It seems like every week we learn about a new tip to enhance the Windows 7 taskbar and it's hard to keep them all straight. Here's the complete power user's guide to tweaking and using your taskbar like a pro.
Before you even get started trying to tweak your taskbar, you should make sure that you understand how to use all of the features, and there might be more than you think—check out our complete guide to Windows 7 shortcuts to learn useful basic maneuvers, like how you can hold down the Ctrl key while left-clicking to cycle through a group of taskbar buttons, or hold down Shift while right-clicking to show the regular window menu. Here's the full list of Taskbar-specific shortcuts:
Win+number (1-9): Starts the application pinned to the taskbar in that position, or switches to that program.
Shift+Win+number (1-9): Starts a new instance of the application pinned to the taskbar in that position.
Ctrl+Win+number (1-9): Cycles through open windows for the application pinned to the taskbar in that position.
Now that you fully understand all of the tips and tricks to using the built-in features, it's time to tweak the taskbar to work just the way you want it to-for instance, if you don't want taskbar buttons pulling up the Aero Peek thumbnails every time, there's a registry hack that can change the default left-clicking behavior to switch to the last active window instead.
Rather than dealing with messy registry hacks, the 7 Taskbar Tweakercustomization tool gives you fine-grained control over what happens when you left, middle, or right-click on taskbar buttons, and even customizes window grouping and whether dragging to the taskbar pins items or opens them. If the new Aero Peek doesn't work quite the way you want, you can use a registry hack to make Aero Peek display instantly, or just use the Desktop Peek Tweak tool to make the changes more easily.
Once you've pinned an application to the taskbar, there's a simple trick to customizing itthat might not be immediately obvious—just pop up the Jump List, and then right-click on the application name to get to the real properties screen, where you can add extra command-line parameters, or set the compatibility mode.
There's any number of desktop widgets that can show you the weather or monitor your system, but they all have the same problem-if you've got a window maximized, you won't be able to see anything. You can get around this problem by simply docking an application to the taskbar that gives you your system monitoring right there in the taskbar button itself.
Virtual desktop application Dexpot is not only a powerful virtual desktop manager, but the latest version includes full support for Windows 7's Aero Peek thumbnails-you can pin the application to the taskbar, and use the thumbnails to easily navigate between multiple virtual desktops.
Revert the Whole Thing Back to XP/Vista Style
If the new taskbar with all of the great functionality just isn't your thing, you can actually revert everything back to work almost the same as it did back on the Windows XP or Vista days.