Free up items in the Taskbar

Have you ever wanted to move items around in the Taskbar like you can with tabs in Firefox? Check out Taskbar Shuffle, a recent discovery that does just that.

Taskbar Shuffle

I use both Windows and Mac machines at my desk for testing and reviewing software for each platform. While both platforms have their advantages and disadvantages, I recently found a simple program that fixes one of my pet peeves about Windows.

One small Windows XP and Vista interface quirk that has always bothered me is the inability to move items in the taskbar. Though it might not bother other people, I always like having my programs set up in a certain way--Outlook on the left, my browser after that, my chat program, and then other programs to the right of those. The problem is that sometimes I open programs in a different order depending on what I'm doing, and I've even gone so far as to quit programs and re-open them in order to get them set up the way I want. Maybe I'm crazy, but it's just the way I like to work. I always figured if I could shift tabs around in Firefox, I ought to be able to do the same thing with the Taskbar.

Taskbar Shuffle
A simple settings window lets you have the program start with Windows and a few other useful options. (Credit: CNET)

The other day, I stumbled across a free program called TaskBar Shuffle whose sole purpose is to be able to shift items around on the taskbar and in the system tray. With Taskbar shuffle running, simply drag and drop the item or icon, and that's it--just like tabs in Firefox. Even if you like to use group buttons, Taskbar shuffle lets you reorder those up or down within each group. As an added bonus, you can tweak the settings so a middle click to a taskbar item closes that item immediately. You also can check a box in the settings to have it start up with Windows so you never have to think about it again.

This program isn't newly released, but it was definitely new to me and now that I know about it, I've installed it on all of my Windows test machines. I even showed it to my coworker, Jessica Dolcourt, and she included it in her one-trick applications collection because she had always wanted something like Taskbar Shuffle, too. The bottom line is, if you've always wanted to be able to move those items around in the Taskbar because you have a particular way of doing things, this free simple program is an easy way to do it.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.