How to ungroup items in Windows 11 taskbar?

Question

Issue: How to ungroup items in Windows 11 taskbar?

In Windows 11, when I have multiple files open of the browser or Excel document, they are grouped together. This makes me need to click on the icon and then select the correct window I want to view, which makes it kind of annoying. Can I ungroup items in Windows 11? Thanks in advance.

Solved Answer

Windows 11 was a long-anticipated operating system version that finally came out in October 2021. It featured improvements to the UI[1] and other elements from previous Windows versions, further improving usability. The new OS allows users to install Android apps easily and also includes a myriad of security improvements to ensure user safety.

However, not all the changes were met by users positively, as they fundamentally changed the way some of Windows features are handled. For example, many people were unhappy about disabled thumbnail previews or that the newest version requires a relatively new processor to be available in the first place.

Windows 11 icon grouping in the taskbar is also something that many people were not pleased with. Microsoft forums and other IT boards were flooded with unhappy posts about item grouping,[2] which increased the number of clicks required to access the correct window. Many said that Microsoft had sacrificed usability for the sake of visual aesthetics, which is not completely untrue.

How to ungroup items in Windows 11 taskbar?

In Windows 11, item grouping was introduced as a measure to counter the cluttered taskbar, where all the windows from the same app would be grouped into the single taskbar icon. In order to access a particular window, users would have to hover over the correct instance and click it. While this feature was optional in Windows 10, it is not the case anymore.

As for now, there are no official settings that would allow ungrouping items in Windows 11 taskbar. However, a few workarounds could prove effective in this task. Before you proceed, we recommend using a powerful PC repair software ReimageMac Washing Machine X9 – it could fix various underlying issues such as BSODs,[3] registry errors, crashes, etc.

Before you proceed with the fix, we recommend you perform a few tasks to make the process more smooth and more reliable. Note that there are special third-party programs you could download to ungroup items in Windows 11 taskbar, although you should use them at your own risk.

Step 1. Update Windows to the latest version

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  • Click Start and select Settings
  • Go to the Windows Update section
  • Click Check for updates and wait Update Windows
  • Once Windows downloads all the necessary files, restart your computer.

Step 2. Backup your registry database

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Registry database is particularly important and, if used incorrectly, can mess up many functions on Windows. As a precaution, we recommend making a backup of the registry before proceeding.

  • Click the Windows button and type in regedit in Windows search
  • When User Account Control shows up, click Yes
  • In the new window, click File > Export
  • Under Export range at the bottom, select All
  • Name the backup and press Save. Backup registry

Solution

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As the first step for this workaround, you have to download a special app.

  • Go to the download page of Open-Shell, expand the Assets, and download OpenShellSetup_4_4_169.exe Download OpenShell
  • After downloading the installer, double-click it to begin the installation
  • Proceed with on-screen instructions until you reach the Custom Setup section
  • Here, click on Classic Explorer and select Entire feature will be unavailable
  • Repeat the same action for Classic IE and Open-Shell update Install OpenShell
  • Click Next and Install
  • After you reach the last step of the installation and pick Finish, a special menu will be launched
  • Click Open-Shell Menu Settings at the top
  • Select the Start menu of your choice and click OK once satisfied.

Next, you can start the ungrouping of Windows taskbar icons via Windows Registry.

  • Open Windows Registry as previously explained
  • Navigate to the following location:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Software\\Microsoft\\Windows\\CurrentVersion\\Policies\\Explorer
  • Select Explorer on the left
  • On the right side of the window, right-click on empty space and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value
  • Name it NoTaskGrouping
  • Double-click it, change value data to 1 and click OK. Change value

You can now fix icon grouping in Windows 11. Proceed with the following steps:

  • In the Registry Editor, go to the following location:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\CurrentVersion\\Shell\\Update\\Packages
  • Select Packages folder on the left
  • On the right side of the window, right-click the empty space and pick New > DWORD (32-bit) Value
  • Name it UndockingDisabled and double-click it
  • Set value to 1 and click OK.

Your last step is to restart Windows Explorer.

  • Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager
  • Find Windows Explorer entry
  • Right-click it and select Restart. Restart Windows Explorer

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About the author
Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate computer expert

Gabriel E. Hall is an expert troubleshooter who has been working in the information technology industry for years.

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