How-To Geek

Get Vista Taskbar Thumbnail Previews in Windows XP

It was only a matter of time before people started cloning Windows Vista features and adding them into Windows XP. One of my favorite Vista features is the thumbnails that popup when you mouse over the taskbar. And now I can use them in XP as well.

The utility we’ll use is called Visual Tooltip, which is a hybrid dock / thumbnail applicaton. With a few tweaks to the settings, we can make it work just like Vista thumbnails.

Here’s what it looks like on my desktop… pretty sweet!

To make your thumbnails look the same as mine, just follow these couple of steps. Download and start the application, and open up the options from the tray icon.

Increase the size of the sliders to make the thumbnail bigger, and then uncheck the option for “Size proportional to the target window”.

Click on the Display tab, and then uncheck the “Show window title”


That’s all there is to it.

Download Visual Tooltip 2.1

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/25/07

Comments (37)

  1. Mosey

    Thanks for the tip :) I was wondering if using this results in an significant increase in memory usage? I’m using a laptop hence the concern as I run a fair number of programs at once.

  2. Cem

    doesnt show skype window ;)

  3. aznprd


    I’m having problems with it none of the setting i choose stick as soon as i click cancel or Ok it closes the window then i click the tool bar icon for options and it pops up in french and even then iu can choose english but that wont stick either

  4. aznprd

    i think i realsied what i did wrong your not supposed to run files from zips correct? so i have to extract them to a new folder right?

  5. ralliart12

    Any idea if V.Tooltip has significant advantage over V.TASKtip?

  6. rianvanu

    Muy agradecido por los trucos y consejos entregados.


  7. Mark Maguire

    It doesnt work on my vista .. i dont get the option to display it under taskbar & start menu properties

  8. lala

    oi i cant do what u r telling me to do

  9. hardkicks66

    i just wanted to say THANK YOU! Thanks for the hard work you put into hookin this up for everyone to use—and for free. How generous and ingenious!!! Really — You Rule!!!! It was easy to install and easy to tweak. I love it. And again—thanks for sharing:)

  10. Keith Pfannkuche

    I put this program in my start menu to start with windows. However I just get the start box and have to select run myself. How can I write a scrip or something to have the program to start without any input from me?
    By the way this is way cool!

  11. Shay

    This works great. One problem though is that when you mouse over the taskbar, you get a flash of the default ‘yellow text caption’ which is a bit annoying. How would you solve this? Cheers.

  12. mahir

    i will fix the problem about the language the fix is avalible at
    ( copy in the same directory than VisualTooltip.exe )

  13. MALIK

    i need this theam for my computers

  14. mahir

    the task bar is windows xp luna and the title bar of firefox is linux theme

  15. Andrew J. Welser

    Sir, Clicking on the website: and I get this error: 410 Gone. My question is this, did the website move or is it shutdown. Or it is me (it can too). Thanks for any assistance. AJ

  16. The Geek

    It appears that the site has moved to this url:

  17. nick green

    Tried this program. I dunno it feels a tad messy to me

  18. M.Higham

    Thanks. I can sometimes use this program for Luna XP themes.

  19. LaDeX

    Thank you so much. I’ve wanted this for sooooooooo long. =)

  20. Tom Amitai

    Whenever I try to run it, this application crashes.

    I am running Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600].

  21. Tonia.

    I have vista..
    and on taskbar and start menu.
    i dont have the option to let the thumbnails show..
    why is this?
    i want it on sooo bad. :(

  22. Mister

    It doesn’t work for me, do I have to restart or something.

  23. John Pick

    When I put my mouse over it it doesn’t show a pictuer of the screen. :( Can anyone help?

  24. matthew frombirmingham

    the screen wont appear as you need to have the window open for the preview

  25. psy

    it seems it doesn’t work in xp x64

  26. anne

    My tasbar on windows XP is now vertical on the right hand edge of my desktop, how do I bring it to horizontal on the bottom of the screen?

  27. jd2066

    @anne: Just click and drag the taskbar to the bottom of the screen.
    If that doesn’t work then you need to right click on it and uncheck “Lock the taskbar” first.

  28. Jon

    I have to say that this is quite the cool little add-on that you could put on your computer. I’m in a computer school, and most of my friends have Vista, but I have XP, and I don’t want to switch, but I like this feature. Although, one of the things I am having a problem with, is when I have videos or programs that constantly move and update, like a video game, for another example, it only shows me a little black box, and then most times it will open up the program itself, while another program is open, and then messed up the initial program open. All I want to do is see the video / video game in the little box it pops up. Is there anything I can do to make it do this? If anyone has any tips that would be great, and much appreciated.

  29. ice cream

    I’ve got Visual Task Tips, and the DreamScene patch, and my computer is SO slow! How do I fix this? Thanks.

  30. gina

    jd2066..Thank you, i got my taskbar stuck on the left side too, and tried everything except just clicking and dragging down..doh! LoL..Thank you so much, now i can go watch t.v. you Rock!!!
    cheers from gina :) ♥

  31. user


    I have vista..
    and on taskbar and start menu.
    i dont have the option to let the thumbnails show..
    why is this?”
    i want it on sooo bad. :(”

    thats the issue with “HOME” Versions, basic or premium…sorry

    upgrade to business,ultimate…anything BUT home versions, and you can use the THEME ( Aero) with advanced options, and now the “show preview thumbnails in taskbar” isnt grayed out. by default its selected, though have seen SOME OEM, like some HP or DELL have it off by default.

    but upgrade to anything but basic, and have the feature.

    if you search the web, u can download Windows 7 Beta, it expires Aug 2009- that will have the feature, but mkae sure you choose UPDATE, so when it expires, you can downgrade, or UNDO the upgrade.

  32. Ruri

    I’ve got Visual Task Tips. thanks

  33. Erik

    @Jon: I believe what you are describing is called “Active Content”. If you go to the Display tab there is a checkbox for “Active thumbnails on mouse over”. I haven’t tried it but I expect checking that would fix your problem.

    And for people who are saying it doesn’t work for them — the window you’re getting a preview of has to be open (NOT minimized). If it’s minimized it won’t work (nor will Vista’s).

    @mahir or @The Geek: This works great, except when I have taskbar buttons grouped (right click on the taskbar -> Properties -> Taskbar tab -> “Group similar taskbar buttons”). I love this feature because I keep a lot of windows open. On Vista the preview thumbnails work even in this mode — if you click on the group and then mouse over each item in the list, each thumbnail will be displayed. This doesn’t work with your tool. Any suggestions or future feature releases?

  34. scanbix

    Cool! Xp perfomance with vista UI effects

  35. HanSuck

    does it run in the system tray?

  36. jakir

    it stinks

  37. clags54

    Alright, I downloaded it and didn’t really like it. How do I delete it? It tells me “Access Denied. Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use.” I don’t understand why I can’t delete something from my own computer. Any suggestions?

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