Organize your taskbar in Windows Vista with Taskbar Shuffle

Want the ability to rearrange Vista's taskbar tabs in any order with a simple drag-and-drop operation? Greg Shultz introduces a program that will allow you to do just that, describes some of its great features, and shows you how it works.

If you've read my recent blogs, Play With Two PowerToys-Like Programs For Windows Vista and My Six Favorite Sidebar Gadgets, you know that I am always on the lookout for little programs that perform very specific tasks and enhance the Windows Vista operating system. I recently discovered a little gem called Taskbar Shuffle that provides a feature that I've been wishing for ever since I began to using Internet Explorer: the ability to rearrange the tabs in any order with a simple drag-and-drop operation.

Once I got used to this rearrangement feature, I kept wishing that I could perform the same type of drag-and-drop reorganization on Vista's taskbar. Apparently, so did Jay Elaraj over at Home of the Nerd Cave, because he created Taskbar Shuffle — a free program that allows you to reorganize the taskbar by dragging and dropping the taskbar buttons.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll introduce you to Taskbar Shuffle, describe some of its great features, and show you how it works.

Downloading and installing Taskbar Shuffle

Once you download Taskbar Shuffle:

  1. Begin the installation procedure by double clicking the exe file. When you do, you'll encounter the Open File Security Warning dialog box.
  2. Instead, simply click the Run button to proceed. At the UAC dialog box, click the Allow button.
  3. The Setup Wizard will launch and walk you through the steps of installing Taskbar Shuffle.

Using Taskbar Shuffle

Once you have Taskbar Shuffle installed, you'll need to manually launch it the first time. (In its default configuration, Taskbar Shuffle will launch each time you restart Windows.) The Taskbar Shuffle shortcut is on the Start | All Programs menu. As it launches, you'll see the splash screen (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The splash screen at Taskbar Shuffle's launch.
You'll then see the Taskbar Shuffle icon appear in the notification area (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

The Taskbar Shuffle icon resides in the notification area.
As soon as you have Taskbar Shuffle up and running, you can click on any taskbar button on the taskbar and drag it to another location (Figure C). Simply drop the taskbar button right on top of an existing button, and all of the other buttons will shift over one space.

Figure C

Figure C

With Taskbar Shuffle, you can drag taskbar buttons around.
In addition to allowing you to rearrange buttons on the taskbar, you can also rearrange program icons in the notification area (Figure D) by pressing and holding down [Ctrl] as you drag the icon. Again, simply drop the icon on top of an existing icon and all of the other icons will shift to accommodate it.

Figure D

Figure D

In addition to rearranging taskbar buttons, you can also rearrange the program icons in the notification area.

Configuring Taskbar Shuffle

When you right-click on the Taskbar Shuffle icon in the notification area, you'll see a menu (Figure E). Among other things, you'll notice that you can toggle Taskbar Shuffle on and off; there may be some situations in which you might not want to move taskbar buttons.

Figure E

Figure E

You can toggle Taskbar Shuffle on and off from this menu.
If you select Settings from the menu, the Taskbar Shuffle Settings dialog box (Figure F), which will allow you to configure how the program works, will appear. In the General panel, you can control whether you want Taskbar Shuffle to launch at startup, show a splash screen at startup, or show a system tray (notification area) icon.

Figure F

Figure F

In this dialog box, you can configure how you want Taskbar Shuffle to work.

In the Bells And Whistles panel, you can reconfigure or disable the taskbar grouping feature altogether. The taskbar grouping feature in Windows Vista provides two operations: First, it automatically positions similar taskbar buttons next to each other, and second, when the amount of space on the taskbar starts to dwindle and the buttons get too small, it groups similar taskbar buttons under a single button.

Taskbar Shuffle's default setting, Group Tasks In Order Started, will use the default Vista configuration. Selecting the Group Tasks With This Or More Windows setting allows you to specify the exact number of similar taskbar buttons that must appear on the taskbar before grouping under a single button occurs. Selecting the Group Tasks But Never Collapse Into One Button setting allows you to disable the grouping feature. However, similar taskbar buttons will still appear next to one another on the taskbar.

The Allow Middle-Click To Close Task Button/Group setting is a real timesaver as it reduces a two-click procedure (right-clicking a taskbar button and selecting the Close command) to a single click on the mouse wheel button. Finally, you can change the key that you must hold down in order to drag and drop program icons in the notification area.

Doing the Shuffle

Once you get used to using drag-and-drop to rearrange Internet Explorer 7's tabs, you'll want to get Taskbar Shuffle so that you can do the same on the taskbar. Do you think Taskbar Shuffle sounds like a useful tool? Please drop by the discussion area and let us know.

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About Greg Shultz

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.

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