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4 Reasons Why You Should Move Your Windows Taskbar to the Side

horizontal vs vertical windows 7 taskbarSince the beginning, Windows has placed its taskbar along the bottom of the screen. But as you may have noticed from some of my screenshots, I keep mine on the right-hand side, with small icons enabled and my taskbar buttons set to Never Combine. I like it a lot. In fact, whenever I’m on a computer that uses the default Windows taskbar, it really, really bugs me. So, to prevent this from ever happening to me again, I’m going to attempt to convince the world to move their taskbars from the bottom to the left or right. Here are my top four reasons:16:9 windows monitor

1. Widescreen is Standard

Do you remember when standard monitors had aspect ratios of 4:3? Pepperidge Farm remembers. But anyone born in the new millennium might not. Today’s monitors are 16:9 widescreen, even on dinky netbooks like my EEEPC. What that means is that you have more screen real estate fat-wise than you do tall-wise. Especially when you consider that we scroll up and down webpages, not left and right. So, sticking the taskbar on the left or right is a more efficient use of space, since you won’t be squishing things vertically.

2. Most Applications Don’t Take Up All The Horizontal Space

In spite of the hardware switch from 4:3 to 16:9, most everyday applications favor tall and skinny views. For example, Microsoft Word. In Print Layout, it conjures up an 8×11 sheet of paper, leaving a sizeable amount of empty space on either side of the workspace.

vertical sidebar in microsoft word

Likewise, web designs usually err on the side of lower x-axis resolutions to allow smaller screens to see the whole page without scrolling horizontally. If you are on a regular desktop, your resolution will probably be plenty big. All of this adds up to extra space on the left and right for your taskbar.

Related Article:  Microsoft Offers the Work & Play Bundle for Only $149

vertical sidebar in google chrome

3. You Can Fit More Stuff In

When your taskbar is along the bottom, it usually takes up just one line. But because of the ample space on the side, you can bump it up to two or three columns. This means that you can see more icons in your system tray and your quick launch bar. Also, your running task buttons are all of a uniform height and width, instead of scaling based on how many are open. Personally, I feel that’s tidier.

vertical vs horizontal taskbar

4. You’ll Like It

Trust me, you will. I’ve been a right-hand side taskbar guy since 2006, when I saw a co-worker doing it on his computer and I’ve never gone back. Other than the above reasons, I can’t really explain why it works out so much better for me. But it does. Try it for a week and see if you agree.

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49 Responses to 4 Reasons Why You Should Move Your Windows Taskbar to the Side

  1. Inferno August 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Most of these points can be better solved by choosing “Always combine, hide labels” under the Taskbar buttons menu, and “Auto-Hide the taskbar” under Taskbar Appearance on the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties.

    In fact, “Always combine, hide labels” is the default in Windows 7. In your screenshots, however, the user has reverted back to the old Windows XP way of doing things, which, in defense of your article, did need the side-mounted task bar to function better. far more than windows 7 does. I often wonder why people immediately switch off all the new innovations and options after upgrading software/operating systems, only to complain later — I see this all the time in my line of Tech Support work.

    • groovinJackman August 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

      Good point, and I guess you are right. I hate auto hide and Always Combine. I don’t know why. I think it goes back to when I used to have dozens of Word docs open at a time. Knowing where each one was at all times helped me jump back and forth between them, as opposed to having to first reveal the task bar, get my bearings, expand the combined tabs, get my bearings and then finally find the window I am looking for.

    • Whyzor January 8, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      I’ve tried various sides of the screen for a few years with & without auto-hide. What I’ve discovered is that the auto-hide and combine feature requires extra clicks & mental processing when switching task windows. Having it always visible means I don’t need the extra motion to bring cursor to edge first to see where I need to click next, saves a few milli-seconds, which adds up over a day of task switching.

      As for left or right side. I prefer left because most windows have menus that have most accessed options on the upper left anyway, so less dragging the cursor all the way across a monitor if the taskbar was on the right and most accessed menu & toolbars are in the upper left. Also less interference with accidental clicking the scrollbar or close button in windows.

      Finally I find that I can shrink the width of the vertical taskbar to about the width of the start button, it’ll show the icon and 1st letter of the window title. Which is enough of a cue to what the window is about. No need to take up extra space for title.

      • Happy July 28, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

        Agreed. The auto-hide function should be meant to assist navigation/visibility but at least for me it just doesn’t do the job for the very same reasons.

    • Ichinisan January 29, 2016 at 11:10 am #

      Nothing is more infuriating than the auto-hide taskbar refusing to appear when you need it. This problem is as old as Windows 95 (the advent of the Windows taskbar). It still has not been fixed in Windows 10.

      • Kevin June 9, 2016 at 6:54 am #

        YES! I thought I was the only one with this pet peeve. I wonder why they can’t/won’t fix it? Or just eliminate it.

        • ed October 7, 2016 at 12:11 am #

          They’re a monopoly. They don’t care.

          • Ichinisan October 11, 2016 at 5:28 am #

            I wouldn’t call it a “monopoly” any more. Even if you don’t count mobile devices running Android/iOS, Windows has lost a LOT of market share to macOS. From 2004 to 2008, I almost never had to help anyone with a Mac computer. Now, I have to help multiple Mac owners each day.

  2. MrGroove August 9, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    I personally made the switch back when I installed Windows 7 for the first time. I wanted more space on the desktop and that felt like an obvious place to put it. At first I did place it on the right side however it kept getting in the way of the Scroll bar so I moved it over to the “left” side and ahhhh perfection.

    It’s funny now that I’ve become used to it there is no way I could ever go back to putting it back on the bottom especially since I have such a huge widescreen monitor (2 of them in fact).

    Readers should give it a shot for a week and see how it goes. You can always move it back if you don’t like it. 😉

    • Jared G August 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      I’ve had my taskbar at the left of my screen for a while. I completely agree it’s a better use of space. Visually I prefer it to the right, but I guess I’m a clumsy mouse clicker as I would often close the program I was using when trying to click the Start button. The biggest hurdle I had to overcome was remembering to look to the LEFT when I wanted to see the clock or tray icons!!

      • MrGroove August 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

        @Jared – Exactly! That’s the same problem I had. Kept closing things. Nice to have another lefty post feedback! 😉

  3. Ziggy August 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Like the idea but at the end of the day it comes down to personal choice and functionality. Each to their own, I say. But again a worthy contribution, which at least gets people to think about doing things differently. Thanks…Keep up the good work! Really enjoy the articles on this post.

    • ShockerSh August 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

      Agreed. I personally keep my toolbar/taskbar on the top and it’s set to AUTOHIDE. That’s just me. Ppl think i’m weird when they see it but I’m used to it. 😉

  4. SeanPalmer August 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Never tried this before. After I unlocked the toolbar, I moved it got the left. I like it!

  5. John L August 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    I have seen all of these arguments for many years and it is down to personal choice. I use Windows Snap a lot and I would never consider wasting that much screen real estate when I can leave it on the bottom taking up much less space. But for those who don’t use this feature they may like it. Personally its never going to happen and for me it is never going to be considered but others who never make full use of a widescreen, and it has to be a widescreen, it could find favour.

  6. Jacki August 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    I must be one of the odd ones, I prefer mine at the bottom. Not only because my husband is a little backwards in anything PC, but because it’s always been that way. It looks strange on the left to me, I can’t get used to it on the right. It makes my browser look 3 times as big.

  7. srivathsan August 20, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    Me too a right hand task bar guy past 2 years. I simply love it, i agree with all your points, but to console others to try it, these points are not strong enough. I don’t know why, somethings can’t be explained, only felt when they try it.

  8. John L August 20, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    Something I forgot to mention on my original reply was that you use the icon and text whereas the standard setup is just icons on the taskbar. So going on the standard setup I can fit 27 large icons across the taskbar plus the start button or around 40 if they are small icons. Putting them on the right hand side I can only get 16 large icons or about 25 if they are small icons so you can certainly not get more in unless you have some hidden which kind of destroys the argument. But again as I said before it is down to personal choice and you quite clearly like it. To me it is like putting loads of toolbars on your browser and losing all that working space.

  9. Alex August 26, 2011 at 7:46 am #


    First of all – thank you for sharing.

    Sorry for rather stupid question – very often I need to send a URL for a specific article down to my clients/users/friends, however I could not find any easy way of doing this, other than copying and altering a long URL I get when I click on URL from my email. For example the url for this specific post I got is the following:

    Of course I can strip out feedburner stuff… but can for example “Title” be made a clickable, plain and simple backtrack URL?

    Thank you

  10. TheronB October 14, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    I like it on the right (I’m right handed) BUT – I’m in and out of meetings all day and when I connect to a screen projector for a presentation, the ones we have change my screen resolution back to 4:3 and spreadsheet views become very narrow. Switching the taskbar back and forth is something of a pain.

  11. Kevin January 25, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    I’ve had my taskbar on the left hand side for years now. Whenever I’m on someone else’s computer it bugs the crap out me if it’s on the bottom, yet no one ever makes the switch to the side if I recommend it.

  12. Bob February 19, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I’ve had it at the top for years now, but the problem is a lot of applications (even more so with Windows 7) insist on launching underneath the taskbar.

    • Brian Burgess February 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

      Well call me old school…but I like it just where it is.

  13. Joseph Risley May 20, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    I never thought of having the taskbar on the side until I tried the Ubuntu Unity interface. After ditching Ubuntu for Windows 7 again, it just seems be best use of screen space to have it on the side. I prefer the left, but right seems to work just as well based on what others are saying.

    • Kirie_Satoru November 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      I think it’s all relative to what hand you generally write with. Unless you aren’t left handed. Then its what you’re used to.

      • Steve Krause November 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

        I’m right handed but put it on the left because it was in the way of the scroll bar on the right.

        Now that I use the mouse wheel however, might try it again on the right.

  14. theronb May 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    I really, really didn’t like Unity, either but found that Linux Mint has all the goodness I like from Ubuntu with a desktop much more considerate of average users.

  15. Joshua Ayson July 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I had the same experience ( ) seeing the taskbar on the side of a coworkers monitor. It took me awhile to finally try it out, but now I can’t imagine ever having it on the horizontal again. It’s all vertical for me!

  16. Pat Jones May 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    Hi, I tried using the taskbar on the right side for a week but I do not agree that having the taskbar on the right worked for me.

    Widescreen is standard? I still use a 15 inch monitor set to 1024 x 768. I set the taskbar to group similar items. All the applications that I use take up all the horizontal space. I rather have the taskbar on the bottom because I am familiar with the taskbar at the bottom.

    • Manuel September 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      Pat Jones, try it maybe again if you get a widescreen screen. with 4:3 ratio and such a small screen I do not really see the point as well.

      @general topic switching between right and left and cant really decide xD

  17. Amir January 12, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    It has been years since I switched over to the right side. And it’s been one of my best decisions ever. Someone commented yesterday about how crazy I was for doing so; so I google searched it to know that I’m not alone.

    • Steve Krause January 12, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

      Oh yeah….. Love it on the side. However I’m a LEFT side of the screen kind of guy. I tried the left side but it kept getting in the way when using the scroll bar.

  18. dave April 1, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    im trying it out on the left side but the floating social buttons are covering up to first 1-2 letters of each sentence lol

  19. inconnu May 3, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    Right-side user for years, and now switching to the left-hand side to avoid occasional closing of applications…
    One question I have to other side-users: what’s your opinion on the start menu hiding the taskbar when it’s on the side?

  20. daerse June 26, 2015 at 1:10 am #

    Except when it’s at the bottom it’s closer to reach as you don’t have to go the whole width of the screen with the cursor, which is especially true when the bar is on the right-hand side as most icons are on the left.

  21. RiA August 28, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    For a couple years I thought I was weird and people thought weird of me because i kept my taskbar at the side.

    Good to know I’m not the only one.

  22. kevinprov November 10, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    I have had the taskbar on the right for years, since win xp, win 7, and now windows 10. (I was afraid 10 might not allow this.)
    But, I also have my desktop icons on the taskbar, taking up 1/2 the column, with the rest free for open programs/folders/etc. I also have set my icons on the actual desktop to not “show”.
    What’s the advatage? A clean-looking screen when there are no windows open, and the ability to get to my desktop items WITHOUT having to minimize any of my open windows to get to icons behind them on the actual desktop. Try it!
    (As a personal preference, I don’t need anything “pinned” to the taskbar.)

    • Manuel December 4, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

      What do you mean by it exactly, can you maybe post a screenshot?

    • Ichinisan January 29, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      I hold the Windows logo key and press D to show the desktop. Even dialog windows that have no option to minimize will disappear. If you open something, everything returns to their original positions and relative Z-order, but the thing you just opened appears in front. Also, pressing Win+D again will restore everything exactly as it was.

      I keep my taskbar on the left side on my Win7 system at work and on the right side on my Win10 system at home.

      The only problem I have with it: On the Win7 system at work, new windows are often obscured by the taskbar (which occupies the first 62 columns of pixels on the left side on my screen). So the left position of “0” still starts at the left side of the screen, instead of starting where the taskbar ends.

    • Marjan February 29, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

      How do you place icons on the vertical taskbar? Do you use Quick Launch bar? Thanks!

  23. Bilo December 2, 2015 at 3:48 am #

    I am searching some random stuff in google and found this article, totally agree of the point “Most Applications Don’t Take Up All The Horizontal Space”, after reading this, I have moved the taskbar to the right-hand side and feel much better

  24. Herb Severing June 7, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    I have been using the right-hand position fot the task bar for at least 16 years.
    Try it out. There’s nothing better.
    That way there’s no use for tabbed browsing.
    But that’s an additional benefit in the long row.
    Keeping the task bar to either right or left is definitely the professional’s choice.

    • Steve Krause June 8, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

      I agree 200%! I personally put it on the left only because on the right, I kept opening apps by accident when using the sliding toolbar on the right. Granted, now I use the mouse wheel or trackpad so I don’t use the sliding toolbar on the right anymore… Perhaps I’ll try the right again! HA!

      • Kevin June 9, 2016 at 6:59 am #

        I keep mine on the right, mainly because I couldn’t get used to the clock being on the left.
        Does anyone one else use the desktop option? I allow about 1/2 the taskbar to show them. Not having to close windows to get to desktop icons is very convenient.

  25. Marjan June 9, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    Vertical taskbar is the ultimate position for multiple reasons.I have like this for more than 10 years.

    • Marjan June 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

      And because there is no evolution in this direction we must do it by ourselves. Here is a project that you can support if you want the vertical task bar and lots more. Just type 3x w and then winglaze and the usual dot com at the end. Sorry, this is the only way I can post it here.


  26. Dan June 26, 2016 at 7:02 am #

    Taskbar on the side also allows you to see the name of your opened programs and files better, because it doesn’t squish things together the more you have, so you can even make it a bit larger than the standard size, and easily recognize what you have opened in say multiple Word files or stuff like that.

  27. Manuel August 2, 2016 at 9:12 am #

    Now I have an interesting Setup with WIndows 10:
    Dual Monitor 24″
    1. screen in Front of me: Taskbar (MAIN one) on the left
    2. screen is left to the main screen and has a slightly thinner taskbar on the right

    Meaning they logically connect at the transition
    Option “show WIndows on main taskbar + where its opened”

    Only tested for a week but feels good

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