Customizing Windows Vista’s Desktop
Getting Around the Taskbar
The taskbar in Windows Vista has several key features:
Displays the Start menu, as previously discussed
Quick Launch Toolbar
Displays quick-access buttons for programs
Provide access to running programs
Displays system notifications and the current time
Each area has feature enhancements. The sections that follow discuss the enhance-
ments for the Quick Launch Toolbar, program buttons, and the notification area.
Figure 2-6. Searching your computer
Chapter 2: Optimizing Windows Vista’s Interface
Navigating and customizing the Quick Launch Toolbar
You’ll find the Quick Launch Toolbar to the right of the Start button. The Quick
Launch Toolbar is displayed by default in Windows Vista with two buttons:
Show/Hide the Desktop
Shows the desktop by hiding all open windows, or unhides the desktop and
shows open windows
Switch Between Windows
Displays the Flip 3D view for switching between open windows
You can work with the Quick Launch Toolbar in several ways. If the toolbar is cur-
rently displayed and you want to hide it, right-click an open area of the taskbar,
point to Toolbars, and then select Quick Launch. Simply repeat this procedure if the
toolbar is hidden and you want to display it.
A new feature in Windows Vista is the ability to easily add any program to the Quick
Launch Toolbar. To customize the toolbar by adding programs, follow these steps:
1. Click the Start button.
2. Find the program you want to be able to quickly access in the menu.
3. Right-click the program’s menu item.
4. On the shortcut menu, select Add to Quick Launch.
To remove a program from the toolbar, right-click its icon and then select Delete.
This removes the program’s button from the toolbar.
Navigating and customizing taskbar buttons
The taskbar displays buttons for open programs that allow you to open their win-
dows. You’ll find taskbar buttons to the right of the Start button and the Quick
You can customize taskbar behavior using the Taskbar Appearance options found on
the Taskbar tab of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box (see
Figure 2-7). To display this dialog box with the Taskbar tab selected, right-click an
open area of the taskbar and then select Properties. Once the dialog box is dis-
played, select or clear options as preferred and then click OK.
Table 2-2 details how you can use the options provided to customize taskbar behav-
ior. By default, all the options are selected except Auto-Hide the Taskbar.
Customizing Windows Vista’s Desktop
Figure 2-7. Customizing the taskbar
Table 2-2. Options for customizing the taskbar
Taskbar option When selected... When not selected...
Lock the Taskbar Locks the taskbar in place to prevent
accidental moving or resizing.
Allows you to move thetaskbar to dock
it to other sides of the screen and to
resize the taskbar to display fewer or
more rows of buttons.
Auto-Hide the Taskbar Allows the taskbar to automatically
hide when you aren’t using it and dis-
play only when you move the cursor
Ensures that the taskbar is always dis-
played on the desktop (though not
necessarily on top of other windows).
Keep the Taskbar on Top of Other
Ensures that the taskbar, when active,
is always displayed on top of other
Allows other windows to be displayed
on top of the taskbar when it is not
Group Similar Taskbar Buttons Groups similar taskbar buttons by type. Ensures that each program has its own
Show Quick Launch Displays the Quick Launch Toolbar. Hides the Quick Launch Toolbar.
Show Window Previews (Thumbnails) Displays window preview thumbnails
when you move the pointer over task-
Disables display of window preview