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How to ungroup icons on the taskbar in Windows 11

You'll need a third-party app for this.
By
November 23, 2023

Windows has changed a lot over the years and lost some old-school features along the way. Window grouping on the taskbar is a relatively new feature, for example, and you could disable it entirely in older versions. But can you do that in Windows 11? Here’s how to ungroup icons on the taskbar in Windows 11 so that you don’t have to downgrade to Windows 10.

QUICK ANSWER

To ungroup icons on the taskbar in Windows 11, you'll have to download the latest updates and change a setting. Scroll down for detailed instructions. If the update hasn't reached your PC yet, the only other option is to install a third-party program called StartAllBack.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Does Windows 11 have a ‘Never combine taskbar buttons’ feature?

windows 11 combine taskbar buttons hide labels
Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

At the time of its release, Windows 11 made some significant changes to taskbar behavior. You could no longer resize the taskbar, and the taskbar now has icons centered by default. Windows 10 had a Never combine taskbar buttons option that let you move to the old style of taskbar icons (pictured above). However, this was removed from Windows 11 and its absence continued for nearly two full years.

Luckily, Microsoft listened to its users and reintroduced the feature in May 2023. The only catch? You can only find the setting in the latest, cutting-edge versions of Windows 11. Most computers should have this update by now, so open the Windows Update app, click Check for updates, and finally Download & install. The feature should be present on all Windows 11 PCs running the 23H2 update.

How to ungroup taskbar icons in Windows 11

To ungroup icons in the latest versions of Windows 11, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Personalization Taskbar.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and click on Taskbar behaviors.
  4. Under Taskbar behaviors, look for the setting that reads “Combine taskbar buttons and hide labels”. In the dropdown menu, select “Never”. If you don’t see the option, check for updates or wait a few weeks for it to reach your system.

Yes, the latest updates to Windows 11 bring back the “Never combine taskbar buttons” option. However, the update may take a while to show up on your computer.

Ungroup taskbar in Windows 11 with a third-party app

If you don’t want to wait, a third-party app called StartAllBack can also fix most annoyances that Windows users may have with Windows 11. Best of all, it also lets you ungroup taskbar icons. However, you’ll have to pay for this luxury.

After downloading the app, click the downloaded file to open the installer. Click Install for me or Install for everyone, depending upon your preference.

StartAllBack installation Windows 11 ungroup taskbar icons
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

StartAllBack will install and automatically make some changes, like moving your taskbar to the left and bringing back the old-school start menu. The app will also launch automatically, but you can right-click the Start button and click Properties to launch it manually.

StartAllBack welcome screen Windows 11 ungroup taskbar icons
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

The launch screen will give you the option to pick your theme. You can select a theme if you like or leave it to the default Windows 11 settings. To proceed, click Taskbar in the left navigation pane.

StartAllBack Windows 11 ungroup taskbar icons
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

Under Tweak behavior and superpowers, click the dropdown menu that says Always hide labels next to Combine taskbar buttons. Click Never from the dropdown menu.

StartAllBack Windows 11 taskbar icons ungrouped
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

If you want to use the new Windows 11 Start menu with the ungrouped icons, you can click Start Menu in the left navigation pane and click the toggle next to Use enhanced classic start menu.

StartAllBack revert start menu
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

That’s it. Enjoy your ungrouped taskbar icons in Windows 11. Here’s what they look like with the default start menu.

StartAllBack Windows 11 ungrouped taskbar default start
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

Note that StartAllBack will let you use all the features for free under the evaluation mode for only 100 days. To keep using it beyond that, you will have to buy a license, which costs $4.99.