What Are the Different Types of Toolbars on a Window?

Toolbars are found in office suites, graphics editors and Web browsers. They serve to increase your efficiency on a computer by representing commonly used commands either with graphic icons, text or both. Toolbars differ from menu bars; menu bars tend to group similar commands that you need to click to access while toolbar commands are always visible.

Young businesswoman working at desk
Using toolbars to access commands increases your efficiency.
credit: Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Application Toolbar

An application toolbar (appbar) works like the Windows taskbar. Software programs use them extensively. The appbar is anchored to part an edge of the Window, which differentiates it from a palette, often a free-floating or a dialog box that appears with a right click of the mouse. Appbars generally have buttons that give you quick access to other Windows, applications or shortcuts within the program such as “Home,” “View” or “Update.”

Quick access toolbar

Although menus and toolbars were eliminated by Microsoft in Office 2010 in lieu of "ribbons," the Quick Access Toolbar is notably still present. A customizable toolbar, which you can locate either above or below the Ribbon, is a set of your most frequently used commands. It does not matter on which ribbon the command is found, it always appears for your easy access.

Search Toolbar

Most search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing, offer users a toolbar to attach to the top of the browser window. Depending on the preferences that you choose, you can use the toolbar to quickly search or access your favorite search engine features including mail, weather and news. These browser toolbars also provide access to functionality similar to many word processing programs such as “File,” “Edit” and “Save.” Some browser toolbars provide email and instant message access as well as spam controls.

Bookmarks Toolbar

Called favorites in Internet Explorer, and bookmarks in Chrome and Firefox, most browsers include a spot to display frequently accessed bookmarks. When you save a bookmark, you can choose to place it on the bookmark bar or you can move it there at a later date. Save folders, website or feeds to the bar and rearrange them easily. A “Favorites” icon such as a star is often included with the Bookmarks toolbar, providing you with easy access to your favorite websites.

Thumbnail Toolbar

A thumbnail toolbar found exclusively in Windows 7 provides you with instant access to the key commands of a window through an embedded toolbar in the thumbnail. The toolbar has a maximum of seven buttons. It is only available if the application designer has included the toolbar feature; it is not a toolbar that you can choose to display.