Fixing the stupid TaskBar that stops auto-hiding in Windows 10

I hadn’t planned on writing another “how to fix shit in Windows 10” post, but this thing has been annoying me for months. Fucking months.

I always set my Windows taskbar to auto-hide. I like it hidden because it just takes up screen real estate that is better utilized in whatever program has focus. But, my taskbar auto-hides for a while, and then just stops. There isn’t a valid case for it to do this as some other program has focus; nothing is flashing on the taskbar; it just fucking stays there, meaning that I can no longer see things like my source control options in the Visual Studio IDE, or the watches or breakpoints and a whole bunch of other things. Things that I would really fucking like to see, if only the stupid fucking taskbar wasn’t just fucking sitting there. (Windows is smart in that maximized programs can get the visible “workspace” size, which excludes the taskbar if it is always shown, and includes the space taken by the hidden taskbar, because it’s supposed to be, you-know… hidden. So all the programs are behaving as designed… That is Windows is “telling” them the work area includes the taskbar space because it is supposed to be hidden. Except it’s not. There it is – on top of them.) It doesn’t matter what I do… I can click all the programs on it one by one, maximize, minimize, restore, shout at them, beg them, fucking plead, smack my head against my desk, pray… Nothing works. That taskbar just sits there, mocking me as it were… “Nah nah-nah-nah na! Fuck you”.

Long story short… Just kill and restart the explorer process. You can use the built in Task Manager, or write a program to do it, and come to think of it I do have source code for killing and resuming other processes, but the easiest thing to do is use Process Explorer, and just restart explorer.exe from there. Problem solved, at least until the taskbar decides to fuck around again…

Restart

This post was brought to you by my frustration.

I have this problem on my home and work machines, although it happens less often on my home machine. I have no idea if the problem is the explorer process itself, or some rogue program that “extends” it. (Probably badly written third party software. It almost always is.) One thing that annoys me about Windows is it allows programs to be registered shell extensions, and that kind of development it not difficult to get wrong, such that you end up with rogue, badly written, misbehaving programs installed and invoked by the Windows shell. It always happens… The longer you have a Windows installation, the more crap programs install themselves into the Windows shell. And it’s not obscure software that’s guilty… Your average programmer who writes applications to be used in the office isn’t going to package his or her software with twenty tray icons that do jack shit and shell extensions that fire every time you hover your mouse cursor over a directory… It’s the popular software that does this. The shit that everybody installs. Otherwise I actually like Windows 10.

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5 thoughts on “Fixing the stupid TaskBar that stops auto-hiding in Windows 10

  1. Doesn’t work for me. In my case it stops working as soon as I start up Word or Powerpoint. As soon as I close them down it starts working again. Tried lots of stuff but that’s how it stays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, these new versions of Office suck. Besides that, I’ve found that Skype does it too. I think sometimes it’s a hidden window… an invisible notification window associated with some crapware that’s autoupdating. Then the start menu goes into that state to show you that the invisible window has focus (which of course is impossible) and then it won’t go away.

      Sometimes killing the explorer process works; sometimes it doesn’t. My volume control sometimes disappears from the tray and doesn’t come back until I restart explorer.exe two or three times. It’s fucking annoying.

      Like

  2. Seven does the same thing for me all the time.
    It seems to mostly happen after a tray notification and the task bar doesn’t realise the notification has gone.
    Mostly.
    The effect is a lot worse if you’re using a vertical task bar that is quite wide

    Thanks for the tip. I was logging out and back in again to fix it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to love Windows 7.

      I’ve found an easier way to fix this in Windows 10, one that doesn’t involve restarting the explorer process. Now I just right-click the task bar, go to Taskbar Settings, and toggle the “Show taskbar on all displays” setting. If that doesn’t work, sometimes toggling auto-hide does.

      I think you’re right about the cause. It seems to be responding to a notification but doesn’t revert to it’s normal state, or it might be something similar. It might be that an app is “showing” a hidden window. I’ve seen a case where the culprit is Skype, but the window only shows after I fix the taskbar.

      Like

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