In Windows XP and Vista we used to be able to prevent taskbar button grouping easily. Microsoft with Windows 7 has removed such feature. They only allowed what they call in their vocabulary “Never Combine” which practically separates taskbar buttons but keeps buttons representing the same program grouped together. So, even if you try to organize the buttons on the taskbar (by dragging them with the mouse cursor, which is a new cool feature in Windows 7), buttons belonging to the same program will be moved together.
To make the taskbar buttons always separated, you have to set the settings for them in Taskbar properties and use a small utility to tweak the Windows Taskbar buttons behavior.
Setting Windows 7 taskbar properties,
- Right click the taskbar then click “properties”
- For the Taskbar buttons drop down menu, select “Never Combine”
- This part is optional, but I also like to check the “Use small icons” checkbox. Just to make it more like our beloved Windows XP :)
- Click the “OK” button
Making the taskbar buttons never “group”,
- Go to this page to download “7 Taskbar Tweaker”. If the author’s page is not available, you can get the program from Softpedia.
- If you have 32-bit version of Windows 7, choose “7_Taskbar_Tweaker.rar” as your download. If you have 64-bit Windows 7, choose 7_Taskbar_Tweaker_x64.rar
- Extract the RAR archive file. The download is a RAR archive file, you should have WinRAR program to extract its content.
- Move the program directory to any place you want, I prefer to put it in “Program Files”
- start the program by double clicking its file
- In the grouping section, select “Don’t Group”
- click the “Apply” button
- Now, click the “settings” button
- The settings apply while the program is running, so you should check the “Run at startup” checkbox
- then click the “OK” button (you could also hide the tray icon if you check the “Hide tray icon” checkbox)
- click the “x” (close) button to close the window (the program will remain running)
(it should be noted that after you setup the utility as instructed above, you should close opened windows and open them again for the new taskbar behavior to be in effect)
That’s it, another Windows 7 annoyance defeated :)