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Be More Productive with the Windows 7 Taskbar

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Changing Windows 7 Taskbar Properties
Here's where you change Windows 7 Taskbar properties.

Here's where you change Windows 7 Taskbar properties.

If you're the adventurous type, you can customize the Taskbar by hiding it, making it bigger or smaller, or doing other things to it. To get to the customization window, right-click an open area of the Taskbar and left-click the "Properties" title. This will bring up the menu shown above. Here are some of the most-common customizations you can do:

  • Lock it. When "Lock the taskbar" is checked, no one can make changes to its size or placement on the desktop. Most people leave it like this, but you won't be endangering your computer if you uncheck it.
  • Auto-hide. If you check this box, it will hide the Taskbar, so that you can't see it. This will create more room on your desktop, but at the expense of the convenience of having quick access to programs.
  • Use small icons. Again, a space-saving option. This will shrink the Taskbar and icons, freeing up more space but still allowing you Taskbar functionality. This is a good option on small screens like laptops or netbooks where space is at a premium.
  • Move the Taskbar. The drop-down menu "Taskbar location on screen:" allows you to move the Taskbar to the top, or either side, of your desktop. Again, most people are used to seeing it at the bottom and leave it there, but you may have your own reasons for wanting to move it. Remember that if you've locked the Taskbar, you won't be able to move it.
  • Taskbar buttons. Here you can change the appearance of the icons in the Taskbar. You can turn off "combining" of icons, meaning that if you have three Microsoft Word documents open, for example, each document will appear as its own icon in the Taskbar, rather than two "hiding" behind a single Word icon. This makes it easier to see everything, but the tradeoff is often a long string of icons strewn across your Taskbar. Labels also describe icons -- it will identify each open program, rather than just showing the icon picture. I prefer the "Always combine, hide labels" option here, because I like a clean desktop, but it's totally up to you how you want it.

Take your time and get to know the Taskbar. You'll find your computing time being a lot more productive if you do.

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