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Cool Tips For the Windows Taskbar

Tip: Enable the Quick Launch area on the Taskbar

The Quick Launch area on the Windows Taskbar enables you to insert icons for your most frequently used applications. A single-click upon an icon in the Quick Launch starts the application. The other advantage becomes apparent when you have multiple windows open covering your desktop because you can easily get to those frequently used icons in the Quick Launch area without having to get to the desktop.

In the screenshot below, you see the Taskbar in it's typical configuration at the bottom of the screen with the START button on the far left and the SYSTEM TRAY (also referred to as the Notification Area) on the far right. Quick Launch is not enabled by the default installation of Windows.


How to Turn on the Quick Launch Area

Procedure: Right-click on the Taskbar, and ensure that.. Lock the Taskbar is unchecked. To enable the Quick Launch, right-click the Taskbar, select.. Properties, and checkmark.. Show Quick Launch. Then click.. OK

The screenshot below shows the Quick Launch enabled. Your Quick Launch will likely have a different set of icons in there already. You may customize your Quick Launch as follows:

How to Delete Icons in the Quick Launch Area
Procedure: Right-click the icon and select.. Delete  

How to Add New Icons to the Quick Launch Area
Procedure: To insert a new icon in the Quick Launch area, first place it on the desktop and then drag it into the Quick Launch Area. You can even drag the icons within the Quick Launch area to change their order.

Tip: Use the SHOW DESKTOP Icon to Open or Close All Windows Simultaneously.

In the screenshot above, the first icon is the Show Desktop icon. Show Desktop is very handy when you have multiple windows open and you need to get to one of the icons on the desktop. Instead of minimizing each window separately, you click the Show Desktop icon and it automatically minimizes all currently open windows. Click the Show Desktop icon again and it restores all those minimized windows automatically. It's a very useful feature!

TIP: Move the Windows Taskbar to the right side of the screen and set it to automatically hide when you are not using it.

Note: If you rarely open more than 2 or 3 windows simultaneously, you are probably better off with the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen.

In the screenshot below you see the typical configuration of the Windows Taskbar at the bottom of the screen. In this example below, we have the Quick Launch loaded w/5 icons, there are 5 applications running & showing on the taskbar, and the System Tray has another 6 icons plus the clock. It's awfully crowded, and often, you can't properly identify all applications on the task bar due to this crowding problem. A better way is to move the task bar to the right side of the screen! See next section for an example & procedure.

 

TIP: Move the Taskbar to the Right Side of the Screen

In the screenshot below on the far right you see the Taskbar as it has been moved and resized to show an abundance of useful information that was not possible when the Taskbar was at the bottom of the screen. In addition, you may right-click in the Quick Launch area and enable.. Show Text  to display the names of the applications in the Quick Launch. Even with 5 applications on the Taskbar, look at all that free space remaining for other applications!  However, since the Taskbar now takes up so much screen area it is necessary to set it to automatically hide when not in use.  

 

How to Move the Taskbar
Procedure: Right-click on the Taskbar, and ensure that.. Lock the Taskbar is unchecked. Now drag the Taskbar to the right side of the screen.

How to Hide the Taskbar
Procedure: To Hide the Taskbar, right-click the Taskbar, select.. Properties, and checkmark.. Auto-hide the Taskbar. Then click.. OK 

Now when you need the taskbar you simply hover the mouse at the right edge of the screen and the Taskbar will automatically pop up. When you are not using it, it will automatically hide, giving you the full screen to work your applications. 

Issues with Taskbar on the Right side of screen.

With the Taskbar on the right side you may notice an annoying side-effect when using an application that has a vertical scrollbar. As you go to use the scrollbar you may overshoot with the mouse and activate the Taskbar by mistake. This can become real annoying, but there is an easy solution described in the next tip.

Tip: Use "Taskbar Activate" to better control the Taskbar Auto-Hide Feature. 

A 3rd party FREE application named "Taskbar Activate" is available for download & installation that allows you to set a time delay such that when you overshoot with the mouse momentarily, it will not activate the Windows Taskbar. I recommend setting this delay to 2000 ms (2 seconds). Then when you need the Taskbar, hover the mouse to the right edge of the screen and single-click the mouse to activate it. A side benefit to setting it up this way is that other people will not likely be able to figure out where your Taskbar went unless you tell them. 

To download it, do a google search on... Taskbar Activate

 

Happy & Safe Computing!
Any questions? 
---pete---


   
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