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Disable Taskbar Previews in Windows 7

The taskbar preview feature in Windows 7 is extremely helpful in some situations and plain annoyance in others. Whenever we open a window, it comes up in the taskbar and has taskbar preview enabled by default. Taskbar preview shows us a miniscule preview version of the window. The window comes into view as we hover our mouse on the preview and gets active if we click the preview.

This is a nice feature and can be quite handy for single window applications but for anything with tabs and multiple internal windows, say a tabbed web browser like Firefox, this can be an annoyance. When a huge number of tabs try to put their preview on the taskbar, it gets crammed and starts lagging, and makes you wish this feature were not there at all.


However, at the same time, you need it for your other programs. This can cause a dilemma about whether to disable the feature completely or not. There are two solutions to this.

Using the feature provided by the application to turn on/off taskbar preview

Most tabbed applications providing tab previews allow this. You can do this via some settings on the browser that disables taskbar preview. Currently, Firefox and Google Chrome already have it.

Using a compatibility downgrade hack

It may sometimes happen that no option to disable taskbar tab preview is present in an application. Then, we can use this second method, which is quite simple and is failsafe too. It is sure to work when nothing else does.

In this method, we will try to remember the fact that taskbar preview is a feature exclusive to Windows 7. Therefore, it is not available in Windows Vista. To make use of this fact, we run the application in compatibility mode for Windows Vista. This renders all Windows 7 features useless and still leaves all the eye candy as Vista supports it.

The method

Right click on an application. Make sure it is the actual application and not a program shortcut to that application. Click on Properties. In this instance, I chose Firefox.


Now, go to the Compatibility tab, from the drop-down-list, select Windows Vista, and click OK.


Finally, run the application and you will see that there are no annoying taskbar previews for each tab. Instead, the preview is showing only the active tab in the preview. This makes for better interaction and usability.

~Chinmoy Kanjilal