Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Microsoft Windows Desktop

Customizing the Windows 7 Taskbar

  • Print
  • + Share This
You know the Windows taskbar; it’s that little strip of real estate at the bottom of the Windows desktop. Well, the taskbar looks a little different in Windows 7, and it has a lot more functionality. It’s still the taskbar, but it’s not quite the same taskbar you used to use in previous versions of Windows. You can become much more productive with Windows 7 by personalizing the operating system’s taskbar. In this article, Michael Miller, author of Windows 7 Your Way: Speed Up and Customize Windows, shows you how to customize the Windows 7 taskbar — your way.
Like this article? We recommend

You know the Windows taskbar; it’s that little strip of real estate at the bottom of the Windows desktop. Well, the taskbar looks a little different in Windows 7, and it has a lot more functionality. It’s still the taskbar, but it’s not quite the same taskbar you used to use in previous versions of Windows.

In Windows Vista, Windows XP, and older versions of the operating system, the taskbar existed primarily to help you switch from one open application or document to another. Every open application or document had its own button on the taskbar, but if nothing was open, the taskbar was empty.

The Windows 7 taskbar still provides program switching, but it does a whole lot more. What’s new in Windows 7 is the capability of the taskbar to display buttons not just for open apps and documents, but also for your favorite applications—even when they’re not running. In this regard, the taskbar becomes a one-click area to access both your favorite apps and your open apps. Configure it properly, and you may never open the Windows Start menu again!

Moving the Taskbar

Let’s start with a simple customization. You’re probably used to seeing the taskbar at the bottom of the desktop, because that’s where Windows installs it by default and where the majority of users leave it. In fact, I’d wager that most users don’t know that the taskbar can be moved to any side of the screen.

This is particular useful when you’re using a widescreen monitor—which most of us do, these days. Instead of taking up valuable real estate at the bottom of your screen, you can move the taskbar to the left or right sides, where you probably have more room. It’s a neat little trick that better fits a widescreen desktop, and one I particularly like.

How do you move the taskbar? It’s really easy. Just right-click on any open area of the taskbar and select Properties from the pop-up menu. When the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box appears, select the Taskbar tab. Pull down the Taskbar Location on Screen list and select the desired location: Bottom, Left, Right, or Top, then click OK. That’s all there is to it.

By the way, if you position the taskbar at the top of the screen, the Start menu pulls down instead of popping up. If you position the taskbar at the left side of the screen, the Start menu opens to the right. If you position the taskbar at the right side of the screen, the Start menu opens to the left. This might take a little getting used to, but it’s worth it.

Hiding the Taskbar

Want to free up even more screen real estate? Then hide the taskbar when you’re not using it.

Windows offers an “auto hide” mode for the taskbar. In this mode, the taskbar is hidden until you move your cursor to the bottom of the screen—which then causes the taskbar to slide back up into view. (Or, if you’ve moved your taskbar to another side, when you move your cursor to that side of the screen.)

To auto hide the taskbar, right-click on any empty area of the taskbar and select Properties from the pop-up menu. When the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box appears, select the Taskbar tab. Check the Auto-Hide the Taskbar option, then click OK. (Uncheck this option to return to the standard always-visible taskbar.)

Adding Items to the Taskbar

What’s on your taskbar? The smart way to configure your taskbar is to populate it with buttons for your most-used applications and documents. That’s right, you can dock just about any application or document to your taskbar; launching a docked app is as easy as clicking that app’s button on the taskbar.

How do you add new buttons to the taskbar? Start by opening the Start menu or Windows Explorer, then locate the application or document you want to add to the taskbar. Right-click that item and select Pin to Taskbar from the pop-up menu. (Even easier, you can drag the icon for any item from Windows Explorer onto the taskbar, which automatically pins it there.) A button for that item now appears on the taskbar, mission accomplished.

Rearranging Taskbar Buttons

In previous versions of the Windows taskbar, you had no control over the order of taskbar buttons. The order of buttons was determined by the order in which the applications were opened.

With Windows 7, however, you have total control over the order of taskbar buttons—which is important when you’re docking your favorite applications. All you have to do is use your mouse to drag and drop a taskbar button into the position you want, and there it stays. That makes for a more consistent—and easier-to-use—taskbar.

Changing the Way Taskbar Buttons are Displayed

By default, Windows combines multiple documents from a single application into a single button on the taskbar; it also hides the labels for each button. This can be a little confusing, especially if you’re used to seeing multiple buttons for multiple documents from a single application.

You can, however, change the way that Windows handles its taskbar buttons. Here are your options:

  • Always combine, hide labels. This is the default mode.
  • Combine when taskbar is full. This mode displays separate buttons for each open document unless the taskbar fills up with too many buttons; in that instance, it combines multiple documents from a single application into a single button.
  • Never combine. In this mode, Windows always displays separate buttons for each open document. Know, however, that this option can quickly fill up the taskbar.

How do you make these changes? Right-click on any open area in the taskbar and select Properties. When the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box appears, select the Taskbar tab. Pull down the Taskbar Buttons list and make a new choice, then click OK.

Resizing the Taskbar

Even today’s big-screen monitors are only so big. If you add a lot of items to the Windows taskbar, you may fill it up. (Windows then displays a right-arrow at the end of the toolbar, so that you can access the rest of the taskbar buttons.)

Fortunately, you can resize the taskbar to display two, three, or more rows of buttons. All you have to do is right-click on any open area of the taskbar and uncheck the Lock the Taskbar option. Use your mouse to grab the top edge of the taskbar, then drag it upwards. When you're done resizing the taskbar, right-click on the taskbar again and re-check the Lock the Taskbar option.

You can also change the size of the buttons on the taskbar—and thus the taskbar itself. By default, Windows uses what it calls "large icons;" you can easily shrink the size of the toolbar by switching to "small icons." Go to the Taskbar tab in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box and check the Use Small Icons option. Uncheck this option to return to the default "large icons" view.

Changing the Taskbar Color

The color and transparency of the taskbar is determined by the color scheme you select for Windows. That is, your taskbar will be the same color and transparency as all the windows you open on your desktop.

To change the color of the taskbar, then, you have to change Windows 7’s color scheme. Right-click on any open area of the desktop and select Personalize from the pop-up menu. When the Personalization window appears, click Window Color. When the Window Color and Appearance window appears, click the color scheme you want. If you want to choose a custom color, click the Show Color Mixer button then fine-tune the selected hue, saturation, and brightness.

While you’re in Window Color and Appearance window, you can also change the taskbar’s transparency. To make the taskbar and onscreen windows more transparent, move the Transparency slider to the left. To make them appear more solid, move the slider to the right.

When you’re done making all these changes, click the Save Changes button.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020