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Piotr Ładoński
Piotr Ładoński

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Windows 11 - making taskbar like Win10

...or even like WinXP (at least in terms of functioning 😉)

Looking at Feedback Hub and Tech Community shows how incredibly users hate Windows 11... or at least its taskbar. Among several issues with it, I definitely miss combining buttons the most. Although seems like Microsoft is doing something with the taskbar, combining buttons is still not possible. Unless we know the proper tool. Let's see, how easily can we transform this

Default Windows 11 taskbar

into that

Customized Windows 11 taskbar

Explorer Patcher

As Windows 11 doesn't natively give any option to extensively modify the taskbar, we have to use a third-party tool - Explorer Patcher. To get it, just go to its GitHub repository releases, expand Assets of the newest version and download ep_setup.exe. Then just install using defaults, it doesn't have many options to choose from. Your screen should blink and File Explorer should restart.

Proper settings

To customize your taskbar using Explorer Patcher, right-click the taskbar and open Properties. At the top of the right panel you want to choose Taskbar style*: Windows 10. Then, at the bottom make sure that Combine taskbar icons on primary/secondary taskbar is set to Never combine (default).

Explorer Patcher settings

After that, in the bottom left click Restart File Explorer. Again, screen will blink and you should see a completely different taskbar; the one you know from Windows 10.

Taskbar like Windows XP

Personally, I really liked the behaviour of the taskbar in Windows XP - icons to launch the applications on the left, tabs with currently open windows on their right. Let's do it in Windows 11.

Before anything, as we're about to move things around, make sure your taskbar is unlocked. Right-click on it and check if Lock all taskbars doesn't have a checkmark next to it. If it does, select it to "untick".

Start with some cleanup and unpin all the current icon shortucts from the taskbar. It should be empty. Something like this on the screnshot

Empty taskbar

Toolbar with custom shortcuts

Then, we will need a folder with shortcuts which should appear as the app launcher icons on the taskbar. Create the folder wherever you want and put some shortcuts in it. I called mine... Taskbar (sic!) and placed 5 shortcuts in there.

Toolbar/Taskbar folder

Now, we'll connect the folder with the taskbar. To do this, right-click on the taskbar, expand Toolbars and click New toolbar at the bottom. Now just select the folder with your shortcuts. Tadaaa!

Selecting new toolbar folder

Tadaaa...? Not yet. Things are not where they should be. Also, this "Taskbar" name is not really necessary. And if you drag the handle to the left, you'll see that icons don't look as you probably want.

Customizing the toolbar

Let's solve those problems one by one:


To remove the title, simply right-click it and uncheck Show title

Shortcut names

Similarly, to hide those long names, right click somewhere on the toolbar and uncheck Show Text

Icon size

To make things aesthetically fine, icons on tabs with open apps should have the same (or at least similar) size as the launcher icons on the toolbar. To adjust the first, use Taskbar icon size option in Explorer Patcher properties and set it to Large (it should be fine by default). To adjust toolbar icon size, right-click on it, expand View (at the top of the context menu) and select Large icons


That's the most complex thing and will require advanced programming skills combined with the extensive knowledge of the registry.
Ok, just kidding 🙂 It's not that hard, but probably the least intuitive. To move the toolbar to the left, so it appears on the left side of the open apps, you just have to brute-force it 😉 Grab the handle and pull it to the left as much as possible, until the app icons "jump" to the right:

Pulling the toolbar to the left

To finish up, just adjust width of the toolbar and lock all the taskbars.

Bonus - shortcut to File Explorer

There must be some simple way to create a shortcut to File Explorer, but I couldn't find it at all. If you also need it, just

  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and select New > Shortcut
  2. As the location type C:\Windows\explorer.exe
  3. Name it as "File Explorer"
  4. Voila, after double clicking the shortcut it should open the File Explorer

I hope you found it useful and everything worked as it should. If not, let me know 🙂
To be honest, this whole process is way more cumbersome than it should be. Also, I'd prefer to have the small icons in the toolbar, but I couldn't find a way to make the icons of the open apps the same size. If you know any way of achieving that, I'd be happy to hear about it 🙂
Thank you for reading! ❤️

Top comments (2)

ather profile image
Ather Saleem

I have developed a small app as a workarond for Toolbars, I am using it for months now and this works fine for me.

App name is MyShortCutZz, you can download from my site. 

Its user guide is a video , which you can watch at:

lukeluke98 profile image

Windows 11 is a really friendly operating system. The pro version is really great. If someone is looking for a cheaper license, I recommend this online store.