Work Around Windows 7's Wide Taskbar Icons

Reader Keith has a bone to pick with the pinned icons on Windows 7's taskbar. He says they're too far apart, and he's looking for a way to close the gap between them.

I can understand that. The taskbar does leave a fair amount of empty space on either side of each icon. If you have a netbook or run your monitor at a relatively low resolution, you may find yourself running out of space down there.

Surely there's a way to change the width of those buttons so that the icons sit closer together? Sadly, no--not that I've found, anyway--but there are several workarounds worth considering.

For starters, I did find a Registry hack for changing the button width, but it narrowed them only when the programs were running. Plus, the icons themselves got clipped or disappeared altogether. Not a good solution.

Here's a better one: Move your taskbar to the side of the screen. That not only frees up valuable vertical space, but also puts your icons a bit closer together. (Each button is wider than it is high.)

Alternately, switch to Windows' small-icons view, which you can do by right-clicking an empty area of the taskbar, choosing Properties, and then checking the Use small icons box. Click Apply to implement the change immediately--and see if you like it. If not, you can always uncheck the box and go back to the previous size.

Finally, considering ditching those taskbar icons altogether (some of them, anyway) and using a keyboard-powered launcher like Launchy. Granted, you'll miss out on Windows 7 perks like Jump Lists, but you'll also free up more space on the taskbar.

Know of any other solutions to Keith's problem? List them in the comments!

In the meantime, if you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them right here in this space. My 411: hasslefree@pcworld.com.

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