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Windows might be popular, but it isn’t perfect. There are a number of frustrating things that can occur while using a Windows desktop – from windows disappearing off your screen to annoying pop-ups and notification messages. We’ll show you how to quickly fix these common Windows frustrations and get back to work (or play).
This article doesn’t cover the frustrations you might experience while using Windows 8. If you’re craving a Start menu or a way to boot directly to the desktop, be sure to check our our list of Start menu alternatives for Windows 8. To learn more about Windows 8, download our free guide to getting started with Windows 8.
If your taskbar has become untethered and is moving around your screen, from edge to edge, you can quickly fix this problem. Click the taskbar, hold the mouse button down, and drag it to the bottom of your screen. Right-click it and select Lock the taskbar – this will prevent the taskbar from moving around on your screen.
Of course, if you want to move the taskbar to another edge of your screen, you can right-click it, unlock it, and drag it to another edge. Be sure to lock it when you’re done.
You can also change the taskbar’s location from the taskbar’s properties dialog. Right-click the taskbar, select Properties, and use the Taskbar location on-screen option.
If your taskbar is too tall, you’ve probably accidentally resized it. To shrink it, first make sure it’s unlocked (right-click it and ensure Lock the taskbar is unchecked).
Move your mouse cursor to the top of the taskbar. You’ll see an arrow cursor appear. Click and drag to make the taskbar shorter. Be sure to lock the taskbar when you’re done.
If your taskbar is hidden and only appears when you move your cursor to it, you can prevent it from hiding itself. Right-click the taskbar, select Properties, and uncheck the Auto-hide the taskbar checkbox.
If you want the taskbar to automatically hide itself so it won’t distract you, you can instead enable the Auto-hide the taskbar option from here.
Rescue a Lost Window
Application windows sometimes manage to escape from the screen. You may see part of a window but be unable to grab its title bar and drag it back onto the screen, or you may not see any part of the window at all.
To rescue a lost window, bringing it back onto the visible area of your screen, hold the Shift key, right-click its icon on your taskbar, and click the Move option. Press the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the window around, moving it back towards the visible area of your screen.
Disable Popup Tips
Many windows programs use “balloon” style tips that pop up from your notification area (also known as your system tray). If you never want to see any of these balloon tips, you can disable them completely. This won’t affect programs that implement their own tips, only the ones that use the balloon-style tips included with Windows.
If you don’t want to see any tips, you’ll need to disable them in the registry. Press the Windows key, type regedit, and press Enter. Browse to the following key in the registry editor:
Right-click in the right pane, point to New, and select DWORD Value.
Name the DWORD value EnableBalloonTips. Double-click it and enter a value of 0.
Log out of Windows or restart your computer. Your changes will take effect when you log back in.
Disable Action Center Notifications
The Action Center included with Windows provides a variety of messages, including ones about available Windows updates, your firewall, and whether you have antivirus software installed. There are also messages that prompt you to run regular backups and troubleshoot problems with Windows or your applications when crashes or freezes occur.
If you never want to see these messages, you can disable all Action Center notifications completely. First, open the Action Center by clicking the flag-shaped icon in your system tray and selecting Open Action Center. Click the Change Action Center settings option in the sidebar and uncheck all the types of notifications you don’t want to receive.
If you’re still encountering other annoying desktop notifications, read 5 Distracting Desktop Notifications & How To Turn Them Off.
Restore Hidden Notification Area Icons
The Windows notification area was once a simple place for long-running applications and system icons. However, it’s been abused by so many programs that there are now multiple ways to hide and show the icons that appear here. If an icon is hidden, you’ll generally find it hidden behind the little arrow icon.
However, system icons can be hidden in two ways. A system icon – such as the volume, power, or Wi-Fi icons – can be hidden behind the arrow or disabled entirely. To control which icons are displayed in your system tray, right-click the taskbar, select Properties, and click the Customize button under Notification area.
Use the options here to control which icons are displayed. You can enable or disable system icons by clicking the Turn system icons on or off link. We’ve covered managing and tidying your system tray icons in the past – check out that article for more details and tricks.
Have you run into any other common frustrations while using Windows? Leave a comment and share any solutions you’ve found!
Image Credit: Frustrated Man and Computer via Shutterstock