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It's about time that I figure this out. I can say with a pretty high confidence that I have experienced this issue in all consumer versions of Windows since XP.

I keep "Auto-hide the task bar" checked to maximize screen real estate. Every once in a while, the task bar will refuse to hide while individual windows will continue to act as if that option is checked (by falling under the task bar).

For years, I have fixed this by rebooting. Of course, I cannot predict the timing or frequency of the problem, so the process becomes burdensome.

I want to know how this can be fixed without rebooting. It has affected my on multiple machines using multiple versions of Windows, so I cannot be the only one who is bothered by it.

Can anyone help me solve this?

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I have never seen nor heard of this happening. Maybe it's some app that you've been running all these years, is there anything like that? –  Shinrai Mar 17 '11 at 23:01
    
if you un-check it and apply and then re-check it and apply does it remedy the situation? as for why it is happening, i couldn't say as i too have never heard of it occurring. –  Xantec Mar 17 '11 at 23:08
    
No to both questions. However, it might have something to do with programs that have silent events. I just had the problem and brought my WinSCP into focus. The task bar disappeared, so WinSCP must have been saying something without making it obvious. –  Corey Mar 17 '11 at 23:47
    
Have you tried locking/unlocking the taskbar? –  Arctor Mar 18 '11 at 0:09

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This happens to me every so often too, for several versions of Windows now. The only way I've found to solve it without rebooting is to kill and restart the Windows Explorer shell. To do so:

  1. Click the Windows Orb to open the Start Menu.
  2. Press and hold Ctrl+Shift and right-click on an empty portion of the Start Menu. Exit Explorer secret menu in Windows 7
  3. Choose Exit Explorer from the menu that appears. Explorer will close, and your desktop icons and taskbar will disappear.
  4. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Windows Task Manager.
  5. Click File, and choose Run.
  6. Type in explorer and press Enter.

The Windows Explorer shell will restart and your taskbar should now autohide properly.

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superuser.com/a/473209/16966 has a batchfile to do the same thing, and then bind to a keyboard shortcut for easy use –  matt wilkie Nov 7 '12 at 8:17

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