The Taskbar is the strip across the length of the screen
that is the central means for accessing programs and files. Configuring
it to suit individual preferences is discussed.
|In addition to containing the Start button, the taskbar
can be used as the main pathway to accessing frequently used functions,
programs, or files. Unlike icons on the desktop, it is not
hidden by open windows. The taskbar has several sections as shown in the
figure below. The term “taskbar” is
not used consistently in articles and books on Windows XP. Here it will
mean the entire strip. The middle part where the open programs are listed
is also called the “taskbar” by
many people. In addition to the sections shown in the figure, assorted
tool bars can be added. The various areas of the taskbar are discussed in
the sections below.
Windows XP taskbar
Configuring the taskbar
To configure the taskbar, right-click in an empty space on the bar and select “Properties” from
the context menu. The resulting dialog box is shown in the figure below. The
taskbar is locked by default and the box by the entry “Lock the taskbar” will
have to be unchecked if you wish to make changes. Each area of the taskbar
has a vertical divider separating it from the other areas. The dividers are
draggable and can be used to resize individual areas.
Taskbar properties sheet
Notification Area (aka System Tray)
A variety of programs will place icons in the section of the taskbar on the
far right that typically contains the clock. In XP, Microsoft calls this the “Notification
area”. It was previously known as the “System tray”. Programs
with icons in this area have one or more functions running in the background.
If Windows XP deems an icon to be inactive, it will hide it unless the setting
is changed. The setting is in the bottom section of the properties dialog box
as is shown in the figure below. You can also show or hide the clock in this
Section of Taskbar properties for Notification area
If you choose to check “Hide inactive icons”, the customize button
(grayed out above) is available and individual icons can have their settings
customized as shown in the next figure.
Customizing whether icons are visible
The functions associated with icons in the notification area can usually be
seen by right-clicking (Left-clicking often, but not always, has no effect.)
An example menu from the right-click menu for the firewall application, ZoneAlarm,
is shown in the next figure.
Example of a right-click menu for icon in Notification area
Quick Launch Bar
Depending on the configuration of your computer, the quick launch bar may
not already be available. The taskbar properties dialog box contains an entry
for showing the “Quick Launch” bar. This area of the taskbar will
appear just to the right of the Start button as shown in the figure below.
Area of taskbar with quick launch bar
As the name indicates, this area provides for quick access to programs, folders,
or files. Shortcuts can be dragged and dropped here. Unwanted entries can be
removed by using the right-click context menu. Only a single left-click is
required to open programs or files from here. By default, an icon for “Show
Desktop” is included. This useful applet minimizes all open windows and
displays the desktop on the screen. Other default entries are the Microsoft
applications Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. The example above
contains an icon for Internet Explorer, Show Desktop, and Notepad. The quick
launch bar is a convenient place for shortcuts to frequently used applications
It is possible to add customized toolbars to the middle area of the taskbar.
Right-click an empty spot on the taskbar and choose “Toolbars”.
There are five standard default choices ,
figure below). (Other software may sometimes add extra choices.) There is
also an item “New
allows the choice of any folder (second figure below). The Desktop toolbar
gives access to the contents of the desktop without having to minimize any
open windows. Similarly, a frequently used folder can be made easily accessible
by creating a toolbar for it.
Adding a new toolbar to the taskbar