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Taskbar Tweaks and Programs


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In another thread, @Ishatixmentioned,

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I tweak my Windows UI quite a lot to be more like the pre-Win7 / Cinnamon style anyway, with a double row of separated windows in the taskbar (i.e. not bundled together and hidden away under separate program icons), and I find that the longer/further you stay off the accepted mainstream "norm" with software, the more likely things will break, be removed, or no longer supported in the future. 😩

This got me thinking, that would be a good discussion topic!  How do you tweak your taskbar, and what programs do you use to do so?

I'm not sure I have any taskbar-tweaking programs on my Win8.1/Win10 computers, although having a double row of windows sounds intriguing, and I really should try having the taskbar on the side again!  I'm constantly running out of space to read which programs I have open.

I still have Taskix on my legacy system on its XP install, which lets you reorder windows on the taskbar (now present in later versions of Windows by default), as well as other features such as middle-click on the taskbar closing programs (I still kind of miss that one, now it opens a new window by default).  But I guess the reordering was what I really installed it for, and now that it's present by default (except in groups of the same program's windows), I haven't felt compelled to re-install it.

Any other cool programs we should all know about?

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Ah, nice idea, and thanks for the mention!

Well, if you'd mentioned Taskix to me 20 years ago I certainly would have been interested! 😄 But yeah, I consider the ability to re-order windows pretty essential. I can't remember now if that was standard by the time of Vista, or if there was a hack for it.

No third party programs are required to set up the taskbar how I have it, it's all just standard options within Windows itself. Here are my taskbar settings in Windows 8.1 (right-click on taskbar and select "Properties"):

Spoiler

Taskbar.thumb.png.30c37f662bf02ffdd884bc346d094fed.png

I believe that Windows 10 is more or less the same in this regard. No idea about Windows 11, but would be very interested if anyone here can confirm. I think the main options of importance here are ticking the box for "Use small taskbar buttons" and setting "Taskbar buttons:" to "Never combine". Then simply de-select "Lock the taskbar" from the right-click context menu, drag it up to the height for how many rows you want, and then lock it again.

My use of two rows here dates back to my younger years when I worked a stint in tech support for a large banking organisation. (We used Windows "Omni"(?) or something like that... a sort of enterprise Windows variant in between XP and Vista I think...) We each had two computers and many dozens of different programs open on each of them for doing different things. So having two rows of windows in the taskbar was the only possible way to handle it all. And I still find it the most practical layout to this day since I often have many different things open at once, and like to be able to see, and switch between, all windows cleanly and quickly.

I also still have an old school "Quick Launch" section configured between taskbar and the Start button at bottom left. Though in truth, I never use it any more (see final paragraph for why), so maybe I should get rid of it...

For my Start Menu I still use an old version of Classic Shell, with the "Classic with two columns" start menu style, with entries adjusted to my own preferences. There are also some additional Windows 8.1 settings here. Though note that development now continues on it in the form of Open Shell, currently supporting Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10. It is not clear yet whether it will support Windows 11 in the future. See this discussion: https://github.com/Open-Shell/Open-Shell-Menu 

But really, the most significant addition to my Windows interface is AutoHotKey (there are a number of possible alternatives for Linux), which allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for doing practically anything, and is very simple to use. So anything I do regularly I will have a keyboard shortcut for. E.g.:

  • All the standard programs I use regularly I have set to open with Windows key shortcuts, such as Win-W for Winamp, Win-V for Vivaldi, Win-+ for Notepad++, Win-Z for Zim etc. Or a modified Windows key for ones I use less often like Win-Alt-R for autoruns.exe.
  • Shortcuts for any commonly used text entries such as email sign-offs, the email address I use to sign-up for things, phone number, URL text injection etc.
  • Numpad keys (when NumLock off) setup as media playback controls/volume etc. for Winamp.
  • Shortcuts for allowing my remote control to launch certain programs.
  • Custom screen brightness controls
  • Sleep / lock / screen switch-off shortcuts(the latter is useful for laptops which don't have a function key for this).
  • Paste without formatting
  • Instantly creating the sub-directory structure that I always use in all my folders of photos.

There are all extremely basic tasks. AHK can do a whole lot more powerful things than that if you are more technically inclined.

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I remember Taskix.  Life saver back in the XP/Vista days when you couldn't rearrange the taskbar.  I had a specific order that I liked, and I remember being upset when something would cause Explorer to crash and that would jumble up the order of items on the taskbar.  I'd have to close and reopen everything to get the order back how I wanted.  (Until I discovered Taskix.)

I don't use any taskbar tweak programs right now, but I do have replacement for other parts of the Windows shell.  I use Start11 (Start menu replacement) and Directory Opus (File Explorer replacement).  If I could find a good taskbar replacement then I would check it out.  I think that the taskbar could certainly be made more power user friendly.

12 minutes ago, Ishatix said:

No idea about Windows 11, but would be very interested if anyone here can confirm.

Windows 11 has lost most taskbar customization functionality.  You can't "ungroup" windows anymore, show text next to the taskbar icons, or show it on any side of the screen other than the bottom.  I'm a bit miffed that there is no way to show seconds on the clock (either on the taskbar or in the flyout that appears when you click on the clock).  You can get functionality back by forcing it to use the Windows 10 taskbar, which is still present, but that's a bit hacky/broken.

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I briefly tried Windows 11 but quickly reverted to Windows 10 when I discovered that I couldn't put the taskbar up the left side of the screen so I get maximum vertical real estate. It's set to small icons and is wide enough that I get time and date shown. I've never liked auto-hide so it's fixed. My most frequently-used programs are pinned to the taskbar.

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My windows setup is pretty vanilla with the exception of StartIsBack and the Grey Eve theme to make everything dark mode.

startisback: https://startisback.com/

Grey eve theme (working on LTSC 2021 so i would assume the standard 21H2 works also): https://github.com/nitschis/GreyEveTheme

Heres how it looks:

 

win10 iot 2021 custom.png

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3 hours ago, defcon42 said:

@AztherWhat is the advantage of Grey eve theme over Windows systemwide dark mode?

System-wide dark mode isn't exactly system-wide.  For example, see "Task Manager" in the screen shot above; dark mode doesn't change its appearance at all.

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Dell Precision 7770 (personal)

  • Intel Core i9-12950HX ("Alder Lake"), 8P+8E
    • 8× P cores ("Golden Cove"): 2.3 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading
    • 8× E cores ("Gracemont"): 1.7 GHz base, 3.6 GHz turbo
  • 128GB DDR5-3600 (CAMM)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 16GB (DGFF)
  • Storage:
    • 2TB system drive: Samsung 980 Pro, PCIe4
    • 24TB additional storage: 3× Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 8TB, PCIe4 (Storage Spaces)
  • Windows 10 (Enterprise LTSC 2021)
  • 17.3" 3940×2160 display
  • Intel Wi-Fi AX211 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth)
  • 93Wh battery
  • IR webcam
  • Fingerprint reader

 

Dell Precision 7560 (work)

  • Intel Xeon W-11955M ("Tiger Lake")
    • 8×2.6 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading ("Willow Cove")
  • 64GB DDR4-3200 ECC
  • NVIDIA RTX A2000 4GB
  • Storage:
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    • 4TB additional storage (Sabrent Rocket Q4)
  • Windows 10 (Enterprise LTSC 2021)
  • 15.6" 3940×2160 display
  • Intel Wi-Fi AX210 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth)
  • 95Wh battery
  • IR webcam
  • Fingerprint reader

 

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@defcon42 as @Aaron44126 has said, the built in one doesnt change everything over, stuff like transfer windows and task manager stay white. since grey eve is a modded high contrast theme, it converts everything and doesnt need any system file modifications to work

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I made a tweak a number of years ago and cant find the txt settings any where, maybe on an old HDD but dont know which one and would like to know more about it if it does anything or not. Its in power options, advanced settings. Graphic Processor, GPU Power State, Plugged In. I just cant find anything on the web, Dont remember where I got it, But do remember it was regedit setting, I exported the setting and tried to install on another laptop but it didn't show up. Vague possibility maybe got it on NBR, but don't know if it made it into the Archives, Big IF

2022-02-03_075245.png

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50 minutes ago, aldarxt said:

I made a tweak a number of years ago and cant find the txt settings any where, maybe on an old HDD but dont know which one and would like to know more about it if it does anything or not. Its in power options, advanced settings. Graphic Processor, GPU Power State, Plugged In. I just cant find anything on the web, Dont remember where I got it, But do remember it was regedit setting, I exported the setting and tried to install on another laptop but it didn't show up. Vague possibility maybe got it on NBR, but don't know if it made it into the Archives, Big IF

These settings live in: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings

Maybe check there on the system that has it and see if you can figure out which subkey it is.  Export from one machine and import onto another.

Note that just because the setting exists doesn't mean it actually does anything.  You can actually create any arbitrary advanced power options that you want in the registry.  The GPU driver would have to look at the setting and take action on it for it to be of any use.

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Info posts (Dell) — Dell Precision key postsDell driver RSS feeds • Dell Fan Management — override fan behavior
Info posts (Windows) — Turbo boost toggle • The problem with Windows 11 • About Windows 10 LTSC

Spoiler

Dell Precision 7770 (personal)

  • Intel Core i9-12950HX ("Alder Lake"), 8P+8E
    • 8× P cores ("Golden Cove"): 2.3 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading
    • 8× E cores ("Gracemont"): 1.7 GHz base, 3.6 GHz turbo
  • 128GB DDR5-3600 (CAMM)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 16GB (DGFF)
  • Storage:
    • 2TB system drive: Samsung 980 Pro, PCIe4
    • 24TB additional storage: 3× Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 8TB, PCIe4 (Storage Spaces)
  • Windows 10 (Enterprise LTSC 2021)
  • 17.3" 3940×2160 display
  • Intel Wi-Fi AX211 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth)
  • 93Wh battery
  • IR webcam
  • Fingerprint reader

 

Dell Precision 7560 (work)

  • Intel Xeon W-11955M ("Tiger Lake")
    • 8×2.6 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading ("Willow Cove")
  • 64GB DDR4-3200 ECC
  • NVIDIA RTX A2000 4GB
  • Storage:
    • 512GB system drive (Micron 2300)
    • 4TB additional storage (Sabrent Rocket Q4)
  • Windows 10 (Enterprise LTSC 2021)
  • 15.6" 3940×2160 display
  • Intel Wi-Fi AX210 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth)
  • 95Wh battery
  • IR webcam
  • Fingerprint reader

 

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29 minutes ago, Aaron44126 said:

These settings live in: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings

Maybe check there on the system that has it and see if you can figure out which subkey it is.  Export from one machine and import onto another.

Note that just because the setting exists doesn't mean it actually does anything.  You can actually create any arbitrary advanced power options that you want in the registry.  The GPU driver would have to look at the setting and take action on it for it to be of any use.

Thanks for this info, I had been hoping this setting would add some performance but I see its just aesthetics for the unwary.

Yes HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings is what I exported to install on my m6700 but won't need to now, it didn't work anyhow

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7 minutes ago, aldarxt said:

Thanks for this info, I had been hoping this setting would add some performance but I see its just aesthetics for the unwary.

Yes HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings is what I exported to install on my m6700 but won't need to now, it didn't work anyhow

For Precision M6700, install Dell Feature Enhancement Pack to get some additional advanced power settings (they live in the same spot) that actually work.

Dell Precision 7770 (personal) • Dell Precision 7560 (work) • Full specs in spoiler block below
Info posts (Dell) — Dell Precision key postsDell driver RSS feeds • Dell Fan Management — override fan behavior
Info posts (Windows) — Turbo boost toggle • The problem with Windows 11 • About Windows 10 LTSC

Spoiler

Dell Precision 7770 (personal)

  • Intel Core i9-12950HX ("Alder Lake"), 8P+8E
    • 8× P cores ("Golden Cove"): 2.3 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading
    • 8× E cores ("Gracemont"): 1.7 GHz base, 3.6 GHz turbo
  • 128GB DDR5-3600 (CAMM)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 16GB (DGFF)
  • Storage:
    • 2TB system drive: Samsung 980 Pro, PCIe4
    • 24TB additional storage: 3× Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 8TB, PCIe4 (Storage Spaces)
  • Windows 10 (Enterprise LTSC 2021)
  • 17.3" 3940×2160 display
  • Intel Wi-Fi AX211 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth)
  • 93Wh battery
  • IR webcam
  • Fingerprint reader

 

Dell Precision 7560 (work)

  • Intel Xeon W-11955M ("Tiger Lake")
    • 8×2.6 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading ("Willow Cove")
  • 64GB DDR4-3200 ECC
  • NVIDIA RTX A2000 4GB
  • Storage:
    • 512GB system drive (Micron 2300)
    • 4TB additional storage (Sabrent Rocket Q4)
  • Windows 10 (Enterprise LTSC 2021)
  • 15.6" 3940×2160 display
  • Intel Wi-Fi AX210 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth)
  • 95Wh battery
  • IR webcam
  • Fingerprint reader

 

Previous

  • Dell Precision 7530, 7510, M4800, M6700
  • Dell Latitude E6520
  • Dell Inspiron 1720, 5150
  • Dell Latitude CPi
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2 minutes ago, Aaron44126 said:

For Precision M6700, install Dell Feature Enhancement Pack to get some additional advanced power settings (they live in the same spot) that actually work.

Thanks, giving it a go now

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4 minutes ago, aldarxt said:

Thanks, giving it a go now

"Thermal mode" is really the only one that's really interesting to me.  I have profiles with it set to "Quiet" (actually limits CPU to 2.4 GHz) and "Ultra performance" for gaming.  You can configure Process Lasso to automatically switch power profiles when certain apps run.

Dell Precision 7770 (personal) • Dell Precision 7560 (work) • Full specs in spoiler block below
Info posts (Dell) — Dell Precision key postsDell driver RSS feeds • Dell Fan Management — override fan behavior
Info posts (Windows) — Turbo boost toggle • The problem with Windows 11 • About Windows 10 LTSC

Spoiler

Dell Precision 7770 (personal)

  • Intel Core i9-12950HX ("Alder Lake"), 8P+8E
    • 8× P cores ("Golden Cove"): 2.3 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading
    • 8× E cores ("Gracemont"): 1.7 GHz base, 3.6 GHz turbo
  • 128GB DDR5-3600 (CAMM)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 16GB (DGFF)
  • Storage:
    • 2TB system drive: Samsung 980 Pro, PCIe4
    • 24TB additional storage: 3× Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 8TB, PCIe4 (Storage Spaces)
  • Windows 10 (Enterprise LTSC 2021)
  • 17.3" 3940×2160 display
  • Intel Wi-Fi AX211 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth)
  • 93Wh battery
  • IR webcam
  • Fingerprint reader

 

Dell Precision 7560 (work)

  • Intel Xeon W-11955M ("Tiger Lake")
    • 8×2.6 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading ("Willow Cove")
  • 64GB DDR4-3200 ECC
  • NVIDIA RTX A2000 4GB
  • Storage:
    • 512GB system drive (Micron 2300)
    • 4TB additional storage (Sabrent Rocket Q4)
  • Windows 10 (Enterprise LTSC 2021)
  • 15.6" 3940×2160 display
  • Intel Wi-Fi AX210 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth)
  • 95Wh battery
  • IR webcam
  • Fingerprint reader

 

Previous

  • Dell Precision 7530, 7510, M4800, M6700
  • Dell Latitude E6520
  • Dell Inspiron 1720, 5150
  • Dell Latitude CPi
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On 2/1/2022 at 8:06 PM, Aaron44126 said:

I don't use any taskbar tweak programs right now, but I do have replacement for other parts of the Windows shell.  I use Start11 (Start menu replacement) and Directory Opus (File Explorer replacement).  If I could find a good taskbar replacement then I would check it out.  I think that the taskbar could certainly be made more power user friendly.

I hadn't heard of either of those before thanks. I've always used Total Commander for two panel large copy operations like backups, or sending music to portable music player etc. NexusFile is another option for this I know of (which uses a dark theme by default), mainly because I like the NexusFont font manager app from the same developer.

Another useful one is Bulk Rename Utility which gives you a handy context menu entry for bulk renaming multiple files at once. Mainly I use it for adding or removing prefixes/suffixes to file names, but it can also do other things like numbering or replacing according to regular expressions.

On 2/1/2022 at 8:06 PM, Aaron44126 said:

Windows 11 has lost most taskbar customization functionality.  You can't "ungroup" windows anymore, show text next to the taskbar icons, or show it on any side of the screen other than the bottom.  I'm a bit miffed that there is no way to show seconds on the clock (either on the taskbar or in the flyout that appears when you click on the clock).  You can get functionality back by forcing it to use the Windows 10 taskbar, which is still present, but that's a bit hacky/broken.

OMG.. nooooo!! 😞 Well, hopefully someone will add it at some stage, or the Win10 hacky replacement will be improved. I can't see myself ever using it otherwise.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The new StartIsBack for Windows 11 fixes everything wrong with the taskbar and start menu, and nothing is broken or malfunctioning as it is with the native hack. It fixes a lot of stuff that is jacked up with Windows 11's tacky UI, including the stupid looking and inefficient new right-click context menu. It made my Windows 11 look exactly as it does using StarIsBack on Windows 10. I refuse to use Windows 10 without StartIsBack. It is an essential as far as I am concerned. I install it as soon as I reach the desktop on a clean install, even before product activation or drivers.

 

It made using Windows 11 a whole lot less disgusting, but it still had too many things about it that remained unacceptable to me, so I reclaimed the drive space it was wasting.

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