The Taskbar is one of the least appreciated aspects of the Windows user interface (UI). It’s there, it’s reliable, and it does exactly what it’s supposed to.
Some, however, have come to terms with the fact that desktop customization is a thirst that knows no bounds. Even your Taskbar isn’t off limits: there are plenty of ways, both by default and through third-party software, which allows users to tweak every conceivable facet of their Taskbar.
Since it’s such a minor aspect of the UI, however, there’s almost never a complete online guide to twist, shape, and change your Taskbar. That is, until now! Read on to learn how to completely customize your Taskbar.
Default Taskbar Options
There’s a slew of customization options you can use to change various facets of your Taskbar.
Center Taskbar Programs
This is my favorite default customization, simply because of how clever it is. It also makes for a more aesthetically pleasing desktop. First, right-click on your Taskbar and ensure the Lock the taskbar parameter is not checked. Then, mouse over Toolbars and select Links.
You should now see a Links option in your Taskbar. Drag the separator beside Links to the left-most edge of your Taskbar. Your icons should automatically shift to the right. Then, drag the separator on the right-hand side to the middle, shifting your programs along with it.
Once you’ve centered your icons, right-click on the Links parameter (which should now be to the left of your Taskbar) and uncheck both Show Text and Show title. Finally, right-click your Taskbar and select Lock the taskbar. That’s it: you went from a regular Taskbar to a centered one.
Auto-Hide Your Taskbar
Right-click your Taskbar and select Taskbar settings. This window provides various essential Taskbar options for users. Switch the Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop / tablet mode options to On. That should hide your Taskbar instantly.
To view your Taskbar again, move your mouse to your Taskbar’s previous location.
Remove Taskbar Text
I’m not sure why, but having text on my Taskbar irks me to no end. To change, locate the Combine taskbar buttons parameter in your Taskbar Settings panel.
Click on the drop-down menu and select Always, hide labels.
Your changes should take effect instantly.
Display Specific Taskbar Icons
Why miss a Slack notification if you don’t have to? To change the icons which appear on your Taskbar, head to the Notification area in your Taskbar settings and click on the Select which icons appear on the taskbar option.
Go through this list and select the icons you’d like to place directly on your Taskbar. Additionally, you can enable and disable your system icons — the Taskbar clock for example — by clicking the Turn system icons on or off option and selecting from that list as well.
Multiple Display Taskbar
For too long, your secondary monitor has housed a seldom used Taskbar. To modify the Taskbar of your second monitor, or remove it, head to the Multiple displays section of our Settings window.
To turn it off, set the Show taskbar on all displays option Off. You can also modify how to display the Taskbar icons in the options below.
Edit Taskbar Notifications
Most don’t realize that the dings and pings of program alerts occur through the Taskbar, which can be particularly annoying. To modify, click on your Start Menu and type notifications. Then, select the Notifications & actions setting option. Scroll down until you see the Get notifications from these senders category.
Proceed to select Off for the programs you wouldn’t want to hear notifications from. If you want to completely shut down notifications from a particular program, you’ll have to uninstall it.
Move Your Taskbar
If you find the default, bottom Taskbar insufferable, changing its location is as easy as pressing a button. Head to your Taskbar settings and locate the Taskbar location on screen option.
Simply click on the drop-down menu and select your orientation.
Pin Programs & Folders to Your Taskbar
If you already have programs on your Taskbar, chances are you don’t need to learn how to pin them. Simply search for your program — either using your Start Menu or the File Explorer — then right-click and select Pin to taskbar.
Did you know, however, that you can also store specific folders on your Taskbar as well? First, right-click on your desktop and mouse over View. Ensure Show desktop icons is checked. Then, right-click on your desktop and head to New, then Shortcut. From the Create Shortcut window, click Browse, and select your folder. Before you finish, ensure you enter explorer before the folder location (as shown in the example below, with the included space between explorer and your address).
Proceed to create your shortcut. Once your shortcut is created, locate it on your desktop, right-click the shortcut and select Pin to taskbar. Your folder should now appear on your Taskbar.
This is particularly useful if you have a setup with multiple hard drives and save to one from the other.
Enlarge & Shrink Taskbar Icons
To enlarge Taskbar icons, right-click on your Taskbar and select Taskbar settings.
Track down the Use small taskbar buttons option and switch it Off.
This will enlarge your Taskbar. To shrink your icons, switch this parameter On.
Change Taskbar Color
To change Taskbar color, right-click on your desktop and select Personalize. Within your settings windows, select the Color category. Locate the Show accent color on the following surfaces (under More options) parameter and ensure it’s checked.
To enable transparency, turn your Transparency effect parameter On. Then, select the color of your Taskbar via the Windows colors panel. Your Taskbar color should change automatically.
Remove Cortana and Task View
Two of the least utilized aspects in the Windows Taskbar are Task View and Cortana, both activated by default.
To remove Task View, right-click on your Taskbar and uncheck the Show task view button parameter.
To remove Cortana, mouseover the Cortana option in this same window and select Hidden.
That’s it for default customization options. Now we get to the fun part. Plenty of third-party tools allow you to edit every aspect of your Taskbar. Here they are!
Classic Shell allows users to change most aspects of their Start button and Taskbar for free. While it performs many other functions, we’ll focus on these two. First, head to the Classic Shell website and download Classic Shell.
Once downloaded, ensure Classic Shell is running. Then, right-click your Start button and select Settings. This will open your Classic Start Menu settings. Then, click on the Start Button tab. To change your start button, which is not easily changeable by default, check the Replace Start button option.
You’re given a few default selections. If you’d like to add your own, find a Start Menu icon online. DeviantArt is a fantastic resource for, among other things, Start Menu icons. Head to the following link and download the example provided. Unzip and move to a memorable place. Then, in your Start Button tab, click on the Custom button option and then Button image.
Locate your button image, double-click it and select OK. Your Start button should change automatically.
To adjust the Taskbar, head to the Taskbar category. You can modify the opacity and transparency of your Task Manager from this window, which is not allowed by default.
You can also re-texture your Taskbar to give it a distinct look, which is useful for simulating previous windows versions.
Start10, though paid, is one of the best programs available to quickly, and reliable, customize your Taskbar. The added benefit of Start10 comes through its sleek UI design and high quality effects.
Beside the ability to texture your Taskbar, you can also change the Start button and Start Menu. While you could get much of the functionality of this paid software from Classic Shell, the ease of use and high quality of its default settings allows for all the functionality you would require from a desktop customization software.
Keep in mind: Start 10 also allows users to change every color, create custom textures and Start buttons, and modify your (sometimes clunky) Start Menu in one single, accessible program.
Take Your Taskbar to Task
There’s customization, and there’s perfection. For those who spend most of their professional time in front of a computer screen, there’s a particular satisfaction in making your desktop your own.
Whether its for functionality or for pleasure, even your Taskbar is susceptible to modification. Happy customizing!
Any other facet of Windows you’d like to customize? Let us know in the comments below!
Next, you should learn how to navigate your Taskbar with keyboard shortcuts. And if this article made you curious about customizing Windows, also see how you can create a custom Rainmeter theme for your desktop!