Taskbar Icons

How to Replace the Vista Taskbar Buttons with Icons
This will show you how to have taskbar buttons for open windows to display with icons instead.
How to Replace the Vista Taskbar Buttons with Icons

information   Information
This will show you how to have taskbar buttons for open windows to display with icons instead.
Note   Note
The taskbar button thumbnail previewswill still display if you have the Windows Aero color scheme selected.
warning   Warning
If the taskbar is moved vertically to either side of the display, then the icons will not work and only buttons are available instead. The icons will only only work with the taskbar at the top or bottom of the display instead.
EXAMPLE: Taskbar with Buttons
This is the default taskbar.

EXAMPLE: Taskbar with Icons

Using a REG File Download

1. To Have Taskbar Icons
A) Click on the Download button below to download the file below.​

B) Go to step 3.​

2. To Restore Taskbar Buttons
A) Click on the Download button below to download the file below.​

3. Click on Save, and save the .reg file to the Desktop.​
4. Right click on the downloaded .reg file and click on Merge.​
5. Click on Run, Continue (UAC), Yes, and then OK when prompted.​
6. Log off and log on, or restart the computer to apply the changes.​
7. When done, you can delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.​

Manually in Registry Editor

1. Open the Start Menu.​
2. In the white line (Start Search) area, type regedit and press Enter.​
3. Click on Continue in the UAC prompt.​
4. In regedit, go to: (See screenshot below)​
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowsMetrics

5. To Have Taskbar Icons
A) In the right pane, right click on a empty area and click on New and String Value. (See screenshot above)​
B) Type MinWidth and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
C) Right click on MinWidth and click on Modify. (See screenshot below)​

D) Type -255 and click on OK. (See screenshot below)​

E) The registry will now look like this. (See screenshot below)​

F) Go to step 7.​

6. To Restore Taskbar Buttons
A) In the right pane, right click on MinWidth and click on Delete. (See screenshot above)​
B) Click on Yes to confirm deletion.​

7. Close regedit.​
8. Log off and log on, or restart the computer to apply the changes.​
That's it,

Last edited:
Shawn Brink


I did this on my Vista at home and it works great.
I just tried it on my XP machine here at work and it works, except you can see the Icon and the first letter of the window name.
I tried adjusting the number (to -275) thinking that would make it a little smaller, but it did not help.
Any idea how to make this work good with XP?
Hello RBonser,

I'm not sure if this will work with XP, but look at the other String Values ScrollHeight, ScrollWidth, SMCaptionHeight, SMCaptionWidth to see what their Data values are, and make MinWidth the same value. You will notice in Vista that they are all -255, not sure what they are in XP.

Hope this helps,
Just tried this and it does work. One thing though, if you have a "home made toolbar" where you make a desktop folder with nested folders to organize your shortcuts and drag it to the edge of the screen, once you do this registry modification, the folders won't have any associated text or tooltip text. When you hover the mouse all you will get is the modification date of the folder under the mouse.

In relation to that I'm trying to find out how you can "save" the home made toolbar. If you click the close button you get one warning and if you close it, then it's gone. For some reason resizing the toolbar that takes up the entire edge of the screen is really tedious. You have to just keep clawing at it with the mouse until it changes to a rectangle with a thick border. Then you can resize it. Weird. :)
Right off the bat I really like this one :P However, I do have a feeling that it could be a pain if you at some point are working with multiple instances of the same application or have multiple conversations open in MSN, as you can no longer see the start of the name to quickly determine if it is the window you want to open or not.

We'll see, though.. Thanks, Brink :)
Hello Endless, and welcome to Vista Forums.

It's not the same, but you should be able to hover the mouse pointer over the icon to see the names for them.

Yeah, you're right, it's not the same, but it does make it a bit better :P Takes like 1,5sec before the name pops up, though.. But there's a way to remove that delay, right?
Re: Mouse Hover Time - Change

Ey Shawn ^^
I tried this(changed from 400 -> 30), and restarted, but somehow the time it takes is the same as before(The value in the registry is 30, though). Any ideas why?
This W7 theme uses the same MinWidth tweak but he suggests setting it to 56. Anyway, it does work on Vista64 with Vistaglazz.

Windows 7 Vista Style FINAL - Neowin Forums

It didn't work for me the first time. When I double-clicked the theme I got "is not a valid theme" and the scheme changed but I got no transparency. The second time around it worked though. If you get that error try again. (btw the wallpaper used in the theme makes it look like the start menu is not transparent but if you use a wallpaper with contrasting colors you'll see it.)

edit: hmm, using the -255 MinWidth tweak I can get the effect using Vista Diamond Final, which I like a bit better. Only glitch in 64 bit is you have a black line down the center of the blue progress bar and the shifting progress bar thingie looks a bit weird. But it has nicer scrollbars imho. :)
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btw I took the text off my home made toolbar and used custom icons for the folders so I don't have to depend on mouse hover to figure out the categories. Makes the toolbar very compact using small icons too.

Here's a screen shot(better than using start menu for nearly everything afaic)