Ever since Windows 7 got released, the Windows desktop has had a redesigned Taskbar which is also designed for multi-touch. The icons are larger on the Taskbar so they're easier to access using touch and they are spaced wider apart. The notification area icons (the small ones in the system tray) are also spaced much farther apart than they were in previous versions of Windows. While this definitely makes them easier to access, they do waste a lot of space. Let us see how we can reduce the space between the icons on the taskbar as well as the icons in the notification area.
By default, the taskbar in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 is set to hide button labels to save space. It is also set to combine multiple windows of the same app. But I find this rather unintuitive, because more clicks are required to switch between windows if you combine them and identifying open windows also becomes a problem when the labels are hidden. So one of the first things that I do when personalizing my desktop is to set the buttons to "Never combine" which also makes the labels visible.
With such a configuration, even if you have a handful of apps pinned to the taskbar, and some apps running, as well as some apps which load at startup in the tray area, then you may find that the taskbar quickly gets full and there is hardly any empty space left. Every pixel on the taskbar is valuable. Luckily, we have 7+ Taskbar Tweaker which we covered earlier to help us out again.
- Download and install 7+ Taskbar Tweaker. It is free to use.
- In its settings, locate the "Pinned items" section in the left column. Check the option "Remove extra gap between items".
- That takes care of the taskbar icons. Now, right click the 7+ Taskbar Tweaker icon in the notification area and then left click on "Advanced Options". If your 7+ Taskbar Tweaker icon is hidden in the overflow area, click the triangular tiny arrow to the left of the tray icons and then right click the 7+TT icon to access Advanced Options.
- On the OptionsEx tab, locate the setting called Tray_icons_padding. If such a setting does not exist, then simply right click any setting on the OptionsEx tab and click "New" and type or copy-paste the name: tray_icons_padding and press Enter.
- Now in the Data column next to tray_icons_padding, double click the value and change it from 0 to 5 and press Enter again.
- Click the Apply button to see the changes. If you are not happy with a value of 5, you can tweak it.
Here's a screenshot of the Taskbar before doing the tweaks and after doing it:
Bonus Tip: In 7+ Taskbar Tweaker's rightmost column of settings, you can also check the option "Reserve empty space on taskbar".
Bonus Tip #2: In 7+ Taskbar Tweaker's Advanced Options, you could also set show_desktop_button_size to 1 or 2.
Well that's it. This will give you a lot more space than you used to have. Even if you use small icons for the taskbar, it will save you some space. :)