What Does Taskbar Mean?

The taskbar is a movable, concealable icon bar that is set on the very edge of the graphical user interface (GUI) desktop and serves as a launching pad for applications as well as a holder for icons indicating running programs. The taskbar was first introduced by Microsoft in Windows 95 and has since been adopted by other operating systems.


Although other desktop environments like Linux’s KDE Plasma and GNOME have their own taskbars, the most popular taskbar is the one in the Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Techopedia Explains Taskbar

The taskbar’s default position is at the bottom of the screen; but it can be repositioned to the left, right and top portions of the desktop. It may be locked in place, set to auto-hide or kept on top of other windows. Using the taskbar, a running program can easily be made current (i.e. made usable) when many programs are running simultaneously. Icons in the taskbar that represent running applications also serve as toggle buttons that allow switching windows for running applications between the minimized state and the maximized or resized state.

The Windows taskbar has four main sections:

  1. Start Button (labeled with “Start” and the Windows logo)
  2. Quick Launch (allowing applications to be launched with a single click)
  3. Running Programs (allowing easy access to running programs)
  4. Notification Area (contains icons for small running programs such as the clock, calendar and volume control)

In the Windows taskbar, similar running programs are grouped together when there are too many for the taskbar to accommodate.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.