Where does the taskbar get grouped button icons from?


Follow-up question to Where does the taskbar get grouped button titles from?:

Where does the taskbar get grouped button icons from?

The icon for grouped taskbar buttons comes from the icon for the underlying EXE, the same icon that appears when you open the folder that the EXE resides in and scroll down to the EXE.

For example, if you have multiple Explorer windows open and the taskbar buttons get grouped, the icon you get for the grouping is the Explorer icon. The system doesn't try to merge all the icons for the individual windows together, one of which might be a hard drive icon, another a Control Panel icon, another a folder icon, etc.

Comments (20)
  1. gg says:

    I like grouping but it can be more useful. For example, why can’t right click and ungroup a specific group? Or tell it not to group certain applications?

  2. Agnul says:

    And speaking of the taskbar … are icons in the notification area limited to 16 colors by design or is it just poor programming in countless apps that display poorly dithered icons ? I’ve been wondering for some time…

  3. Jack Mathews says:

    I don’t understand why people who commonly have a lot of things running don’t move their taskbars to the right or left side of the screen… It so belongs there. Granted, this is much easier to justify with multimon or 16:9 monitor. Left side of the right hand monitor…

  4. I’ve been wondering what causes taskbar grouping to get scrambled up with the wrong apps in the wrong groups. I keep getting icons from other apps mixed into a Windows Explorer group–Visual Studio, Outlook, TextCalc, various apps all end up in the same group with my folder windows. Quite often I’ll have one VS.NET icon in the Explorer folder group and another VS.NET icon off by itself. Very strange!

  5. Anonymous Coward says:

    I used to have my task bar on the side a long time ago. The problem I encountered with it was that if I didn’t auto-hide it would use too much space, and if I did auto-hide I would constantly be activating it when I didn’t mean to. On the right side it pops out when I go to close a menu, and on the left hand side when I go to the file menu.

    Even with multimon (which I wasn’t using at the time) I think the problem would persist. I use both monitors too much and it would interfere with one of them.

  6. Raymond Chen says:

    In Windows 95, taskbar icons were 16 colors, but on XP they are at your screen color depth, whatever that is. Many programs stick to 16 colors out of safety. (Instead of creating five icons at various color depths, they just create one at 4bpp and call it good.)

  7. Raymond Chen says:

    When I create a dozen IE windows, the grouped icon is a blue "e" which is the icon for C:Program FilesInternet Exploreriexplore.exe, as expected.

  8. Daniel Cox says:

    Yes – but I have modified the resources within the .exe to replace the icon with a tweaked version. My iexplore.exe does not have the blue e. It is possible that in some part of ie, the application icon is being created on the fly from something that is not stored as a resource and being set at runtime. I certainly don’t have the blue e as an icon resource however.

  9. Raymond Chen says:

    it’s probably still in your icon cache.

  10. Daniel Cox says:

    :) I’ve been running my system with this change for many months and have explicitly rebuilt my icon cache many times.

  11. Raymond Chen says:

    Then I can’t explain it. I went through the code again and it just asks the icon cache for (iexplore.exe,0)

  12. Daniel Cox says:

    Wild. I was futzing around since you piqued my interest in this and trying out some code – ended up with a bunch of browsers open. I have two groups, one with the non-tweaked original blue e and the other groups with the tweaked icon.

  13. Raymond Chen says:

    Two groups means that there are two different EXEs. I suspect there’s still a copy of iexplore.exe on your system that is the source of the blue "e"s.

  14. Daniel Cox says:

    I figured it out. I start IE by using two shortcuts in a toolbar on my start bar. The first of these is a standard shortcut that points to iexplore.exe and loads my default home page. The second is an "Internet Shortcut" that points to google. The two groups are formed from browsers started from the two shortcuts. The standard shortcut to iexplore.exe groups with the icon in iexplore.exe. The browser launched from the internet shortcut (and URL links from applications providing hyperlinked text such as outlook) group together with the original blue e icon.

  15. Daniel Cox says:

    Where does internet explorer get its grouped icon from? It isn’t from the iexplore.exe. I am a moderate icon/customization tweaker and have my *hacked* my system to turn off SFC and change the icons within iexplore.exe. The grouped icon does not come from here. Nor does it seem to come from mshtml.dll, shell32.dll, or url.dll.

  16. Scott says:

    Speaking of taskbar questions… is there any unauthorized way to turn off the ellipses on these items in Windows 2000? If it’s only showing "M…" anyway, I’d honestly rather have it show "Mic". Grouping solved the underlying problem in XP, but clearly rolling out to corporate is slllloooowwww.

  17. I agree with gg. I like grouping, but I wish that I could ask to ungroup a specific group. I reported this suggestion to Microsoft, and they responded that I could just turn grouping off. It makes me wonder if they read suggestions so quickly that they may miss the point of many of them (or perhaps they understand it, and give me that hint just in case I do not know about it). It is annoying when you know that the next IE window opened will group them all together, and that group will be stuck together until all (but one) of its Windows are closed.

  18. Skywing says:

    I too have seen Explorer put windows from unrelated processese in the same icon group. This happens particularly often with Explorer windows and Visual Studio (.NET). If I then close all of the Explorer windows in that group, then I have *two* buttons for Visual Studio on my taskbar! The bug exists in Windows Server 2003 as well as Windows XP.

  19. Tom Seddon says:

    There’s something funny with Visual Studio .NET — it seems to have a secret window in there somewhere! If you install the enhanced Alt+Tab (part of Windows XP’s TweakUI), VS.NET it crops up twice on the Alt+Tab list. So to get away from it, you must Alt+Tab twice.

    Very annoying!

  20. Writing the code is the easy part.

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