Windows 7 / Getting Started

Enable Classic Taskbar Look and Behavior

The Windows 7 taskbar has a clean appearance with just the icons of opened and pinned applications grouped together by program. Microsoft realized that not all users would like the new look and grouping so they built in the ability to turn labels back on. The result is what I call the classic taskbar look and behavior as shown in below.

Classic Taskbar Look

Similar to previous versions of Windows, the program label look and no application grouping is helpful for users that dislike the new taskbar and want a familiar look. Windows 7 offers three settings that allow you to configure the taskbar look and behavior:

  1. Always combine, hide labels - Default taskbar behavior
  2. Combine when taskbar is full - Labels are enabled
  3. Never combine - Labels are enabled

I don't recommend using the Never combine setting because it will make finding programs very difficult when you have a lot of windows and applications open. Instead, I would use Combine when taskbar is full as a good way to achieve the classic look and behavior.

To make the changes, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Properties.
  2. Click the Taskbar tab.
  3. Locate the Taskbar Buttons drop-down list and make your selection.
  4. Click OK or Apply to see the new setting in action.

If you want the true classic look of small icons combined with the classic look and behavior, then the next section is for you.

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