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Windows XP > Customizing Windows XP

Customize the Taskbar

By: Arie Slob

Default Taskbar

If you have used a previous Windows version, you will probably notice that there is no Quick Launch bar showing. In Windows XP, the Quick Launch bar is off by default. To enable the Quick Launch bar, right-click the Taskbar, select Toolbars and click Quick Launch

Taskbar with Quick Launch Toolbar

You will also notice that in the system tray (which is called notification area in Windows XP, the Date and Day of the month are displayed as soon as you increase the height of the Taskbar. By default the Taskbar is Locked, so you have to select Lock the Taskbar to remove the checkmark in front of this option and be able to resize the Taskbar. If you add a new Toolbar - such as Quick Launch - the height will have already been increased enough.

I don't know about you, but I think that the default blue color scheme is ... well ... kinda blue! (probably my preference)... Anyway, I like the Silver color scheme better:

Taskbar - Silver color scheme

To change the color scheme, right click an empty space on the Desktop, and select Properties from the menu. Select the Appearance tab and choose a color scheme from the Color scheme drop down box. Besides the default blue color scheme, and the silver color scheme mentioned above, there's also an Olive Green color scheme... To be complete, I'll show you how your Taskbar would look with that last color scheme below.

Taskbar - Olive Green color scheme

A sharp observer would notice that the color of the Start button will always stay green. There is no way to change this, except with some 3rd party tools (such as stardock).

If you right-click on the Taskbar, and choose Properties, you'll get a number of additional customization choices:

  • Lock the taskbar
  • Auto-hide the taskbar
  • Keep the taskbar on top of other windows
  • Group similar taskbar buttons
  • Show Quick Launch

Most of these will be quite self-explanatory, so I will just mention Group similar taskbar buttons here.

This new function is designed to reduce taskbar "crowding" by grouping similar Windows under one task button if the remaining space on the taskbar is running out.

Group similar taskbar buttons

Context menu - grouped button

Also note the context menu (when right-clicking on a button group), which has the option to minimize or close all the Windows of the group with just one click.

Now the default behaviour is that Windows will group task buttons by age (the oldest group first). But you can also change this to group by size (largest group first):

  1. Start the Registry Editor
  2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced \
  3. Right-click an empty space in the right pane and select New > DWORD Value
  4. Name the new value TaskbarGroupSize
  5. Double-click this new value, and enter 1 as it's Value data
  6. Close the registry editor
  7. Log off, or restart Windows for the changes to take effect

You can also change the number of (similar) buttons that should be on the Taskbar before they are grouped by changing the Value data from the TaskbarGroupSize to another number (3 or higher). To return to the default behaviour, delete the TaskbarGroupSize DWORD, or change the value to 0.

This is one of the functions performed by:

Tweaking Toolbox XP