How to use the taskbar in Windows 10

Use the taskbar for more than seeing your apps and checking the time. You can personalize it in many ways—change the color and size, pin your favorite apps to it, move it around on your screen, and rearrange or resize taskbar buttons. You can also lock the taskbar to keep your options, check your battery status, and minimize all open programs momentarily so that you can take a look at your desktop. 

Taskbar in Windows 10

Pin an app to the taskbar

Pin an app directly to the taskbar for quick access when you're on the desktop. (Or unpin it, if you want.) You can do it from Start or the Jump List, which is a list of shortcuts to recently opened files, folders, and websites.

In the search box on the taskbar, type the name of the app you want to pin to the taskbar. Select More  > Pin to taskbar . If you’re unpinning, follow the same steps and select Unpin from taskbar.

If the app is already open, locate the app's icon button on the taskbar, press and hold the button, and then swipe up until the App list appears. If you're using a mouse, locate the app icon button on the taskbar, right-click the button, and then select Pin to taskbar . If you’re unpinning, follow the same steps and select Unpin from taskbar

Taskbar jump list

Change your taskbar settings

Customize the taskbar from the taskbar itself. If you want to change multiple aspects of the taskbar at one time, use Taskbar settings. Press and hold or right-click any empty space on the taskbar, and then select Taskbar settings .

Taskbar settings

In the Taskbar settings, scroll to see the options for customizing, sizing, choosing icons, battery information and much more. 

Select any of the following to see more info.

To change the color of your taskbar, select Start  > Settings  > Personalization  > Colors  > Show accent color on the following surfaces. Select Start, taskbar, and action center. This will change the color of your taskbar to the color of your overall theme.

Open Colors settings

Locking the taskbar is handy to make sure it remains how you set it up. Unlock the taskbar later when you want to make changes or change its location on the desktop. Press and hold or right-click any empty space on the taskbar, select Taskbar settings , and turn on Lock the taskbar.

Open Taskbar settings

If Lock the taskbar has a check mark next to it, you know it’s already locked. To turn it off, select Lock the taskbar or go to Taskbar settings  and turn it Off.

If you have multiple monitors that display the taskbar, you'll see Lock all taskbars.

Typically, the taskbar is at the bottom of the desktop, but you can also move it to either side or the top of the desktop. When the taskbar is unlocked, you can change its location. See Lock and unlock the taskbar to find out if yours is locked. When you've confirmed that your taskbar is unlocked, press and hold or right-click any empty space on the taskbar. Select Taskbar settings  > Taskbar location on screen, and then select Left, Top, Right, or Bottom.

Open Taskbar settings

Like many other changes in the taskbar, you'll need to first unlock the taskbar. Then, move the pointer over the border of the taskbar until the pointer turns into a double arrow. Drag the border to the size you want and release. 

To add the battery icon to the taskbar, select Start  > Settings  > Personalization  > Taskbar, and then take a look at the notification area. Choose Select which icons appear on the taskbar, and switch Power to On.

Open Taskbar settings

You can check battery status by selecting the battery icon in the taskbar.

To see the desktop, select the space at the end of the taskbar.

Note: You might need to select show hidden icons Up arrow icon on the taskbar before selecting the battery icon. Power is not an option on systems without a battery.

Whenever you want to change the order of app buttons on the taskbar, just drag a button from its current position to a different one.

You might want to choose how taskbar buttons are grouped, especially if you have multiple windows open. By default, all open files from the same app are always grouped together, even if you didn’t open them in succession.

If you want to change how taskbar buttons group together, press and hold or right-click any empty space on the taskbar, select Taskbar settings  > Combine taskbar buttons and then select from the list:

  • Always, hide labels. This is the default setting. Each app appears as a single, unlabeled button, even when multiple windows for that app are open.

  • When taskbar is full. This setting shows each window as an individual, labeled button. When the taskbar becomes crowded, apps with multiple open windows collapse into a single app button. Select the button to see a list of the windows that are open.

  • Never. This setting shows each window as an individual, labeled button and never combines them, no matter how many windows are open. As more apps and windows open, buttons get smaller, and eventually the buttons will scroll.

If you use multiple displays, you can make a different choice for your extra displays. Select Taskbar settings  > Multiple Displays Combine taskbar buttons on other taskbars.  For these displays, select from Always, hide labels, When taskbar is full, and Never.

Choose Combine taskbar buttons when taskbar is full

If you want to show more of your apps on the taskbar, you can show smaller versions of the buttons. Press and hold or right-click any empty space on the taskbar, select Taskbar settings , and then select On for Use small taskbar buttons. Select Off to return to the larger taskbar buttons.

Open Taskbar settings

Note: Badges aren't displayed on small taskbar buttons.

A badge on a taskbar button is an alert to let you know that some activity is happening or needs to happen with that app.

For example, a bell badge on the Alarms & Clocks app alerts you to an active alarm that will notify you at the time you set. This feature is turned on by default, but if you want to make sure it’s on (or to turn it off), press and hold or right-click any empty space on the taskbar, select Taskbar settings , and go to Show badges on taskbar buttons.

Open Taskbar settings

Use the Peek feature to take a quick look at what’s on your desktop behind all the open windows.

  1. Press and hold or right-click any empty space on the taskbar, select Taskbar settings , and then turn on Use Peek to preview the desktop when you move your mouse to the Show desktop button at the end of the taskbar.
    Open Taskbar settings

  2. Move the mouse pointer over (or press and hold) the far-right edge of the taskbar to see the desktop.

  3. To restore the view of all your open windows, move the pointer away or press and hold the edge one more time.

To see the desktop, select the space at the end of the taskbar.

You can hide the taskbar based on whether you’re in desktop mode or tablet mode. Press and hold or right-click any empty space on the taskbar, select Taskbar settings , and then turn on either Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode or Automatically hide the taskbar in tablet mode (or both).

Open Taskbar settings

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