Windows 7 Taskbar has undergone a major changeover from previous operating system such as Windows XP and Windows Vista. Gone is the usual long button which has program’s icon and name. Instead, Windows 7 Taskbar’s button now comprise mainly of application icon only, which stacking together when more is opened, although users still can change Taskbar icon to button with label of app name or description (or web page title for web browsers) shown.

Windows 7 provides several options for end-user to customize and change the display and behavior icons and buttons on the Taskbar:

  • Always combine, hide labels
  • Combine when taskbar is full (will display label text)
  • Never combine (will display label text)

The last two options for Taskbar button will not stack or combine all buttons of same application program windows to one (second option will only combine when buttons fill up the Taskbar), and will expand the button from icon-only to include descriptive label.

What is not available, or lack in the options to Taskbar button setting, but may be wanted by some users are “never combine, hide labels” or “combine when taskbar is full, hide labels”, which will result in Taskbar button to show only application icons for each window opened are been shown separately (each window has own button with just icon), without any label, name, title, text, description or web page title. User who wants to have the ability to hide labels when the buttons are not combined can follow guide below.

How to Make Windows 7 Does Not Combine or Group Taskbar Buttons/Icons And Hide the Labels

  1. Run Registry Editor (RegEdit).
  2. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ControlPanel\Desktop\WindowMetrics

  3. Right click on a blank space on the right pane, select New, then String Value.
  4. Name the new string value as MinWidth.
  5. Double click on “MinWidth”, and set its value data as one of the following, depending on Taskbar is using normal (large) icons or small icons:

    Normal icons: 56
    Small icons: 40

    MinWidth

  6. Restart the computer.
  7. Right click on Taskbar, and select Properties.
  8. Set the Taskbar buttons setting to Never combine (each window has its own icon, and icons span to more rows in Taskbar when there is too many of them), or Combine when taskbar is full (all icons of same application or program will collapse to one when Taskbar no longer able to accommodate additional icon).

Windows 7 Taskbar Not Combine Buttons or Icons But Hide Labels

Alternatively, just download Hide-Labels.zip archive which contains registry registration files necessary to perform above actions.

  • Hide_Labels-Large_Icons.reg – To hide labels when not combining buttons when using STANDARD SIZE icons.
  • Hide_Labels-Small_Icons.reg – To hide labels when not combining buttons when using SMALL SIZE icons.
  • Restore-Labels.reg – To show labels when not combining buttons.

Windows 7 Taskbar now will show additional extra icon for new window opens, and will hide the label on the button. Note that MinWidth registry entry is actually used to change the width of Taskbar button. Any value that below than the value stated above will result in disappearing icons on the taskbar when it becomes heavily populated with icons, as stated in My Digital Life Forums thread. Besides, when the buttons are not combined, there is no option to close all windows at once.

To revert the change back to default behavior (with label) for Windows 7 Taskbar’s button, just delete the MinWidth registry key, and reboot the PC for it to take effect.

Check out more Windows 7 tips and tricks with usage guides.

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