How to Customize the Windows 10 Taskbar - dummies

How to Customize the Windows 10 Taskbar

By Andy Rathbone

Windows 10 offers a whirlwind of options for the lowly taskbar, letting you customize the taskbar and play with it in more ways than a strand of spaghetti and a fork.

And that’s especially important if you don’t care for the new Start menu: By stocking the taskbar with icons for oft-used programs, you can avoid unnecessary trips to the Start menu.

First, the taskbar’s left edge comes preloaded with icons for three apps: Edge (the new Windows 10 web browser), File Explorer (your file browser), and the Store app (for downloading apps and programs). Like all your taskbar icons, they’re movable, so feel free to drag them to any order you want.

If you spot a favored program’s icon or tile on the Start menu, right-click the icon and choose Pin to Taskbar from the menu along the window’s bottom edge.

For even more customization, right-click a blank part of the taskbar and choose Properties. The Taskbar Properties dialog box appears, as shown here.

Click the Taskbar tab to customize the taskbar’s appearance and behavior.
Click the Taskbar tab to customize the taskbar’s appearance and behavior.

The table explains the dialog box’s options, as well as recommendations for them. (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 Selecting this check box locks the taskbar in place, keeping
you from changing its appearance. Keep it locked to protect from
accidental changes, but lock the taskbar only after you’ve
set it up to suit your needs.
Auto-Hide the Taskbar Handy mostly for small screens, this option makes the taskbar
automatically hide itself when you’re not near it.
(Point your cursor at the screen’s bottom edge to bring it
back up.) Leave this option deselected to keep the taskbar always
in view.
Use Small Taskbar Buttons Another helper for the small screens found on some laptops and
tablets, this setting shrinks the taskbar to half-height, letting
you pack in a few extra tiny icons.
Taskbar Location On Screen Your taskbar can live on any edge of your desktop, not just the
bottom. Choose any of the four edges here.
Taskbar Buttons When you open lots of windows and programs, Windows
accommodates the crowd by grouping similar windows under one
button: All open Microsoft Word documents stack atop one Microsoft
Word button, for example. To protect the taskbar from overcrowding,
select the option called Always Combine, Hide Labels.
Notification Area This section’s Customize button lets you decide which
icons should appear in the notification area on the right.
Use Peek to Preview the Desktop When you activate this feature, pointing at the taskbar’s
far-right edge makes the windows transparent, letting you peek at
your underlying desktop. (Clicking that area minimizes all open
windows.)

Feel free to experiment with the taskbar until it looks right for you. After you’ve changed an option, see the changes immediately by clicking the Apply button. Don’t like the change? Reverse your decision and click Apply to return to normal.

After you set up the taskbar just the way you want it, select the Lock the Taskbar check box, described in the table.