Have you ever «lost» a window because it was grouped with other windows in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen? No worries; the window hasn’t disappeared and you haven’t lost anything — it’s just hidden.

What happens is that, by default, Windows combines buttons that belong to the same program, and this allows you to better organize windows and avoid filling up the taskbar. For example, five groups Internet Explorer can be combined into a single icon if grouping is enabled on the taskbar.

Grouping on the taskbar might be helpful for some, but for most, it’s just an annoyance. You can stop Windows from doing this once and for all by following the steps below.

This guide applies to Windows 10 , Windows 8 , Windows 7 , Windows Vista , Windows XP .

How to disable taskbar button grouping in Windows

  1. Right-click or press and hold on the taskbar. It’s a bar located at the bottom of the screen, pinned by the start button on the left and a clock on the far right.

  2. On Windows 10 select Settings panels tasks in the popup menu. For Windows 8 and older, select Properties .

    Taskbar settings by right clicking menu in Windows 10

    Will open window titled » Settings» . Windows 8 calls it » Taskbar» and «Navigation Properties» and older versions of Windows are called » Taskbar» and «Start Menu Properties» .

  3. On Windows 8 go to tab » Task bar » on the left or top of the window, and then look for the option taskbar buttons .

    If you are using Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP, you want to see options appearance panels tasks at the top of the window.

    Windows 10 users can skip this step entirely and go directly to step 4.

  4. For Windows 10 users, next to the » Merge Taskbar Buttons » select the menu and select » Never» . The change is saved automatically, so you can skip the last step below.

    Taskbar buttons

    For Windows 8 and Windows 7 next to the option taskbar buttons use the dropdown menu to select Never combine . See Tip 1 at the bottom of this page for another option you have here.

    In Windows Vista and Windows XP, uncheck Group similar taskbar buttons, to disable taskbar button grouping.

    If you’re not sure exactly how this setting will affect your system, the little graphic at the top of this window (Windows Vista and XP only) will change to show the difference. For most new versions of Windows, you must accept the changes before you can see the results.

  5. Select OK or Apply, to confirm the changes.

Follow any additional on-screen instructions as needed.

Other Ways to Disable Taskbar Button Grouping

The above method is by far the easiest way to change settings related to taskbar button grouping, but there are two alternatives here:

Find task bar on the Control panels and open Taskbar and Navigation or select » Appearance and themes» > » Taskbar and Start Menu» depending on your version of Windows.

Advanced users can change the taskbar button grouping setting with records Windows Registry :

  1. Find this key :

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced
  2. Change the given below meaning for your version of Windows to disable taskbar button grouping. The value is to the right of the registry editor; if it doesn’t already exist, first create a new DWORD value, and then change the number as shown here:

    • Windows 10: TaskbarGlomLevel (value 2)
    • Windows 8: TaskbarGlomLevel (value 2)
    • Windows 7: TaskbarGlomLevel (value 2)
    • Windows Vista: TaskbarGlomming (value 0)
    • Windows XP: TaskbarGlomming (value 0)
  3. You may need to log out and then log back in for the registry changes to take effect. Or you can try using task manager to close and reopen process explorer.exe .

More help on grouping taskbar buttons

  1. In Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7, you can select the » When the taskbar is full» or » Merge» when the taskbar is full, if you want the buttons to be grouped together but only if the taskbar is full. This still avoids grouping buttons, which can be annoying, but leaves the combo option open when the taskbar gets too cluttered.

    Taskbar group buttons when the taskbar is full in Windows 10
  2. On Windows 10 and Windows 8, you can enable the option Use small taskbar buttons, to make the buttons smaller. This will allow you to open more windows without forcing icons off the screen or into a group.

    This option is also included in Windows 7, but it’s called Use small icons .

  3. The taskbar settings also allow you to automatically hide the taskbar in Windows, lock the taskbar, and configure other settings related to the taskbar.

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