Tech Tip of the Week: Bring the Old Windows Taskbar to Life in Windows 7

By Julio Franco ยท 19 replies
Aug 26, 2009
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  1. One of the first changes you will notice is the revamped taskbar. Unofficially dubbed the "Superbar," this new feature is essentially a mash-up of the traditional Windows Quick Launch/taskbar and the Mac OS X dock.

    This week's tip: Bring the Old Windows Taskbar to Life in Windows 7
  2. ArtySin

    ArtySin TS Rookie

    Good tip! However, what about a tip for Windows Explorer to show how much free space (as with XP) there is on the drive in the status bar at the bottom. Right clicking a drive and going into properties to find out is a pain.
  3. VonDisco

    VonDisco TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Excellent tip - I will be trying this as soon as i get home.
    Never really liked the new taskbar myself. I always found it irritating when i had multiple Windows Explorer windows open and had to hover over the single icon then find the one i wanted. I just found it slower overall when doing everyday things :)
  4. For me, the new taskbar is the definitive Win7 feature that makes it a must have more than any other feature or improvement. But I guess some people still like their Win9x too ;)
  5. guyver1

    guyver1 TS Booster Posts: 110

    i have to agree with guest, the new superbar is a phemonal improvement over the old taskbar, why the hell would you want to change back?!
    to have shortcut icons in your old taskbar and then to have a 'window' panel as well taking up space seems like ancient history to me now.
    And lets be honest, any self-respecting even half decent computer user who uses a pc everyday doesnt even touch Windows Explorer, they'll use Total commander....
    all said semi seriously with a hint of sarscasm and a big dollop of gentle fun :)
  6. VonDisco

    VonDisco TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Haha point taken. But how about if you have a firefox window open and want another window? You have to right click on the icon etc to get another one up.

    Having said that I assume there's probably a more simple way to do it through a shortcut or something anyway haha
  7. maestromasada

    maestromasada TS Rookie Posts: 92

    What a like about the new bar is that you can right click on the shortcuts you propagate and open a recent file from there. Its is really useful to jump to folder locations by just right clicking on Windows Explorer taskbar.
  8. guyver1

    guyver1 TS Booster Posts: 110

    why on earth would you want 2 seperate instances of firefox (or any modern TAB browser) open??
    The whole point of tabs is to negate the need for more than one window??.....
  9. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,333   +101

    @VonDisco: You could always Alt+Tab or Windows+Tab (the Windows key is between Ctrl and Alt). Both would allow you to quickly switch between windows without touching the taskbar.
    @guyver1: I often have 40+ tabs open, and Firefox is halved on my display. It's much easier to divide the tabs up into 2-4 windows, sometimes. So, that's one of (probably) many reasons why someone might want more than one Firefox window open.
  10. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,674   +990

    @VonDisco - A middle click on a superbar icon will open a new instance of the program.
    The only downside I see to the superbar is when wanting to switch between multiple instances of the same program when they are not on the top of the screen. That can be a bit annoying.
    Other than that, it's a rather neat way Microsoft has accomplished to mix the best features of the old Windows taskbar functionality and some of the pros found in the OS X dock. Jump lists are a god send when you take full advantage of them.
    But if you don't like the superbar, then you have this week's tip to revert to the old fashioned taskbar :).
  11. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Ever heard of multiple monitors?
  12. VonDisco

    VonDisco TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Thanks for the tips guys :)
  13. One of the biggest reasons why someone would favour this over the Win7 Superbar is simply that it doesn't cater to people who want easy access to programs they don't use often enough to warrant taking up space on the taskbar. With the Quicklaunch toolbar, you're able to set up sub menus of programs. For example, I have mine sorted as Applications, Games, Development, and have the lesser used programs in each folder. There are just too many to have all of them on the Superbar, and I use them often enough to consider the Start menu a pain to use.

    It's not a matter of clinging onto the past. It's necessary and much used functionality that's been discarded in favour of aesthetics.
  14. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Posts: 861   +67

    You could also add the option to tick "use small icons" in the taskbar properties. That reduces the size of the program tabs to the original size. Quite happy that it all looks more like the original task bar - I was getting a bit annoyed yesterday not being able to click my internet explorer icon to open a new window. Right clicking to access the function rom the jump list wasnt doing it for me :) each to their own.
  15. Gravity

    Gravity TS Rookie

    whyt wud i go for the old taskbar? I love the windows 7 one. =D
  16. This is a great tip. I followed the instructions and it worked just perfectly.
    Unfortunately, as soon as I reboot the new quick launch bar I created has disappeared and I am left with now quick launch shortcuts.

    How to make it so this quick launch bar will stay there when i reboot?

  17. Just in case someone is following this thread, I inquired with Matt directly and he solved my problem.

    In order to keep this taskbar tweak fixed after each reebot, ensure that the language bar is NOT docked to the taskar. So long as the language bar is floating or hidden this tweak will work and stay with you after you reboot.

  18. This worked perfectly except for one thing. The quick launch bar has tiny icons yet the rest of the taskbar is the same. Any way to fix that?
  19. I prefer the interface of Windows XP myself, it may not look as pretty as Windows 7 but it is much easier to navigate, and I think it's a little stupid to waste system resources on the cosmetics of the OS.
  20. "But I guess some people still like their Win9x too"
    "I prefer the interface of Windows XP myself,"... "and I think it's a little stupid to waste system resources on the cosmetics of the OS. "

    Windows 2000 with DWM, ClearType and support for x64, DirectX 11 and multi-core CPU would suit me to the ground, TYVM. ;) I don't see any "improvement" in the Windows Explorer since Windows ME \ 2000. The enhancements to GDI made by GDI+ and DWM are very welcome, everything else is a poor attempt to copy Apple without inviting law-suits. Actually, I'd welcome and exact clone of the Apple dock, so you'd think I'd like the super-bar... but I don't. I see it as far less functional than either the OS X Dock (or most of it's third party Windows clones) or the traditional IE4 Windows Taskbar.

    Note, this is part of Explorer. It has "replaced" the code which existed for XP / Vista, so it doesn't take any "more" resources. If you mean stuff like Aero peek and the glass effect... well... yea, we said that about the stupid Telly Tubby, Tiny Tots Luna "theme" in XP too. Actually, this mostly uses resources in you graphics card which are force released when you do video editing or play games that need those resources... that's why the glass theme turns off when you run those things.

    "Did you know?
    Microsoft first introduced a taskbar with Windows 95. Its design remained largely unchanged until the modifications seen in Windows 7."
    WRONG! The taskbar had a MAJOR update with IE4 (as I mentioned above) and many people didn't like that either. This was what introduced the "Quick Launch" bar, and the ability to add other toolbars like the Language bar or Media Player mini-control bar. Windows XP introduced the idea of "hiding" inactive notification icons in the "System Tray" and "Combining" buttons for active tasks.

    The trouble is that Windows 7 has taken back many of these improvements. Let me give some examples:-
    o Combine ALL taskbar buttons (not just when full) AND show labels. (this was possible in XP with TweakUI, it is impossible in Windows 7 no matter what you do)
    o Hide a notification time ONLY when inactive. (This was pretty much the default in XP, but is now impossible... you have to choose if you see the icon all the time, only the balloons or nothing at all)
    o Network activity flashing when the interface is active. (This has been the norm since 95 and has now been disabled. The only thing that icon shows now is that a particular interface has no connection at all... unplugged, or no WIFI in range)
    o Change the "Show Desktop" button before the notification area, active tasks, Quick Launch or Start Button. (This could be done by setting a special launch bar for the Desktop icon alone... however, it is fixed to the right of the clock in Windows 7 and although you can show another one, you can't get rid of the excessive one taking up space on the right hand side)

    New features are always welcome... someone will inevitably like them. Disabling existing well loved features for no apparent good reason (except stylistic choice) is not good. If there is a security threat posed, or a system drain then it's understandable... but these features should surely just be a matter of user preference. Such choices should not be made by the programmers at compile time, but by end users at run-time.

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