Customizing the Windows 10 Taskbar: A Comprehensive Guide

On
Windows 10 Desktop

Windows taskbar is one of the most flexible interface elements that can be customized—easily. The default taskbar state is good enough for an average user, but, we often tweak and customize it to meet our needs. It's not just the appearance that can be customized, one can add sections, apps, and widgets to the taskbar too. The taskbar's default behavior related to events and states can also be customized. The following guide will help you customize the Windows 10 taskbar. All the major taskbar customization options are covered in this tutorial. You can learn these customizations in any order.

Windows 10 Desktop

A good number of customization options discussed below are available in other Windows versions as well. So, feel free to try them out on your Windows machine other than Windows 10. Here we go!

Read Also:
A Simple Guide to Using Custom Themes and Icons on Windows

Because we are not fiddling with drive storage in general, there's no need to take backups before trying out these customizations. Do not overdo certain appearance-related customization to keep things simple.

1. Pin Apps to the Taskbar

The most handy feature is the pinning ability supported by the taskbar. Through it, you can easily pin apps and shortcuts to the taskbar for quick access.

Pin to taskbar option in Windows 10

The process of pinning apps to the taskbar is dead simple. First, open the app and then right-click on the icon of the app on the taskbar.

A context menu will appear. Click the Pin to taskbar option from the context menu. And, that's it!

2. Use Jump Lists

A handy feature supported by the taskbar is Jump List which pops up whenever you right-click on a pinned app. It gives you quick access to some of the common actions as well as recently used files and folders when using that pinned app.

A jump list of the pinned app on the Windows 10 taskbar

The Tasks and Recent sections of the jump list give you access to both the recently used files and common actions.

Turn jump list on or off through settings

These jump lists can get vertically long with time which is annoying for some of the users. To turn it off, go to Settings → Personalization → Start → Show recently open items in Jump Lists option.

3. Change Taskbar's Appearance

Although very useful, customization of the taskbar's appearance is generally not considered by an average Windows 10 user. But, it can significantly help you in increasing your productivity.

To customize the taskbar, right-click on it, and choose the Taskbar settings option from the context menu. Go to the Settings → Personalization → Taskbar option. Here, you'll get a plethora of options to customize the taskbar.

Change the size of Windows 10 taskbar buttons

If you want slightly more desktop space on your computer, you can shrink the size of the taskbar. The setting shown above does the job. When activated, it makes the taskbar more thinner with smaller buttons giving more space for the desktop.

4. Modify System Tray

On the right side of the taskbar resides the system tray. It displays the icons of the services and applications of your choice. By default, some of the icons are already turned on. You can customize it though.

Turn system icons on or off on the Windows taskbar

To turn off or on any system icon, go to the same settings page mentioned above where we're fiddling with the taskbar appearance. Here, click on the Turn system icons on or off option.

Toggle on or off system icons for the Windows 10 taskbar

Here, through toggle buttons, one can easily switch selective system icons on or off as per the needs. As you can see in the example shown above, I've kept the four most important system icons—turned on—for my system tray.

5. Remove or Customize the Search Bar

By default, the taskbar is in fully expanded form on the taskbar. You can customize it as per your needs. It entirely depends on you if you want to keep it on the taskbar or not.

To access its customization settings, right-click on the taskbar and go to the Search option in the context menu.

Search box settings for the Windows 10 taskbar

Here you get the following 3 options.

  • Hidden: To completely turn off and hide the taskbar, choose this option. I use this option as I never need the search box in my daily workflow.
  • Show search icon: If you have a smaller screen device and still want to use the search box, this is the best option. It saves the space on the taskbar—and at the same time—gives you quick access to the search facility.
  • Show search box: This is the default option. If you frequently use the search facility and have a bigger screen, go for this option.

I always keep the search box hidden as I rarely need it and my screen size too is not that big.

6. Adjust Taskbar's Transparency

Making Windows 10 taskbar transparent can be tricky if you're looking to make it significantly transparent. The default transparency option is simple to use.

Transparency effect option in Windows 10

Go to the Settings → Personalization → Colors menu and toggle on the Transparency effects option. Through this option, you get a slightly opaque and blurry effect on the taskbar.

If you want to make it more transparent, you have to do a registry hack. Here's how to do it.

Open the registry editor by first pressing the Win + R key combination and then writing regedit in the text box. Click the OK button to open the registry editor.

Go to the following key.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

On the right-side pane, right-click and select the New → DWORD (32-bit) Value option from the context menu. Provide the name UseOLEDTaskbarTransparency for this new value.

Registry entry for taskbar transparency in Windows 10

Double-click on this new value and provide 1 as the data for it. Finally, go back to the Transparency effects setting again and toggle it off and on—again.

Restart the computer to complete the process.

7. Add a Toolbar to the Taskbar

The toolbar facilitates the easy completion of certain actions or jobs. The default toolbars available on Windows 10 can be easily added to the taskbar.

To do so, right-click on the taskbar and go to the Toolbars option in the context menu. In the sub-menu, you can select the one you want to add to the taskbar.

Add toolbar to the taskbar in Windows 10

In case, you want quick access to a specific folder, one way to achieve that is to make a custom toolbar for the same. You can use the New toolbar... option from the sub-menu.

8. Display or Hide System Icons

System icons reside on the right side of the taskbar. Some of the important system icons are already turned on, by default. But, there are more icons available. You can easily turn these system icons on or off if required.

System icons on the Windows 10 taskbar

To turn off or on all the available system icons, right-click on it, and choose the Taskbar settings option from the context menu.

Turn off system icons in Windows 10

Here, you have to click the Turn system icons on or off option. Now, simply toggle on or off the system icons—at your will.

9. Display or Hide App Icons

Whenever an application is used, depending on its functionality and support, its icon may appear in the notification area of the taskbar. If required, you can turn on or off these app icons.

Go to option to turn on or off the app icons on the taskbar

To do that, once again open the taskbar settings page and click the Select which icons appear on the taskbar option.

Select app icons to appear on the taskbar in Windows 10

Here, you can selectively turn on or off the app icons of your choice. I generally keep all the app icons turned off to reduce the clutter on the taskbar.

10. Auto-Hide Taskbar

If you want more screen space on your desktop while working with applications on a smaller screen, you can opt to auto-hide the taskbar.

Automatically hide taskbar in Windows 10

Simply go to the taskbar settings page and toggle on the relevant option shown in the image above. After activating, the taskbar hides below the screen and pops out back whenever the cursor is at the bottom of the screen.

11. Display App Names on Apps Icons

By default, the app icons on the taskbar are in condensed form in Windows 10. When you hover on the icon, you get the label of the application name.

App names on the app icons on the taskbar in Windows 10

If you want to get the full application name on the taskbar app icon, you can do that easily.

Turn on app names on app icons in Windows 10

To do that, go to the taskbar settings page and select the Never entry from the dropdown menu for the Combine taskbar buttons option.