Windows Taskbar Tips and Tricks
The Windows taskbar - that narrow strip of icons at the bottom of your screen - is a nuisance to some and a fertile world of productivity for others. Learn the non-obvious secrets of the taskbar, you'll be glad you did. Read on and learn how to master the taskbar...
Secrets of the Windows Taskbar
To some, the Windows taskbar just takes up space at the bottom of the screen. But learning how to interact with the taskbar can make you more productive. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you manage and customize the taskbar.
Managing Open Applications - When you open an application, a button representing it appears in the taskbar. If that app is buried under others open on your desktop, left-click once on its button to make it appear instantly. Many people don't know that clicking on an app's taskbar button again minimizes it, bringing another app to the foreground.
You can also close an open app without bringing it to the foreground and using its built-in Close command; just right-click on its button and click Close. You'll be prompted to save any unsaved data.
Items you have opened with the same application, such as multiple word processor documents, may be collapsed into the application's taskbar button if the taskbar is crowded with many open items. If you don't see an item on the taskbar, hover your cursor over its application and up will pop a vertical list of open items from which you can select.
Customizing the Taskbar - You can customize the taskbar by right-clicking any empty space in the taskbar, then select Properties, then the Taskbar tab. The Lock option prevents resizing of the taskbar so you don't accidentally mess up your taskbar settings while mousing over it. Autohide gives you more display space by hiding the taskbar until you hover your cursor over the bottom edge of the screen.
Be sure to enable the Quicklaunch bar within the taskbar. Then you can drag any desktop icon to the Quicklaunch area, drop it, and launch the application by clicking on its Quicklaunch icon. A Desktop icon that takes you to your desktop instantly is also available when Quicklaunch is enabled.
I think it's nice to have a click in the taskbar, but you can remove the clock if you like. It's also useful to hide inactive icons, but you don't have to. Click the Customize button to enable or disable any of the icons. This option also lets you turn off those info balloons that pop up in the Notifications area at the right-hand end of the taskbar. I'm forever digging for the Volume icon, so I keep mine always available on the taskbar.
Moving or Sizing the Taskbar - I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally moved my taskbar to the side or top of the screen, then couldn't remember how to get it back on the bottom. Oh, you too?!? To move the taskbar to any side of the screen, just left-click on an empty portion of the taskbar (not on an open application's button) and drag the taskbar to where you want it.
You can also make the taskbar taller or wider, depending on where it's located. If you have lots of icons on the taskbar, and it's on the bottom, you might want to make it taller. If you prefer your taskbar on the side of the screen, adjusting the width can be helpful. To resize the taskbar, hover the mouse pointer on the edge of the bar until it turns into the little double-arrow grabber, the left-click and drag. Note that the taskbar must be unlocked to move or resize it. And once you get it where you like it, locking is a good idea!
Your Mileage May Vary...
Some taskbar features are only available in Windows Vista or Windows 7. If you have the Aero premium desktop experience installed, hovering your mouse over an open item's button in the taskbar will pop up a small preview window of the item. Windows 7 dubbed its taskbar a "superbar," although some people feel it's a bit of overkill. One nice feature of the Windows 7 superbar is that it displays progress bars in place of application buttons if an application shows the progress of some task it's performing, such as a downloading file or an update installation.
Windows 7 hides the Show Desktop function by default. Right-click on the Notifications area at the far right-hand end of the taskbar and select Show Desktop to jump directly to the desktop. There are many other Windows 7 superbar features we may explore at a later date. But give each of these a try, and work on integrating them into your daily routine.
Do you have something to say about the Windows taskbar? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Feb 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Windows Taskbar Tips and Tricks (Posted: 9 Feb 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved