How to ungroup windows and programs in Windows 7 and 8 taskbar [Guide]

Windows 7/8/8.1 groups open documents so that they are all grouped in their software icon on the taskbar. For example, if you open multiple Word documents they are grouped in the W icon. When you hover the cursor over the Word icon a small thumbnail preview of its open documents is then displayed as in the shot below. As they do not include any document titles, this reduced the width of the Windows 7/8/8.1 taskbar icons.

Windows 71

Whilst this might reduce the number of minimized windows on the taskbar, you can still ungroup the window icons. Right-click the Start menu, select Properties and then the Taskbar tab. That should open the window below.

Windows 72

Note the Taskbar buttons drop-down list. Click on that list, and then choose the Never Combine option. Click on Apply and then OK to close the window.

Windows 73

That should ungroup the windows as in the shot above. Each of the open documents now has its very own window in the taskbar. In addition, the open windows also include a part of each of the document titles.

The document title makes it a little clearer exactly which document is which. And the windows still include the Aero Peek thumbnail previews. To revert back to the grouped taskbar windows reselect the Always combine, hide labels option from the Taskbar buttons drop-down list.

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  • Robbie Hatley

    Your article does *not* describe how to *ungroup* taskbar buttons, it merely describes how to *uncombine* them, which is something totally unrelated. “Ungroup” means “remove from group”, as in individual buttons can be grabbed and moved around, SEPARATELY FROM OTHER INSTANCES OF THE SAME PROGRAM.

    To understand this, consider a situation in which you have 1 Firefox, 1 Thunderbird, and 5 Internet Explorer windows open.

    “Combine” = 3 icons: 1 Firefox, 1 Thunderbird, 1 Internet Explorer
    “Group” = 7 icons: 1 Firefox, 1 Thunderbird, 5 Internet Explorer clustered together
    “UNGROUP” = 1 Firefox, 1 Thunderbird, 5 Internet Explorer ***NOT*** clustered together

    Now go do us all a favor and tell us how to ungroup (uncluster) the buttons, not how to UNCOMBINE them, which we all already knew anyway.

  • Mike S.

    For business and with many word processing documents open at once, I used to prefer the “do not combine” option, to most easily find the particular document I wanted. Since then, though, I’ve developed a preference for serenity and prefer the less-cluttered “combine all” look, even though I may need to look a bit more to get where I want to go next.

  • Coyote

    Yet another feature no one asked for. And one that requires a reset on every new PC, for the life of me I can’t imagine why you would want this…