How to Use Windows 7's New Taskbar

The biggest change in the way you use Windows has got to be the new Windows 7 taskbar. Windows 7 has made big changes to the taskbar that runs along the bottom of the screen. Microsoft completely redesigned it to streamline your work flow and make it easier than ever to access your favorite programs. You can now access more programs than ever with a single click.

The taskbar serves as a dock for your favorite programs. However, you'll notice that the new taskbar no longer contains the Quick Launch toolbar. Instead, you can add your favorite programs directly to the taskbar.

It also constantly updates itself to show an icon for every currently running program. Of course, with the toolbar gone, the icons for running programs are mixed in with the icons for your favorite programs. To tell which programs are running, just look for a faint gray box. The running programs have them, closed programs don't.

To add a program, just right-click it's icon and choose Pin to Taskbar. Tired of the program hogging space on your taskbar? Right-click it and choose Unpin This Program from Taskbar.

From the taskbar, you can perform powerful magic on your open windows, as described in the following list:

  • When you rest your mouse pointer over any of the taskbar’s programs, you’ll see either the program’s name or a thumbnail image of any of the program’s open windows.

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  • Any time a program has more than one window open, the taskbar will keep track of it in a tidy bundle to keep the taskbar from becoming cluttered.

  • To play with a program listed on the taskbar, click its icon. The window rises to the surface and rests atop any other open windows, ready for action.

  • To close a window listed on the taskbar, right-click its icon and choose Close from the pop-up menu. (The departing program gives you a chance to save your work before it quits.)

Traditionally, the taskbar lives along the bottom edge of your screen, but you can move it to any edge you want. Just drag it away from its home and it will plant itself on the nearest edge. (Hint: If it doesn’t move, right-click the taskbar and click Lock the Taskbar to remove the check mark by its name.)

If the taskbar keeps hiding below the screen’s bottom edge, point the mouse at the screen’s bottom edge until the taskbar surfaces. Then right-click the taskbar, choose Properties, and remove the check mark from Auto-hide the Taskbar.

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