10 Ways to Tweak Your Windows 10 Taskbar

PCMag
PCMag
Apr 29, 2020 · 6 min read
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The Windows 10 taskbar houses frequently used apps as well as those that are currently in use, but it includes a few handy customization options to help improve your workflow.

By Lance Whitney

The Windows taskbar is a handy place for storing frequently used apps as well as those that are currently open. But you can tweak the taskbar to make it work the way you want. You can move it to other sides of the screen, automatically hide it when you don’t need it, or change the size of the icons. Let’s check out how.

Pin Apps to the Taskbar

The first thing you should know how to do is pin an app to the taskbar. You can do this from the Start menu, Start screen, or the Apps list. Click the Start button and right-click on any app icon or tile. Select More > Pin to Taskbar to lock the app to the Windows taskbar.

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Move the Taskbar

By default, the taskbar appears at the bottom of the screen, but it can be moved to the top or either side of the screen. To do this manually, click on any empty area of the taskbar and drag it to your preferred location.

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If you’d rather let Windows do the moving for you, right-click on any empty area of the taskbar and click “Taskbar settings” from the pop-up menu. Scroll down the taskbar settings screen to the entry for “Taskbar location on screen.” Click the drop-down box and set the location for left, top, right, or bottom.

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Don’t leave the Taskbar settings screen just yet; there are several more tweaks we can make here.

Hide the Taskbar

Let’s say you want the taskbar to remain hidden unless you move your mouse to its location. If you’re using your Windows device in desktop mode, turn on the option at the top of the Taskbar settings screen that says “Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode.”

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If you’re in tablet mode, turn on the option that says “Automatically hide the taskbar in tablet mode.” Your taskbar will vanish and only reappear when you move your mouse cursor and hover over the location of the bar.

Adjust Icon Size

Now let’s say you want to squeeze more icons onto the taskbar. Turn on the option for “Use small taskbar buttons,” and the existing icons shrink in size. If the icons are too small, go back to the Taskbar settings screen and turn off this option to return them to their larger size.

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View Desktop

The small section of the Windows Taskbar in the lower-right corner of the screen is known as the “Show Desktop” button. If you click the button, it offers you a quick way to switch back and forth between the desktop and all open windows.

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With some apps and windows open, click the Show Desktop button. Your desktop appears. Click the Show desktop button again and all the windows you had open will reappear in the foreground.

Peek at the Desktop

Do you want to sneak a peek at your desktop without closing or minimizing all your open windows? Open the Taskbar settings windows and turn on the option for “Use Peek to preview the desktop when you move your mouse to the Show Desktop button at the end of the taskbar.”

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Now you can move your mouse to the lower-right corner of the screen, and by hovering over the Show Desktop button, your desktop should appear. Move your mouse cursor away from that spot, and your desktop goes back into hiding.

Resize Taskbar

Okay, now let’s say you have so many icons nestled on the taskbar that there’s barely room for them on a single row. You can resize the taskbar to make it grow taller. Just grab the top border of the taskbar and drag it up until it takes up two rows.

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If you decide to get rid of most of the icons, you can reduce the height of the taskbar back to a single row by dragging down the top border again.

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You can also take precautions so you don’t accidentally resize the taskbar. At the Taskbar settings screen, turn on the “Lock the taskbar” option. Now you won’t be able to resize it unless you turn this option off again.

Declutter the Taskbar

Here’s another way to control how icons fit on the taskbar. Scroll down the Taskbar settings screen until you see the section for “Combine taskbar buttons.” Click on the drop-down box beneath, and you’ll see three options available. These options determine how your taskbar handles multiple instances of the same application.

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The “Always, hide labels” option means Windows will always combine multiple open files from a single application, such as File Explorer windows or Word documents, into one taskbar button. This option also hides the labels or names that would otherwise appear next to each icon. Hover over the button of an application with multiple windows open to see how this option works.

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Windows normally displays a separate icon in the taskbar for each open window of the same application. However, if you choose the “When taskbar is full” option, it will wait until the taskbar is full before condensing these separate buttons into one.

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If you prefer to keep these open windows separate, choosing the “Never” option will make sure multiple open windows are never combined, no matter how full the taskbar gets.

Show Badges in the Taskbar

Similar to Live Tiles, badges serve to display notifications for a specific application, such as new messages for Mail or updates for the Weather app. You can control the visibility of these badges from the Taskbar settings screen.

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Turn this feature on by activating the switch under “Show badges on taskbar buttons.” Icons in the Windows taskbar will now function as badges.

Customize the System Tray

You can choose which icons appear in the System Tray at the right corner of the screen (clock, Wi-Fi, volume, etc.). Scroll down the Taskbar settings screen to the section for “Notification Area.” Click the link for “Select which icons appear on the taskbar.”

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At the “Select which icons appear on the taskbar” screen, turn on the icons that you wish to see in the System Tray and turn off the ones you want to stay hidden. If you love having everything at your fingertips, turn everything on.

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You can also easily turn system icons on or off via the Taskbar settings screen. Click the “Turn system icons on or off” link.

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Choose which system icons should stay in the System Tray, and which should be turned off.

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Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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