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How to Change the Windows 8.1 Taskbar

The taskbar rates as one of the few parts of Windows 8.1 that are highly malleable. You can modify it until the cows come home:

  • Pin any program on the taskbar by right-clicking the program and choosing Pin This Program to Taskbar. Yes, you can right-click the icon of a running program on the taskbar.

  • Move a pinned icon by clicking and dragging it. Easy. You know — the way it’s supposed to be. You can even drag an icon that isn’t pinned into the middle of the pinned icons. When the program associated with the icon stops, the icon disappears, and all pinned icons move back into place.

  • Unpin any pinned program by right-clicking it and choosing Unpin This Program from Taskbar. Rocket science.

Unfortunately, you can’t turn individual documents or folders into icons on the taskbar. But you can pin a folder to the File Explorer Jump List, and you can pin a document to the Jump List for whichever application is associated with the document. For example, you can pin a song to the Jump List for Windows Media Player.

Here’s how to pin a folder or document to its associated icon on the taskbar:

  1. Navigate to the folder or document that you want to pin.

    You can use File Explorer to go to the file or folder or you can make a shortcut to the file or folder.

  2. Drag the folder or document (or shortcut) to the taskbar.

    Windows tells you where it will pin the folder, document, or shortcut. For example, if you are dragging a .docx file, Windows will let you pin it to WordPad, Word, File Explorer, or any program that can open a .docx file.

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  3. Release the Mouse button.

    That’s all it takes.

A little-known side-effect: If you pin a file to a program on the taskbar, the program itself also gets pinned to the taskbar, if it wasn’t already.

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