I'm making a custom desktop for myself with Rainmeter. I've got everything else done up in some simple rainmeter skins, it was all fairly simple really.

But I'm getting quite stuck at this point. When I ended the explorer.exe task, I expected programs to minimize and just disappear, so I'd have to use alt-tab to get them back. And I was just gonna make another skin to manage minimized programs. It was gonna be great, beautiful. I was gonna reap the karma from having such a brilliant desktop.

But when I minimized some programs, they didn't disappear. They just minimized to the bottom left of the screen, stacking horizontally. They just show the three buttons for open/maximize/close and look REALLY ugly. How can I get around this? I want the programs to just disappear when I minimize them. I've tried googling, but nothing's really helping..

  • 1
    That's the way Window works. Pretty much been that way since the beginning. Why not just hide the explorer taskbar instead? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jun 30 '14 at 20:41
  • I already have it hidden. Everything else that explorer.exe does is replaced. The only purpose it has for me, is letting programs minimize and disappear to be handled by my skins. I would like to be able to replace this last feature of it, and save my precious memory. – Xantoxu Jul 1 '14 at 0:13
  • Use explorer.exe /M or explorer.exe -M :) – SSAURABHH Jul 1 '14 at 7:12

Don't kill explorer.exe.

It's your shell and it's needed for your system to work correctly. It doesn't only show the taskbar. It's also providing Windows Explorer and many other system components. explorer.exe (or some other shell) is required for Windows to operate normally.

If you want to hide the taskbar, right-click it and choose Properties, then select Auto-hide taskbar.

If you want to hide the taskbar permanently (and hurt your productivity for the sake of, uh...?),

  • I don't use explorer.exe. At all. I use my own file explorer, my own task bar, my own start menu, my own desktop wallpaper, my own everything. The ONLY thing I can't manage to fix, is the windows minimizing to the bottom left, cluttering up the screen when I kill explorer.exe. Some people here are actual super users, you realize, right? We don't all just use special hotkeys and call ourselves super users. – Xantoxu Jul 1 '14 at 0:06
  • If you'd read through the links I've provided, you'd find bblean way sooner. – gronostaj Jul 1 '14 at 7:56
  • Your links were to taskbar removers. Sure, there's one obscure link to bblean in all of those, now that I look, but why would I look through all of those when I've already been told their content is taskbar removal related, and that's not the problem I'm having? – Xantoxu Jul 1 '14 at 23:01

Use a program that can capture the tasks just like Explorer does, such as RocketDock or others.

Windows keeps all open programs in the bottom left, and explorer just hides these and places a reference in our taskbar. This can be done using programming and windows API calls. I even done something like this once in visual Basic 5 when I was much younger.

Any shell application will do this too, so you might want to look into an alternative shell, or just keep the Explorer and hide the taskbar. Note that the desktop shortcut icons and the right-click menu is also part of the explorer.exe process.

  • Unfortunately, Rocketdock wasn't working for me. It worked before I killed explorer.exe, but once I killed explorer.exe, it just stopped working, programs wouldn't minimize to the dock anymore. Which is odd, and I have no idea why that happened. It's also entirely too localized for there to be any help for it, apparently. – Xantoxu Jul 1 '14 at 0:38
  • Ah, RocketDock has a feature to remove tasks from explorer.exe and show in the dock instead. It must be this that causes RocketDock to break. – LPChip Jul 1 '14 at 7:32
  • I did find an alternative shell though. BBLean handles it just fine as is. It is open source though, so I'm going to want to eventually optimize it a little bit better for what I want exactly. But I've already halved my memory usage by switching to bblean, so it's not a priority. Thanks for the help. Now I can get to work polishing up my desktop and make it work just the way I need. So much nicer not having all that clunky crap all over the place. – Xantoxu Jul 1 '14 at 7:49

I managed to get it working, thanks to a helpful person over at Reddit who recommended I check out bblean.

For anybody in the future also having this problem, bblean is absolutely fantastic. https://app.box.com/s/7xxec65375msrwz4ni6x

It's kinda discontinued at this point, but it's open source. http://bb4win.sourceforge.net/bblean/files/

So I've managed to COMPLETELY remove explorer.exe from my desktop, and brought my memory usage from 40% down to 20%. That's absolutely fantastic, in my opinion.

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