Mar 222010


A great new feature in Windows 7 is the taskbar.  It can be a bit of a shock though, and many people want to revert back to the ‘old way of doing things’. Allow me to explain what you have to gain by leaving it as-is, and show you some tricks to make it even better. Then, if you still don’t like it, I’ll explain how to put it back to Windows XP behavior.

First. what is it that’s going on down there?  You used to just have a clean taskbar, maybe a little area with quick launch icons that stayed tucked out of the way and left room for all the program windows. Now they’re huge, and when you launch them, you don’t get a program window at all, it just glows!

If you hover your mouse over that glowing icon, you get something so much better than the XP style program windows.  You get a live preview of each open window that application has open!  This makes it much faster and more accurate in scenarios where you might have 3+ windows of the same type open, or scenarios where you have so many windows open that they would group together into a program group.

The two pictures above are displaying the same information. There are 5 IE windows open to various pages.  Learning to use this feature is one of the best parts about Win7. Hover over each of these previews, and it is brought into focus, and everything else is turned transparent so you can see what you’re picking. If you launch an application from the Start menu a lot, right click on its icon, and choose ‘Pin this program to taskbar’. It won’t disappear again when you close the program. (this works from any icon, not just on the task bar)

So, what if you want more than one of an application that is running?  Clicking the icon just brings the app into focus, or raises the previews for you to choose an already running task from. Right click, and pick the application name form the menu, and you’ll get a new instance.  What else is in that right click menu while we’re in there?

Jump Lists!

It’s a little like the old ‘Recently Opened’ feature in XP.  It’s pretty handy, because now it is placed somewhere you can get to it very quickly and easily. Right click on the Microsoft Word icon, and pick the document you were working on yesterday from the list. BAM! you’re up and running.

jump lists Beware that Jump Lists can also reveal things that you may not want the world to see! This goes especially for your web browser and Media Player.  I’m not suggesting that you’re doing anything suspect on the internet, it’s just that your obsession with Oingo Boingo could get you teased!

Right click on the taskbar, choose Properties, and go to the Start Menu tab (see pic). Uncheck “’Store and display recently opened items in the Start menu and the taskbar’. This will stop jump lists from showing up if that kind of thing worries you.

So, you’ve disabled the automatic appearance of recent documents in Jump Lists. Have you just disabled a great feature because of your obsession with Weird Science? No! Jump lists are still very useful, and you can pin things to the inside of a jump list the same way you pin to the taskbar. Drag an icon or document to the icon you want to pin it to. Now right click, and it’s in your Jump list! I find this to be the most handy for your web browser (You can open it right to a pinned shortcut and bypass your homepage), and Windows Explorer (create shortcuts to common places you browse to often).

Program Windows

Disable Combining OK, you’ve made it this far, and you just want to know how to make The Windows 7 taskbar act more like XP’s. You want your rectangle Program Windows, as shown above. Right click on the taskbar, choose properties, and in the taskbar tab use the pull-down to select ‘Never combine’.  The taskbar will act much more like XP, but it won’t be perfect.

Learn to love the combined icons!


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