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How to Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons in Windows

Windows includes a special application desktop toolbar called the taskbar that shows on the bottom of a display screen by default. The taskbar allows you to find, see, open, and switch between your apps. You can also see the date and time, system icons, and items running in the background on the notification area. You can make the taskbar look how you want, manage your calendar, pin your favorite apps to it, change the size, change location on screen, and specify how taskbar buttons group together when you have more than one window open.

If you have multiple displays, then you will be able to set button grouping separately for the main taskbar and other taskbars.

Taskbar Button Grouping Options:
  • Always combine, hide labels - This is the default setting. Each app appears as a single, unlabeled button (icon), even when multiple windows for an app are open.
  • Combine when taskbar is full - This setting shows each open window as an individual, labeled button. When the taskbar becomes crowded, apps with multiple open windows collapse into a single app button. Clicking the button displays a list of the windows that are open.
  • Never combine - This setting shows each window as an individual, labeled button, and never combines them, no matter how many windows are open. As more apps and windows open, buttons get smaller, and eventually the buttons will scroll.

If you like, you can prevent the grouping of taskbar buttons in Windows.

If disabled, taskbar buttons will be set to always never combine, and the Combine taskbar buttons and Combine button on other taskbars settings will be grayed out.

This tutorial will show you how to enable or disable grouping of taskbar buttons for specific or all users in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

You must be signed in as an administrator to enable or disable taskbar grouping.


 CONTENTS:

  • Option One: Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons in Local Group Policy Editor
  • Option Two: Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons for All Users using a REG file

EXAMPLE: Grouping of Taskbar Buttons enabled and disabled
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Name:  never_combine.png
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Name:  taskbar_button_grouping_enabled.jpg
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Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons in Windows OPTION ONE Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons in Windows
Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons in Local Group Policy Editor


In Windows 7, the Local Group Policy Editor is only available in the Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions.

In Windows 8, the Local Group Policy Editor is only available in the Pro and Enterprise editions.

In Windows 10, the Local Group Policy Editor is only available in the Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions.

All editions can use Option Two.

1. Open the all users, specific users or groups, or all users except administrators Local Group Policy Editor for how you want this policy applied.

2. In the left pane of the Local Group Policy Editor, click/tap on to expand User Configuration, Administrative Templates, and Start Menu and Taskbar. (see screenshot below)

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3. In the right pane of Start Menu and Taskbar, double click/tap on the Prevent grouping of taskbar items policy to edit it. (see screenshot above)

4. Do step 5 (enable) or step 6 (disable) below for what you would like to do.


 5. To Enable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons

A) Select (dot) either Not Configured or Disabled, click/tap on OK, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot below)

Not Configured is the default setting.


 6. To Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons

A) Select (dot) Enabled, click/tap on OK, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot below)

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7. When finished, you can close Local Group Policy Editor if you like.






Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons in Windows OPTION TWO Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons in Windows
Enable or Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons for All Users using a REG file


The downloadable .reg files below will add and modify the DWORD value in the registry keys below.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

NoTaskGrouping DWORD

(delete) = Enable
1 = Disable


1. Do step 2 (enable) or step 3 (disable) below for what you would like to do.


 2. To Enable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons for All Users

This is the default setting.

A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and go to step 4 below.

Enable_grouping_of_taskbar_buttons.reg

download


 3. To Disable Grouping of Taskbar Buttons for All Users

A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and go to step 4 below.

Disable_grouping_of_taskbar_buttons.reg

download

4. Save the .reg file to your desktop.

5. Double click/tap on the downloaded .reg file to merge it.

6. When prompted, click/tap on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK to approve the merge.

7. You can either restart the explorer process, sign out and sign in, or restart the computer to apply.

8. You could now delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.


That's it,
Shawn