The 4 Neat Tricks You Can Do With The Windows 7 Taskbar

Erez Zukerman 17-05-2011

windows 7 taskbarThe Windows 7 taskbar is quite swanky looking, but it also packs a wallop in terms of functionality. Sure, anyone can activate an application by clicking its icon. But do you know what happens when you middle-click? Did you know there’s a way to run an application as an Administrator right from its taskbar icon? Read on to see how!


The Magic Of Middle-Click

Middle-clicking actually does two reverse actions. It can either be used to close an instance of an application, or open a new instance. How so, you ask? Check out this screenshot to understand:

windows 7 taskbar

In other words, if you middle-click the icon, you get a new instance of the application. If you middle-click the Aero Peek thumbnail, the current window is closed.

Run As Administrator

To run an application from the Windows 7 taskbar as an administrator, left-click its icon while holding down the Shift and Ctrl keys. Windows will pop-up a UAC prompt asking for Administrator privileges, and once you confirm, the application will run with elevated rights. Note: if the application is already running, Windows will simply open a new instance of it, not elevate the existing instance (this cannot be done, technically).

Change The Size Of Aero Peek Thumbnails

This next trick does require a download, but it’s free, tiny, and you have to run it just once. It’s an application called Windows 7 Taskbar Thumbnail Customizer, and it lets you set a slew of parameters affecting the taskbar thumbnails:


windows 7 taskbar

For my own system, I simply opted for larger thumbnails. I find them very handy, especially when I’m a bit farther than usual from my monitor. Windows Taskbar Thumbnail Customizer doesn’t require administrative privileges, is mobile and free, and once you run it and set the parameters to your liking, you can even remove it from your system.

Disable Aero Peek For The Desktop

A few days ago, a friend of mine (who is a Windows 7 novice) made an interesting complaint. While working on her laptop, all windows would disappear every now and then. She would just be merrily typing away, and all of a sudden, poof go the windows, and it all vanishes. Needless to say, she was frustrated. I then looked at her setup, and the mystery was solved. She was using an external mouse, and every now and then she would nudge it with her wrist while typing.

The cursor was close to the bottom-right area of the screen, where the Aero Peek hotspot for the desktop can be found. Whenever the mouse hovered over this hotspot, all windows would indeed “disappear” (become transparent), and the desktop would show through. It wasn’t obvious to her where the cursor is, because it was virtually off-screen.


When something like this happens, you can simply disable Aero peek for the desktop, like so:

windows 7 taskbar

This is the bottom-right area of the taskbar (which is vertical in my case). Simply right-click the Aero Peek hotspot for the desktop, and a menu pops up, letting you disable it. Simply uncheck “Peek at desktop“, and you’re good to go. The windows will now stop “disappearing”.

Your Turn Now

What crucial Windows 7 taskbar tricks did I miss? What’s the first thing you show your novice friends when they start using Windows 7? Let us know in the comments!


Related topics: Windows 7, Windows Taskbar.

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  1. oozbob
    December 6, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Hi, is it possible to turn the taskbar end for end, so when its pulled to the left side the start is at the bottom?

  2. Grant Reigner
    May 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Business users may have found that you can't pin network programs to the Windows 7 taskbar.  Due to the fancy features of the new taskbar, all taskbar settings are locally handled.  To get around this, create a traditional shortcut on the desktop to the network program you want.  Then open it's properties (right click on the shortcut), and insert a command to open explorer.exe in front of the Target. 

    Example (Target Field in shortcut properties):  C:Windowsexplorer.exe "S:ServerFirefoxfirefox.exe"

    Now, pin that shortcut to the taskbar.  Windows 7 sees that it leads to "explorer.exe" which is local, and it pins normally.  But secretly, you've tricked it into opening a network program.  Enjoy!

  3. Itraink9s
    May 20, 2011 at 6:37 am

    ???? - ???? ???! ???? ?? ????? ????? ??????? ????? - ?? ????? ???? ??? ???? ???.
    ?? ??????? ????? ?????? ?? ?????? ?????? (??? ???? ?? ????? ???? ????? ???? ?????) ???? ?????.
    ????? ?? ????.
    ????? ??? ??? :)

    • Anonymous
      May 20, 2011 at 7:14 am

      Glad I could help! :) 

  4. Yash247
    May 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Found the first trick really helpful. Most Touchpad softwares allow the user to set certain "pre-defined" areas on the pad which can be used for doing only a certain task. For example, a small upper left area can be assigned to close an active window

  5. Wiggly
    May 19, 2011 at 2:36 am

    You can drag websites onto Firefox's icon to pin them, but they display as URLs which can be difficult to read. Instead, make a Windows shortcut for the URL first, then drag the shortcut to Firefox's icon. The pinned site will have the same name as the shortcut.

  6. Anonymous
    May 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm

     Is there any way to use the middle-click feature without having a middle mouse button? My laptop only has a left and a right button...

    • Anonymous
      May 18, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      If you have a Synaptics TouchPad (many laptops do), you can map an area of the touchpad as middle-click. I used the bottom-left corner on mine. 

      Start > type "Mouse" > Device Settings > Settings > Tapping.

  7. Tina
    May 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Great tips, also in the comments. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Sahil Dave
    May 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    You can quickly access any Quick Launch Item by pressing "Win Key + item no."
    For eg. I have my QL items in the order
    Libraries - Chrome - Firefox - Skype
    Therefore i use "Win Key + 1" for Libraries, "Win Key + 2" for Chrome, "Win Key + 3" for Firefox and "Win Key + 4" for Skype.
    This really handy and helps a lot !

  9. Facebook Tricks
    May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Excellent tips..... thanks

    • Anonymous
      May 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      Sure thing! I'm glad you liked them. :)

  10. SuperBar
    May 18, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Shift + Right Click on active icons to bring up the good ol' Windowsx XP style taskbar menu.

    While Shift + Right Click on inactive icons bring up a lot more options. 

    • Anonymous
      May 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      I must say this didn't work for me... Using Win7 x64, I shift-right click and nothing happens -- both for active and inactive icons. 

      • Grant Reigner
        May 24, 2011 at 7:38 pm

        ezuk, thanks for the great article.  This does work for me, but interestingly enough, the "run as administrator" trick you mentioned does not work for me.  Let's put our systems together, and we'd have the perfect Windows 7 machine  :)

  11. Tbvnz
    May 18, 2011 at 1:05 am

    If your getting a little on the old side like me and are having a hard time seeing that tiny taskbar clock, try TClock Lite. You can use it to do all kinds of customizations to your clock, especially enlargement and font. Also includes a neat trick for adjusting taskbar transparency.

  12. Andrew Niklas
    May 17, 2011 at 11:52 pm

     right clicking on any program in the taskbar brings up a menu of options.  for innternet and explorer, it give a list of recent locations and your pinned favorites. with google chrome it also gives the option to start a new incognito window instantly.incognito window instantly.

    • Dealzon
      June 17, 2011 at 3:48 am

      Random tidbit that many people may not know about.  If you click on the speaker icon in the bottom-right area of taskbar and then click on Mixer, you can adjust specific windows, applications volumes.  Especially helpful if certain apps/sites tend to have their volume much louder or quieter than normal.

      • Anonymous
        June 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

        Yeah, that's a good one!