Updated: 05/01/2023 by Computer Hope

The taskbar is an element of an operating system located at the bottom of the screen. It was introduced with Microsoft Windows 95 and is found in all subsequent versions of Windows.

The taskbar lets you locate and launch programs through Start and the Start menu or view any currently open program. On the right side of the taskbar is the Notification Area, which displays the date, time, and items running in the background.


Users familiar with Apple Macintosh computers can think of the taskbar as the Dock.

On a Chromebook, the app shelf is the equivalent of a taskbar.

Windows taskbars

The picture above shows the Windows taskbar throughout Windows history. Except for the Quick Launch feature, the taskbar in Windows 95, 98, Me, NT 4.0 resembled the Windows 98 taskbar. Windows Vista and 7, Microsoft removed the Quick Launch, added the Start Orb, and allowed icons in the Windows Notification Area to be hidden. With Windows 8, Microsoft removed the Start button but later added it back in Windows 8.1. Windows 10 resembles Windows 8.1, but with a new Cortana search box. Windows 11 changes the look of the taskbar, centering the Start, Search, and Widget icons, and the pinned program icons.

Below is an overview of the Microsoft Windows 10 taskbar with its major elements listed.

Windows taskbar


Use the keyboard shortcut Windows key+1 through Windows key+0 to open the first to tenth icon on the Windows taskbar.

Should I use "taskbar" or "task bar" in my writing?

Always write "taskbar" as one word and in lowercase.

Icons, Live taskbar previews, Operating system terms, Quick Launch, Shelf, System tray, Task