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In Windows 7, in the Aero interface, if you move the mouse over an icon it gets highlighted. This is definitely pretty, but sometimes the system gets into a state where the highlight gets stuck, and whichever button you hovered over last with the mouse cursor remains highlighted even when you move the mouse out of the taskbar. This can be very distracting if you're expecting the taskbar icons to tell you something useful, such as displaying a progress bar or turning orange if you have a new IM.

I did a bit of searching about this issue, and the only thing I came up with was this. And the response, from Microsoft support no less, could hardly be less helpful. The question was, "the highlighting gets stuck sometimes and doesn't go away until I reboot." And the answer basically says "did you try rebooting? That ought to fix it."

So, does anyone know anything useful about this issue? Does anyone know what causes it (and thus how I can avoid having it happen)? Does anyone know a way to fix it that does not require a reboot?

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marked as duplicate by Synetech, Tog, MariusMatutiae, Kevin Panko, Moses Nov 29 '13 at 23:20

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I would assume that restarting explorer would be sufficient, but I am not sure. – soandos Jun 3 '11 at 1:46
@soandos: facepalm Yeah, that works, of course. I should have thought of that. Submit that as an answer and I'll accept it. – Mason Wheeler Jun 3 '11 at 2:09
Too bad restarting Explorer is not an acceptable solution. It may be okay sometimes, but it has ramifications that make it less than ideal. – Synetech Nov 28 '13 at 21:49
I came up with was this. And the response, from Microsoft support no less, could hardly be less helpful. Likewise, this thread also laments this all-too common problem and also has a response of just reboot from a Microsoft support rep (which was accepted as the “answer” to the problem). ಠ╭╮ಠ – Synetech Nov 28 '13 at 21:53
up vote 17 down vote accepted

Hold Shift and right click on that taskbar item.

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Wow, that worked! Thanks! No more having to kill Explorer and restart it. – Mason Wheeler Mar 1 '12 at 14:48
Here's a guy that deserves a Nobel prize. THANK YOU! – MasterMastic Jan 25 '13 at 17:31
How did you figure this out?! – Anish Ramaswamy May 1 '13 at 14:24
Holy c... I've been struggling with this annoying issue for almost a year. Thanks. – Sam Rad May 20 '13 at 8:55
Um, this does not work. You don’t have to hold Shift; you can simply click any of the taskbar buttons. The highlight does go away, but as soon as you hover the cursor over a taskbar button, it gets stuck again. – Synetech Nov 28 '13 at 21:50

Just restart explorer. Should fix the problem :)

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That is not a solution; restarting Explorer has all kinds of side-effects, so it is not always feasible. It is little better than rebooting altogether. – Synetech Nov 28 '13 at 21:50
Besides, like the right-click trick, it is only a momentary fix and it starts happening again very soon. – Synetech Feb 25 '14 at 4:29
Powershell command (as admin): ps explorer | kill; explorer; has always done the trick for me. I agree, not ideal, but on Windows 8/8.1, it's a very quick process. – qJake Mar 6 '15 at 17:23

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