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Enable Classic Taskbar Look on Windows 8

Posted January 2015 by Steve Sinchak

The Windows 8 taskbar has a clean appearance, displaying only the icons of pinned and opened applications group together neatly. From a design perspective, it is light-years ahead of the Windows XP taskbar.  But when viewed from a usability perspective, some may find the missing labels a step backwards. Hidden in taskbar options, is a setting that can give you the best of both worlds by retaining the new look and display labels.

There are three different taskbar button modes:

  • Always combine, hide labels.  This is the system default.
  • Combine when taskbar is full.
  • Never combine.

If you are looking for the classic look, then "Never combine" is for you.  However, you may find that your taskbar fills up quickly so "Combine when taskbar is full" provides a nice balance when you have a lot of windows open.  Follow these steps to adjust taskbar buttons:

  1. Right click on the taskbar and select properties.
  2. On the Taskbar tab, change the "Taskbar buttons" option to your preferred mode.
  3. Click Ok and your changes will immediately apply.

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