Home » The Windows Taskbar.

The Windows Taskbar.

The Windows taskbar runs across the screen, connecting the Start button to the clock. It’s the place to keep your most used programs and apps. In this beginners guide, we’ll look at adding and removing items on the taskbar to make it work better for you.

If you’ve been following along with the course, then this is what we’ve been building towards. As a very rough, general guide, your taskbar is the prime location for you’re most often used programs and apps. Secondary items, programs that you use occasionally, will go on your Start Menu (Windows Start Menu.), and other stuff that needs to be kept handy should be on your Desktop (Windows Desktop Icons).

The Windows Taskbar – Unpinning.

Space on the taskbar is usually quite limited, so it makes sense to remove anything that you don’t actually use to make way for the things that you need.

Decluttering your Windows Taskbar makes it easier to use and you’re less likely to click the wrong program by accident.

Adding and removing items is called pinning and unpinning respectively (similar to pinning and unpinning on the Start Menu). Although most items can be unpinned when they’re not in use, there are some that can’t be. However, these can generally be removed through the taskbar settings.

What You Should Keep On Your Windows Taskbar.

Before you begin de-cluttering, there really are a couple of items that I’d recommend you should keep on your taskbar.

Firstly, keep File Explorer (it’s the yellow folder icon). Even if you don’t actually use it at the moment, as you work through this course, you’ll begin to see how useful it is. Keep File Explorer.

Secondly, keep your web browser (Edge, Chrome, Firefox etc), whichever one you use, keep it pinned to your taskbar. Most of us will use the Internet every day, so keep your browser handy and quick to find.

Other than your web browser and File Explorer, everything else can go if you don’t use it or need it.

A Quick Note About File Explorer.

File Explorer (the yellow folder) sometimes disappears from your taskbar. Often it’s just been accidentally unpinned, but occasionally it really does seem to go walkabout.

If you can’t see File Explorer, or maybe you already unpinned it, here’s a quick guide to getting it back File Explorer Is Missing From Taskbar.


How To Unpin From The Taskbar.

To unpin most items in both Windows 10 & Windows 11, right-click on the item you want to unpin, then left-click UNPIN FROM TASKBAR.

Windows 10, Store icon has been right clicked and "Unpin from taskbar" is highlighted.
Unpinning from Windows 10 taskbar.
Windows 11, Store icon has been right clicked and "Unpin from taskbar" is highlighted.
Unpinning from Windows 11 taskbar.

A Note About Unpinning.

When you unpin an item from your taskbar, you’re not deleting or uninstalling it. Whatever the item is, it will still be on your computer. What you’re doing by unpinning is to remove the link from your taskbar. As such, it’s perfectly safe to unpin whatever you want, you can always re-pin it later if you wish.

Removing Items That Can’t Be Unpinned From The Taskbar.

On both Windows 10 and Windows 11 computers, some things can’t be removed by unpinning, but they are still easy to remove, and just like unpinning, you can always re-instate them later if you wish.

Search, Cortana, Task View, People & News and Interests icons are indicated with callouts.
Windows 10 taskbar. Search, Cortana, Task View, People & News & Interests can’t be unpinned as such. But can be turned off or hidden from view.
Widgets, Search, Task View and Chat icons indicated with callouts.
Windows 11 taskbar. Widgets, Search, Task View and Chat all need to be turned off in the settings.

To Remove Items From The Taskbar.

To remove any or all of these items from your taskbar in Windows 10 and 11, you need to right-click directly onto the taskbar.

In Windows 10, you’ll see a long menu appear. It’s this menu that you can use to turn off anything that you don’t want or use.

If you’re using Windows 11, you only get one option, Taskbar Settings.

Options menu highlighted in Windows 10
Windows 10.
Taskbar Settings option
Windows 11.

Windows 11 Taskbar Settings.

To remove Widgets, Search. Task View and Chat, right-click on the taskbar and then left-click TASKBAR SETTINGS.

On the Settings page, you can turn off (remove) the ones you don’t use or want by clicking on the relevant switch.

Personally, I’d turn them all off (assuming that you don’t use them).

On/Off switches indicated for Search, Task View, Widgets and Chat.
Windows 11 taskbar settings page.

Windows 10 Taskbar.

Unlike with Windows 11, in Windows 10 you have to turn off each item individually using the options menu, but it’s easy to do.

To remove the Search Box, right-click on the taskbar, then hover your pointer to SEARCH on the menu. A second menu appears.

On the second menu, left-click HIDDEN.

You’ll see the Search Box disappear.

Search Hidden option is marked.
Hover over Search, then click Hidden.

News & Interests.

One item I’d definitely recommend turning off is News and Interests. This is the one that pops up onto your screen unexpectedly whenever you hover your pointer near the bottom right of the screen. If you like it, if you’d want to keep it, fine, but I haven’t met anyone yet that does.

To remove News & Interests, right-click the taskbar, then on the menu, hover your pointer over News and Interests. On the second menu that appears, left-click TURN OFF.

The News and interests pop up window is displayed.
Windows 10 News and Interests pop up open.
News and Interests and Turn off are highlighted.
Turn off News and Interests feature in Windows 10.

Cortana, Task View and People can all be removed simply by left-clicking on their entry in the options menu.

You have to do them individually because each time you click on an item the menu will disappear.

Cortana, Task View and People indicated.
Right-click the taskbar to open the options menu and then left-click to remove each item in turn.


How To Pin To The Taskbar.

Now that you’ve cleared out the rubbish, it’s time to add in the good stuff. Pin the programs and apps that you use every day onto your taskbar.

A quick word of advice here, don’t over do it. Keep your taskbar “lean & mean”. Just because you’ve got space doesn’t mean that you need to fill it. Only pin what you feel you need or use every day. You can always add programs and apps later if you find that you’re missing them.

Pinning From The Desktop To The Taskbar.

If you want to pin an item from your Desktop to your taskbar, such as a program shortcut, then you can.

In Windows 10, right-click the item, then on the menu that appears, left-click PIN TO TASKBAR.

In Windows 11, there’s an extra step. After you’ve right-clicked the item, on the menu that appears you’ll need to left-click SHOW MORE OPTIONS. Now you can left-click PIN TO TASKBAR.

Pin to taskbar highlighted.
Pin to taskbar in Windows 10.
Show more options highlighted.
Windows 11, Show More Options.
Pin to taskbar highlighted in Windows 11.
Pin to taskbar in Windows 11.

Pinning From The Start Menu.

If you want to pin something from the Start Menu onto your taskbar, it’s the same procedure in both Windows 10 and 11. Left-click the Start button and scroll through the programs list until you find the program/app you wish to pin. If you’re using Windows 11, you’ll need to click the ALL APPS button first.

Then right-click on it. On the small menu that appears, hover your pointer over the word MORE. On the second menu, left-click PIN TO TASKBAR.

More and Pin to taskbar indicated on Windows 10 options menu.
Windows 10.
More and Pin to taskbar marked on Windows 11 options menu.
Windows 11.

Moving And Resizing The Taskbar.

This one is for Windows 10 users only. By default, the taskbar runs across the bottom of the screen, but it doesn’t have to. You can have your taskbar running down the left or right side of the screen, or even across the top.

Also, you can change the size (or depth) of your taskbar to accommodate more icons. Now I’m not saying that you should move or resize your taskbar, only that you can if you wish, and I do know people that use their taskbar like this.

For whatever reason, these options aren’t available if you’re using Windows 11.

Taskbar marked on left side of screen
You can have your taskbar on the left of your screen.
Taskbar marked on the right of screen
Or on the right.
Taskbar marked running across the top of the screen.
Or across the top.
A double headed arrow indivates that the taskbar is larger (deeper) than usual.
Or really large.

How To Move Or Resize The Taskbar.

To move or resize your taskbar, you’ll first need to make sure that it’s unlocked.

Right-click directly onto the taskbar, and near the bottom of the menu, you’ll see the “LOCK THE TASKBAR” option.

If it has a tick beside it, then the taskbar is locked into position and can’t be moved or resized.

Left-click to unlock it (remove the tick).

Lock the taskbar is shown as being selected (ticked).
The taskbar is currently locked. Left-click to unlock.

With the taskbar unlocked, hover your pointer on it and hold down the left-hand mouse button.

Keeping the button depressed, move your mouse toward either the left, right or top of your screen.

You’ll see the taskbar suddenly jump into place.

Taskbar is shown moving from bottom of screen to left hand side. Also a computer mouse is displayed with the left hand button depressed.
Moving the taskbar to the left-hand side of the screen.

Resizing The Taskbar.

Although this can be useful, amongst my clients at least, it’s actually more likely to happen by accident. Regardless of whether you’re trying to do it or simply return the taskbar to its former size, it’s really easy to do.

With the taskbar unlocked, hover your pointer over the very top edge of it.

When you get the pointer into just the right position, it’ll turn into a double-headed arrow.

With the pointer showing as a double-headed arrow, hold down the left mouse button and move your mouse up or down depending on whether you’re making the taskbar larger or smaller.

Double headed arrow is magnified on the taskbar.
Hold down the left mouse button and move up or down to change the depth of the taskbar.

How To Set The Taskbar To The Left In Windows 11.

With all previous versions of Windows (those that had one), the taskbar was always justified to the left. By that, I mean that the Start button and all the icons began from the left. In Windows 11, the taskbar is justified to the centre (everything is in the middle).

Some people seem to love it, some hate it and some (like me) just don’t care so long as it works. If you’re in the “hate it” group, then you can easily set the taskbar back towards the left again (like it always was).

Right-click on the taskbar and then left-click TASKBAR SETTINGS.

On the Settings page, left-click TASKBAR BEHAVIOURS.

That will open a sub-menu where you can change the alignment from Centre to Left, or vice versa.

Taskbar alignment options indicated in Windows 11.
Changing the taskbar alignment in Windows 11.

Summarising The Windows Taskbar.

In this guide to the Windows taskbar, we’re trying to get it set up and optimised for the way in which you’re going to use your computer. The taskbar works in tandem with the Start menu and your Desktop to house the programs and apps, files and folders that you want, that you use, that you need.

If you’re not exactly sure what it is that you want to have on your taskbar at the moment, then simply go with having File Explorer and your web browser. That’s usually enough for most of us at home. You can add (or pin) other programs/apps as you go.

Computer screen with 3 program windows open. Text reads "How to resize and move program windows".
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Window Size & Position

Control the size and position of your program windows.

Computer screen with 3 program windows open. Text reads "How to resize and move program windows".
Next Page

Window Size & Position

Control the size and position of your program windows.

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