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?

  • I would assume that restarting explorer would be sufficient, but I am not sure.
    – soandos
    Jun 3, 2011 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. Jun 3, 2011 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, 2013 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, 2013 at 21:53

2 Answers 2


Hold Shift and right click on that taskbar item.

  • 4
    Wow, that worked! Thanks! No more having to kill Explorer and restart it. Mar 1, 2012 at 14:48
  • 2
    Here's a guy that deserves a Nobel prize. THANK YOU! Jan 25, 2013 at 17:31
  • How did you figure this out?! May 1, 2013 at 14:24
  • Holy c... I've been struggling with this annoying issue for almost a year. Thanks.
    – Sam R.
    May 20, 2013 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, 2013 at 21:50

Just restart explorer. Should fix the problem :)

  • 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, 2013 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, 2014 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, 2015 at 17:23
  • Being quick is not the problem; when you restart Explorer, not all of the notification-area icons will be restored.
    – Synetech
    Feb 3, 2017 at 19:17

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