10 Windows 11 taskbar features you should be using
The Windows 11 taskbar has been the subject of much discussion. It’s a drastic change from Windows 10, and lacks many older features. Still, there’s a lot it can do, and you should know about the best tips and tricks.
Move the icons to the left side
One of the biggest visual changes in Windows 11 is the centered taskbar icons. By default, the Start menu and all apps pinned to the taskbar sit in the center of the taskbar—more like macOS than previous versions of Windows.
If you prefer the classic left-aligned Start menu and taskbar icons, it’s easy to change that back. You want to go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar Behavior. Select “Left” for the “Taskbar Alignment” option.
Hide the taskbar
Maybe you don’t want to see the taskbar at all unless you actually need to. This gives you some extra screen real estate when the taskbar is not in use. When you need it, simply move your mouse to the edge of the screen and the taskbar will slide up.
To do this, go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar Behavior. Check the box for “Hide the taskbar automatically.” You can also hide the taskbar on secondary monitors.
RELATED: How to hide the taskbar on Windows 11
Ctrl + click to go to last active window
Windows 11 groups windows from the same app on the taskbar. When you hover or click the icon, it shows a preview of the windows, which you can then click on the one you want to open. This can be quite annoying if you change windows a lot.
There is a handy little hotkey that makes this easier. Hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the icon on the taskbar, and the last active window from the app will immediately open. It’s a very useful shortcut to know.
Drag and drop files
When Windows 11 was first released, the taskbar was missing one of the most convenient features from previous versions. Fortunately, as of Windows 11’s 2022 update, it’s now possible to drag and drop files into apps on the taskbar again, and you should use this feature.
It works exactly as you would think. Let’s say you’ve downloaded an image in Google Chrome and you want to use it in Photoshop. You can simply drag the file from Chrome’s download page and hover over the Photoshop icon on the taskbar. Photoshop opens and you can drop the image into the app. It works the same way for other apps.
Make the taskbar bigger or smaller
Unlike Windows 10, the Windows 11 taskbar cannot be easily resized directly from the taskbar. The good news is that technically there is still a way to change the size, but you have to use Registry Editor to do it.
We actually have our own One-Click Registry Hack file that will accomplish the same much easier. The file contains three taskbar sizes to choose from. How to make the taskbar bigger or smaller on Windows 11.
RELATED: How to make the taskbar bigger or smaller on Windows 11
Change audio devices from the taskbar
If you want to switch between headphones, speakers, or other audio devices on Windows 11, there’s a way to do it that isn’t super obvious, but it’s a much faster way to switch audio devices.
All you have to do is click the sound icon on the taskbar and then click the little arrow next to the volume slider. Now you will see a list of audio devices that you can switch between. It’s much easier than opening Settings.
Change the color of the taskbar
By default, the Windows 11 taskbar is white, and it can easily be changed to black with dark mode. What if you want your own custom color? You can also change the color of the taskbar.
To get a colorful taskbar, select an accent color and toggle the switch to “Show accent color on start and taskbar.” You can find this in Settings > Personalization > Colors.
RELATED: How to change the color of the taskbar in Windows 11
See Weather in the taskbar
When Windows 11 was first released, there was a “Widgets” button on the taskbar to the right of the Start button. If you were like us, you probably disabled the Widgets button.
The widget button now displays the current weather on the taskbar, which is much more useful than the original implementation. It shows a weather icon, the temperature and a brief description of the conditions.
RELATED: This is how you get the weather on the taskbar in Windows 11
Move the taskbar to the top
One of the most disappointing things about the Windows 11 taskbar is the inability to move it to any side of the screen. At the time of writing, it’s still not officially possible, but there is a hacky method that works to put it at the top of the screen.
We have a one-click registry hack you can download to easily move the taskbar to the top of the screen. Remember, the taskbar wasn’t meant to be at the top, so it might not work as smoothly as the bottom. Nevertheless, there is a solution.
RELATED: How to move Windows 11’s taskbar to the top of the screen
Restore taskbar labels
Windows 11 does not have the ability to see app labels on the taskbar. It just shows the icon and nothing else. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there isn’t an official way to change this, but you can use Stardock’s software to get the taskbar labels back.
Stardock is a company that has been making customization software for Windows going all the way back to the XP days. The ability to ungroup taskbar icons and view labels was introduced in Start11 Beta v1.2, which was released in March 2022.
RELATED: How to Restore Taskbar Labels on Windows 11
Windows 11 was released with an unfinished taskbar, and Microsoft continues to slowly add more features to it. Hopefully, with these tips in your pocket, you’ll be able to make the most of it.