Updated: 01/31/2023 by Computer Hope

The toolbar, also called bar or standard toolbar, is a row of buttons, often near the top of an application window, that controls software functions. The boxes are below the menu bar and often contain images corresponding with the function they control, as demonstrated in the image below.

Toolbar on a window

A toolbar often provides quick access to functions commonly performed in the program. For example, a formatting toolbar in early versions of Microsoft Excel lets you make text bold or change text alignment with other common buttons. In an Internet browser, toolbars add functionality that may not come pre-installed. For example, with the Google toolbar, you could access exclusive Google features.


If you are missing an application's toolbar, try pressing Alt on the keyboard, as some programs hide the toolbar until Alt is pressed. In Windows 8 and Windows 10, some programs only show a hidden toolbar if the mouse pointer is at the top of the window.


In most Microsoft Windows programs, the toolbars can be adjusted, hidden, or displayed by clicking View at the top of the window, and then select Toolbars. In programs that do not have a View menu, look in the Settings or Properties section.

Common computer software toolbars and other bars

Below are examples of software bars and toolbars you may encounter and use on a computer.

  • App bar - Windows 8 bar.
  • Bar chart - A chart consisting of horizontal or vertical bars.
  • Barcode - A series of lines that identifies an address, product, or other information.
  • Browser toolbar - Any toolbar in an Internet browser.
  • Bookmarks bar - Bar showing frequently visited bookmarks.
  • Command bar - A bar that shows available commands in a program.
  • Dock - A bar found at the bottom of macOS that gives quick access to programs.
  • Favorites bar - Bar showing frequently visited favorites.
  • Formatting toolbar - Toolbar that shows text formatting options.
  • Formula bar - Bar in a spreadsheet program that lets you edit a formula.
  • Menu bar - A bar at the top of the screen that gives access to all of the menus.
  • Navigation bar - Gives access to all navigation features in a browser.
  • Places bar - A pane that shows common places to access files.
  • Progress bar - An indicator that shows how long it takes until something is completed.
  • Scroll bar - A bar on the bottom or side of the window to scroll through a page.
  • Split bar - A bar that divides the window into multiple sections.
  • Status bar - One of the few bars at the bottom of the window that shows the status.
  • Taskbar - The bar found at the bottom of the Microsoft Windows operating system since Windows 95.
  • Title bar - A bar at the top of a window that describes the program or window.

What is a standard toolbar?

A standard bar or standard toolbar describes the traditional toolbar in most program windows. These terms are needed because programs like Microsoft Office programs have moved away from the standard toolbar and are using a Ribbon. Other programs have hidden the standard toolbar behind a hamburger menu.

Computer hardware bars

Below are the two most command hardware bars you may encounter and use on or with a computer.

  • Port bar - A device that allows your laptop to connect to other devices.
  • Spacebar - A key on a keyboard that creates a space.

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