Windows 11 began rolling out to devices late last year, shaking up the formula that made Windows 10 so long-lived. Among the multitude of changes, good and bad, is the taskbar. The new design is contentious to say the least, but Microsoft is testing a feature that could make the taskbar a power user’s best friend. The new Taskbar Overflow pop-up will let you access all your running programs, even if you run out of space at the bottom of the screen.
The Windows 11 taskbar is centered by default, a change from past versions which pushed icons to the left. You can change that if you want, but aside from the position, the Windows 11 taskbar currently works very similarly to Windows 10. If you have too many apps open, the taskbar will shift to only showing the ones you’ve used most recently. This is more likely to happen on a smaller device like a travel-friendly laptop. It can also happen on any device if you’re the type to pin a lot of apps to the taskbar rather than create desktop shortcuts.
According to Microsoft, it’s testing a solution to this issue in the latest Insider preview (build 25163). When you have more running apps than you can fit in the taskbar, a three-dot overflow icon will appear. Click that, and you get a pop-up with the rest of your apps (see below). This pop-up behaves a bit like a floating taskbar with features like pinned apps, jump lists, and an extended UI. The overflow list closes itself whenever you click outside the box.
This feature is still only available in an Insiders build, and that means it could be some time before it arrives in an official update. It may also change substantially before that happens. Microsoft is actually testing a number of changes to the taskbar. Just a few days ago, it revealed build 25158, which tests a few new layouts with an integrated search bar similar to the one in Windows 10.
If you want to take a look at the latest Windows 11 feature, you’ll have to join the Insider program and then opt into the dev channel. You can do that in Windows directly under Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program.
It almost goes without saying, but these versions of Windows are not for the faint of heart. Things will be buggy, and you may get used to features that ultimately don’t survive testing. The Taskbar Overflow option, assuming it sticks around, may not come to an official update until next year. Microsoft is already testing versions of the 22H2 update slated for release later this year.