For years, the taskbar—the strip of colorful icons at the bottom of your screen—has been one of the most prominent and important elements of the Windows interface (Figure 6-23). Today, you can call it Taskbar, Extreme Makeover Edition; starting in Windows 7, it began doing a lot of things it had never done before.
Here’s an introduction to its functions, old and new:
The Start menu is gone now. As you know from the beginning of this chapter, the Start screen now replaces the old Start menu (although it’s easy enough to bring back the Start menu).
The taskbar lists your open programs and windows. The icons on the taskbar make it easy to switch from one open program to another—from your Web browser to your email programs, for example—or even to specific windows within those programs.
The taskbar lets you open your favorite programs. You read that right. The taskbar is now a launcher, just like the Dock in the Mac’s OS X or the Quick Launch toolbar in old Windows versions. It’s a mini–Start menu.
The system tray (notification area) is at the right end. These tiny icons show you the status of your network connection, battery life, and so on.
The Show Desktop button hides at the far-right end. You can read more about this invisible button on Layering Windows.
You’ve already read about the Start screen; the following pages cover the taskbar’s other functions.
You can operate the taskbar entirely from the keyboard. Press +T to highlight the first button on it, as indicated by a ...