Customize group similar windows

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 12, 2007
Updated • Oct 19, 2015
Windows, Windows tips

Windows has a feature that groups similar windows, for example seven Windows Explorer windows, under one taskbar button which is great if you like your taskbar as clean as possible, or have that many windows open at all times that you run into space issues as they do not fit on the taskbar together at the same time.

On Windows 7 and newer versions of the operating system, you define the grouping behavior of the taskbar in the following way. Right-click on the taskbar and select properties. Here you find the preference taskbar buttons listed under the Taskbar tab.

It supports the following three states: Always combine, hide labels, combine when taskbar is full, or never combine.

Changes that you make here are applied instantly, which means that you do not have to restart the PC or log off and on again for that.

There is however no direct way to change the number of windows that are needed before Windows starts grouping them.

Note: Microsoft has removed the preference described below in Windows 7 and newer versions of Windows. It is only valid if you are running Windows Vista or older versions of Windows. Windows 7 users can only use the preferences displayed in the taskbar properties.

To change the default behavior you need to edit a value in the Windows Registry and add a new key to it.

Open the registry by pressing Windows R, typing registry and hitting run.

Navigate to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced.

Create a new DWORD and name it TaskbarGroupSize.You do that with a right-click on the Advanced folder and the selection of New > Dword (32-bit) Value from the context menu that opens up. Name the new preference accordingly, and double-click it afterwards to set a value.

You can now assign the following values to the key:

  • 0 - group windows based on age starting with the oldest
  • 1 - group the biggest groups first
  • 2 - group all windows with at least 2 instances
  • 3 - group all windows with at least 3 instances

Close everything and restart your computer, or sign out and on again.

Customize group similar windows in Windows
Article Name
Customize group similar windows in Windows
Find out how to customize the group combining functionality of the Windows taskbar.

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