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The task bar can appear hidden if it's configured to auto-hide, or if the size has been configured to be too small.

The task bar on my windows XP machine has become hidden, how do I get it back?

The taskbar is very configurable as I discussed in a previous article: My TaskBar is too small to be useful, what can I do?, and the accompanying video out at Lockergnome. You might want to review that to see if perhaps it got configured to auto-hide or have zero size.

CTRL+ESC will always bring up the start menu. On that you might also check Settings, Taskbar and Start Menu, and make sure that Auto-hide is turned off and the taskbar is unlocked.

Then if the size did in fact get set to zero height then you may see a small, thin bar where your task bar used to be. You should be able to click, hold, and drag that up to make it bigger.

Article C1977 - June 2, 2004 « »

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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?

June 23, 2004 5:38 PM

thank you.

July 19, 2004 10:15 AM

my task barof xp has changed to standard is does not appers like in xp windows even in appearence option windows xp style is missing

July 19, 2004 2:11 PM

Check to see that the task bar isn't "locked", and then go into Start, Settings, Taskbar & Start menu amd you should be able to restore the look.

October 6, 2004 11:05 PM

How do I removed the folder Tasks bar off of the

October 6, 2004 11:12 PM

I'm not sure what you mean. Is there a folder named "Tasks" on your desktop?

October 8, 2004 10:18 PM

WE are running XP at a sewing store. For some unknown reason our computer has no task bar, no start,no icons. If you click on ctl,alt,del you get the task manager but still cannot get the rest to work. I have right clicked on the desktop and get nothing. The screen saver comes on but it cannot be changed.

October 20, 2004 10:44 PM

At one time I could the minimize Icon at the top of the screen and it would go down to the task bar, it was cool for waiting for a movie to down load, then I could hit the Icon in the task bar and bring it back on screen, now there's something new to do it on the screen not the task bar, but I can't see it when the screen is full. I like the old way with it in the task bar

October 21, 2004 4:58 PM

Are you sure that the task bar isn't covered up by something else? Press CTRL+ESC when you expect things to be there and see if they don't reappear.

November 7, 2004 4:39 PM

My task bar has doubled in size. I have tried to use the mouse to shrink it back down but it doesn't work. I can either make it hidden or 4 lines tall. How do I get it back to just one line?

November 24, 2004 12:17 PM

My address bar is located on my taskbar, but suddenly the green box with the Go arrow in it has disappeared. Tried unchecking it, re-checking, PC ON/OFF cominations.Can't go to web pages without the GO arrow.

November 24, 2004 12:27 PM

The Go button's not required - just press the Enter key on your keyboard after you type in an address.

To restore that GO button, I did this:
- Turn off the address bar on your taskbar. (right click on the task bar, click on Toolbars, and uncheck address bar)
- Fire up Internet Explorer
- Turn on the address bar in internet explorer. (Right click on the menu bar, and make sure the Address bar is checked).
- Turn on the Go button in IE (right click on IE's address bar, and make sure "Go button" is selected.)
- Turn the address bar back on in your Task bar (Right click on the task bar, click on Toolbars, make sure Address Bar is selected)
Your GO button should be back.

February 10, 2005 7:35 PM

I've read the article. However, that is not a resolution for what I have. I can see the taskbar but when I minimize, the minimized state in the taskbar is not visible, as if i have not opened any windows, even though I can see that I have by pressing alt+ctrl+dlt. thank you

February 10, 2005 7:38 PM

For all applications? Some applications specifically do not allow themselves to be shown in the task bar.

February 14, 2005 3:34 PM

i too have lost the ability to minimize a program or browser page to the task bar. also, the quick launch items are now locked into place as well as desktop items. all happened after sp2 install.

February 24, 2005 12:45 PM

i had the same problem: programs minimize down to the left side, but do not show up on the bar.i searched internet and found this program-!.htm
dont download it, search page for "Restore to XP Default * (clickable)"(it is in blue) , save it and then run it , it halped me

March 23, 2005 3:11 PM

Thanks a lot, Nazir!

April 7, 2005 6:20 AM

Minimised programs not showing up in Task Bar in XP SP1. I had a sneaky feeling that there must be at least one other person in the world suffering the same malfunction! And it turns out that there are at least scores of us! Its been bugging me for months, and its been a real pain having to Alt-Tab everything just to get the minimised program back to full screen. Thanks for the posting Nazir - worked for me! (NB For those running Spybot, you will get warning messages - you'll need to authorise the script to proceed !)

April 7, 2005 8:38 PM

Thanks Nazir!

June 4, 2005 1:04 AM

I can only see my task bar when the wallpaper is the background. When I pull up my e-mail or anything it covers it up. I use to be able to see while on line or checking my e-mail. Can you help please ?

June 4, 2005 6:19 AM

Thanx a million Nazir

June 4, 2005 10:28 AM

Thanks a lot Nadir!

June 4, 2005 7:51 PM

Sue: right click on an unused portion of the taskbar, select properties, and make sure "Keep the taskbar on top" is selected.

Cesar Gutierrez
June 23, 2005 11:00 AM

All of minimized windows disappear and there is no way to get them back onto the task bar. The only to get them back was via Task Manager (Ctrl Alt Del or Right click on task bar).

help me please....!!!!

June 23, 2005 11:45 AM

That's this article:

August 25, 2005 10:28 PM

My Task Bar is non existant.
Right clicking on the desk top does not bring up "the Properties box".
Settings/taskbar, startup icon in Control Box does not respond to any mouse commands.
All the above symptoms happened after i got a virus scan prog to delete a group of P.U.P.'s after re-boot.
Virus scan found numerous trojan horse progs.
any suggestions??

August 26, 2005 7:26 PM

Try running the system file checker if you can
otherwise you may be looking at a repair install of Windows.

December 11, 2005 10:30 AM

Thanks very much Leo, i have been going crazy without my task bar.

December 22, 2005 4:11 AM

My taskbar was hidden as well. I forgot about the two video card thing I've got going on. Right now I only have one monitor hooked up and it's not connected to the AGP slot.

The new install of XP disregarded the previous W2K settings calling for the PCI monitor to be used as the primary monitor.

In the settings window it acknowledged it knew, but it didn't.

Solution? Uncheck the (extend windows desktop to this monitor), click apply, and my taskbar jumped right back onto my main monitorl

January 7, 2006 1:46 PM

My taskbar was hidden as well. After doing everything suggested above, my taskbar was appeared about 1 mins after reboot, then vanished again.
Please help me, ASAP

Garland West
January 22, 2006 2:49 PM

My taskbar is completely gone i have tried all the taskbar property things and all that it doesnt work its still gone

Dana Davis
February 5, 2006 4:51 PM

I had the auto fill toolbar on and now it is gone and I can't figure out how to get it back. Pls. advise.

February 7, 2006 10:27 AM

the task bar went from the bottom to a new configuration on the right vetical. how can I get it back to the bottom of my screen?

February 7, 2006 10:35 AM

This article: includes a video that shows how, but you can just click, hold and drag it back to the bottom with the mouse.

March 5, 2006 1:57 PM

I did what "Dr" Leo said took a few times and now as good as new, thanks!!

March 11, 2006 11:44 AM

my taskbar goes away while im in a program, like internet explorer and msn messenger, and when i press ctrl+esc it comes back and then it goes away again, when i try to scroll down it doesnt pop up, i've checkied it auto-hide isnt on, and it's unlocked

March 11, 2006 4:19 PM

Try checking the "keep the taskbar on top of other windows" option.

April 2, 2006 6:08 PM

My taskbar has disappeared. Ctr + Esc does not produce anything. Nor does dragging from either of the screen margins. I have no way of getting to the start menu.

April 6, 2006 1:16 PM

I thought I had a trojan (I still don't know for sure though) but that tool recovered my lost window buttons. Thanks Leoooo :)

July 22, 2006 12:29 PM

My task bar is also hidden and I have tired everything suggested and nothing brings it up. What now?

miss teri s.
July 26, 2006 3:05 PM

well i dont know if this is ur prob but i had a friend who deleted google desktop and then he lost all icons and start bar we tryed ctrl+esc nothing we also tryed restore and to roll back computer and nothing still the only thing we could do was ctrl+alt+delet but we couldnt run anything finnally i found a really easy fix reinstall google desktop the only thing is now im stuck with google desk top forever also if u have same prob u cant conect to internet to get google back so we had to put it on a dick on another computer but this fix is garanted to wrk on 1st try

September 5, 2006 4:47 PM

Thanks for these tips, and I know about these. But my task bar is still missing, just can't be seen at all. Even now with my windows maximized, it looks like my task should be there but it's not there.

September 22, 2006 11:27 PM

I don't know exactly what the things are called so I'll call them "running application" buttons. In my task bar my "running application" buttons have disappeared, the quick launch and all the other goodies are still there. I've exausted the alternatives and I still can't get it to come out. If I chose to remove some tool bars, for instance quick launch, the entire taskbar disappears then I try to make it reappear but it wont't, even by selecting the auto-hide function or de-selecting it. Its really wiered.

September 26, 2006 2:20 PM

To fix this, just apply auto hide, then unapply it.

September 26, 2006 11:06 PM

Thanks for these tips, But nothing happened with this tips, my task bar is still missing,the task bar apper when i restart my computer but for some seconds and the option on
task bar and start up menu which says auto hide the task bar is not checked

Rob Roden
September 29, 2006 9:27 AM

I have this problem -
"The task bar on my windows XP machine has become hidden, how do I get it back?"
The only answer here appears to be 'unapply auto hide' -
How do you do that?
I have my pc linked to my tv as a second monitor and my task bar is showing on there (?)

October 19, 2006 1:56 PM

THanks alot!

November 17, 2006 10:14 AM

I also have a machine that displays no taskbar, not even a double-arrow cursor on any edge where a taskbar might be.

>>"CTRL+ESC will always bring up the start menu."


>>"check Settings, Taskbar and Start Menu"

I can only get to Control Panel from a Windows Explorer desktop icon. When I double-click the "Taskbar and Start Menu" icon, NO dialog box is displayed.

My current working hypothesis is that the taskbar and all associated dialog boxes have been moved to another virtual screen/desktop somewhere in XP's fantasy world, but nowhere in the actual display hardware on the machine.

November 17, 2006 11:19 AM

Update: I found that the video card on the problem system supports multiple monitors and that a second monitor was enabled. When I disabled it, the taskbar reappeared on the "first" monitor. Surprisingly, the Microsoft site doesn't instruct users to check for this condition when the taskbar disappears. Everybody seems to think that the taskbar or its properties can ALWAYS be displayed with the keyboard or mouse, but they are WRONG.

November 27, 2006 11:27 AM

Same as others:
when i minimize things they no longer go to my task bar and i cannot see where they go. i can now no longer get back to the page if i minimized it. how do i get it back so that icons pages/sites that i minimize go to the task bar and i can then review them by clicking on them in the task bar. pls help asap!

Leo Notenboom
November 28, 2006 5:16 PM

That's probably this article:

John H
December 8, 2006 9:27 AM

I see my start menu, but it no longer shows any runninga applications. I have tried various changes, such as grouping and things. but the tool bar that shows the apps that are running is not on the start bar. Anyone know how to get that back?

Leo Notenboom
December 8, 2006 12:07 PM

As was mentioned in the comment immediately preceding yours, that's this article:

January 4, 2007 3:29 AM

i can see the task bar however, when i minumize open windows they dont appear on the task bar and the only way to bring them up is Alt-Tab. Can someone take pity on me and give me a good reson and fix for this huh can someone

Leo Notenboom
January 4, 2007 9:40 AM

Keep searching on the site, and you'll find this article:

February 17, 2007 12:19 PM

My taskbar moved to the right side of the monitor. How do I get it back on the bottom.

Leo Notenboom
February 17, 2007 12:28 PM

That would be this article:

February 27, 2007 3:03 PM

I have a bi problem. I open any prgram... word, excel... internet and when i want to minimize the windows they DISAPPEAR!!!!! It is amazing!!!! I have my task bar, but I can not see the windows minimized. I do not know what to do!!!!! Some can help me?

Leo Notenboom
February 27, 2007 3:14 PM

Hash: SHA1

Keep searching on the site, and you'll find this article:

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


March 4, 2007 7:51 PM

My windows task bar is gone when I boot my machine it flashes for a second then its gone I have no desktop icons either. The only way I am able to use my machine and pull anything up is through my task manager please help I'm so frustrated I'd like to throw this laptop in the garbage. I tried the ctrl+esc and that didnt work either.

April 29, 2007 1:16 PM

Hi Leo. I would like to ask u how can i change the colur f my taskbar in order to be in correspondence with the colour of the desktop?

roger jones
May 21, 2007 7:31 AM

If I got to Auto-hids by accident, how do I get out/ I can't get access to my e-mail without task bar.

May 26, 2007 10:05 AM

my taskbar only disappears when im using internet explorer how do i fix this plz :D

May 30, 2007 3:01 AM

button of task or program in progress is not appear on taskbar

June 8, 2007 6:00 AM

Just right click the task bar in a CLEAR area then : properties : and select "keep task bar on top of other windows"

V. Jeyaseelan
June 10, 2007 8:14 AM

How to Make the taskbar wider, arranging icons on the Desktop

July 14, 2007 10:53 AM

My taskbar was that thin line, auto-hide was not checked and dragging showed the arrows but wouldn't function. What DID work was to enable the quick launch. Still, my running programs don't show now, so I'm off to try your suggestion to solve that.

July 15, 2007 8:41 AM

How are you sir,

My PC OS XP, but one times this start menu not find. Windows when rebooted that time one time only see (only seconds). Who to this solve.

October 14, 2007 9:24 PM

My task bar doesn't show the windows I have open, what should I do??

Leo A. Notenboom
October 15, 2007 9:14 PM

Hash: SHA1

You want this article:


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


November 24, 2007 11:37 AM


i tried this and got lucky

1. go to START BAR
2. right click and go to PROPERTIES
3. click the CLASSIC START MENU--- click apply
you have classic start menu now... the start bar shoul be ok now.

then do steps 1 and 2 but this time select START MENU and apply to revert back to your xp start bar menu.

hope this helps.


January 27, 2008 8:05 AM

Task bar, start bar all gone. ctrl+esc do not work. task bar/start menu prgm in cntrl panel will not run when clicked on. have gone around edges of desktop with curcor trying to find-not there. Something has happened=even repaired with XP install disk!

January 30, 2008 5:04 PM


March 27, 2008 11:43 AM

right click taskbar, click show address bar, toolbar will pop backup. then select address again and it will turn it off. Something int the svchost file changed it around and you were no longer ablew to see it....

June 11, 2008 12:27 AM

Read [Steve at January 27, 2008 08:05 AM] who lost his start and task bars and systray. So did I - nothing nowhere nohow - after using a registry cleaning utility on this WinXPsp2 PC. It has nVidia 8500 GT dual display card. Not a problem with duality of display. Cure: Rt-click wallpaper to open "nView Properties"; go to "Tools" tab select "Move (taskbar & icons) to 'Display..' and tell it to go to the already selected display and "Apply". My experience with 3 current nVidia cards/software is that they regularly FORGET configuration settings and have to be reminded. You may need to select the wrong, then the original right parameter to activate the [Apply] button so you can remind it. --G

June 11, 2008 1:04 AM

Perhaps the big picture about a missing task bar etc., is that it may not be the operating system at fault: If you have a dual port graphics card - which allows you to send the task bar etc. to either display - it can easily be the video driver controls which are temporarily broken and are sending the items nowhere rather than somewhere. Rebuilding Win XP or just rebooting your system has never fixed my similar problems, you need to either "tell" your video card directly where to send the missing components, or completely remove all your dual-port software and reinstall it. --G

September 10, 2008 8:41 PM


September 15, 2008 2:36 AM

hi, i have the problem of my start bar not showing. ive pressed the windows button to see if it pops up, but doesnt, tried the CTRL+ESC, but still nothing. and when i go to control panel, i try to click on taskbar and start menu, but it does not open. please help, i have ran out of ideas.

Dan Nicholson
October 26, 2008 4:46 PM

I attempted all the recommended 'fixes' for retreiving missing 'start bar' without success. I can initiate 'task manager' that allows me to invoke various programs loaded on this HP laptop. When turning on laptop Windows states it is loading however no 'start bar' nor 'task bar' present on screen. Please advise of fix to this problem.

January 17, 2009 10:13 AM

Reply to Grumpah, my son was playing with his new pc for 1 day, next day he tells me the start bar was missing. The nview properties fix worked for me, thank you. J

mukesh nema
February 7, 2009 8:39 AM

go to run type gpedit.msc group policy editer will open >administrative templates>system then go to alt+ctrl+del Option then got to remove taskbar option >right click property disible it Done

February 12, 2009 7:52 AM

hi, i have the problem of my start bar not showing. ive pressed the windows button to see if it pops up, but doesnt, tried the CTRL+ESC, but still nothing. and when i go to control panel, i try to click on taskbar and start menu, but it does not open. please help, i have ran out of ideas.

March 21, 2009 5:17 AM


March 28, 2009 1:37 AM

how can I get back task manager and run button while currapted by vitus

Diane DeRosa
March 28, 2009 9:15 PM

I have lost my task bar on my windows XP. I followed your instructions and depressed Escape and Control and brought up the settings, control panel. I opened up the task bar. It is not on auto hide and I do not have a thin line on my screen that I can stretch. It is also on unlock. This just happened a few minutes ago when I was typing an e-mail. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

April 19, 2009 7:16 PM

non of the above worked,i can see a thin line of the bar but it wont come back up

May 11, 2009 4:11 PM

If you're using a dual video card, try this. Go to the display settings, and uncheck the "extend my windows desktop onto this monitor" box. Your start bar should come right back. That did the trick for me.

May 20, 2009 1:54 AM

Start your PC using F8 . at the system tools do recovery recover from a ealier date.

September 25, 2009 10:07 PM

I have lost my task bar on my windows XP. I followed your instructions and depressed Escape and Control and brought up the settings, control panel. I opened up the task bar. It is not on auto hide and I do not have a thin line on my screen that I can stretch. It is also on unlock.Any other suggestions?

Rick Myers
December 31, 2009 3:38 PM

I have always had my taskbar in the auto hide mode so that it stays out of the way when I do things. Recently though, when I have a window open, internet, word or anything else the taskbar will not come back up unless I minimize the window first. Can you help please. Thank you.

You can try the "keep on top of other windows" option in the task bar settings, but that can also fail. To be honest, I just hit the Windows key on my keyboard when this happens and the taskbar pops up.

January 13, 2010 6:25 AM

I have my task bar window turned to vertical side of the desktop. How can i turn it back to horizontal default?
Thank you.

February 25, 2010 4:35 PM

Same problem....I had to bring up the task bar-new task-msconfig. I was on selective startup and the boxies for win.ini and system.ini were unchecked, rechecked and restart and start bar is back. I was doing some start up troubleshooting but I did not uncheck those boxes???? Hope this works for anyone else!

March 9, 2010 3:44 AM

Mmmm...My problem is my task bar is gone...and Ill need my microsoft wod please help me out..

Vickie Poindexter
April 22, 2010 1:45 AM

U tell me, every Comcast service man can't fix my problems, unless I call an Internet supervisor. I also have back-up recovery disks if someome will come out with a I.Q.more than 100

April 26, 2010 2:50 PM

If you are a XP/Mcafee user this situation may have been caused by a download from Mcafee which treats svchost.exe as a virus, it can also result in loss of Internet access. There is a fix available from Mcafee and it worked for me

October 19, 2010 11:35 PM

my taskbar is seen on the main screen but it becomes invisible when i open 2 - 3 windows together. whereas it shud be visible at the bottom when i m working either online or offline.........Why???????

Glen Gordley
January 11, 2011 3:33 PM

my task bar has never appeared since I purchased it.

Yoyo Nice
January 14, 2011 11:42 PM

Thanks for the tip about the line work i have posted a question to you about admin logon if you have the time to answer such a newbie question // and I am the newest of the newest newbie with the oldest of oldest thanks Yoyo

Roger King
May 16, 2011 6:51 AM

It's still hidden. Neither Ctrl+Esc or the Windows button do anything. I can get to task manager and run Explorer, etc. It looks like it may be slowly assuming the crash position...

October 17, 2011 8:20 AM

I don't have XP but I have Vista. Not a single site I looked at for help of my missing task bar ever mentioned a function key. I didn't have the locked or auto hide task bar option selected. I had hit the "F11" function key some how! Any way, the "F11" key brought back my task bar so you might add that in your answer. Thanks :o)

Jim Johnson
July 10, 2012 7:14 AM

My task bar is on the side instead of bottom, how to I get it back to the bottom

July 10, 2012 12:46 PM

Here is a video from Leo on how to do exactly that. Basically what happened is that you accidentally dragged it up, now you have to (on purpose) drag it back down. If it's locked you might have to unlock it.

How do I move my taskbar back to the bottom of the screen

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