The Windows taskbar is unquestionably one of the most important parts of the Windows user interface. Let’s see which Windows 10 Taskbar settings are the best and how to configure the taskbar.
The Taskbar has had a long history starting with Windows 95 and today it is extremely full-featured. But not all settings and behaviors of the Taskbar can be controlled via Windows settings. Some behaviors require third party apps such as 7+ Taskbar Tweaker and the appearance too can only be heavily customized with third party apps like StartIsBack++ and Open Shell.
In this article we will see only the built-in Windows 10 Taskbar settings. There are some hidden Windows Taskbar settings too. You can change the basic taskbar-related settings directly by right clicking the Taskbar. Or choose Taskbar Settings in the menu that opens to adjust more settings in the Settings app.
Some Taskbar settings are available in Group Policy. To see them, open Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc). Go to User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Start Menu and Taskbar.
Taskbar settings which I set by right clicking
Search – Hidden. The search box on the Taskbar is too big. It exists only so that people discover that it is possible to search that way. You can still perform search by clicking the Start button and directly typing even if you hide the search box.
News and interests – Turn off. Also, uncheck Open on hover. For now the feature does not show me the relevant information I want to see and is not as configurable as I would like it to be. News cannot be turned off. Weather info that it shows is non-customizable and non-comprehensive.
Show Cortana button – Uncheck. Cortana can still be accessed from Start menu or Win + C.
Show Task View button – Uncheck. Task View can still be accessed via Win + Tab.
Taskbar settings which I set in Settings app and why
Use Peek to preview the desktop – On. This is Windows 7 Aero Peek which you can also turn on by right clicking the Show Desktop button and checking Peek at desktop
Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell – Off. PowerShell has a steep learning curve and a far more elaborate syntax that Command Prompt does not.
Taskbar settings which I enable in Group Policy and why
Remove the People Bar from the taskbar – This is an unpopular feature and was deprecated by Microsoft themselves. People have contacts in their messaging apps and they like them to be private, not directly exposed on the taskbar. The People app itself is also unpopular.
Prevent grouping of taskbar items – Grouping frees up a cluttered taskbar but the major compromise is that it combines items behind more clicks. This is anti-productivity as it does not allow fast switching. This setting also turns on taskbar labels for running apps which is critically important for ease of use.
Remove the Meet Now icon – This is a Skype feature promoted on the Taskbar. It is still accessible from within Skype. On Windows 10 Enterprise, Meet Now on Taskbar is unavailable anyway.
Registry values for Windows 10 Taskbar settings
These are the Registry keys and values for the above settings. Copy and paste the text in the grey box to a text file and save it as a REG file, then double click it to merge it into the Registry. Be sure to log off and then login again or restart the Explorer.exe process using Task Manager.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer] "NoTaskGrouping"=dword:00000001 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer] "HideSCAMeetNow"=dword:00000001 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer] "HidePeopleBar"=dword:00000001 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search] "SearchboxTaskbarMode"=dword:00000000 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced] "ShowCortanaButton"=dword:00000000 "DisablePreviewDesktop"=dword:00000000 "ShowTaskViewButton"=dword:00000000 "DontUsePowerShellOnWinX"=dword:00000001 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\People] "PeopleBand"=dword:00000000 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Feeds] "ShellFeedsTaskbarViewMode"=dword:00000002
That leaves me with a clean taskbar ready to show running apps which is its main purpose. Why haven’t I pinned anything to the taskbar you may ask? Because that’s what the Start menu is for! For me, maximizing space for running apps, that is, apps which are already open and the notification area (status area or the system tray) is very important.😀