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I'm used to middle-clicking tabs in Firefox, and finding myself instinctively middle-clicking taskbar icons, expecting it to close them, and annoyed when it opens a new instance instead. Is there something that can make this happen?

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It has exactly that behaviour, just move to the preview and then click with the middle button. There are a lots of mouse and hotkeys shortcuts, see de Windows help for more information. Some other useful hotkeys are by example: ctrl+shift+click: launch elevated, shift+click:launch a new instance, ctrl+click:go to the most recently used windows of the aplication clicked, etc, etc. – mjsr Feb 11 '11 at 22:15
@voodoomsr - please post this as an answer. – user3463 Feb 12 '11 at 8:50
@voodoomsr Thanks, that helps but clicking on the actual icon not the preview would be much preferable. – Dataflashsabot Feb 12 '11 at 16:43
up vote 7 down vote accepted

One of the very nice things that 7 Taskbar Tweaker can do is "Middle Click -> Close".

(Throw that man a bone! Here is a man who takes many of the idiocies that MS has thrown onto us & brings some common sense & thought to the table. MS should really pay him for his fixes.)

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Oh my, THANK YOU. – Dataflashsabot Feb 12 '11 at 16:43

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