Customize the Windows Vista Taskbar

By Andy Rathbone

You customize the taskbar so that you can be more productive. Windows Vista offers many ways to customize the taskbar. The following table explains the customization options and some recommendations for these options. (You need to remove the check mark by Lock the Taskbar before some of these options will work.)

Customizing the Taskbar
Setting Recommendations
Lock the Taskbar Clicking here makes Windows Vista lock the taskbar in place,
keeping you from changing its appearance. You can’t drag it
upward to make it larger, for example. Lock it, but only after the
taskbar is set up the way you like.
Auto-Hide the Taskbar Selecting this option makes the taskbar automatically
hide itself when you’re not near it. (Point at the taskbar to
bring it back up.) Leave this option unchecked to keep the taskbar
always in view.
Keep the Taskbar on Top of Other Windows This option keeps the taskbar always visible, covering up any
windows that may be low on the screen. Leave this checked.
Group Similar Taskbar Buttons When you open lots of windows and programs, Windows
accommodates the crowd by grouping similar windows under one
button: All open documents in Microsoft Word stack on one Microsoft
Word button, for example. This option protects the taskbar from
overcrowding, so keep it checked.
Show Quick Launch This setting shows your Quick Launch toolbar, that collection
of handy icons hanging out by your Start button.
Show Windows Previews (Thumbnails) This option tells the taskbar to show a thumbnail photo of a
program when you hover your mouse pointer over the program’s
taskbar button. Leave this option turned on to make it easier to
locate misplaced windows. (This option remains unavailable unless
your PC packs powerful graphics.)