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There are three options for customizing taskbar buttons in Windows 7:

  1. Always combine, hide labels
  2. Combine when taskbar is full
  3. Never combine

Is there any way to hide labels and not combine taskbar buttons? Or even better, to exclude only certain applications from combining?

My main problem is that I switch a lot between two instances of a single application, and having to hover over combined icon and then choosing the correct one. Alt-Tabbing is not a good alternative when I'm switching between more than three applications; clicking on taskbar only once is what I'm looking for.

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I'd still like to know if there's a way to exclude/include certain applications. –  Keith Feb 10 at 19:24
    
@Keith see my answer below. –  Paul Oct 25 at 17:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 57 down vote accepted

It's something of a hack job, but this might do the trick! It requires doing a bit of registry editing to shrink the taskbar icons so that the labels auto-hide.

Set taskbar options

  1. Open Taskbar properties.
  2. In the "Taskbar Appearance" group, change the "Taskbar Button" option to "Never combine" if you don't want stacking.

Adding/editing the registry entry

  1. Press Windows Key + R to open the run command
  2. Type int "regedit" (without quotes) and press OK
  3. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Control Panel -> Desktop -> WindowMetrics
  4. Find the "MinWidth" entry.
  5. If it is not there, right click on an empty space and select New -> String Value. Name this entry "MinWidth" (without quotes)
  6. Double click on the MinWidth entry. If you want just the buttons to show, set this to 38 if you're using small buttons, 52 if you're using large buttons (or 54 in Windows 8). Otherwise any value above 38 will work. If you set a value below 38, the buttons will behave oddly.
  7. Log off and log back in or restart to see the changes.

Deleting/Uninstalling

  1. Press Windows Key + R to open the run command
  2. Type int "regedit" (without quotes) and press OK
  3. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Control Panel -> Desktop -> WindowMetrics
  4. Find the "MinWidth" entry and delete it.
  5. Log off and log back in or restart to see the changes.
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1  
I can't believe it, this actually does exactly what I wanted! Thanks a bunch, I was afraid that it simply wasn't possible. –  Domchi Aug 29 '09 at 2:48
    
How do you turn on large buttons? –  James McMahon Dec 8 '09 at 16:28
1  
+1 I started doing this on the Release Candidate and now I do it for all Windows 7 installs I do. –  Leigh Riffel Apr 7 '10 at 14:31
    
This is great! Thank you so much! –  Arturo Molina Mar 18 '11 at 17:53
6  
If you use 52 for large buttons, as per the answer, the taskbar shrinks every time you open a pinned application. 54 seems to be the width of large pinned icons. –  dlras2 Mar 4 '13 at 17:30

This is an old question, but the answer of Kyle B. didn't work well for me (glitches and flickering), so I'd like to propose an alternative solution.

  1. Configure your taskbar for Always combine, hide labels.
  2. Download 7+ Taskbar Tweaker.
  3. Select the Don't combine grouped buttons option.

7+ Taskbar Tweaker

Result:

Result

As a bonus, 7+ Taskbar Tweaker allows to configure this option per application!

Screenshot (the Conbine option):

Taskbar Inspector

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protected by Community Jun 18 '11 at 20:59

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