Updated: 07/25/2017 by Computer Hope

Maximize IconAlternatively referred to as the Minimize box or Minimize button, Minimize is an action in all GUI operating systems that hides a window, but keeps the application running and accessible.

What does the minimize button look like?

In all recent versions of Microsoft Windows, the minimize button is represented by an underscore in the top-right corner of the window. When minimized, the program will remain on the taskbar, but not visible. In the early versions of Windows 3.x and other operating systems and software programs, the minimize feature may be represented by a small down arrow. When minimized, the program can be accessed using the icon behind the file manager.

The image below shows an example of a window in Microsoft Windows with the minimize button in the top right-hand corner of the window.

Minimize button on a window

Where do minimized programs go?

Upon minimizing a program, it may seem as though it has disappeared. Fortunately, that is not the case. Minimized programs may be located and accessed from the Windows taskbar, which is located at the bottom of any Windows desktop. The following image shows examples of various Windows Taskbars containing minimized programs.

Windows taskbars

Minimize vs. resize

If you want to keep the window open but not have it fullscreen use the resize button to make it a window instead of fullscreen. Once set as a window you can resize the window to make it as big or small as you want on the screen.

Helpful tips

Tip: Users with a Microsoft Windows keyboard can press the Windows key + M at the same time to minimize all open windows. To undo the minimize all windows, press Shift+Windows Key + M.

Tip: Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 users can press the Windows key + arrow down to resize the window and if pressed again minimize the window.

Tip: To minimize only the current window, press Alt+Spacebar. Once the window properties drop-down menu appears, press N to minimize the window.

How to minimize the desktop

When you minimize a program it shows any other open program that were behind the window. If there are no other open windows the desktop is shown which cannot be minimized. Only program windows can be minimized.

Apple computer users

MacOS minimizeIn Apple macOS, the minimize action can be done by pressing the green circle button in the upper right or left-hand corner of the window. The picture to the right shows a window with the red, yellow, and green circle.

Close, Desktop, Maximize, Operating system terms, Restore, Shake, Window