I don't understand the Windows 7 taskbar behaviour. For some programs it will not group the running instances, or it will group some of them but not all. I have set the taskbar items to "always combine", but this has not helped.

It seems possibly to be two issues: with an app that has a different taskbar icon when running than for its launcher; and for VisualStudio, when starting by double clicking a project it groups separately from when starting the IDE from the .exe.

Is there any way to force the items to combine? I quite like the Win7 taskbar, and would like it to work consistently. Has anyone else experienced this?

  • 1
    I have this same problem with MS Outlook. When I open Outlook it always creates a separate icon for the active process on the taskbar and places it to the end of it. This makes it very cumbersome to switch to Outlook from the taskbar because normally I reach to the Outlook icon and then realize that it doesn't show an active window and then remember its active icon to be at the bottom of the taskbar. This behaviour doesn't happen with other applications. – Montag451 Oct 16 '14 at 8:15
  • I just recently had this happen and it hasn't gone away. I'm wondering if the most recent round of Microsoft Updates is to blame. – rws907 Apr 23 '15 at 22:42

I think I found a solution to the Notepad icon combination problem.

1.) Right-click any .txt file and select "Open with..."

2.) Left-click on "Choose default program..."

3.) Select one of the Notepad items from the list, and make sure that "Always use the selected program to open this type of file" is checked.

4.) Left-click OK. That file and all others should open in one Notepad from now on.

One of the Notepad executable files is located in C:\Windows\SysWOW64, and the other is located in C:\Windows\System32. Windows will not group them on the taskbar because one is the 32-bit version and the other is the 64-bit version.

Source: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7itproui/thread/c58d7d6d-4891-4d88-bb25-9f16bea06b24

If there are still two Notepad icons on the taskbar, pin only the one from the file you just opened.

I hope this helps.

-Toa Of Justice

I think the items are grouped based on the executable location.

Here's a good test:

  1. Copy notepad.exe from %windir%\system32 to your desktop
  2. Run notepad from the system32 folder
  3. Run notepad from your desktop

It's the same binary, but it creates two items in the task bar. The only explanation I can think of is that Windows is actually grouping on the executable location.

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