkeys to disable all QAP keyboard and mouse hotkeys;
  • select the Run at Startup option to launch QAP automatically;
  • and select Exit Quick Access Popup to unload QAP from the active memory.

Left-click on the Quick Access Popup icon in the Notification area to open your favorites menu. This menu is always available in the Tray. When you select a folder, it is open in the most recently active Windows Explorer window or in a new window, depending on the option selected in the Options, File Managers tab.

See also: How can I make the QAP icon always stay in the Notification Area?

Can I speed up the QAP menu display by having dynamic menus detached from the main menu?

By default, the Drives, Recent Folders and Recent Files menus are displayed as part of the main menu (“attached”). But, because these menus have to be refreshed before being shown, this could slow down the display of your main menu (this would happen only on relatively slow systems or drives). In this case, you could ask QAP to display these items in a “detached” (or stand-alone) menus. For this, uncheck the checkbox Attach all dynamic menus to QAP main menu in the Options dialog box, Popup Menu tab.

When these menus are “attached”, you may notice a slight refresh delay when you invoke the QAP menu. This delay is caused by the time it takes to Windows to provide the refreshed information required to display the Drives, Recent Folders and Recent Files menus. Because Windows does not always provide this info instantly, the delay may vary at each display of the popup menu. Again, this would be an issue on relatively slow systems.

Update: If the QAP database is enabled (in Options, Database tab), QAP caches the dynamic menus content in its database and refresh them with a background task. This eliminates the need to display the dynamic menus in a detached menu.

Can I display the QAP menu from the command-line or from a batch file?

You do it with the QAP executable companion QAPmessenger.exe installed in the QAP application folder. This utility is used to send commands to QAP from the Windows Explorer Context menus. But you can also use it this utility to call the QAP menu from the command line, a batch file, a Windows shortcut, etc.

Enter one of the following lines at the command prompt, in a .BAT file line or in the Target field in a Windows shortcut. Replace C:\Program Files\Quick Access Popup\QAPmessenger.exe with the current path and filename of QAPmessenger in your setup.

The first line shows the regular menu. The second line shows the same menu but will change the folder in the current Windows Explorer window (for favorites of type Folder or Special) instead of opening a new window:

"C:\Program Files\Quick Access Popup\QAPmessenger.exe" ShowMenuLaunch

"C:\Program Files\Quick Access Popup\QAPmessenger.exe" ShowMenuNavigate

You can also use these commands to popup a specific submenu. Enclose in double-quotes  (greater than + space) and the name of the submenu, for example:

"C:\Program Files\Quick Access Popup\QAPmessenger.exe" ShowMenuLaunch "> MySubMenu"

"C:\Program Files\Quick Access Popup\QAPmessenger.exe" ShowMenuLaunch "> MySubMenu > 2nd Level"

The last example shows the Alternative menu:

"C:\Program Files\Quick Access Popup\QAPmessenger.exe" ShowMenuAlternative

See also how you can use a command-line to add favorites to your menu.

 

Can I embellish my popup menu with my preferred icons?

Video – Beautiful and efficients menu with icons (12 min.)

By default, Quick Access Popup select icons based various criteria. For documents, it shows the default icon for the document type (based on filename extension). For applications, it reads the default icon in the application executable file. For QAP features, it use a default image representing the feature’s action. Finally, for folders, it use the plain basic folder icon or the folder’s custom icon if one has been assigned in Windows file system.

You can assign your own custom icons to favorites in the Menu Options tab of the Add / Edit Favorite window. You can pick icons in any .EXE, .DLL or .ICO file. You can also load icons from image files (*.PNG, *.BMP, *.GIF, *.JPG). These images must be square and between 16×16 and 64×64 pixels.

In the Menu Options tab, click the current icon or the Change icon link to select a new icon. Click No icon if you prefer no icon for this favorite or click Edit icon resource if you want to edit the icon file and index manually. In this example, QAP selected the default icon for Excel documents in an Excel .EXE file.

In the Select Icon dialog box, you see all the icons in this file. If the number of icons in this file exceed one page, click Next or Previous to see other pages. You can double click an icon to select it. Or you can use the keyboard arrows to select an icon and select it with the OK button.

You can select an icon from another file with he Browse button. You can open an icons file (*.DLL, *.EXE, *.ICO, *.OCX, *.CPL) or, since v11.3, an image files (*.PNG, *.BMP, *.GIF, *.JPG). Image files must be square and between 16×16 and 64×64 pixels. If you select an image file or an icon file with only one icon, this icon is selected immediately.

You can also select an icon from the JLicons.dll file included with QAP or one of the Windows DLL files by clicking the links JLicons.dll, Shell32.dll or ImageRes.dll.

See how to manage the icons of all your favorite’s icons in a single dialog box: Can I manage all my menu icons in one screen?. See also: How to sync your menu folder icons and Windows folders icons. And don’t miss this video on QAP icons.


Can I create menu entry with a keyboard shortcut in its name? Why is the “&” hidden in my menu name?

First, the quick answer to the second question: To display an ampersand in a menu you have to type it twice, for example: “Sweet && Sour”.

Why? The ampersand character in Windows menu is used to make the following character a keyboard accelerator (or shortcut). For example, in the screen capture from Notepad on the right, the Replace command can be called by pression Atl + E (to open the Edit menu) then to launch the command. This is because, under the hood, the names of the menu and menu item are “&Edit” and “&Replace”.

The ampersand can be inserted anywhere in a menu name to enable the following character as a keyboard accelerator.

And what about Quick Access Popup? If you open the QAP menu using the keyboard shortcut (Win + W), it is easy to fire a favorite by pressing its menu accelerator. In the following example, the Work menu is named “&Work” to enable W as an accelerator (the W appears as underlined if you open the menu with the keyboard shortcut).

Quick Access Popup menu

Normally, Windows will underline the menu accelerators only when you open the menu with a keyboard shortcut. To force Windows to always display the accelerators, check the Underline keyboard shortcuts option in the Ease of Access Center section of the Windows Settings (aka Windows Control Panel).

Underline keyboard shortcuts

Ease of Access Center of Control Panel (groovypost.com)

Can I change the font, size, color or behavior of the QAP popup menu items?

Yes and no. QAP is building its menus using standard Windows commands. Depending on your Windows version, you may be able to change menu fonts, size or color in Windows Settings (aka Windows Control Panel). But you can’t change the menu font only in QAP menus.

If you want to reduce the space occupied by your menu, you can change the size of menu icons, or even completely remove them. This will allow you to have more menu entries in the same space. Open the Menu Appearance tab of the Options window change the Menu icon size. Also, you can use sub-menus to group menu entries under a single entry.

The left menu has icons size of 48 pixels, the middle one has the default size 32 pixels and the right one has the smallest 16 pixels width.

For the same reason (because QAP is relying on standard Windows menus), QAP cannot do the followings:

  • Make some menu items bold: only one “default” item Customize in the Main menu is displayed bold.
  • Decide on what side will popup a sub menu: this is determined by Windows depending on the space available on the right side of the menu (if not, the submenu will on on the left – I know, I hate this too…).
  • Have a Live Folder submenu entry to be clickable to open the Live folder itself. In Windows menus, submenu entries are not clickable.
  • Trigger an action if you right-click on a menu item: the right-click on a menu cannot be catched to trigger an action. It just does nothing (but you could be interested by these options: Can I launch Alternative menu features directly from the regular popup menu?)
  • Etc…

How can I gather numerous favorites in a clutter-free popup menu?

If your QAP menu gets too long, divide and conquer! Group your favorites by types, subjects or projects in submenus. To add a submenu, in the Customize window, click the Add button and, in the Add Favorite Type dialog box, select the Submenu radio button.

  • In the Basic Settings window, give your submenu a name.
  • And, optionnaly, enable the Sort menu automatically and select the sort criteria.

  • In the Menu Options, you can select an icon for your menu.
  • You can also assign a shortcut that will allow to open this specific section of your menu by hitting a shortcut, without having to browse from the main menu.

This will create an empty submenu named My Project Submenu. You will see below how you can move existing favorites to this new menu or how to add new favorites to it.

Submenus can be nested in submenus at will. For example, in the screen shot above, the Final Report is a submenu of My Project Submenu.

To move a favorite from one menu to another, click the Edit button or double-click the favorite name and, in the Menu Options tab, select the new menu in the Favorite parent menu drop down list and choose the favorite’s position in the list Insert the favorite before this item.

To add a new favorite in a submenu, you can also open this menu in the Customize window and select the new favorite position before clicking on the Add button.

 

Can I block the QAP menu trigger (Middle Mouse Button) if it interfere with one of my other apps?

Yes. There may be some applications where the user does not want the QAP menu mouse trigger (by default, Middle Mouse Button) to interfere with the app’s normal behavior. QAP allows to block the QAP mouse menu based on the window title, window class or process name.

But, before considering blocking hotkeys, you could first see if another hotkey would best fit your needs. If yes, use the Options window, tab Popup Hotkeys to select different triggers for the QAP menu.

If you prefer the exclusion approach, open the Popup Menu tab in the Options. In the Mouse trigger Blacklist or Whitelist text zone, select the exclusion (Blacklist) or inclusion (Whitelist) approach and enter any part of the window title of the application to exclude or include (the window title is what appears in the top horizontal bar of the window). You can enter multiple exclusions, one per line.

 

For example, to exclude Google Chrome and Microsoft Word applications, select Blacklist and enter the following two lines in the exclusion list:

Google Chrome
Microsoft Word

Click Save and try the to open the menu again in these windows. The menu won’t show up. The QAP hotkey is disabled and the Middle Mouse Button click is sent to the target window as if QAP was not running.

Excluding dialog boxes

By default, QAP will only block the mouse hotkey in the app’s main window. You can also disable the mouse hotkey in app’s dialog boxes by adding the prefix * (asterisk) to the title or the class name, for example:

*3D Studio

In this example, the mouse hotkey will be blocked in both the 3D Studio Max main window and in its dialog boxes.

To be more specific

Using this technique, there may be situation where a window title in another app could include one of the exclusion strings you entered. For example, if you save a file in Notepad under the name “My Microsoft Word tips and tricks.txt”, this window would be excluded because it includes the string “Microsoft Word”. But you can be more specific with this:

- Microsoft Word

Adding the dash and space at the beginning of the string will exclude Word windows because the app name in the Word’s title bar is always preceded by the document name and a dash between spaces.

To be a bit more technical

Another way to be more specific is to enter part of the app’s “window class name”. For example, Word’s windows class name is “OpusApp” and Chrome’ windows class name is “Chrome_WidgetWin”. So, these two exclusion lines could be:

Chrome_WidgetWin
OpusApp

You can also exclude an application based on its process name. This is a solution for applications having variable class names. Usually, the process name is the file name of the application’s executable file, for example the Chrome process name is “chrome.exe” and the Word process name is “winword.exe”. So, the exclusions list could also be:

winword.exe
chrome.exe

How can I find a window class name, process name or a window title if the app has no title bar?

To identify the window you want to exclude, use the Get window info button at the bottom of the Exclusions list in the Options dialog box. It will prompt you to click in the target window with the QAP menu hotkey (Middle Mouse Button) and will copy the window title, class name and process name in your Clipboard. Paste this info in the exclusion list and edit it to remove unnecessary parts as described above.

 

There are other tools to gather more info about windows. I recommend this freeware utility: WinLister by NirSoft.

Why does QAP sometimes look frozen or takes time to show its popup menu?

Normally, the QAP popup menu shows instantly when you invoke it (by default, pressing the Middle Mouse Button or hitting Windows +W). But there are some situations external to QAP that sometimes prevent or delay the menu display. Here are the most common causes as well as available solutions. From the feedback received on the QAP Forum, the most common cause of delay is when you have menu items saved on an offline network drive. We will cover this in detail below. But first, let’s exclude some easier issues.

 

If you have questions or comments about this topic, you can add your post to this forum thread:
Why does QAP sometimes look frozen or takes time to show its popup menu?

Hardware issues

It has been reported that, sometimes, on some mouse, the wheel does not react when pressed. This can be a limitation of the mouse model or just a malfunctioning (see this video, for example). To confirm the issue, try replacing the mouse to see if the new mouse wheel can be pressed to open the QAP menu. If, in the end, the middle button is not available, you can select another mouse trigger in Options, Popup Hotkeys or use the keyboard trigger (by default Windows +W). More info here: How do I display the Quick Access Popup menu?

Check the exclusion list

In the Options, Popup Menu section, make sure you did not specify an unwanted exclusion in the Mouse Trigger Blacklist or that you did not select Whitelist without specifying the windows where the QAP menu could be activated. To reset the default setting, select the Blacklist radio button and make sure list is empty.

The menu does not open over some windows

This is probably because these windows belong to applications running as administrator. When an application is launched with an higher security privilege level (sometimes referred as ACL for Access Control List), its windows are not accessible to applications running with lower privilege. From QAP point of view, these windows are like black holes where the mouse middle click or keyboard trigger have no effect. More info here: Why is the middle mouse button not working over some windows?

Long refresh time

The QAP menu is built when you launch the app. It is refreshed each time you save your changes in the Customize or Options windows, and when you select the menu Tools, Refresh Live Folders and Shared menus.

In addition to that, some submenu are dynamic submenus and are refreshed each time you open the menu (if they appear in your menu). Refreshing these menu is very quick and should not cause any perceptible delay. These menu are: Recent Folders*, Recent Files*, Frequent Folders*, Frequent Files*, Drives*, Clipboard*, Current Windows, Reopen a Folder, Repeat Last Actions, Favorites in Customize window*, TC Directory hotlist and Directory Opus Favorites.

* These menus can cause a delay if they contain items on a network drive that is offline. See Network drives offline below.

In addition, the menu can be refreshed by a background task (see Can I schedule automatic menu refresh for Live folders and Shared menus?). If this options is enabled, the menu is temporarily unavailable while it is refreshed. If you have a very large menu with numerous submenus, shared menus and lengthy Live folders, the menu will not respond for a few seconds but only while it is refreshed (every 5 minutes by default).

Network drives offline

The main cause for delays long enough to let users think QAP is frozen is when an offline network drive contains favorites (folders or files) in the QAP menu. Starting with v11.0.7, QAP adds more robust protection against offline drives and add new options in Options, Menus Advanced Options. For more info, see: Can I create favorites on network drives?

If you encounter such delays and have a QAP version prior to v11.0.7, it is strongly recommended to upgrade to latest version.

Live folders and Shared menus on network drives

Also, you should avoid creating Live folders and Shared menus on network drives that could be offline. When refreshing its menu, QAP tries to read the content of Live folder and Shared menus to build its menu. An offline drive will cause a delay.

However, with QAP v11 or more recent, you could have a Live folder on a network drive and enable the new checkbox Refresh this Live Folder menu only with the command “Refresh Live Folders and Shared menus” (under the Live Folder Options) and avoid refreshing the menus when you know that a network drive is offline.

For users of older releases

If you use an older QAP version and have drives that are sometimes offline, there are a few things you can do to avoid this delay.

  • Stop retrieving icons for UNC drives: for QAP v10 only, in Options, Menu Icons, disable the checkbox Retrieve icons when refreshing Frequent folders and Frequent files menus (avoid if some files are often offline).
  • Remove the Frequent and Recent menus: by default, the Frequent Folders, Frequent Files, Recent Folders and Recent Files menus are inserted in the In the Works submenu; select them in the Customize window and click the Remove button.
  • Disable the QAP database: in Options, Database, uncheck the Enable Quick Access Popup database checkbox; this automatically remove the Frequent menus.
  • Remove the Drives menu (under My QAP Essentials) if you have network drives mapped to letter (like N:\); when refreshing this menu, QAP tries to retrieve the drive’s name and free space, causing a delay if the drive is offline.

What is the “close menu issue”?

What I call the “close menu issue” is an intermittent issue (probably caused by Windows) preventing users from closing the QAP popup menu by clicking outside of the menu or by hitting the Escape key as they would do normally. As a result, users have to click an item to close the menu. This is annoying when a user opens the menu but changes its mind and does not want to launch any favorite.

This issue occurs intermittently under Windows 7 and Windows 10 (probably also with 8/8.1). Some user are facing it frequently. Other, like me (on both Win 7 and 10), see it only occasionally. There are probably others that never see it.

I tried various methods to get around this issue but, in the end, the changes I made in my code had side-effects worse than the initial issue. For this reason, I added the option Add “Close” to menus (in the Options window, Menu Appearance tab). If this option is turned on (checked), the Close this menu entry is automatically added to the main QAP popup menu, to the Alternative menu and to all dynamic menus. This option is turned on by default.

 

What if you never encounter this issue?

If you are always able to close the QAP popup menu by clicking outside of the menu or by hitting the Escape key, you can save the space taken by the Close this menu entries. In the Options, deselect the Add “Close” to menu check box.