The taskbar has seen some minor changes in Windows 10, but in its essence it hasn’t changed; it remains the familiar tool we all know and love. This doesn’t mean it can’t be tweaked for a better experience. We’ve rounded up some of the customizations possible in Windows 10.
Whether you want to hide your taskbar in desktop and not in tablet mode, move it to the top of the screen, or change the search engine, we’ve got you covered.
Please don’t forget to drop by the comments section afterwards to let us know which of these tweaks you’ve used and to add your own.
Relocate the Taskbar
The standard location for the taskbar is at the bottom of the screen, but you don’t have to be constrained by the default. You can move it to any side of your monitor, though it might take a bit of getting used to. To move the taskbar, you first need to right click it and ensure Lock the taskbar is not checked; un-check it if it is. Now, left click and hold an empty spot on the taskbar and drag it into position.
If you don’t want the taskbar to move again, simply right click the taskbar and check Lock the taskbar. You might find positioning at the taskbar quite useful when browsing the Internet on tabs, since you can then switch between tabs and programs all from the same space on your screen. Personally, though, I still think that bottom is king.
Hide the Taskbar
Is your screen real estate limited? You might want to hide your taskbar in order to maximize the space you do have available. To do so, right click the taskbar and select Properties. Now tick Auto-hide the taskbar and click OK. Your taskbar will now vanish and will only slide up into view when you move your cursor towards the bottom of the screen.
If you’re a user who switches between desktop and tablet modes, you’ll find your taskbar will be auto hidden on both modes. Swiping up on a tablet will bring the taskbar back into view. If you want to alter the taskbar hide option dependent on device, check out an app called Auto-Hide Taskbar from Nibbler Apps. The only downside is that this app comes attached with a $1.35 price tag.
Add Toolbars & Quick Launch
Putting toolbars on your taskbar can help you keep shortcuts a click away, along with also providing minimized versions of some programs. There are many different toolbars you can add to the taskbar. To add a toolbar, right click on the taskbar and go to Toolbars. Default choices include Desktop, which shortcuts all items placed there, and Links, which is quick access to your Internet favorites. You’ll also find that some programs have their own toolbars; for example, iTunes has one which places a mini-player in your taskbar when the program is minimized.
For those still missing the Quick Launch toolbar from Windows 95 to XP, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can still bring it back in Windows 10. To do so, right click the taskbar, go to Toolbars, and then select New toolbar…. Input the following into Folder and press return:
%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
Now right click your taskbar and untick Lock the taskbar. To get Quick Launch to appear as only icons, right click it on your taskbar and untick Show Text and Show title in turn. You can click and drag the slider to dedicate more space to it. To customize the icons that appear, press Win + R, input the folder path given above and press return. You can then place shortcuts and folders within here to have them appear on the taskbar.
Use Jump Lists
Jump lists are context-sensitive menus that will offer something a little bit different for each program. To access one, simply right click on an open program or pinned icon on your taskbar. For example, Firefox’s jump list contains frequently accessed pages and tasks like opening a new window. Something like Steam will let you dive straight into your Library or Big Picture mode.
A common feature of many program’s jump lists is the ability to pin shortcuts to the top. On those that support it, access the jump list and then hover over what you want to pin. Then all you need to do is left click the pin icon on the right-hand side and it’ll be permanently at the top. Not all jump lists support this feature, however, and some programs, like Spotify, don’t actually have any shortcuts available, despite jump lists not being a new feature to Windows 10.
Change Search Engine
A big new feature of Windows 10 is Cortana, the personal assistant. By default, Cortana will be stored in the new search box that occupies your taskbar. The search bar itself is a nifty feature because it means you can simultaneously search your system and the Web. The only problem with this is that it uses Bing as the online search engine, which isn’t great for those who would prefer to use another search service.
Currently, the simplest way to change it is within Firefox. Launch the browser, and return about:preferences in the URL bar. Then navigate to Search on the left-hand menu. On this screen, you should select your preferred search engine from the dropdown and then tick Use this search engine for searches from Windows. If you’re a Chrome user, check out the Chrometana application to choose between Google, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo (though the Firefox method will give you a wider choice)
7+ Taskbar Tweaker has been around for a while, but it recently got updated to officially support Windows 10. This program extends the functionality of the taskbar beyond what’s offered by the operating system. First, head to the official website and download the program. Walk through the installation wizard and you’ll be good to go. This is a lightweight program, so you won’t notice any system impact.
Some of the options available include changing the behavior of clicking in an empty space, altering how programs are grouped together, and bringing back the standard right-click window menu. My favorite option is the ability to turn your mousewheel into a volume control by simply hovering over the notification area. Check out our Taskbar Tweaker guide for in-depth coverage.
Time to Tweak
The taskbar and the system tray are a Windows staple and one of the great things about the taskbar is that you can customize it to your liking, though you might need to employ third-party software.
If you’re interested in altering the visual appearance of your taskbar, be sure to check out our top taskbar customization tips to find out how to change the taskbar color, edit the notification area, bring back some Windows 7 style, and much more.
Which of these tweaks have you found useful? Do you have your own to share with us?