Stop Windows 7 Taskbar Icons from 'Disappearing'

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Reader Noel just made the move to Windows 7, and a certain aspect of the OS is driving him crazy:

"When I start an application (like Firefox, for example) from a pinned shortcut on the taskbar, the Firefox icon disappears and transforms into its taskbar button for as long as Firefox is running. How do I keep the icon there, even while the application is running?"

You're right, Noel: This Windows 7 "feature" can be quite annoying. It took me a while to get accustomed to it, and even now I occasionally find it unintuitive.

Before I offer up a workaround, however, consider a few of the advantages of this approach. For starters, it leaves more space on the taskbar than you'd normally get if Windows continued to reserve space for icons.

Also, these newfangled icon/button thingies afford access to Jump Lists, one of Windows 7's truly spiffy features.

Finally, you noted that if you have, say, Firefox open and want to open another Firefox window, you have to click File, New Windows, instead of just clicking the Firefox icon (which has disappeared).

That's not entirely true. If you middle-click the Firefox taskbar button, you'll get a new window, just as you describe. And don't forget the keyboard shortcut: Ctrl-N.

All that being said, there is a way to restore the XP/Vista-style Quick Launch toolbar, which I think is what you're after. It's a little complicated, but it works.

What do you think, fellow Windows 7 users? Is the new taskbar annoying, or does it just take a little getting used to?

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