Windows 7's new taskbar groups similar windows by default. Plus, the icon in the taskbar changes according to the number of windows grouped there. Here's an example image:

alt text

It's easy to see there is 1 window open for Windows Explorer, and there are 2 windows open for Microsoft Word. However, when a program has 3 or more windows open you can't tell how many there are, all you know is that there are 3 or more. That little tab you see by the side of MWord's icon tells us there's a second window open, but the number of tabs caps at two.

Is there a software/registry hack/anything that will allow me to identify the number of windows just by looking at the icon, even when there are 3 or more?

I hope I'm being clear enough. I just want to be able to tell how many windows are grouped in a single taskbar icon, even if it's more than 3. I don't mind if the graphic gets glitchy, it's the functonality I care about.

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    I don't think there's a way, but looking at the votes for this question, I think Microsoft better implements it. Have you considered suggesting it as a feature on connect.microsoft.com? – fretje Dec 11 '09 at 19:00
  • I certainly will now. First time I've ever asked a question with absolutely no feedback. As far as I'm concerned, if the guys at superuser can't do it, then it can't be done. – Malabarba Dec 12 '09 at 0:29
  • I registered there but I can find where to make feature requests. Could someone explain it, please? – Malabarba Dec 13 '09 at 23:30

Your closest built-in-to-Windows option, I believe, is to step back from the new style of taskbar slightly. To do this, open the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window (available by right-clicking the task bar and selecting Properties) and mess with the Taskbar Buttons option.

Screenshot of Taskbar and Start Menu Properties windows, showing "Taskbar buttons" highlighted

Setting this to not combine (or only combine if full) has the following result:

Screenshot of the Windows 7 Taskbar showing several copies of MS Word running shown as seperate tabs while the bar is in the "Combine when full" setting.

Cropped screenshot of the Windows 7 Taskbar showing several copies of MS Word running shown as seperate tabs while the bar is in the "Combine when full" setting.

Notice that you can still pin programs to the taskbar, and they remain there when not running, so you retain that new piece of functionality, but you do sacrifice a lot of the compactness the new style brings because the "title" of each program becomes visible (as is always was on the old style taskbar).

However, you will find the answer to Hide taskbar labels without combining helps you get around this second issue (if you consider it an issue), with a registry change that will hide the program titles, giving you the following result:

Cropped screenshot of the Windows 7 Taskbar showing several copies of MS Word running shown as seperate tabs while the bar is in the "Don't Combine" setting and registry hack to hide the program titles

Not quite perfect (as the icon doesn't show as a "stack", like it does when combined) but I think this is a close as you will be able to get.

Depending on why you want to do this, you might find this How-To Geek article useful, it describes another quick registry change so that if you click on a stacked/combined taskbar icon multiple times you can cycles focus though all the different instances - no need to wait for the pop up and select the correct screen (although, you can still do that as well). I believe this also works by holding Ctrl, but making it the default behaviour is immensely useful for me.

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  • +1 for the link to the How-To Geek article – oKtosiTe Dec 11 '10 at 20:45
  • The problem is that I use a vertical taskbar, so it fills up rather easily. Still, I think it's as close as I'm gonna get too, and the link to hide labels without combining is new to me. – Malabarba Dec 11 '10 at 22:40
  • Ok, I just home and tested it. Turns out that if you use a vertical taskbar the labels are always hidden, even if you choose to "Never Combine". – Malabarba Dec 12 '10 at 23:13
  • @Bruce - Well, that makes sense I suppose; the vertical bar probably isn't wide enough for the labels anyway. – DMA57361 Dec 13 '10 at 8:34

Please take a look at this taskbar, it looks like there are 9 active programs in that group, is this what you ment?

link text

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    My guyess is that the application does this, rather than the OS – Antony Dec 12 '09 at 23:54
  • It's not quite what I meant. See that Microsoft Word icon in the same image that you linked to? It has a little tab in its right side. That shows that there are 2 windows grouped in that icon. However, if there was extra tab in the icon, we wouldn't be able to tell if there were 3 open windows or if there were more than 3 in that group. That's what I'm talking about. I want to remove this limit so that I can tell if there are 3, 4, or 5 windows grouped in that icon. – Malabarba Dec 13 '09 at 22:33

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