The Windows taskbar is one of the most underrated features of Windows. Like a working political system, you only miss it when it’s gone. Fortunately, it’s much easier to fix. Here’s our Windows taskbar masterclass to explain all.
Note that the screenshots come from Windows 10, but if you’re still running Windows 7 (in which case, read this now) or Windows 8 then the advice should still apply.
What is the Windows taskbar?
Usually situated at the bottom of your screen, the Windows taskbar is a separate area where you can pin favourite programmes and view key system information such as the time/date, the language you’re using, to status icons for apps such as Dropbox and OneDrive.
I can’t see the Windows taskbar – what should I do?
Don’t panic. The most likely reason for your taskbar disappearing is that you’ve accidentally told Windows that you want it hidden.
To stop this happening, press the Windows key and type “taskbar” into the search box. Click the “Taskbar settings” option and this settings box will appear:
As you can see, the switch for “automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode” is set to on. Just toggle it to off.
The Windows taskbar is sitting on the right-hand side of the window! How do I move it?
This happens with surprising regularity. Maybe you hand your laptop to a child or relative and it comes back with the taskbar in a weird place. Maybe you do it yourself. Here’s one such example:
Some odd people even argue that the taskbar is better off on the side. While I’m not convinced of this, Microsoft has made it easy to position the taskbar where you want it: at the bottom, top, left or right of the screen.
How do you move it? First, check if the taskbar is locked. You can see this in the taskbar options as described above, or by right-clicking on any spare space on the taskbar. This will show:
Simply untick the “Lock the taskbar” option if you want to move it.
Now, you can move the taskbar at will by clicking and dragging it. When you’re done, select “Lock the taskbar” once more.
What more can you do with the Windows taskbar?
There are lots of things you can do. Do you have someone you’re always messaging using Windows? Here’s how to pin them to the Windows taskbar.
It’s also a simple matter to pin a favourite program to the taskbar. I keep Outlook, Chrome, Word and Excel there, for example.
All you need to do is load up a programme and then right-click its icon when it appears in the taskbar. One of the first options you’ll see, near the bottom, is “Pin to taskbar”.
You may find that you have lots of programmes pinned, in which case you’ll want to make extra room. Here’s our guide to making more space on the taskbar.
All this flexiblity means there’s also potential for things to go wrong. For example, here’s what to do if your search box goes missing.
But the simplest way to avoid all this hassle is to have a play, check what the options do, and then settle on a favourite arrangement. And then, crucially, lock the taskbar – especially if you share your account with anyone else!
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