Whenever you have a few windows of the same program open on Windows 11, the windows are clubbed to the taskbar to keep everything clean and to save the taskbar a bit. When you hover over a specific icon in the taskbar, you’ll see thumbnail previews of all open windows.
The problem, it takes a while for the thumbnail to appear. Often you don’t either want to these thumbnails. You just prefer to have the list of windows like the one you see when you have many instances of a program open.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to disable thumbnails and still see a list instead when you hover over a taskbar icon with multiple instances running.
When does Windows show a list instead of thumbnails in the taskbar?
To get this answer, you first need to find your screen resolution and DPI scaling. Windows uses these two factors to calculate how many thumbnails your screen will comfortably accommodate. Here are the taskbar thumbnail thresholds for Windows 10 and 11:
- 800px x600px: 8 thumbnails
- 1024px x 768px: 10 thumbnails
- 1920px x 1080px: 16 thumbnails
So, if your screen resolution is 1920 x 1080, it will accommodate 16 thumbnails with the default DPI. Once you open the 17th window, you will start seeing a list instead of thumbnails.
The good thing is that you can change this threshold manually. If you want Windows to switch to a listed view, for example from the 5th window and beyond, it is possible. You can also disable thumbnail preview altogether.
Although you can disable thumbnail preview using a built-in option, changing the threshold requires editing the registry.
How to Disable Taskbar Thumbnails and Always Show a List in the Taskbar
If you still want to see a list, you can disable taskbar tiles entirely. Windows has a built-in option to make this change.
You can use the Group Policy Editor to disable taskbar tiles. However, if you are using Windows 10 or 11 Home, you will need to take an additional step to access the Group Policy Editor in Home Edition.
Here’s how to turn off taskbar tiles:
- To research group policy editor in the start menu and select the best match.
- Use the left sidebar to access User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu Taskbar.
- Scroll all the way down and look for a setting called Disable taskbar thumbnails. Double-click this parameter.
- Select the radio button next to Enabled and click OKAY to save and exit.
Restart your computer and try to open two instances of any program. Hover your cursor over this program in the taskbar. You should now see a list instead of thumbnails in the taskbar.
How to Disable Taskbar Thumbnails Using the Registry
You can also disable taskbar thumbnails by changing registry settings. The only difference is that this method only works for two or more instances of a window. If you only have one window, you will always see a thumbnail.
Adjusting the registry involves some risk, especially if you’ve never used it before, of messing something up and rendering your PC unusable. It’s best to make a backup of your registry, just in case things go wrong.
- To research registry editor in the start menu and open the best match.
- Navigate to the following path by copying and pasting it into the registry editor’s navigation bar and pressing Walk in: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerTaskband
- Look for a named value Number of thumbnails in the right pane. If you don’t see it, right click in the white space and select New > DWORD (32-bit) value to create value. Name it Number of thumbnails.
- Double click on the value you just created and set the Value data to 0.
Restart your PC and you should now see a list instead of a thumbnail whenever you have two or more instances of a window open.
How to show a list instead of taskbar thumbnails only after running a specific number of instances
Suppose you only want to display a list after eight instances of a program have been opened. Fortunately, you can also do this from the registry.
The process is pretty much the same as described in the previous section, except for a small adjustment:
- To research registry editor in the start menu and select the best match.
- Navigate to the following path: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerTaskband
- Look for a value called Number of thumbnails in the right pane. If you don’t see it, create a new value by right-clicking in the right pane and selecting New > DWORD (32-bit) value. Name the value Number of thumbnails.
- Double click on the value you just created and set the Value data at your preferred threshold.
If you enter the value data as 5, you will see taskbar thumbnails until you have four instances of a program running. From the fifth instance, you will see a list.
How to re-enable taskbar thumbnails or switch to default taskbar thumbnail settings
If you change your mind after changing the taskbar thumbnail settings, you can always go back and reverse the process to disable or reverse them.
If you have disabled taskbar tiles from the group policy editor, just go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu Taskbardouble-click the Disable taskbar thumbnails setting, select Not configured and click OKAY.
On the other hand, if you used the registry to make changes, just remove the value Number of thumbnails from the following directory: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerTaskband
Taskbar thumbnails under control
Windows gives users great control over their experience. Luckily, if you don’t like the taskbar thumbnail previews, there’s a way to turn them off or adjust the settings to your liking.
Being able to switch to a list view for tiles puts control over your Windows experience, meaning if you frequently have a dozen instances of a program running, you no longer need to cycle through a number dizzying insights.
Of course, Windows 11 has also significantly changed the taskbar. If you’re not very comfortable with the new taskbar, there are still ways to customize the Windows 11 taskbar.