How To Properly Declutter Your Windows Taskbar

How To Properly Declutter Your Windows Taskbar
The Windows 10 and Windows 11 logos. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

I’m calling every Windows 10 and Windows 11 user out. I know you don’t care about your Windows taskbar clutter. Heck, you probably don’t even notice it, or don’t even notice that it can be cleaned up. 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 fresh Windows PC or laptop, the taskbar will already be crowded with things that you’ll likely never use. Across Windows 10 and Windows 11, with some of these buttons added, removed or name changed, this includes the:

  • 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 readout, 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 in the taskbar and ultimately not contributing anything, unless you’re somehow making use of all of this? If so, I’m concerned for 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 break up 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 crowded on Windows 10. All you need to do is right-click (or press and hold on touchscreen devices) on the taskbar. You’ll be given a drop-down menu of what settings you’d like to change.

From here, you can just start selecting what you want and don’t want, although I’d recommend cleaning house of all the taskbar nothing features. Think about which features you do and don’t use and work down the list.

In the corner beside the date and time readouts, you can drag and drop status icons into the arrow and tuck them away.

Additionally, you likely have a few things pinned to the taskbar that you don’t use, including Microsoft Edge, File Explorer and the Microsoft Store. Just right click and unpin these icons.

If you’re concerned about losing the utility 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 have started to appear in the Windows search bar, you can read all about removing those here.

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

How to declutter your Windows taskbar on Windows 11

Over on the more polished Windows 11, the standard look of the taskbar has taken a small turn, centred by default. You can change this. You can change ALL of this.

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

Go ahead and disable any of these that you don’t actively use. Disabling them doesn’t mean that you’re losing their functionality. For example, 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 want the icons to assemble in the corner, go ahead and click on “Taskbar behaviours” and change “Taskbar alignment” from Centre to Left.

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

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

And there you have it. A slick, decluttered Windows taskbar.