Tweak the taskbar in Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows 7 with hidden secret registry settings

As you might be aware, Windows 7 introduced a redesigned taskbar which abandoned much loved classic features but introduced some really nice improvements like large icons, jump lists, draggable buttons etc. The taskbar does not have many configurable settings exposed in the GUI to tweak its behavior but there are some hidden secret registry settings which you can fine-tune.

We already saw previously how you can bring back all the classic taskbar behavior and power user features using the excellent third party app called 7+ Taskbar Tweaker. But if you don't wish to run an app constantly in the background, there are still some useful taskbar tweaks that you may find useful. Here are some of them (note that you must restart the Explorer.exe shell for any of these to take effect):

All of the values are DWORD values and it's easier to set them in decimals. So be sure to switch from hex to decimals when setting all these DWORD values in the Registry. If you are not comfortable with registry editing, see this primer.

    • When taskbar button grouping (combining) is on, you can make the taskbar switch to the last active program window in the group with a single click using this registry tweak. A DWORD value data of 1 means it will switch to the last active window in the group, 0 means it won't switch to the last active window but will instead show you the list of thumbnails to choose from. LastActiveClick
      Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
      
      [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]
      "LastActiveClick"=dword:00000001
  • The next registry value controls the time after which taskbar thumbnails show when the mouse hovers over a taskbar button. In this example, I set it to show the thumbnail after 850 milliseconds of hovering over any taskbar button (It's a DWORD value to be adjusted in decimals).
    ExtendedUIHoverTime

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]
    "ExtendedUIHoverTime"=dword:00000352
  • The following registry value is the time in milliseconds after which hovering over the thumbnail shows you a preview of that app (Aero Peek). I have set this DWORD value to 3000 milliseconds (3 seconds) so it will show me the live preview only after hovering over the thumbnail for 3 seconds. You can enter your own value in milliseconds, after switching from hex to decimals. ThumbnailLivePreviewHoverTime
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]
    "ThumbnailLivePreviewHoverTime"=dword:00000bb8
  • The following registry value completely disables the live switching (Aero Peek) behavior when you hover over the thumbnails, if you set the value data to 1, meaning the live switching won't occur.
    DisablePreviewWindow

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]
    "DisablePreviewWindow"=dword:00000001
  • The next registry value controls the time after which the Desktop shows when you hover over the Show Desktop button at the end of the taskbar. I have set this DWORD value to 400 milliseconds. DesktopLivePreviewHoverTime
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]
    "DesktopLivePreviewHoverTime"=dword:00000190
  • The following registry value changes the threshold after which the thumbnails turn into a list. I have set this to 1 meaning for a single app window, it will show a thumbnail but for more than 2 grouped apps or group of tabs (in case of browsers like IE or Firefox), it will show a list.
    NumThumbnails

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Taskband]
    "NumThumbnails"=dword:00000001

In case you are curious how the list looks vs thumbnails, see the following image:

Thumbnails vs List

Thumbnails vs List

There are other tweakable registry values too, for example, a set of values exist to tweak the size of taskbar thumbnails but we already have an easy to use GUI tool to control them in Winaero Tweaker:

Winaero Tweaker taskbar thumbnails

We also have many other tools for the taskbar: Taskbar Pinner for Windows 7 to allow you to pin more stuff to the taskbar than what Windows allows. For Windows 8/8.1, use Pin to 8 which does the same thing.

If you wish to make the Windows 8/8.1 taskbar non-transparent, use the option "Opaque taskbar" of Winaero Tweaker:

Opaque taskbar startup Winaero Tweaker You can also pin Modern apps to the taskbar although once you launch them they won't show on the taskbar until Windows 8.1 Update 1 arrives.

For all our taskbar related tips and tricks, follow this link.

8 thoughts on “Tweak the taskbar in Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows 7 with hidden secret registry settings

  1. Jonny Hotchkiss

    IS there any way at all of making windows taskbar/startmenu stay hidden unless hotkeys are pressed (suppress the ‘popup on mouseover’ behaviour)?

    great work as always GV ;D

    thanks!

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko

      No way. Windows does not provide such option without using third party tools.

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      Reply
  2. Me

    Thank you so much !!!
    “NumThumbnails” saves me a lot of headache :-)

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  3. Andy

    Thanks a lot! I used ExtendedUIHoverTime registry hack and now the thumbnail preview is gone. However, now when I hover over the taskbar icon, the icon name pops up in a small white box. How to get rid of that?

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko

      it is called “tooltip”. Windows does not offer any way to disable tooltips in taskbar.

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      1. Andy

        There is a register called ShowInfoTip in the same directory as ExtendedUIHoverTime.

        ShowInfoTip is set to 1 and I wonder if setting to 0 would fix the info popup… but I am scared to try!

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        1. Sergey Tkachenko

          It affects only Desktop and Explorer, but not Taskbar.

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  4. Cian

    Hey, I’ve been looking all over the net for a solution with no luck.. maybe you can help!
    Do you know of a registry trick to remove the Up/Down arrows next to the pinned items when the singular taskbar is full. I find this feature really annoying as it slides to the bottom/second taskbar row all the time (which usually consists of maybe one or two pinned items).
    When I start up Windows the arrows don’t appear, and Windows seems to by default just minimize the pinned items so that it stays on one row (until the arrows load up).
    Please let me know as I’ve been searching online for a fix for a months now. It’s almost as though no one else has ever noticed this (found it equally as annoying as me).

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