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Reduce extra space between icons on the taskbar and tray notification area

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.

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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.

  1. Download and install 7+ Taskbar Tweaker. It is free to use.
  2. In its settings, locate the "Pinned items" section in the left column. Check the option "Remove extra gap between items".

    7+ Taskbar Tweaker
    7+ Taskbar Tweaker

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

    7+ Taskbar Tweaker Advanced Options
    7+ Taskbar Tweaker Advanced Options

  6. 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:

Tweaked Taskbar
Tweaked Taskbar. The first two images of the taskbar are when running apps are separated from non-running apps.

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. :)

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Author: Gaurav Kale

Gaurav is a software enthusiast from India and Classic Shell tester & UX consultant. He started with Windows 95 and is good at software usability testing. He firmly believes that user experience is just as important as software code quality and architecture for software to be successful.

11 thoughts on “Reduce extra space between icons on the taskbar and tray notification area”

  1. Creating tray_icons_padding and setting its value to 5 didn’t do anything O.O.

    BTW, what does the ’Reserve empty space on taskbar’ do?

    1. tray_icons_padding works but you need to observe the notification tray area more carefully while clicking Apply to see the change. With lower values, the spacing will be decreased.

      Reserve empty space on taskbar leaves a small area of the taskbar always empty to the left of the notification area so that even if there are many apps open, that space won’t be taken.

        1. Then there may some problem with the hooking into the taskbar on your Windows version. You could contact the developer @ RaMMicHaeL.com.

  2. Hello there, thank you for this awesome stuff.

    Is there a way to hack or tweak it using Regedit ?
    I only want the “Remove extra gap between items”
    Thanks ;)

  3. Things have got even worse with Windows 10, the gaps between icons is just ridiculously silly now:

    http://i.imgur.com/QChYcdJ.png

  4. Excellent.
    Only tool I’ve found to accomplish control over the system tray icon sizes (left and right sides). Win10 has definitely made things worse but this essential tool fixes the problems.
    Thanks!

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