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When I have several Word documents open, for example, and I click on the Word item in the start bar, it shows the list of documents from which to choose.

Is there a way of disabling this so that I always go to the last viewed document?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes, this is very easy

You simply hold control when you click on the group of icons on the task bar. It will open the last active window within that group!

enter image description here


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Thanks man, your answer is correct however I am going to implement smc's solution as its easier for me. I am coming back to Windows for a few months after many years on Mac :) – TheLearner Mar 25 '14 at 14:06

I don't think you can achieve described behavior but you can prevent taskbar icon grouping if it helps. You will have a separate tab for each open window/document.

To change taskbar icon grouping settings:

  1. Right click on an empty area of the taskbar, and click/tap on Properties
  2. Click on the drop down arrow menu to the right of Taskbar buttons
  3. Select one of following options:
    • Always combine, hide labels
    • Combine when taskbar is full
    • Neve combine ( <-- I assume this is the one you need )
  4. Click "OK" to apply changes

for more details see this link

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Here's a registry hack that allows you to do just that. Instructions from link below:

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu search or run box, and then head down to the following registry key:


Once you’re there, create a new 32-bit DWORD value on the right hand side, give it the name LastActiveClick, and set the value to 1.

Once you are done, you’ll have to log off and back on, or you can kill Explorer.exe through Task Manager and re-open it and that's it.

Or you could just download the registry hack and double-click it.

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@Nick Yeah, saw that while copying it from the source. I guess I was too lazy to add that in. Thanks for pointing it out. – Cybertox Mar 26 '14 at 7:45

7+ Taskbar Tweaker lets you patch Windows on the fly to always split grouped taskbar icons. You'll be able to switch directly to the window you want. That's not exactly what you wanted, but it's close (and even better, in my opinion).

Why is it better than modifying Registry? Because it's not applying any changes permanently. You'll be able to safely disable it at any time if something goes wrong.

7+ Taskbar Tweaker settings window

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Why recommend to download an extra program to make use of a feature built in to Windows? (see @smc's answer) – Moshe Katz Apr 1 '14 at 2:56
@MosheKatz it's not a feature, it's a hack. It's not officially supported by Microsoft. Any Windows update can break it. If 7+TT ever breaks badly you can simply boot in safe mode and disable it. But if the hack breaks, you'll need bootable system able to edit external registry - not so easy. 7+TT is lightweight, provides more useful features and does it the right way. – gronostaj Apr 1 '14 at 7:32
That's simply not true. It certainly is a fully supported feature of Windows. Again, see that the option you point to, "Don't combine grouped buttons", is exactly the same as smc's "Never combine" option, which is in a dialog box that is built into Windows. – Moshe Katz Apr 1 '14 at 8:06
@MosheKatz Sorry, I assumed you're talking about the registry hack somebody posted here previously, but it looks like that answer has been deleted. Here's the difference: "Never combine" will display labels which is irritating, because it takes up taskbar space. The hack I've been talking about is setting label width to 0 which in effect gives the "not combined, no labels" look. – gronostaj Apr 1 '14 at 8:28

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