How to Launch Programs from the Windows 8 Taskbar - dummies

How to Launch Programs from the Windows 8 Taskbar

By Andy Rathbone

The Windows 8 taskbar lives along the bottom of your desktop, constantly updating itself to show an icon for every currently running program. The taskbar also serves as a place to launch your favorite programs. By keeping them in sight and one quick click away, you’re spared a detour to the Start screen.


Not sure what a taskbar icon does? Rest your mouse pointer over any of the taskbar’s icons to see either the program’s name or a thumbnail image of the program’s contents. In that image, for example, you can see that Internet Explorer contains two web pages.

From the taskbar, you can perform powerful magic, as described in the following list:

  • 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. Clicking the taskbar icon yet again minimizes that same window.

  • Whenever you load a program on the desktop, its icon automatically appears on the taskbar. If one of your open windows ever gets lost on your desktop, click its icon on the taskbar to bring it to the forefront.

  • To close a window listed on the taskbar, right-click its icon and choose Close from the pop-up menu. The program quits, just as if you’d chosen its Exit command from within its own window. (The departing program thoughtfully gives you a chance to save your work before it quits and walks off the screen.)

  • Traditionally, the taskbar lives along your desktop’s bottom edge, but you can move it to any edge you want, a handy space saver on extra-wide monitors. (Hint: Try dragging it to your screen’s side. If it doesn’t move, right-click the taskbar and click-Lock the Taskbar to remove the check mark by that option.)

  • 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.

  • You can add your favorite programs directly to the taskbar: From the Start screen, right-click the favored program’s tile and choose Pin to Taskbar. The program’s icon then lives on the taskbar for easy access, just as if it were running. Tired of the program hogging space on your taskbar? Right-click it and choose Unpin This Program from Taskbar.