The grouping feature on Windows XP's taskbar is designed to reduce the button overcrowding problem that you may experience when you have a lot of applications open. The feature keeps tabs on the amount of space being occupied on the taskbar and groups similar windows under a single button once the amount of space on the taskbar starts to dwindle.
For example, if you have nine windows open and three of them contain text documents, the three text document taskbar buttons will combine into one button, named Notepad. This single button is then accompanied by an arrow button that, when clicked, will display a menu of all the documents in the group. In most cases, this taskbar grouping is very helpful. However, there may times when it is counterproductive to navigate through an additional menu to access your files—especially if you're simultaneously working with all of the documents in the group.
Fortunately, it is easy to toggle the taskbar grouping feature on and off with a few clicks. Here's how:
- Right-click an empty space on the taskbar.
- Choose the Properties command from the context menu.
- Clear the Group Similar Taskbar Buttons check box and click OK.
Now you can easily switch between each individual document without having to navigate an intermediary menu. To re-enable the taskbar grouping feature, repeat these steps and select the Group Similar Taskbar Buttons check box. Then, click OK.
Note: This tip applies to both Home and Professional editions.
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Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.