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It's easy to make the Windows taskbar smaller or larger - perhaps too easy since it can happen by accident. I'll show you how, and how to lock it.

How reduce size of strip at bottom of XP desktop window?

I'll assume that "strip", as you call it, is the Windows Taskbar.

Most folks don't realize that it's really just a special window, of sorts. And as a window you can resize it and even move it.

Sometimes people are surprised when that happens by accident.

I'll use Windows XP for my example here, but the instructions apply to Vista and 7 as well.

Am I Locked or Not?

Have a look at these two task bars:

Windows XP Taskbar - Unlocked

Windows XP Taskbar - Locked

The difference is slight, but important. The upper taskbar is unlocked. You can tell because dividers between the taskbar sections are present, and the top of the taskbar is a little thicker:

Windows XP Taskbar - Signs that your taskbar is unlocked

The difference is simple: when locked you can't make changes to the taskbar layout, size or position. So, our first step is to unlock it:

Right clicking on the taskbar

Right click on an empty area of the taskbar and you'll get the pop-up menu you see above. Click on Lock the Taskbar to make sure it's unchecked.

Size Matters

Resizing the taskbar is now pretty much like any other window, except that the resize will happen in steps.

Hover your mouse over the top edge of the taskbar - the edge that was added when you unlocked it:

Hovering over the edge, the mouse pointer turns into a size arror

As you can see the mouse pointer has turned into a double arrow, indicating that what's underneath is resizeable.

Left click the mouse and hold the mouse button down. Drag the mouse up, and the taskbar will, once your mouse reaches high enough, jump to double the size:

Taskbar enlarged to twice the height

You can go even larger if you like.

And of course the reverse it also true: if your task bar is too high you can make is smaller as well. In fact, you can make it so small as to be nearly unseen:

Taskbar reduced to zero lines.

You can hover over what's visible if you like and resize the task bar up to its normal size.

Location, Location, Location

We normally think about the taskbar being along the bottom - but it doesn't have to be so. Particularly on wide screens you might prefer to have it on the left:

Taskbar on the left

Or the right, or the top. Just click and hold on any empty area in the taskbar while it's unlocked, and drag it to the side of the screen you'd like it to be on.

Lock'er Down

Finally, when you have the taskbar where you want it, and the size you want it, be sure to right click on it and make sure that Lock the taskbar is checked.

Based on what I hear it's fairly common that the taskbar ends up getting unexpectedly resized or moved. Locking the taskbar simply prevents that from happening.

Article C4698 - January 1, 2011 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

January 2, 2011 2:45 AM

All your images in this article are broken.

And is there any way of making Windows 7s taskbar any thinner than the minimum?

Images are back, sorry about that. You can make any task bar one button high, or zero buttons high, as you can (now) see above. I know of no way to go half way or make the buttons smaller.

January 4, 2011 8:58 AM

It did not work with my WIN7 even though the taskbar was unlocked. I could not change it in size.

January 4, 2011 10:16 AM

One option in Windows 7 is to right click the taskbar and select properties. You have several options you can select. One is for "Use small icons", and another is to "Auto-hide the taskbar". See if these help.

January 4, 2011 10:37 AM

It was not able to make it smaller with my WIN XP even though the taskbar was unlocked. If I remove the quick launch display I have a normalsize taskbar. When i display the quick launch it doubles the size of the task bar. How can I have a normal size task bar and display the quick launch

While the taskbar is unlocked, try resizing the quick launch toolbar wider so that the icons aren't stacked above each other. Just click and drag that divider next to the quick launch toolbar.
January 4, 2011 11:33 AM

I think I might have commented before but when I go into Hotmail with my Chrome browser the Task bar disappears. I can bring it back with the Windows key but it doesn't stay. You also lose the Links bar and the Address bar is unresponsive. I usually end up dumping the browser to regain control. I don't know whether it's Google or Microsoft or both at war over a non Microsoft product accessing a Microsoft site. There's no problem with either Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Glenn P.
January 4, 2011 9:01 PM

Personally, I put our taskbar (double-height) at the top of our screen, where nature's God intended it to be (and where it weirds out everyone else who sees it).      :)

After all, every other  menu and ribbon in Windows has its place at the top of the window or screen (and that includes those in the very Web Browser in which you are reading this message); why on Earth should the Start menu and taskbar be any exception?     :)

October 31, 2011 6:50 AM

I've tried to make my taskbar smaller by clicking and holding the mouse button down and moving it down but it either stays at doulbe height or disapears. How can I make it the regular height? This is all thanks to my two year old little boy:)

February 27, 2013 8:45 AM

Hi. On my Windows 7 taskbar (either locked or unlocked), in the Quickstart area, the icons all have separators - takes up a log of space. Can I get rid of those?

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