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Published on 12.08.06 by Brent Trahan

Customize Windows Vista Taskbar

Learn how to customize the Windows Vista taskbar. Some of the taskbar customizations featured in this guide are locking and unlocking the taskbar, auto-hide, grouping taskbar buttons, quick launch, window previews, hiding inactive icons, and using various toolbars.

This guide shows how to customize the Windows Vista taskbar.

To customize the taskbar, right-click the taskbar, then select properties.  The Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window will open.  I’ve split each tab used to customize the taskbar in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties box into sections below.

Taskbar Tab

When you open the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window the taskbar tab is the first tab shown.  The taskbar tab lets you set the properties of the left side of the taskbar.


Taskbar Appearance

Hint: Check or uncheck a feature to see it in the example taskbar.

Lock the taskbar: Locking the taskbar keeps you from changing how it looks.  If the taskbar is not locked you can move it to different areas of the screen, change its size, change the size of areas of the taskbar, and move some features of the sidebar around.

Auto-hide the taskbar: If you uncheck this feature the taskbar will disappear when you’re not pointing at it.  It will reappear when you point at the bottom of the screen where the taskbar should be.

Keep the taskbar on top of other windows: This feature makes sure the taskbar is always in view when other windows are maximized.  If this feature is not enabled the taskbar will not be visible when windows are maximized.

Group similar taskbar buttons: Let’s say you have 5 instances of Internet Explorer open.  Instead of having 5 Internet Explorer buttons in your taskbar the group similar taskbar buttons feature will show “5 Internet Explorer” in one button.  Click on that button and a list of the 5 Internet Explorer windows will pop up.

Show Quick Launch: Quick Launch is simply the ability to place small shortcuts right next to the start button.  Shortcuts to frequently used programs, documents, or folders can be placed here by simply dragging and dropping the shortcut in the quick launch area of the taskbar.

Show window previews: Let’s say you have Internet Explorer and a few other programs open.  Internet Explorer is not in view but you want to see what web page you’re on.  Simply point at the Internet Explorer button in the taskbar and a small view of Internet Explorer will appear above the button.

Notification Area Tab

The notification area tabs lets you set the feature of the right side of the taskbar.



Hide inactive icons: The little icons next to the time in the taskbar usually give you some kind of feedback from a program or service running on your computer.  Many of these icons don’t need to be showing all the time.  This feature hides the icons that are not active.  This keeps your taskbar less cluttered.  If this feature is enabled and you want to see all of the icons, click the arrow to the left of the icons.

Customize Hide inactive icons

Click the customize button in the notification area tab window to change settings on which icons are affected by the hide inactive icons feature.


In the customize notification icons window you can change which icons are affected by the hide inactive icons feature by clicking Hide when inactive and selecting Hide when inactive, Hide, or Show.

Hide when inactive does what it says, hide always hides the icon, show always shows the icon.

System Icons

Enable or disable viewing the clock, volume icon, network icon, or power icon (if you are running Vista on a laptop).

Toolbars Tab

You can set which toolbars your taskbar has in this window.


Address: Place the same address bar that is in Internet Explorer directly in the taskbar.  You can go to website straight from this address bar instead of opening Internet Explorer to go to the website.

Windows Media Player: This toolbar places a little windows media player control center in your taskbar when windows media player is minimized.

Links: Place a link to your favorites in the taskbar.

Desktop: Have easy access to your user profile folder, public folders, drives, network, control panel, and recycle bin from your taskbar.

Quick Launch: Turn the quick launch feature on or off.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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2 Responses to “Customize Windows Vista Taskbar”

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  1. barbara nelson says:

    On the task bar tab, the auto hide option is not selected and the keep the task bar on top IS selected- but I still cannot see the task bar. Placing the cursor at the bottom of the screen where it is supposed to be located does not make it appear. What is going on and how can I lock the task bar to the bottom of my screen (or wherever else I place it) so that it is permanently visible?

  2. Burma Wayment says:

    Hi Flylady! I had no clue you had a blog. I wanted to share with you a video I made quite some time ago on Jumpcut.

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