How to use the taskbar

You can customise the taskbar, including the way taskbar buttons look, how they group together when you have more than one window open, where the taskbar is on your desktop and what icons and apps are on it. For more information about the desktop, see Desktop.

The taskbar with taskbar buttons
The taskbar

Using the taskbar in Windows Store apps

If you're using a Windows Store app, you can still use the taskbar to switch apps, go to Start and check the notification area, just like you would in a desktop application. You can only do this if you have Windows 8.1 Update or Windows RT 8.1 Update. For more information, see Installing the latest Windows 8.1 Update.

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To see Windows Store apps on the taskbar

If you want your Windows Store apps to appear automatically on the taskbar whenever you open them (or if you want to turn this setting off), here's how.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the bottom-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click PC and devices, then tap or click Corners and edges.

  3. Tap or click the Show Windows Store apps on the taskbar slider to turn it on or off.

Note

  • Pinned Windows Store apps will still appear on the taskbar even if the Show Windows Store apps on the taskbar setting is turned off.

To show or hide the taskbar while using a Windows Store app

  1. Move your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen to show the taskbar. Then tap or click a taskbar button, icon or notification.

  2. When you've finished, move your mouse pointer away from the bottom edge of the screen to hide the taskbar.

Note

  • You can only show or hide the taskbar if you're using a mouse.

Pinning an application to the taskbar

You can pin an application directly to the taskbar for quick access when you're on the desktop.

  • On the Start screen, press and hold or right-click the application, then tap or click Pin to taskbar. You can also do this in the Apps view.
    – or –
    If the app is already open on the desktop, press and hold the application's taskbar button and slide your finger up until the Jump List (a list of shortcuts to recently opened files, folders and websites) appears. (If you're using a mouse, right-click the application button on the taskbar.) Then tap or click Pin this program to taskbar.

    Pinning an application to the taskbar
    Pin an application to the taskbar for quick access.

Notes

  • To remove a pinned application from the taskbar, open the application's Jump List, then tap or click Unpin this program from taskbar.

  • You can only pin Windows Store apps to the taskbar if you have Windows 8.1 Update or Windows RT 8.1 Update. For more information, see Installing the latest Windows 8.1 Update.

Moving the taskbar

You can typically find the taskbar at the bottom of the desktop, but you can also move it to the sides or top of the desktop. Before you can move the taskbar, you need to unlock it.

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To unlock the taskbar

  1. Press and hold or right-click an empty space on the taskbar.

  2. If Lock the taskbar has a tick next to it, tap or click Lock the taskbar.

To move the taskbar

  • Tap or click an empty space on the taskbar, then drag it to one of the four edges of the desktop. When the taskbar is where you want it, let go.

    Notes

    • To lock the taskbar into place, press and hold or right-click an empty space on the taskbar, then tap or click Lock the taskbar so that the tick appears.

    • To show the taskbar in a Windows Store app, move your mouse pointer past the edge of the screen where the taskbar is located.

Rearranging and customising taskbar buttons

You can change the order of taskbar buttons, choose how they're grouped together when there's more than one window open and change the size of the buttons.

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To rearrange taskbar buttons

  • To change the order of application buttons on the taskbar, drag a button from its current position to a different one. You can rearrange them as often as you like.

Note

  • All open files from the same application are always grouped together, even if you didn’t open them one after the other. This is so you can see all the previews for that application at the same time.

To change how taskbar buttons appear

  1. Open Taskbar and Navigation properties by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Taskbar in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Taskbar and Navigation in the results.

  2. On the Taskbar tab, select one of the options from the Taskbar buttons list:

    • Always combine, hide labels

      This is the default setting. Each application appears as a single, unlabelled button, even when multiple windows for that application are open.

    • Combine when taskbar is full

      This setting shows each window as an individual, labelled button. When the taskbar becomes crowded, applications with multiple open windows collapse into a single application button. Tap or click the button to see a list of the windows that are open.

    • Never combine

      This setting shows each window as an individual, labelled button and never combines them, no matter how many windows are open. As more applications and windows are opened, the buttons get smaller, and eventually they will scroll.

  3. To use small taskbar buttons, tick the Use small taskbar buttons checkbox. To use large buttons, untick the checkbox.

  4. Tap or click OK.

Customising the notification area

The notification area is located at the right end of the taskbar, and it contains application icons that provide status and notifications about things like incoming emails, updates and network connectivity. You can change which icons and notifications appear there.

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To hide an icon in the notification area

  • In the notification area, drag the icon you want to hide up.

Tips

  • If you want to add a hidden icon to the notification area, tap or click the Show hidden icons arrow The Show hidden icons arrow next to the notification area, then drag the icon you want back to the notification area. You can drag as many hidden icons as you want.
  • You can rearrange icons that appear in the notification area – just drag an icon to a different spot.

To view hidden icons

  • Tap or click the Show hidden icons arrow The Show hidden icons arrow next to the notification area.

To change how icons and notifications appear in the notification area

  1. Press and hold or right-click an empty area on the taskbar, then tap or click Properties.

  2. Next to Notification area, tap or click Customise.

  3. For each icon, select one of these options, then tap or click OK:

    • Show icon and notifications. The icon is always in the notification area of the taskbar, and notifications appear.

    • Hide icon and notifications. The icon is hidden, and you won't see notifications for that application.

    • Only show notifications. The icon is hidden, but notifications will appear.

Taking a look at the desktop

You can use the Show desktop button at the far right end of the taskbar to minimise your open windows and get to the desktop quickly. And if you're using a mouse, you can also use it to preview the desktop without closing or minimising your open windows.

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To minimise all the open windows on the desktop

  1. Tap or click the Show desktop button at the far right end of the taskbar. All of the open windows minimise, revealing the desktop.

  2. To get the windows back, tap or click the Show desktop button again.

To turn on desktop preview

You can only change this setting if you're using a mouse.

  • Right-click the Show desktop button at the right end of the taskbar and click Peek at desktop.

    Right-clicking the Show desktop button
    Use the Show desktop button to show the desktop or peek at it.

Changing taskbar settings for multiple displays

If you're using more than one display (for example, if you have more than one monitor), you can decide whether you want to have a taskbar on all your displays and how you want buttons to be arranged on the taskbars.

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To show a taskbar on all your displays

  1. Open Taskbar and Navigation properties by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Taskbar in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Taskbar and Navigation in the results.

  2. Under Multiple displays, make sure the Show taskbar on all displays checkbox is ticked, then tap or click OK.

To choose how taskbar buttons are shown on multiple displays

  1. Open Taskbar and Navigation properties by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Taskbar in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Taskbar and Navigation in the results.

  2. Under Multiple displays, select one of the options from the Show taskbar buttons on list, then tap or click OK.

    • All taskbars

      The taskbar buttons for all your open windows will be duplicated on the taskbars on each display.

    • Main taskbar and taskbar where window is open

      A taskbar button will appear on your main monitor and also in the taskbar on the display where the window is open.

    • Taskbar where window is open

      A taskbar button will appear only on the display where the window is open. None of the buttons are duplicated on other taskbars.

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