I use Windows XP at work and at home. I connect to my PC at work from home using the Remote Desktop Connection application. At work, I run a lot of applications so I use two rows for program icons in my task bar. When I remote connect to my machine at work, the task bar resizes to 1 row.

I should mention that the work machine has three monitors (2 1280x1024 + 1 1680x1050). My home machine as 2 monitors (2 1280x1024). Sometimes I connect from my Macbook.

This is driving me crazy! I have tried locking the task bar, but that doesn't help. I tried searching Microsoft support, but couldn't find anything.

I actually tried upgrading to Vista, but it still did it and even worse it rearranged the order of the programs in the task bar. I haven't tried Windows 7. I see that they have completely re-implemented it.

Anybody see this before?

2009/10/06 Update: I switched development machine and in the process moved to Windows 7. I have not had the problem with the new machine! So the problem could have been:

  • Windows XP or Windows Vista and fixed in Windows 7
  • Some software that I had installed that I haven't installed on the new PC
  • Some difference in video drivers, video settings, or hardware
  • Who knows what else

8 Answers 8


This can happen if you have themes enabled on the target machine (in your office) and in your RDP settings you have themes disabled. This forces Windows to disable themes during the RDP session which includes resizing things like the taskbar.


I keep my taskbar on the left and every time I log in remotely, it shrinks to one row (column), unless you make it occupy almost half of the screen, then it only shrinks once and keeps its size from then onwards. But who wants their taskbar to occupy half of the screen? I tried changing the resolutions (aligning host with server), but that didn't work.

Then I removed the Language Bar, and now it no longer sticks to fixed columns but can be resized by the pixel.


Make sure you have the same display resolution on both machines.

  • This isn't possible. I have tried disabling the third monitor and connecting with /span option and it still shrinks.
    – chrish
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 9:48

Unfortunately I've found no way to fix this. I run with my task-bar on the right-hand edge of the screen and have the opposite problem: when I remote in from some machines it grows to about half remote desktop's set sceeen width (in my case, remote setup is 2x1280x1024 running Vista and the end running the RDC client is XP with 1x1280x1024 and 1x1680x1050 - the problem is present if the RDC client is started full screen on either local monitor or not full-screen no matter what custom size is used).

I only find it a minor irritation though, as resizing the task bar (on each login) is not something that I have to do regularly.


Have you considered an alternative? I've used all of these and they do not alter your settings:

  • I have tried RealVNC, but it didn't work as well for me as remote desktop.
    – chrish
    Commented Oct 6, 2009 at 14:10

If you are regularly remoting into windows machines, you should use RoyalTS. It is fantastic. You can be in a number of machines at a time and switch between them easily.

  • Our company has VisionApp Remote Desktop which supports RDP, ISA, VNC, and Telnet. Their VNC support isn't so great. I am using 2009 version. Hopefully it is better in 2010 (just saw that it was releasted.
    – chrish
    Commented Oct 6, 2009 at 14:08

Running Remote Desktop using these switches should work for you:

 mstsc /w:2560 /h:1024 /v:”yourRemoteComputer”

In case you've already tried that and it failed to solve your issue, I'd suggest getting a little app called SplitView. It's not free, but $39 isn't bad for what it can do for you.


So far the only way to get the taskbar back I have found is to click the lonely Start button, click Windows Security, choose Start Task Manager, kill the explorer.exe process and start it again in the Task Manager from File > Run.

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