Windows OS

A Comprehensive Guide to Windows 10 Taskbar Settings

A taskbar in Windows/Windows 10 is a utility tool that usually resides at the bottom — occupying the full horizontal space of your screen. This is where your start menu, search/Cortana, pinned apps, notifications, Wi-Fi connection icon, time, etc., are displayed. Simply put, a taskbar is akin to a top-most bar (with URL, extensions, etc.) on web browsers.

Typical Anatomy of a Windows 10 Taskbar

Typical Anatomy of a Windows 10 Taskbar
Most of us are used to seeing this type of a Windows 10 Taskbar. Especially since the Windows 10, version 2004.

As we can see, the taskbar is a brilliant handy feature for quick access to things that can save time. Typically, in the taskbar, there is a task view button too, which I deliberately skipped in my screen capture because after updating to Windows 10 2004 version, Microsoft decided to skip it.

Still, if you’re curious, it looks something like below — which by the way, has a shortcut of alt + tab keys.

Windows 10 taskbar with task view button
The Windows 10 taskbar with the “Task View” button.

At this point, I assume that you know what a taskbar is in Windows 10. Now, let’s explore its settings.

Navigating the Windows 10 Taskbar Settings

First, and foremost, to do anything on this end, you’d need to go to the settings. There are two easy ways:

  1. Either search for “taskbar settings” in the start menu. Or,
  2. Right-click on your taskbar, and select “taskbar settings.”

What the Taskbar Settings Looks Like, and What Do Each of the Settings Mean

Believe it or not, you have tons of customization options when it comes to your Windows 10 taskbar.

Having that stated, because an entire screenshot is not possible of the settings, I’ll be breaking down the explanations into three parts. Each part will be preceded with a screen capture, so you’d constantly have a visual point of reference.

Part 1

windows 10 taskbar settings part 1
In part 1, we’ll go over the first 7 settings of the taskbar.

With this image in mind, let’s review what uniqueness each brings.

  1. Lock the taskbar: If this is turned on, you won’t be able to move your taskbar location (such as instead of the bottom, you want it on the side), or resize it.
  2. Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode: Many modern laptops these days are 2 in 1, where you can also use it as a tablet. Using this option can automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode — allowing you to get the extra view space at the bottom. If you need your taskbar, you simply have to hover your mouse to its location. See the video below for reference.
Video demonstration of how the “Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode” feature works in Windows 10.
  1. Automatically hide the taskbar in tablet mode: Like what we discussed above, this achieves the exact result for tablet modes.
  2. Use Small taskbar buttons: Leveraging this choice will make your taskbar icons a bit smaller — enabling you to squeeze in more pinned apps in one row. Note that the search bar also changes to just an icon, and thereby, yielding a lot more additional space for extra items in your taskbar. View the recording below:
How the “use small taskbar buttons” work in windows 10
  1. Use peek to preview the desktop when you move your mouse to the Show desktop button at the end of the taskbar: Not sure if a lot of folks take advantage of this feature, but if you hover your mouse at the end of your taskbar, (towards the small vertical line; right after your notifications), it’ll show you the preview of your desktop. Clicking on the vertical line however, will take you to your desktop. Personally, If I need to get to my desktop, I’ve always used Windows key + D.
  2. Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell in the menu when I right-click the start button or press Windows Key + X: It seems self-explanatory; but as stated, this setting will substitute the Command Prompt option with PowerShell on Start Menu right-click, or Windows + X keyboard shortcut. See the image screenshot that follows:
Replacing Command Prompt with PowerShell
If this setting is turned off, Windows PowerShell (Admin) gets replaced with Command Prompt (Admin).
  1. Show badges on taskbar buttons: Badges are like small icons that appear on top of your pinned applications that inform how many unread emails you have, or how many unread What’s App messages you have, or anything similar that reveals some extra information relating to that specific application. As an example, see the image right after this sentence.
a visual example of badge icons in windows 10 taskbar
Here, the What’s App badge icon tells me that I have 1 unread message. Whereas, the ExpressVPN one tells me that I am successfully connected with no issues.

Part 2

windows 10 taskbar settings part 2
In part 2, we’ll go over the next 4 Windows 10 taskbar settings.
  1. Taskbar location on screen: As clear as daylight, this setting lets you dictate where you want your taskbar to be. In most cases, it’s usually at the bottom, but can be changed from here.
  2. Combine Taskbar buttons: While not evidently clear from the name itself, this choice lets you group similar icons into one. You get 3 possibilities:
    • Always, hide labels: This is traditionally the default option. The hide labels part doesn’t display the name of your applications, while the always part, groups your icons.
    • When taskbar is full: Here, you’ll be able to display names, but when the taskbar becomes full, it’ll combine the icons.
    • Never: As suggestible, never will both always display the names, and will not combine similar apps/icons into one.
  3. Show Taskbar on all displays: Turning this on will allow you to further configure how exactly you want to display your taskbar on multiple displays (when connected to 1 or more additional monitor screen). Now, because I don’t have more than one connected at the moment, this option is disabled for me. Having said that, I’d highly encourage you to explore this option, as it’s customizable per your taste.

Part 4

windows 10 taskbar settings part 3
In Part 4, we’ll primarily discuss “people” settings as it relates to Windows 10 taskbar.

Everything displayed in part 4, has to do with “people” or, basically, your contacts. If the show contacts on taskbar is switched off, the rest of the available choices will be disabled, as they’re dependent on that.

The second option is to decide how many contacts you want to display. By default, it’s 3. But you can change to a number of your liking and preference, up to a maximum of 8.

Let’s explore the remaining three items:

  1. Show my people notifications: When on, you’ll get pinged/notified when there are messages from “your people.”
  2. Play a sound when a my people notification arrives: Tied to the above, this personalization allows the system to generate a sound every time a notification arrives.
  3. Show my people app suggestions: Like everything else, Microsoft doesn’t shy away from product and app recommendations. With this setting, you’ll be able to see app suggestions that can be integrated with your People app.

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With everything moving more towards apps and personalization, Windows 10 taskbar is no different. With tons of tweaks and modifications available to suit an individual based on his or her needs, the taskbar can be an avenue for quick access to most commonly used applications, contacts, and other features. On the contrary, many options can be disabled for a much cleaner look and feel.