How to let windows 11 "never combine taskbar buttons"?

Bronze Contributor

How to let windows 11 "never combine taskbar buttons"?

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As with many other people I switched to using ExplorerPatcher, which was a great tool and gave me back everything that I wanted - never combine, Quick Launch, plus many more tweaks. Unfortunately when Windows 11 upgraded itself to 22H2, ExplorerPatcher would no longer work - it kept going through a loop whereby it would crash and automatically restart - my faster PC did so at a frequency of under 1 second per cycle. I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to have done something deliberately in order to break it.

Given that the Explorer is the primary user interface this rendered it impossible to interact with the system - I had to start in safe mode command line only in order to uninstall ExplorerPatcher and get control again.
So now I'm back where I started. The issue has been raised on ExplorerPatcher's Github site but surprisingly not by many people - I added my vote to it FWIW. All we can do now is wait and hope.

The same exactly happened to me. I followed a more complex way to resolve it, I completely uninstalled the latest Win update (from the Safe Mode) and got back control, then I uninstalled EP and then I got the latest Win update (22H2). Finally, I downloaded the latest version of EP which was optimized for 22H2 ( 22621.1413.54.5) and everything worked fine. ExplorerPatcher works fine with the new update.
Lesson learned: Before any major Win update simply uninstall EP and reinstall it after the new Win update has been installed. Use always the latest EP version.
I hope this helped
What you will find is that explorer patcher will be have an update now or soon to fix this.
It will happen most times W11 updates and is very annoying and why lots of people no longer use it. It is as though MS do things in updates to stop it working.

I like some others now pay a few bucks for Start 11 or StartAllback as this never seems to happen with them. Best of luck

Hi ,


A Microsoft employee marked this answer as the best, so maybe this is a tip for users?

Re: How to let windows 11 "never combine taskbar buttons"? - Page 2 - Microsoft Community Hub

Chiming in to say I, too, really want this option back in Windows 11.
I'm not sure why Microsoft is removing features that have been around for years from windows 11. I get that some people love the MAC interface but I don't. I use windows because I like the ability to modify the OS the way that I like. Windows 11 is a step in the wrong direction for me. Making windows 11 more like mac only pushes me to Linux so that once again I can customize the OS to the way that I like it. If Microsoft wants to make the OS more simple and more like Mac by default fine, but please bring this and other features back even if you have to bury the option in a tab for advanced users. There are many workers like myself who work in a corporation and i don't have the option of installing some 3rd party software to get the features that I want.
To solve this problem, just install valinet/ExplorerPatcher (open source) from Github.
Obviously we all agree here that we need this feature back and I would suggest the entire W10 interface back.
The biggest thing I do not understand is the developers can make Windows default as a poor quality Mac like they seem to want to, but easily leave in the in the options to alter the interface to individual needs. It looks so much like someone said I don't use these features so why would anyone else or I don't like a crowded taskbar so everyone must prefer it to auto combine.
Just like Win 8 it was decided the Tablet Style interface was for everyone, happily they got the message then for a short while, but have now tried again to dumb down the OS.

As to third party installs, no IT dept will allow Explorer Patcher, but if you go to management and explain the loss of productivity and the gain installing Start 11 or Startallback will give for the tiny investment I could not understand them not getting one of them installed for those who need it.

Although Explorer Patcher works, it is a maintenance nightmare. It will cause issues after Windows updates, sometimes serious issues even crashes, until it itself gets updated. So IT would have many hours sorting this out each time. The loss of productivity in the end would not make up for the productivity gain by having never combine available while ExplorerPatcher was working correctly.

Why does Microsoft not understand we want the performance of a Mac with W10 interface plus more options like total ungrouping, not just never vertical combine icons NOT the Mac interface with Windows performance. Why do they not understand that if we are forced to have the Mac lack of modification we will buy a Mac.
Whilst I fully agree with the sentiment of all the above posts, for those who don't understand Microsoft's thinking I am going to give my ten pence worth:
Microsoft is no longer a products company. People are disparaging about Steve Balmer but he was no mug and he accurately predicted during his time at the helm that the future was cloud services, and initiated what has become Azure. Since then Microsoft has rapidly evolved from a products company to a cloud services company. When they announced several years ago "we love Linux" they weren't kidding - from Microsoft's perspective Linux and Mac are great because they're more platforms that can consume Azure cloud services. Although Microsoft continues to invest in Windows, the O.S. has lost its strategic significance and this impacts the company's decision-making process. The balance between what the users want and what the company wishes to spend has changed. As I understand it, the replacement taskbar is a UWP app. I'm assuming that this makes life easier in some way for Microsoft themselves - easier to port across devices, or less complex architecture perhaps. For whatever reason, they took a strategic decision to replace the taskbar with an app, which invariably means a loss of functionality as there's no way anyone is going to invest in porting all features across without letting the user base at it first, for fear of wasting effort on features that aren't that important to the users - much safer to put a minimum viable product out there and listen to the feedback. I've no doubt that the new taskbar will get enhancements based on feedback; hopefully reports that we're getting the "never combine" feature back are correct - the sad fact is that WIndows is a lot less important to Microsoft than it once was, and those of us who use it have little option but to make loads of noise while waiting for crumbs from the table.
Is it time for a new player to enter the OS arena perhaps?
Are we gonna just not talk about the fact that indie / open source developers have made a solution that has so far taken Microsoft over 18 months to implement?

The incompetence is astonishing.

But continue to let staff go Microsoft, seems to be working fine.
ditching windows 11... installed Debian stable and setup a vm with windows 10. done wasting time finding the window i need.
I feel that. I recently went to Deb too, although I dual boot for Windows instead of a VM, but that's just for gaming. The only thing I was worried about was my work using Photoshop and Illustrator, but wine came to the rescue there but I'm getting into Gimp now. Just need to find a nix equivalent to Illustrator and I can ditch Adobe too. Honestly I think the future for local computing is Linux now, Windows is pretty much an after thought for Microsoft now, I can't see it getting better. Popular Linux distros on the other hand are improving with leaps and bounds.
@MarcusD2125 I love InkScape. I don't know how complete a replacement it is, though.
Came here to complain about exactly that! Makes no sense to have a big taskbar and then have to fumble through the thumbnail previews of an app that has a couple windows open. I don't understand this idea of streamlining everything, makes it unpractical.
Just adding another brick to this wall. What the heck Microsoft?


In Windows 11, the option to "never combine taskbar buttons" has been removed from the Taskbar settings. However, you can still achieve a similar effect by making a few adjustments. Here's how:

  1. Right-click on an empty space on the taskbar.

  2. Select "Taskbar settings" from the context menu.

  3. In the Taskbar settings window, scroll down to the "Combine taskbar buttons" section.

  4. By default, the option is set to "Always" or "When taskbar is full." Select either of these options based on your preference.

    • "Always" will group similar app windows together.
    • "When taskbar is full" will combine buttons only when the taskbar doesn't have enough space to display all the buttons individually.

While you can't set it to "never combine" as in previous Windows versions, selecting "Always" will keep taskbar buttons separate most of the time. Only when the taskbar becomes crowded, it will combine buttons.

Alternatively, you can consider using third-party software or customizing your Windows 11 theme with modifications or tweaks that allow for "never combine taskbar buttons." Keep in mind that modifying system files or using third-party tools may come with potential risks, so exercise caution and ensure you use trusted sources.




Are you sure you are not talking about Windows 10?

@venom2245There is no such option in windows 11.

Screenshot (64).png


@venom2245 I have Windows 11 Version 10.0.22621 Build 22621 there is no such option.