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Chapter 4. Windows XP Applications and T... > Taskbar and Start Menu Properties

Taskbar and Start Menu Properties

Change the appearance and behavior of the Taskbar, notification area, and Start menu (see Figure 4-102).

Figure 4-102. Use Taskbar and Start Menu Properties to specify your preferences for your Start menu, Taskbar, and Notification Area (Tray)


To Open

Control Panel [Appearance and Themes] Taskbar and Start Menu

Right-click on an empty portion of the Taskbar Properties

Right-click on the Start button Properties

Start Settings Taskbar and Start Menu (Classic Start menu only)

Description

The Taskbar is the bar, typically appearing along the bottom edge of your screen, that holds the Start button, the notification area (commonly known as the Tray), and the task buttons (one for each open application window). The settings in this dialog are as follows:


Lock the Taskbar

Lock the Taskbar to prevent it from being accidentally (or intentionally) resized or moved or to prevent resizing or removal of any Taskbar toolbars. See “Taskbar” in Chapter 3 for details.


Auto-hide the Taskbar

Enable this feature to have the Taskbar drop out of sight when it’s not being used. Move the mouse to the bottom of the screen (or the sides or top, if that’s where you have your Taskbar) to make the Taskbar pop up. You can also press Ctrl-Esc (or the Windows logo key, if you have one) to pop up the Taskbar and open the Start menu.


Keep the Taskbar on top of other windows

Enable this feature to prevent other windows from covering the Taskbar. Although similarly named features appear in some other applications (such as the Task Manager), this one is somewhat different because in addition to having the Taskbar appear “always on top,” this option actually shrinks the Desktop and space available for applications. For example, if you maximize an application, its outer edge will become flush with the Taskbar. See “Windows” in Chapter 3 for more information.


Group similar Taskbar buttons

See “Taskbar” in Chapter 3 for more information on task button grouping.


Show Quick Launch

See “Toolbars” in Chapter 3 for more information on the Quick Launch toolbar.


Show the clock

Displays or hides the clock in the notification area. Hold the mouse pointer over the clock for a second or two to temporarily display today’s date. Double-click the clock to open Date and Time Properties (discussed earlier in this chapter).


Hide inactive icons

Windows keeps a history of the status icons various applications display in the notification area. Turn on the Hide inactive icons option and then click Customize to display the Customize Notifications dialog, which allows you to selectively show or hide icons that are currently displayed—or have ever been displayed—in the notification area (see Figure 4-103). Here the term “Inactive” means currently not displayed.

Figure 4-103. Selectively hide unwanted Tray icons with the Customize Notifications dialog

If you want to hide an icon, try the settings in the application that owns the icon first. Only if there is no such setting, or if the setting doesn’t work, should you resort to the Customize Notifications dialog. If there are no icons shown in the notification area and if the clock is disabled (see above), the notification area disappears entirely. If one or more icons is hidden with the Customize Notifications dialog, however, a small arrow appears, allowing you to show or hide any such icons.


Start Menu tab: Start menu versus Classic Start menu

This setting changes the arrangement of the items in your Start menu. The Classic Start menu is a single-column menu, similar to the one found in Windows 2000 and Windows 9x/Me. All of your installed programs are listed in the Programs menu (see Figure 4-104).

Figure 4-104. Choose between the new Windows XP style Start menu and or the simpler “Classic” Start menu

The Start menu is a more complex, double-column menu with all the same options as the Classic Start menu, plus links to the most frequently used applications, as well as your favorite web browser and email program. All of your installed programs are listed in the All Programs menu.

Note that this setting has no effect on the “style” of the Start button or Taskbar. Use Control Panel [Appearance and Themes] Display Appearance tab to change the style. Unfortunately, there’s no way to change the color or appearance of the big, green Start button when using the new Windows XP style with a third party add-on (see http://www.annoyances.org/exec/show/article02-001). See the beginning of this chapter and the beginning of Chapter 3 for more information on styles in Windows XP.

Don’t be alarmed if some of your Desktop icons may disappear when you switch between the Start menu and the Classic Start menu; for some reason, whether these icons are shown or hidden is saved with the Start menu selection (go to Control Panel [Appearance and Themes] Display Desktop tab Customize Desktop for more options). The default for the Classic Start menu is to have the My Computer, My Network Places, and Recycle Bin icons shown; the default for the new Start menu is to have only the Recycle Bin icon shown.


Customize

The Customize button, available with either Start menu type, allows you to selectively show or hide certain items in the Start menu. See “Start Menu” in Chapter 3 for more information (see Figure 4-105).

Figure 4-105. Fine-tune the items shown in your Start menu by clicking Customize in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window


Notes

All settings in this dialog are also covered in Chapter 5.

See Also

“Control Panel”, “Taskbar” in Chapter 3

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