The Windows TaskBar

The Taskbar usually consists of 4 distinct parts:

Windows Taskbar

    1. The Start Button--Opens the menu.
    2. The Quick Launch bar--contains shortcuts to commonly used applications. Use this to avoid cluttering up your desktop with application shortcuts. If you don't use it, you can remove it (see #2 below).
    3. The main Taskbar--displays icons for all open applications and files.
    4. The System Tray--contains the clock and icons for some of the programs running in the background.

    We'll look at each of these in turn.

    1. While the Start menu isn't technically part of the Taskbar, you can control it from there. Right click on an empty area of the main Taskbar section, and a menu will pop up. Click on Properties, and you will see a tab for the Start Menu. Check this out to see all the ways you can customize the Start menu.

      One other thing you can do to make Programs easier to find in the Start menu is to open the "All Programs" menu. Right click on any item in the list. A menu will pop up. Click "Sort by Name" to alphabetize. Notice you can also delete menu items if you don't use them.

    2. Resize the Quick Launch area by clicking and dragging the divider line after the small icons. If there is a double >> symbol, that means there are more icons on the menu. Click on this to display them. To make the Quick Launch bar more useful, delete icons for applications you don't use. You can also rearrange icons by clicking and dragging them to new locations.

    3. The main Taskbar is where you find a button for each page of each application you have open. If you Right Click on one of the buttons, you will see a popup menu that allows you to restore, maximize or close that window.

      • To customize the Taskbar, right click on any blank space. Choose "Properties" from the popup menu to Autohide the Taskbar among other features. You can even remove the clock. Check this out.
      • The popup menu also contains "Toolbars" that you can add to the Taskbar. If you keep a lot of documents and files on your desktop, click on the Desktop Toolbar item to add it. Now, when you have multiple pages opened, you don't have to close them all to access something on your desktop.
      • You can resize each toolbar by clicking and dragging on the vertical gray bar that separates them. You can even drag a toolbar onto a second row and make the toolbar taller.
      • Finally, you can move the Taskbar to any edge of your screen. Try it out by clicking and dragging it to a position along the top, right or left edge of the screen.

    4. The most important thing you can do with the System Tray is to determine whether all of the applications represented by the icons really need to be starting up and running all the time. Each icon represents a little program that is taking memory to remain active. If your computer is starting up or running slowly, see if you can shut some of these down. Common ones that are not needed are quick launches for Acrobat Reader, music, or chat programs, like Yahoo! or MSN Messenger. If you don't use them often, remove them.

    This is just a quick tour of some of the most helpful features you can customize on the Windows Taskbar. If you want to explore more, or need clarification of any of these instructions, contact the Help Desk for assistance.