The next thing that became dramatically different in Windows 7 is the taskbar that has been nicknamed “superbar”. The changes do not seem to be that significant at first glance: he bar has become transparent, it got larger and the launched applications are now marked with an icon only without any description. It is really very convenient, more illustrative and saves some space on the bar for those who are used to opening a lot of windows at a time. The more windows and applications were open and running, the smaller grew the description field. At last there remained only a small barely distinguishable icon. Most of you may not think that the benefit from these modifications is so useful. It is not always easy to identify the applicati0on even with a larger icon. Besides, widescreen monitors get more popular, so lack of free space on the taskbar is not such an acute problem anymore. However, you can use the appropriate settings to enable text descriptions and narrow the taskbar to its common size, all this is just a few mouse clicks away. Even in this case the new taskbar will retain all other useful features that may not be very noticeable at first glance.
Have you noticed that there is no “Quick Launch” bar anymore? You can stick the application launch to the taskbar with “Pin to Taskbar” option from the context menu that opens by right clicking on the file name. Or you can simply drag and drop the link with the mouse pointer, but there will still be no Quick Launch bar. The Windows 7 taskbar has browser, file manager and media player icons by default. On the screenshot above you see the file manager launched, but its icon is not duplicated among other applications, but is highlighted with color and separated with vertical lines. You can change the order of launched applications in the taskbar by dragging the icons with a mouse.
By the way, if you right click on the application icon in the taskbar, you will get access to the additional menu called “Jump List”. The files you have been working with in this applications will all be added to this list, which will allow you to open the file you need right away making your work much more productive. Take, for example, the same “Windows Explorer” file manager. By default, this jump list contains links to documents, pictures, music and movies, and there has also appeared “Windows 7” folder where I saved screenshots.
Next time I will be able to get directly where I need in just one click. With the time this link will disappear and get replaced with the more frequently used ones. If I am going to go back to this folder every now and then, I can save the link in this list by selecting it and clicking the “Pin to this list” icon.
If you roll the mouse pointer over the icon of the running application in the taskbar, you will see a small copy of the application window. There is nothing surprising here, we have the same feature in Windows Vista. However, the micro-windows in Windows 7 do not disappear immediately when you move the pointer away. By clicking on one of these windows you can switch to the one you need from the same application windows.
However, I liked another feature of the new taskbar even more. It is the “Aero Peek” function. Say, you work in an application that covers most of the desktop. It is Notepad on the screenshot above, but it can be any other application: text editor, browser or even a media player with a movie. And this is when you urgently need to see what’s in another application window behind the current one. It actually happens pretty often: you need to see the result of some calculation, refresh your memory by looking at a picture, check the text or progress status. Back in the days we would have used a key combination or clicked on the hidden window icon and then come back. Windows 7 allows just rolling the mouse pointer over the micro-window of the hidden application.
All open windows become transparent right away and we can see the contents of the window behind the current one. We will see it even if the application has been minimized! Move the pointer away and you get back to the way your desktop looked before. Mega-convenient and super-fast!
Speaking of the taskbar I should mention the notification area on the right. In Windows Vista there appeared application icons that then disappeared later on if not used. All icons and symbols are hidden in Windows 7, and even the system application icons are of monochrome color scheme, so that they wouldn’t distract the user without reason. If there are any hidden application icons in the notification area, there will appear an arrow symbol. By clicking on this symbol you can open a small window with all the hidden icons. You can also use “Customize” option to make selected icons visible.
By the way, there is a barely noticeable rectangular button to the right of the current time and date that will minimize all windows and show desktop. You can achieve the same effect by simply moving the mouse pointer to the lower right corner of the screen. All windows will become transparent.
If you drag any application window to the top edge of the screen, it will maximize to full screen; if you drag it to the right or left side of the screen – the window will expand to the height of the screen. You can also increase the window height to its maximum by double-clicking the lower edge of this window. The easiest way to maximize the window to full size of the screen is by clicking the corresponding icon in the upper left corner or by double-clicking the window frame. By the way, some Linux window manager already has the same exact functionality implemented.
By the way, now that widescreen monitors are becoming more widely spread, we more often lack vertical free space rather than horizontal. Therefore, we suggest moving the taskbar to the right- or left-hand side of the screen. You can do the same thing in Windows Vista, however, it doesn’t look too good or too convenient. The large icons without any test descriptions look just as good if positioned vertically as they do in traditional horizontal bar. It may be a little uncommon at first, but they say you get used to it fairly quickly and cannot give it up any more.