How to Properly Declutter Your Windows Taskbar

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Calling all Windows 10 and Windows 11 users. I know you don’t care about clutter on your Windows taskbar. Heck, you probably don’t even notice it, or even notice that it can be cleaned. Well, it can and I’m here to tell you to do it, because having a clean taskbar can help you in so many ways.

I’m here to Marie Kondo your taskbar.

How to Properly Clean Up Your Windows Taskbar Clutter

Let me define what I’m talking about. When you get a new Windows PC or laptop, the taskbar appears. already being cluttered with things you’ll probably never use. In Windows 10 and Windows 11, with some of these buttons added, removed or changed, this includes:

  • Search bar or icon
  • The “Task view” button
  • The “Widgets” button
  • The “Chat” button
  • The “Cortana” button
  • The “People” button

Additionally, it also includes operational icons near the date and time reading, including:

  • The pen menu (could be called Windows Ink Workspace)
  • The “touch keyboard”
  • The “virtual touchpad”
  • Corner Overflow Icons

That’s a lot of icons taking up dead space on the taskbar and ultimately contributing nothing, unless you’re using it all up somehow? If so, I’m worried about you. But if you’re like most Windows users and only use what you need, then we can start cleaning this stuff up. Let’s separate Windows 10 and Windows 11.

How to declutter your Windows taskbar on Windows 10

It’s actually a lot easier to make your Windows taskbar less cluttered on Windows 10. All you have to do is right-click (or long-press on touchscreen devices) on the taskbar. You will receive a drop-down menu of the settings you want to change.

From there you can just start selecting what you want and what you don’t want, although I recommend cleaning up all taskbar functionality. Think about the features you use and don’t use and go through the list.

In the corner next to the date and time readings, you can drag and drop status icons into the arrow and store them.

Plus, you probably have a few items pinned to the taskbar that you aren’t using, including Microsoft Edge, File Explorer, and the Microsoft Store. Just right-click and detach these icons.

If you’re worried about losing the usefulness of these features when you remove them from the taskbar, don’t be. Task View can be accessed by pressing ALT+TAB, and Search can still be accessed by pressing the Windows key and typing your query. If you don’t like the graphics that started showing up in the Windows search bar, you can learn all about removing them here.

The Windows 10 taskbar. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

How to declutter your Windows taskbar on Windows 11

On the more refined Windows 11, the standard taskbar look has taken a little turn, centered by default. You can change that. You can change everything.

Right-click (or press and hold on touchscreen devices) on the taskbar and open “Taskbar Settings”. From there, you’ll see a menu of taskbar items, including “Search,” “Task View,” “Widgets,” and “Chat.”

Go ahead and deactivate the ones you are not actively using. Turning them off doesn’t mean you lose their functionality. For example, Task View is accessible by pressing ALT+TAB, and Search is still accessible by pressing the Windows key and typing your query.

If you want the icons to snap together in the corner, go ahead and click “Taskbar Behaviors” and change “Taskbar Alignment” from center to left.

Then, in the actual taskbar, go ahead and right-click (or press and hold on touchscreens) app icons you don’t need or use, such as Microsoft Edge, the Microsoft Store, and File Explorer. You can detach them by doing this.

windows taskbar clutter
The Windows 11 taskbar. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

And There you go. A clean, decluttered Windows taskbar.

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