The Windows Taskbar – The notification area and beyond

So we’re looking at the taskbar again, this time the far right next to the clock.

The colours may be different depending upon your display configuration, the icons showing here are usually applications loaded at startup (although they can be loaded later and would still show here). System information apps such as wifi or network connectivity, volume control, power status (battery level or connected for a laptop). Others exist too, depending upon what you may have installed. The Win7 and 10 snapshots above show dropbox, an onscreen keyboard and windows notifications (the speech bubble), this latter will list certain system error messages (if it is showing white, otherwise it is empty). These system messages may be that an update hasn’t been run, virus checker or firewall is disabled etc. There is also a ^ pull up that show the overflow. The Win10 example above shows this this shows various applications I have loaded, either automatically at startup or manually (but which stay loaded until I either right click and close or restart my computer). Hovering the mouse over an icon will show what it is.

The clock is, well, a clock. Clicking it will enable you to see the calendar for the month (and to be to change the date unless you are connected to the internet). Certain setting can be changed from the date and time settings link here too.

This will look a bit different in Win7 or 8 but essentially the same functions are available.

Right click on the notification area gives two additional options, date and time settings as above and also customise notification icons.

These options aren’t available when you right click anywhere else on the taskbar.

At the very far right of the taskbar is an inconspicuous bar that when clicked takes you to the desktop and minimises all open windows. A great little shortcut.

In the future I will examine the options available on the desktop and also look at the other options on the taskbar right click menu especially the task manager.


Windows 10 revisited

Free updates to Windows 10 finish on July 29th!

Should you care?

My previous comments about Win10 still hold true – if you have no reason to need it then there is no reason to upgrade. Microsoft’s pushy marketing implies that you will be left out in the cold.But that’s no more true than pressure to constantly upgrade your mobile phone.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. OK, there is a possibility that a previously undiscovered security issue will arise in an old unsupported version of Windows but you can’t upgrade versions earlier than Win7 anyway and security support for that doesn’t expire until 2020.

Failure rates in laptops are 43% in 4 years. So, more or less, it’s a coin toss that your laptop will last more than 5 years. Desktop computers are twice that but only because you aren’t likely to drop them. So the chances are that you’ll get a new computer before your Win7 security support expires.

That being said, I actually like Windows 10. I upgraded only so that I could support customers who were running it, though I fought the pushy popups as long as I could. I had few issues in the upgrade process. The most common one I have come across is that internet browsers stop working. This is usually resolved by reinstalling, I usually go for Chrome though whilst Win10’s “gateway” to the internet – “Edge” – might be broken, Internet Explorer often still seems to work and a new shortcut to that and removing the shortcut to Edge is a solution. Edge is a fast and improved browser but doesn’t offer much different to Chrome but has some limitations, such as no drag and drop from your desktop into the browser to attach to web mail.

It is hard for me to give you reasons why I now like Win10, its little different in appearance and functionality to Win7, a bit slicker and faster perhaps but since like most people, it’s the underlying programs I use most, rather than built-in ones, it makes little difference on a day-to-day basis. You don’t need to take my word for it, just search the net (google*) for “should I upgrade to Windows 10” for a different take on my opinion.

If you decide to upgrade, or you haven’t turned off automatic upgrades to Windows and it happens anyway… and you get any problems… google* is your friend… search for the problem (perhaps even the exact wording of any error message) for possible solutions. Someone else will have had (and perhaps solved) the same issue. Otherwise contact me and, usually within my initial one hour consult, I can resolve the problem by remote access over the internet.

Windows Taskbar (continued)

Lets look at the functions of the taskbar from left to right (or top to bottom if you’ve moved it to the side).


Windows 7 Taskbar



Windows 8 Taskbar and part of the Start/Metro screen



Windows 10 Taskbar


  • On the far left is the window flag icon, clicking this will have the same effect as pressing the flag key on the keyboard. The start menu will pop up (Windows 8 used a full screen equivalent, baffling and reviled by to many called Metro which Microsoft intended as an interface for all devices – phone, tablet, laptop and desktop – its main problem is that it assumes touch screen functionality an issue for the usual desktop and most laptops) I will discuss the start menu in a later blog.
    • In Windows 10 the next item on the taskbar is a “Search Windows” field. This may be set to “Ask Cortana” a voice activated “guide” that defaults to searching the web and other annoying traits (disabling Cortana in a later blog!).  This is one of many ways to access an installed program or function.  Start typing its name and it will do a pretty good job of showing you what you have on your machine and also options on the internet beyond.
    • Again, in Windows 10 only, the next item is an icon showing a window outline with two behind; this is the Task View and will do the same as [alt][tab] showing currently running programs (which can be clicked to select)
  • Now starts the bulk of the taskbar showing… tasks. The first icons will be the Quick Launch icons (placed there by dragging an icon from the desktop or explorer (with a hint or question about pinning it to the taskbar). After these come the running tasks (again selectable by clicking). In Windows 10, if you have clicked a Quick Launch icon and it is running, it will be underlined (such as the three rightmost icons in the Windows 10 taskbar image above).


Right clicking on the quick launch icons allows you to unpin, or if running, show some task specific options as well as close all windows.


Right clicking on a blank area of the task bar gives options for managing the taskbar as well as the Task Manager (I’ll look in more detail at this in a later blog)

The final two items on the far right of the taskbar are the notification area and the clock which I will cover later.