The Windows XP Task Bar

This tutorial assumes that you have set the Control panel to Classic View. To see how to do this, click this link (opens in a new window): Set the Control Panel to Classic View

You can change the settings on the Windows XP Taskbar (that thin strip running across the bottom of your screen - from the Start button to the clock). Play around with these settings as we go along!

To get at the settings for the Taskbar, click Start and then Control Panel. From the Control Panel, double click Taskbar and Start Menu. This will bring up a dialogue box. You can also bring this dialogue box up by clicking the Taskbar with your Right mouse button. From the menu, select Properties. You should see the following:

Taskbar and Start Menu Properties

Lock the Taskbar

Some people like to have the Taskbar at the top of the screen, or at the sides. To move the Taskbar, you click on it with the left mouse button. Keep the mouse button held down and drag to the very edges of your screen, or to the very top. Let go of the left mouse button and your Taskbar will be relocated. To stop this from happening, put a tick in this box Lock the taskbar.

Auto-hide the Taskbar

If you want you're your Taskbar to disappear when you move your mouse over it, place a tick in the box Auto-hide the Taskbar. If you've accidentally enabled this, and are getting tired of your Taskbar hiding every time your mouse is at the bottom of the screen, then take the tick out.

Keep the Taskbar on top of other windows

If you have this box unticked then the Taskbar will disappear altogether when you have a programme maximized on your screen. It means, for example, that you won't see the clock or the Start button if you're typing away in Microsoft Word.

Group similar Taskbar buttons

By similar, Microsoft mean similar programmed. It's when you have say Internet Explorer windows staked one on top of the other. Put a tick in the box and you may see the preview window at the top of the Taskbar properties page change to this:

Group similar Taskbar buttons

The number 2 means two Internet Explorer windows are open. To see which pages you have open, click on the white arrow.

Show quick launch

Arguably the most useful item on the Taskbar! When you put a tick in this box, you'll see some shortcuts appear, just to the right of the green Start button. This allows you to click the shortcut and quickly launch the programme. If you've ever had a version of Windows before XP then you would have seen this all the time. But of you upgrade to XP then it's hidden by default. To get it back, put a tick in the box Show quick launch. You'll then see something like the following appear:

Show quick launch

The three new icons are, from left to right, shortcuts to Internet Explorer, a shortcut to quickly minimize or maximize all open programmes, and a shortcut to the Windows Media Player.

You can delete these and add your own. Right click an icon, and then select delete from the menu that appears. To add a quick launch shortcut to a favourite programme, you can drag and drop into this area. The image below shows the process in action. We want to drag the Firefox icon to the Quick Launch area.

Click on an Icon with your Left mouse button:

Click an icon with the left mouse button

Hold down the left mouse button and drag to the quick launch area:

Drag to the Quick Launch area

Let go of the left mouse button when the cursor changes to a black line:

Let go when you see the black line

When you let go of your left mouse button, the new icon should appear on the Quick Launch bar. Click it once to start the programme:

A new programme added to the Quick Launch area

Hide Inactive icons

The inactive icons are the ones near the clock. If you have too many icons there, then they can occupy a lot of the Taskbar area. Much more than you'd like. To hide the ones you don't use often, put a tick in the box Hide Inactive Icons. Your taskbar will then change to this:

Hide Inactive icons

The white arrows indicates hidden icons. Move your mouse over the arrows to reveal the hidden icons in the Taskbar.

NOTE: We've missed out Show the clock. It does exactly what it says on the tin - shows or hides the clock in the bottom right of the screen. If your clock has gone missing, then put a tick in the box.

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