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:

  1. Right-click an empty space on the taskbar.
  2. Choose the Properties command from the context menu.
  3. 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.

This tip applies to both Home and Professional editions.

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