Adjust the Design of the Application Toolbar

Q. My partner and I recently upgraded to XP. He was playing around with various defaults and now, when he has several Word or Excel files open at the same time, the icons in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen look less cluttered than mine. And that’s because the icons are stacked on top of one another rather than lined up next to each other, which makes them very small and hard to read. How can I make my screen stack open files, too?

A. That is a nice feature. It makes the screen less cluttered, and since the icons have more space, there usually is enough room in the file icon to fit at least some of the file name. Here is what the old setup looks like:

Notice they are squeezed in so tightly you can’t identify the files. Now the new way:  

It’s much better.

To change the taskbar default so it stacks files, left-click on any unused blue space in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, producing the screenshot at left.

Now click on Properties , generating this screen below:

Click on the Taskbar tab, and under Taskbar Appearance , check the box Group similar taskbar buttons and then click on Apply and OK .

Do you have technology questions for this column? Or, after reading an answer, do you have a better solution? Send them to contributing editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at .

Because of the volume of mail, we regret we cannot individually answer submitted questions. However, if a reader’s question has broad interest, we will answer it in a forthcoming Technology Q&A column.

On occasion you may find you cannot implement a function I describe in this column. More often than not it’s because not all functions work in every operating system or application. I try to test everything in the 2000 and XP editions of Windows and Office. It’s virtually impossible to test them in all editions and it’s equally difficult to find out which editions are incompatible with a function. I apologize for the inconvenience.


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