If you’re wondering how to add an icon to the taskbar in Windows 11, it all depends on what you want. There are several ways to pin a shortcut to the taskbar, and you can also include any taskbar items and corner icons you find useful. Or maybe you want to know how to remove icons from the taskbar in Windows 11 to get more room for the shortcuts you rely on every day. Either way, in this guide, I’ll show you how to add or remove icons and other items to or from the Windows 11 taskbar. I’ll also show you how to use the Settings app to manage the icons hidden in the system tray. Let’s get started:
By default, the Windows 11 taskbar includes four standard buttons that Microsoft calls Taskbar items. Three of them, Search, Task view, and Chat, are placed front and center, while the fourth is the Widgets button (that opens a panel filled with Windows 11’s widgets), found on the left side of the taskbar.
These standard taskbar items from Windows 11 offer you access to a couple of features that Microsoft deems important to all users:
- Search lets you find items on your computer and on the web, and it also helps you initiate a conversation with Microsoft’s latest gimmick, the Bing Chat AI helper. For details, check out How to use Windows 11's Search and Bing Chat and ChatGPT come to Windows: Here’s how they work.
- Task view allows you to use multiple virtual desktops to organize your work and manage your tasks better. We explained what Task view is when the feature was first introduced in Windows 10.
- Chat is a shortcut to Microsoft Teams, a messaging app that some companies and employees use for having conversations and meetings.
- Widgets opens Windows 11’s widgets panel, which you can use to get the info you need, from news and the weather forecast, to your calendar, to-do lists, and more. You can even use it to get a quick glimpse at your latest conversations on Facebook’s Messenger or to easily start listening to a popular playlist on Spotify. In my opinion, this feature is a nice touch, but other users might want to get rid of the Widgets altogether. Check out this guide to learn more about them, including how to customize or remove widgets: How to work with Windows 11’s Widgets.
To control which of these items are shown, right-click or press-and-hold on a free area on your taskbar, and then click or tap on Taskbar settings.
This opens the Settings app in the Taskbar section of the Personalization tab. You can see the Taskbar items at the top of the panel on the right.
If you want to remove the Search from the Windows 11 taskbar, click or tap on the drop-down box next to it and select Hide. For all the other items - Task view, Widgets, and Chat - turn their switches Off to remove their icons from the taskbar.
You can see the icons on the taskbar appear or disappear as you flip the switches On or Off.
TIP: If you don’t like the new setup, did you know you can move the Start Menu and taskbar to the left in Windows 11?
The Taskbar settings section also offers options to control the right side of the taskbar: System tray icons. Note that these were called Taskbar corner icons before the Windows 11 Moment 2 Update. Here’s how to show or hide system tray icons:
First, you have three featured system tray icons that can be displayed next to the keyboard language or network buttons in Windows 11.
Right-click or press-and-hold on a free area on your taskbar, and then click or tap Taskbar settings. In the System tray icons section:
- Turn the switch next to the Pen menu On or Off to either show or unpin the Pen icon. If you’re running Windows 11 on a touchscreen device with a stylus, you can use this icon to get access to additional options and apps.
- Click or tap on the drop-down list next to Touch keyboard and select your favorite behavior:
- Have the Touch keyboard button appear “When no keyboard (is) attached,”
- Always show the Touch keyboard icon, regardless of whether there’s a keyboard connected to your Windows device or not,
- Never show the Touch keyboard button, effectively removing its icon from the system tray.
- Toggle the Virtual touchpad switch On or Off to either show or hide its icon in the system tray. The Virtual touchpad can replace the mouse and help users who are running Windows 11 on a tablet.
TIP: Clicking or tapping the network, volume, or battery icons in the taskbar corner opens the Windows 11 Quick Settings.
In addition to the three icons already mentioned, there are other system tray icons that can be displayed on the right side of the taskbar. Some of them always show up there, while some can be hidden from view and shown only when you click or tap on the small upwards pointing arrow found to the left of the system tray.
Windows 11 calls it the Hidden icon menu, and you can manage all the icons in this menu from the Other system tray icons section of the taskbar settings. If it’s not already open, expand the Other system tray icons section by clicking or tapping on it.
In the Other system tray icons section, the first thing you can decide is whether to show the Hidden icon menu or hide it completely. If you go for the latter option, its arrow, shown to the left of the system tray, will be removed, and you’ll no longer be able to see any of the hidden icons in the menu.
If you choose to show the Hidden icon menu, you can control what icons are displayed inside it. Turn Off the switch next to each icon you want to remove from the taskbar but see listed in the Hidden icon menu.
NOTE: The system tray icon for any particular app is only shown when that app is running on your Windows 11 computer or device. It doesn’t matter if you choose to include an app icon in the system tray or to only show it in the hidden icon menu; it will only show up when you start the corresponding app or program.
If you want to know how to pin to the taskbar in Windows 11, the easiest way is to launch the app, right-click or press-and-hold on its taskbar icon, and select “Pin to taskbar” in the context menu.
You can also right-click or press-and-hold on any shortcut Pinned to the Start Menu. Then, click or tap on “Pin to taskbar.”
You can also pin an app to the taskbar from the All apps list shown in the Start Menu. For more details on finding your favorite apps this way, check out our guide on using the Start Menu in Windows 11. Right-click or press-and-hold on an app, access More, and then click or tap “Pin to taskbar.”
If you want to unpin taskbar icons in Windows 11, right-click or press and hold on the one you want to remove. From the contextual menu, click or tap “Unpin from taskbar.”
NOTE: The Windows 11 taskbar is pretty useful, but we are a bit underwhelmed by the overall experience, as you can find out from our article on the things you can’t do with the Windows 11 taskbar.
Now you know how to add or remove icons from both the taskbar and the system tray in Windows 11. Before you close this guide, I’m curious to know what your intentions were. Would you mind letting me know what icons you chose to add or remove from the Windows 11 taskbar? Were you trying to get rid of the Widgets button, like some of my friends, or was it something else? Leave your answer in the comments section below.