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Personalize Your Working Environment in Windows 10

Configure the taskbar

In Chapter 1, “Get started using Windows 10,” we reviewed the functionality available from the taskbar. In this topic we discuss the changes you can make to the taskbar to customize it so that you can work most efficiently.

Change taskbar appearance

As previously mentioned, you can move the taskbar from its default location at the bottom of the screen to any other edge of the screen. You might find it easier to move the pointer to the taskbar when it’s on the side or top of the screen than when it’s at the bottom of the screen. If you’re working on a small screen, you might also like to have the additional vertical space that you gain by moving the taskbar to the left or right side of the screen.

02fig18.jpg

Click to view larger image

Wherever you position the taskbar, the Start screen expands from the Start button

When you move the taskbar to the left or right side of the screen, it changes in the following ways:

  • The width changes to accommodate the time and date, which are at the bottom of the vertical taskbar.
  • The Start button is at the top of the vertical taskbar, and the Show Desktop button is at the bottom. Clicking the Start button expands the Start screen from that location.
  • The search box changes to a search button. Clicking the search button expands the usual search pane.
  • Buttons, icons, and taskbar toolbars rotate to a horizontal orientation, so you don’t have to turn your head sideways to read them.
  • Small notification area icons move side by side.

Regardless of the taskbar location, you can change the height (when horizontal) or width (when vertical) to accommodate more buttons and toolbars. Other ways to fit more onto the taskbar include the following:

  • Switch to “small taskbar buttons.” This change affects not only the size of the buttons, it also collapses the search interface from a rectangular input box to a button that you click to display the box, which provides significantly more space for buttons and toolbars.
  • If you don’t use Task view, or use a keyboard shortcut to access it, you can remove the Task View button from the taskbar.
  • If you don’t intend to use the on-screen keyboard, you can remove the touch keyboard button from the notification area of the taskbar.
02fig19.jpg

Double-height taskbar without Task View, displaying small taskbar buttons

By default, you can move and resize the taskbar freely, but if you prefer you can lock the taskbar so that you don’t accidentally drag the taskbar or its border. You can make changes to the taskbar only when it’s unlocked.

When working with the taskbar, you can manage some of its features from the shortcut menu that appears when you right-click an empty area of the taskbar, some features from the Taskbar And Start Menu Properties dialog box, and some features in both places.

To display the taskbar shortcut menu

  1. Right-click an empty area of the taskbar.

    02fig20.jpg

    The default settings on the taskbar shortcut menu

To open the Taskbar And Start Menu Properties dialog box

  1. Right-click an empty area of the taskbar, and then click Properties.

    02fig21.jpg

    The default settings on the Taskbar tab of the dialog box

The Taskbar tab includes the Multiple Displays settings only when your computer has multiple displays (monitors) connected to it. We discuss the settings for multiple displays in Chapter 6, “Manage peripheral devices.”

To prevent or allow changes to the taskbar

  1. On the taskbar shortcut menu, click Lock the taskbar.

Or

  1. Open the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box.
  2. On the Taskbar tab, select or clear the Lock the taskbar check box.
  3. Click Apply to implement the change or OK to implement the change and close the dialog box.

To move the taskbar

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Drag the taskbar to any edge of the screen.

    • Right-click the taskbar, and then click Properties. On the Taskbar tab of the Properties dialog box, in the Taskbar location on screen list, click Left, Right, or Top (or click Bottom to return the taskbar to its default location).

To change the taskbar height

  1. Point to the inside edge of the taskbar.
  2. When the pointer changes to a double-headed arrow, drag the inside edge of the taskbar to change its height (or width, when vertical) to the size you want it. The height or width can be up to 50 percent of the screen height or width.

    02fig22.jpg

    Click to view larger image

    Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should...

To display small taskbar buttons

  1. On the Taskbar tab of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, select the Use small taskbar buttons check box.
  2. Click Apply or OK.

To hide or display the Task View button

  1. On the taskbar shortcut menu, click Show Task View button.

To hide or display the touch keyboard button

  1. On the taskbar shortcut menu, click Show touch keyboard button.

Change taskbar behavior

There are a few other changes you can make to the way that the taskbar functions, from the Taskbar And Start Menu Properties dialog box.

By default, each app (or each instance of an app) that you open displays a button on the taskbar. Active app buttons are differentiated from app shortcuts by a colored bar below the button. By default, multiple buttons for the same app stack on top of each other so that each app has only one button, and clicking the button displays thumbnails of each instance of the app. If you prefer, you can display individual buttons for each instance of an app, or display individual buttons until your taskbar is full and then combine them.

If you prefer to not have the taskbar taking up space on your screen, you can hide it (on any edge of the screen) so that it appears only when you point to it. This could be convenient if you have a small screen or are simply distracted by the busyness of the taskbar.

If you find that you accidentally invoke the Peek function when your mouse pointer wanders into the corner of the screen above the Show Desktop button, you can turn off that function. Turning off Peek doesn’t affect the Show Desktop function.

To hide the taskbar when it isn’t active

  1. Open the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box.
  2. On the Taskbar tab, select the Auto-hide the taskbar check box.
  3. Click Apply to implement the change or OK to implement the change and close the dialog box.

To change the display of multiple app taskbar buttons

  1. On the Taskbar tab of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, click the Taskbar buttons list to expand it, and then click one of these options:

    • Always combine, hide labels (the default)
    • Combine when taskbar is full
    • Never combine
  2. Click Apply or OK.

To turn the Peek function off or on

  1. On the Taskbar tab of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, clear the Use Peek... check box to turn the feature off, or select the check box to turn the feature on.
  2. Click Apply or OK.

Display and manage toolbars on the taskbar

Windows provides three “toolbars” that you can display on the taskbar to provide easy access to information that you’d otherwise have to open a separate app to get to. The three built-in toolbars are:

  • Address The Address toolbar displays a browser address bar directly on the taskbar. You can perform three operations from here:

    • To start your default browser and display a website, enter a URL in the address bar and then press Enter or click the Go button.
    • To conduct a web search by using the default browser search engine, enter a search term in the address bar.
    • To start an installed app, enter the app executable name (for example, calc to start the Calculator, excel to start Microsoft Excel, or cmd to display the command prompt window.

    The Address toolbar retains a list of recent entries. To reopen a recent website or app or refresh a recent search, click the arrow at the right end of the address bar, and then click the entry you want.

    02fig23.jpg

    The Address toolbar provides quick access to sites, apps, and searches

  • Links The Links toolbar displays information from the same source as your Internet Explorer Favorites bar. You can add and remove links (to websites, files, folders, and apps) on either bar to share those changes with the Favorites bar and Links toolbar on all computers that you sign in to by using your Microsoft account. At the time of this writing, the Links toolbar is connected to Internet Explorer and not yet connected to Edge, but that might change in later releases.

    02fig24.jpg

    Toolbars can display names and icons on the taskbar or on a menu

  • Desktop The Desktop toolbar provides quick access to the storage locations that are available in the File Explorer Navigation pane and on your desktop.

    02fig25.jpg

    The Desktop toolbar provides easy access to shortcuts for apps, files, and folders

When you add a toolbar to the taskbar, the toolbar name appears at the left end of the toolbar, next to the toolbar handle. You can remove the name from the taskbar to save space.

In addition to displaying the built-in toolbars, you can create custom toolbars. A custom toolbar points to a folder, which can contain shortcuts to files, apps, and other folders. You can use this technique to quickly access files for a specific project, client, or process.

To display or hide a built-in toolbar on the taskbar

  1. On the taskbar shortcut menu, click Toolbars, and then click the toolbar you want to display or hide.

    02fig26.jpg

    A check mark indicates that a toolbar is on the taskbar

Or

  1. Open the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, and then click the Toolbars tab.

    02fig27.jpg

    Active custom toolbars also appear in this list

  2. Select the check box of each toolbar you want to display, and clear the check box of each toolbar you want to hide.
  3. Click Apply to implement the change or OK to implement the change and close the dialog box.

To display a custom toolbar on the taskbar

  1. Put the files and shortcuts you want to display on the custom toolbar into a folder.

  2. On the taskbar shortcut menu, click Toolbars, and then click New toolbar.
  3. In the New Toolbar – Choose a folder window, browse to and select the folder you worked with in step 1. Then click the Select Folder button.

To change the width of a taskbar toolbar

  1. Drag the toolbar handle (the double line to the left of the toolbar) to change the taskbar space allocated to it.

To hide or display the name of a taskbar toolbar

  1. Right-click the toolbar, and then on the extended taskbar shortcut menu, click Show title.

To hide or display item names on a built-in or custom taskbar toolbar

  1. Right-click the toolbar, and then on the extended taskbar shortcut menu, click Show Text.

To remove a toolbar from the taskbar

  1. Do either of the following:

    • On the taskbar shortcut menu, point to Toolbars, and then click the toolbar you want to remove.
    • Right-click the toolbar, and then on the extended taskbar shortcut menu, click Close toolbar.