Since Windows 95, the taskbar has taken up the bottom of the your screen on your Windows computers. Over the years, the defaults designs and color schemes have been tweaked, but the general layout has stayed the same: start menu on left, programs in the middle, system tray and clock on the right. While every version of Windows has allowed some bits of customization and tweaks to the Windows taskbar, Windows 10 brings it to a whole new level. Here are some tips, tweaks, and pointers to help you use the taskbar the way you want to use it.
Pin Apps to the Taskbar: Have a program you use frequently and always need quick access to it? Open it up, and right click on the program’s icon on the task bar and select “Pin to taskbar.” You can also right-click on shortcut in the start menu and click on “More” and select “Pin to taskbar.” Similarly, you can right-click and select “Unpin from taskbar” to make it stop taking up valuable real estate (we’re looking at you, Microsoft Edge).
Configure or Remove Cortana and Search Box: If you’re a big fan of Cortana, Windows’ search assistant, you can get to it by hitting “Windows-C” on your keyboard for voice search or just click the Windows key and start typing to have it search your system. You don’t need a search bar and icon taking up precious taskbar real estate. Right-click on the taskbar, hit the “Cortana” menu where you can tweak to remove Cortana icon, the search bar, or both.
Remove Unnecessary Task View Icon: You know that we’re believers in keyboard shortcuts. The Alt-Tab shortcut to switch programs has been around for many generations of Windows. You don’t need an icon there to click on that accomplishes the same thing. In the same right-click menu from above, uncheck the “Show Task View Button” to get a few pixels of space back.
Hide Unneeded System Icons: The Notification area (also known as the system tray) has various icons and text for your clock, network settings, volume, and more. If you want to turn off some of the stuff you see there, right-click any open area on the taskbar and then click “Taskbar Settings.” On the taskbar settings page, scroll down and click one “Turn system icons on or off” link. There you’ll be able to turn on and off various icons that you don’t need readily accessible.
Rearrange the Taskbar buttons: This is probably the simplest trick of all, and one I personally use every day. When I’m working and have all my programs open, I’m a bit obsessive and like to have my email as the first icon on my tray, and our ticketing system second. Click and drag the program icons on the taskbar into any order you want.
Move the Taskbar Elsewhere or Auto Hide It: Contrary to popular belief, the taskbar doesn’t have to be at the bottom of the screen – it can be pinned to the right, left, or top of the screen as well. First, right-click on the taskbar and uncheck the “Lock the Taskbar” setting. Then you can click and drag on an open space on the bar and drag it to any edge of your display. If you only want the taskbar to show up when your mouse is over the area it’s supposed to be, you can hide it otherwise. Right-click on the taskbar, go into settings and check the box for “Automatically hide taskbar in desktop mode” (you can enable this for tablet mode as well if you have a 2-in-1 laptop.
Resize the Taskbar and Its Icons: If you need additional space for icons on your taskbar, make sure your taskbar isn’t locked (see previous step) and then place your mouse over the top edge of the bar until it turns into a double arrow. Click, and then you can drag to make the taskbar as tall or as short as you want. If you would rather the taskbar be even smaller, you can right-click on the taskbar, go into settings and select “Use small taskbar icons” and your entire taskbar will shrink down a bit.
Show Taskbar Labels: By default, Windows 10 hides labels for the icons on your task bar. If you have a hard time telling what an icon is for, you can force it to show labels. Right-click on the taskbar again to get into the taskbar settings and look for the “Combine taskbar buttons” drop down. Select the “When taskbar is full” or “Never” to show the labels with the former setting grouping things when things get full.
Tweak the Color and Transparency: Windows 10’s default taskbar color is black. To change that, hit “Windows+I” to get into the Windows settings interface. Click on “Personalization” and switch to the color tab. Scroll down to the “More options” area where you can tweak the transparency and color accent settings.
Tweak for Multiple Displays: Windows 10 taskbar works well and includes a good bit of customization for multiple-monitor setups. Go back into the aforementioned taskbar settings, scroll all the way down to get to the “Multiple Displays” setting. Here you can enable taskbars on all your monitors, as well as having it so that the program shows up on that particular monitor’s taskbar.
This certainly isn’t all the tips and tweaks you can do on the taskbar, but it’s quite a few. Have a favorite we missed? Comment below.
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