Windows 11 logo.

The Windows 11 taskbar has been the subject of much discussion. It’s a drastic change from Windows 10, and lacks many older features. Still, there’s a lot it can do, and you should know about the best tips and tricks.

Move the Icons to the Left Side

In the "Taskbar Alignment" menu, select "Left."

One of the biggest visual changes in Windows 11 is the centered taskbar icons. By default, the Start Menu and all the apps pinned to the taskbar sit in the center of the taskbar—more like macOS than past versions of Windows.

If you prefer the classic left-aligned Start Menu and taskbar icons, it’s simple to change it back. You’ll want to go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar Behaviors. Choose “Left” for the “Taskbar Alignment” option.

Hide the Taskbar

In Windows 11, when the taskbar is hidden, you'll see a tiny line at the bottom of your screen.

Maybe you don’t want to see the taskbar at all unless you actually need it. This gives you a little extra screen real estate when the taskbar isn’t in use. When you need it, simply move your mouse to the edge of the screen, and the taskbar will slide up.

To do this, go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar Behaviors. Check the box for “Automatically Hide the Taskbar.” You can also hide the taskbar on secondary monitors.

RELATED: How to Hide the Taskbar on Windows 11

Ctrl + Click to Go to Last Active Window

Windows 11 groups windows from the same app together in the taskbar. When you mouse over or click the icon, it shows a preview of the windows, which you can then click the one you want to open. This can be pretty annoying if you’re switching windows a lot.

There’s a handy little keyboard shortcut that makes this easier. Hold the Ctrl key while you click the icon in the taskbar and the last active window from the app will open immediately. It’s a very handy shortcut to know.

Drag and Drop Files

When Windows 11 was first released, the taskbar was missing one of the handiest features from previous versions. Thankfully, it’s now possible to drag and drop files to apps in the taskbar again as of Windows 11’s 2022 Update, and you should use this feature.

It works exactly like you would think. Let’s say you’ve downloaded an image in Google Chrome and you want to use it in Photoshop. You can simply drag the file from Chrome’s Downloads page and hover over the Photoshop icon in the taskbar. Photoshop will open and you can drop the image in the app. It works the same way for other apps.

Make the Taskbar Bigger or Smaller

Windows 11 three taskbar sizes from a registry hack

Unlike Windows 10, the Windows 11 taskbar can’t be easily resized right from the taskbar. The good news is there is technically still a way to resize it, but you’ll need to use the registry editor to do it.

We actually have our own One-Click Registry Hack file that will accomplish the same thing a lot easier. The file includes three taskbar sizes to choose from. Here’s how to make the taskbar larger or smaller on Windows 11.

RELATED: How to Make Your Taskbar Larger or Smaller on Windows 11

Change Audio Devices from the Taskbar

Tap the arrow next to the volume.

If you want to switch between headphones, speakers, or other sound devices on Windows 11, there’s a way to do it that isn’t super obvious, but it’s a much faster way to switch audio devices.

All you have to do is click the sound icon in the taskbar and then click the little arrow next to the volume slider. Now you’ll see a list of audio devices you can switch between. It’s much easier than opening Settings.

Change the Taskbar Color

A Windows 11 taskbar with color applied.

By default, the Windows 11 taskbar is white, and it can be easily switched to black with dark mode. What if you want your own custom color? You can change the taskbar color, too.

To get a colorful taskbar, you’ll need to select an accent color and toggle the switch to “Show Accent Color on Start and Taskbar.” This can be found in Settings > Personalization > Colors.

RELATED: How to Change the Taskbar Color in Windows 11

See Weather in the Taskbar

The Weather widget at the left side of Windows 11's taskbar.

When Windows 11 was first released, there was a “Widgets” button on the taskbar to the right of the Start button. If you were like us, you probably disabled the Widgets button.

The widget button now shows the current weather on your taskbar, which is much more useful than the original implementation. It shows a weather icon, the temperature, and a short description of the conditions.

RELATED: How to Get the Weather on Your Windows 11 Taskbar

Move the Taskbar to the Top

The Start menu will open on the left side of the screen near the top.

One of the most disappointing things about the Windows 11 taskbar is the inability to move it to any side of the screen. At the time of writing, it’s still not officially possible, but there’s a hacky method that works to put it at the top of the screen.

We’ve got a one-click registry hack you can download to move the taskbar to the top of your screen easily. Keep in mind the taskbar was not intended to be at the top, so it may not work as smoothly as the bottom. Still, it’s a solution.

RELATED: How to Move Windows 11's Taskbar to the Top of the Screen

Restore Taskbar Labels

Ungrouped Chrome windows.

Windows 11 doesn’t have the option to see app labels on the taskbar. It only shows the icon and nothing else. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there’s not an official way to change this, but you can use Stardock’s software to get taskbar labels back.

Stardock is a company that has been making customization software for Windows going all the way back to the XP days. The ability to ungroup taskbar icons and see labels was introduced in Start11 Beta v1.2, which was released in March 2022.

RELATED: How to Restore Taskbar Labels on Windows 11

Windows 11 was released with an unfinished taskbar, and Microsoft continues to slowly add more features to it. Hopefully, with these tips in your pocket, you’ll be able to make the most of it.

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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