Windows 11 is the new operating system from Microsoft, one that has come with many good changes and performance improvements compared to Windows 10. However, they have also lost things along the way, the most obvious in a specific section: the task bar.
In Windows 11 you can’t move neither to the sides nor to the top, you cannot drag a file to a pinned icon to open the corresponding program, you can’t use small icons, you can’t separate the windows of the same app instead of stacking them all inside the icon, etc. With ExplorerPatcher you can do all this again and more.
Return the Windows 10 taskbar to Windows 11
Although Microsoft has been returning some functions that were lost in Windows 11 to the taskbar, in the middle of 2022 the bar that arrives by default continues to have great deficiencies. A year ago there are good solutions to correct its shortcomings, and today we will see one of them.
That solution is an open source tool called ExplorerPatcher, a small hack which consists of adding a .dll file to your Windows folder to basically return the bar to the same state it had in Windows 10.
This means that absolutely all bar features that work in windows 10 will work again in windows 11. Now, it is important that you keep in mind that this is a process to be done at your own risk, the .dll is a file that modifies the system (at least the part related to explorer.exe), and it is probably detected by your browser or Windows 11 itself as potentially harmful, it is a false positive.
Its creator makes it clear that if this bothers you, you can check the code that is offered on GitHub or even compile the tool yourself. If those aren’t options for you and you’re still not sure, don’t read on.
How to install Explorer Patcher
The first and very important thing to keep in mind is that once ExplorerPatcher is installed, you won’t be able to easily undo changes with an uninstall button. So my recommendation is that before you start with this you create a restore point to go back to to easily undo all the changes if you wish.
On the tool’s releases page on GitHub, you need to download the file dxgi.dll. It is possible that your browser blocks the download, you will have to skip the warning and save the file manually.
Once downloaded, you will need to copy the file to the path C:\Windows and then restart Windows Explorer. You can do this by opening Task Manager and looking for the process in the list, or by running the command
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
Once Explorer restarts you will see a notification informing you that some symbol files are missing. These will start downloading from Microsoft itself and in a few seconds you will see another notification indicating that ExplorerPatcher has already been installed successfully.
How to adjust ExplorerPatcher
After launching for the first time, ExplorerPatcher will have already returned your bar to the state of Windows 10, however, you will see that something is missing: the icons in the notification area will not appear. To do this you must open the properties of the tool.
You can do this by pressing the Windows key + X and then choosing Properties, or with a right click on the taskbar and then on Properties. In this last case you will already notice that all the old right-click options appear in the bar and only the lonely Settings option that we have in Windows 11.
When you open the properties of ExplorerPatcher you see many options. The most important one is in the ‘Taskbar’ section, there you find the option to activate the tray icons that do not appear. Just click on ‘Enable missing system tray icons‘ and a control panel window will appear where you can choose which icons you want to see.
The tool offers many more options to customize, such as showing small icons, or stop combining icons on the taskbar. There are even options to change some new aspects of Explorer, the Start Menu, the window manager, and more.
If you want to move the place bar, either on the sides or up, you just have to right click on it and unlock it. Then just drag it to the desired position.