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Customize the Windows 7 Taskbar For Classic Look [How-To]

Windows 7 LogoWith Windows 7, Microsoft completely revamped not only the look but also the functionality of the Taskbar.  Text labels have been replaced with large icons, and instances of the same application now stack onto one icon on the Taskbar.  The new functionality keeps things simple and minimalistic and when coupled with Aero, beautiful. 


Depending on what you’re doing, sometimes it’s nice to use the old Taskbar, for example; if you’re trying to teach someone like grandma how to use a new operating system or you don’t have time to adjust or learn something new.  Or perhaps you fear change and prefer the way “things have always been”…  🙂


Seriously though, this is one of the many very great things about Windows 7; A LOT of customization options are available to choose from.  With the release of Windows 7 just days away, were going to begin focusing more and more on the Windows 7, it’s new features, how to use them and how-to customize the new operating system.  For now however, let’s just focus on the task at hand and review how to return the Windows 7 Taskbar to the look and feel of good ole Windows XP.


Here’s a few possible looks and this article will show you how to do them


A: The New Windows 7 Taskbar

Windows 7 Taskbar


B: The Windows 7 Classic Functionality Taskbar

Windows 7 Classic Funcationality Taskbar


C: The Windows 7 Classic “XP Style” Taskbar

Windows 7 Classic XP Taskbar

Okay!  Let’s learn how to do it!


How To Use The Classic Functionality And XP Style Taskbar In Windows 7

Related Article:  Windows 10 Mobile Configuration Update Rolled Out to Insiders


1.   Right-Click any empty space on the Taskbar and Click Properties on the context menu

Windows 7 Properties from the Taskbar Screenshot


2.   The Taskbar and Start Menu Properties windows should appear.  Checkbox the Use small icon option, and then Select the Never combine in the Taskbar buttons drop-menu. Click OK to save changes and continue.

Windows 7 customize the Taskbar


3. Right-Click each icon on your Taskbar and Select Unpin this program from taskbar.

Windows 7 Unpin a program from the Taskbar Screenshot


Now your desktop will have the Windows 7 style mixed with the classic text label look.  If you want to continue on and use the Classic XP style just follow the next couple of steps.


4.   Right-Click any open area on the desktop.  From the context menu that appears Click Personalize.

Windows 7 Personalize Screenshot


5.   The Appearance and Personalization window should pop-up, Scroll down to Basic and High Contrast ThemesClick the Windows Classic theme, it might take a while to switch themes depending on your system.

Windows 7 Change Theme to Classic


Questions, Comments?  Would love to hear from you!

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9 Responses to Customize the Windows 7 Taskbar For Classic Look [How-To]

  1. shockersh October 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    no no no!! The new windows 7 toolbar is a thing of beuty! don’t ruin it with the lame xp look!!!!

    • borax October 27, 2009 at 2:13 am #

      @shockersh, Yeah I have to agree, although I do miss the quick launch bar.. maybe I’m just lazy but the pins make it harder to open up apps if they are already running

  2. Billy Buerger October 27, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    Nope, the win7 toolbar sucks for me. For one, put it on the left or right of your screen and all the horizontal space is wasted. As I tend to have a LOT of applications running and multiple instances of them, having the window title is a lot easier to find then the stupid preview windows that pop up when I don’t want them to. And I don’t put anything on my desktop. So desktop peek is useless. Instead, I put all of my commonly used applications in a toolbar on the taskbar. Which when putting the taskbar on the left side gives me room for 20 programs which can be opened very quickly. Last, since the system menu doesn’t come up when you right click on the taskbar button, there’s no way to use the old-school trick of finding a window hiding off screen. Right-click->move->arrow key = window stuck to your cursor to put wherever you want. It doesn’t happen often but sometimes with remote desktop sessions, windows get confused and show up on a screen that doesn’t exist anymore.

  3. grooveDexter January 6, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    This could be an issue with a setting in Internet Explorer.

    Check Tools > Internet Options

    From the General Tab -> Click Settings
    Make sure the “Show previews for individual tabs in the taskbar” is checked.

    Screenshot of Setting

  4. Percy January 2, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Those new icons just make it really hard if not impossible to navigate. I’m new to Windows 7 and have even changed XP to the older Classic look. I agree that the new icons look nice but to begin with I need to find my way around. Maybe later I’ll start using the new 7 pretty look.

  5. AAA February 3, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    i wish i could use the classic right click menu on the tasks of the taskbar(without using SHIFT) , and that the menu won’t have an offset from the place that you’ve done the right click .how come “pin to desktop” is more important than minimize,close,move,maximize ?
    in the previous versions, i could also choose multiple tasks and close them all. i don’t think it’s possible now.
    also, the current taskbar doesn’t show well which task has the focus . i wish i could change that too.

  6. Robert Norwood January 16, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    The problem with Win7 is it requires you to learn a whole new OS and way of doing things. If that’s the case go with Apple, they’re not out to confuse you. I have better things to do like work and produce. My experience goes back to the NT days and tried and true habits stick – never rush out and install every money suck Microsoft comes out with – let some other fool get burned. This has always been solid advice against service packs that used to blow up in your face and buggy – buggy operating systems. Now, they’ve got better but in general let the MS zombies pay the price until the bugs are worked out or a failed OS replaced. Office releases are always followed by an newer one so skip a release so you don’t pay for a new one and then have to buy the upgrade – upgrades suck. Most of XP’s detractors are kids who like superficial ornaments like colors and cartoons, totally useless things like fading. I think W7 features in an XP theme would’ve been nice. XP is the AK-47 of OS’s – it’s for people who use computers for real work. Windows 7 is like, I dunno, what, something for the gaming and movie watching crowd? Finally, what I really think this is about is Windows trying to mimic the Apple/Mac experience. Touchy feeley isn’t in their blood and doesn’t need to be – they should just stick with what they do best.

  7. Lorinda Raley January 25, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    Interesting weblog, I just book marked it

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