Make the Windows 7 Look Like Windows XP

The single most visible change in Windows 7 is the new “dock style” taskbar, which shows icons instead of buttons, with all application windows combined within a single button. I have had several clients ask, “How do I make it look like it used to (in Windows XP)?”

Personally I prefer the new Layout over the Windows XP look, but some people prefer using what they are familiar with.

This is what the taskbar (bottom bar with the start menu and open applications) looks like in Windows 7.

Windows 7 Taskbar

Changing the Windows 7 Taskbar to XP/Vista Style

To revert back to the older style, the first thing you’ll need to do is right-click on any open area of the taskbar and choose Properties from the menu.

Windows 7 Taskbar Properties Menu

From the Taskbar buttons drop-down menu, you’ll want to choose “Never combine”, which will make every window show up as a separate button on the taskbar, or you could choose “Combine when taskbar is full”, which does just like it says.

Windows 7 Taskbar Properties

Now you should see the buttons show up with text labels like you are probably used to… but in the Windows 7 style.

Windows 7 Taskbar Hover

If you chose the “Use small icons” checkbox in the properties screen, the taskbar will actually shrink down to look very similar to Vista.

Windows 7 Taskbar Hover Small

The only problem is that the “pinned” icons are still sitting on the taskbar, which isn’t the same as Vista or XP, but you can easily remove all of them by right-clicking and choosing “Unpin this program from taskbar”.

Windows 7 Un-Pin

And now the taskbar looks and works very similarly to Windows Vista:

Windows 7 Taskbar Unpinned

If you wanted to make it look like Windows XP, and replace the “Windows Orb” with the traditional “Start” button, you can choose the “Windows Classic” theme under the Desktop \ Personalize section.

Windows 7 Classic Theme Silliness

Pictured above is the “Windows Classic” theme selected with the other changes mentioned above.  Look familiar?

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