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Superbar stuck on top? Nope.

January 9th, 2009 · 462 Comments · Windows

In Windows 7, the new Superbar is awesome IMO.  However the Taskbar Properties Control Panel has removed the “Keep the taskbar on top of other windows” option and made it on by default.  This also results in maximized windows not being able to cover the taskbar.  If you prefer to use the Win key to bring the Taskbar forward and don’t care if it’s covered up, and want the screen real estate, this post is for you.

Since the UI option was gone, the obvious solution is to find the registry entry that Explorer uses for that setting.  My search brought me here.  It’s a bit difficult to digest for the non-programmer so I’ll lay it out here.

There are a bunch of OS-specific intricacies, but fortunately it seems to not have changed since XP so we only need to be concerned about that variant.

The registry key we seek is at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\StuckRects

The value is a binary value called Settings.  We are concerned with the 8th byte (double click to edit, it’s the first two numbers on the second line).

If you’re not sure about what you’re doing here, best to back up the registry key we’re changing so you can restore it.  Better yet, just forget about this hack, have someone who’s done this stuff before do it for you. 🙂

Back to the link I posted, there is a legend marked with “SINGLE OPTIONS” and “MULTIPLE OPTIONS”.  You should ignore it since it is far more complicated than it needs to be.  Our byte in Settings breaks down into bit flags:

  • 0x1: Auto Hide Taskbar
  • 0x2: Always on Top
  • 0x4: Small icons in CLASSIC Start Menu (doesn’t apply to the small icon setting for the new menu).
  • 0x8: Hide Clock
  • 0x10 – 0x80: Who knows.  Reserved?  Always 0?  Probably best not to change these.

If you know what these mean, you have all the info you need to turn off Always on Top now (basically, turn off bit flag 0x2).  Just be sure to process kill and restart Explorer after you do it to force the setting to take effect (you may need to lock/unlock the taskbar to get the watermark to jump under the taskbar where it belongs now).

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