From the Kenosha News on 8-14-05

     Customize the Windows taskbar to meet your needs

     I got a new laptop at work, and I'm getting it set up to work as much as possible like the old one. One of my tasks has been to get my taskbar (that bar along the bottom of the screen with the Start button on it) to look like I want it to. Here are some tips on ways you can customize your taskbar.

      The taskbar normally appears along the bottom, but it doesn't need to. You can click on it and drag it to the top or to either side. One reader had accidentally moved hers to the left side of the screen and wrote asking how she could put it back. If that happens to you, just click on any vacant spot on the taskbar and drag it where you want.

      I like my taskbar to have a "quick launch" area on it. This area appears just to the right of the Start button and holds icons for programs you use often. To activate the Quick Launch area, right-click on the taskbar and drag to Properties. Check the box next to "Show Quick Launch" and click Apply. My favorite quick launch item is the "Show Desktop" icon, which looks like a desk blotter. One click on this icon minimizes all of your open windows so that you can see your desktop. Another click restores all your open windows.

     Once you see the quick launch area, you can customize it. To add icons, right-drag any icon from the desktop to that area and click Copy Here. Remove an icon by right-clicking on it and selecting Delete. If not all your icons show, you can make your quick launch area bigger by dragging the vertical bar or dots that separate it from the section of taskbar buttons.

     The area at the right-hand end of the taskbar is called the notifications area. You can set the way you want it to appear by right-clicking a vacant space on the taskbar and selecting Properties. You can decide whether you want to display the clock and whether you want to hide inactive icons by checking the appropriate boxes.

     Options that drive me crazy but that you might like include the "auto hide" feature, which makes the taskbar disappear until you put your mouse near it; then it pops back up. The other option is to group similar buttons. If you choose to group, then any windows from the same program (IE, AIM, Word, etc.) that are open will show up as one button, and you click on that button and select the one you want from a pop-up window. I prefer that each open window be represented by its own button, even if they get to be about ½" wide!

     You can also display two rows of taskbar buttons by dragging the top edge of the taskbar up. This gives you more space on the taskbar but less on the screen.

     Once you're happy with your taskbar setup, you can use the Lock Taskbar option to keep someone else from changing it.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 8-14-05