Windows Taskbar Is Missing

Posted by Bob, Slimware
 

Have you ever logged onto Windows and found that your taskbar had completely disappeared? Without the taskbar, nearly any user is severely handicapped and unable to perform even the simplest of tasks on Windows. The taskbar is the horizontal row at the bottom of your desktop that contains the start button, the quick launch bar, the system tray, and the clock. The taskbar is a part of the Windows Explorer. To most of us, Windows Explorer is Windows. You may not realize it, but every time you browse your files, copy a file, create a new file, read a file, etc., you have to use Windows Explorer to do it. It is the key element of communication between the user and the operating system. Some might go so far to say that without the Windows Explorer, there is no operating system.

The taskbar could be missing for a number of reasons. It may be right under your nose, or it could have taken a permanent vacation. Whatever the case, we'll need to do some troubleshooting and investigating to find out the origin of the problem.

Do Not Fear, The Taskbar is Still Here!

You're taskbar may not be missing at all! It might just be hiding from you. You may have accidentally enabled the Auto-hide the taskbar option. To investigate this possibility, take the following steps...

  1. Hold down Ctrl & Esc at the same time.

  2. If you see the Start menu, Right-Click the Start menu icon

  3. Select the Properties option

  4. Click the tab titled Taskbar

  5. Make sure the Auto-hide the taskbar check-box is not checked. If it is, uncheck it, click Apply and click OK

  6. Problem solved!

If your taskbar is missing, the is the best, worst possible scenario. This is really easy to fix and this mistake can easily be made. If this did not solve your problem or the taskbar did not show up when you pressed Ctrl & Esc, continue reading to the next section.

User Account Corruption

The taskbar can disappear when certain settings within an individual user account go missing or become corrupt. This can happen from time to time with Windows XP and the best way to troubleshoot this issue is to log on to a different user account. If you log on to another user account and the taskbar appears, then the user account experiencing the issues has been corrupted. You can create a new user account and transfer all of your files and settings from the old, broken account to the new one so that you can pick up right where you left off. To create a new user account and transfer your settings, take the following steps...

  1. Reboot your computer. When the Power On Self Test (POST) is complete, press F8

  2. Select Safe Mode from the list of options that appears and press ENTER

  3. When prompted, select the version of XP that is installed and press ENTER

  4. When you are at the To begin, click your user name screen, choose Administrator

  5. Enter the administrator password and click the arrow button. You may not have an administrator password in which case just leave the password empty and click the arrow button.

  6. Click Yes to close the message stating the Windows is in Safe Mode.

  7. Click Start

  8. Right-Click My Computer

  9. Select Manage from the options that appear

  10. Expand Local Users and Groups in the Computer Management (Local) list

  11. Right-Click the Users folder

  12. Click New User

  13. Type the user name and the password that you want and retype the password in the cofirmation box

  14. Uncheck the User must change password at next logon check box

  15. Click Create

  16. Click Close

  17. Exit the Computer Management snap-in

  18. Reboot the computer and log on to the new user account we created

If the taskbar appears, the issue is resolved and you can now reinstall any applications you want and transfer the contents of My Documents from the old user account. To transfer the contents of My Documents, take the following steps...

  1. Log off of Windows

  2. Press Ctrl & Alt & Delete twice in quick succession. The Log On to Windows dialog will appear.

  3. In the User name box, type Administrator and in the Password box, type the password.

  4. Click OK

  5. Right-Click Start

  6. Select Explore from the options that appear

  7. In the Folders tree, expand the old user account under Documents and Settings

  8. Click the old user name's Documents

  9. Click the Edit menu

  10. Click Select All

  11. Click Copy from the Edit menu

  12. Back in the Folders tree, click the new user's Documents folder

  13. Cick the Edit menu

  14. Click Paste

  15. If you are prompted to replace file or folder, click Yes to All

  16. Close out this window.

  17. Log off Windows

All of your documents have been transferred to the new user account and you can delete the old account if you wish. If you're still experiencing issues with your taskbar, continue reading to troubleshoot more causes.

Suffocating Startups

The Windows taskbar could also be conflicting with some programs that are running at startup. If you've recently updated Windows this is a likely scenario as there could be some applications that are not complying with the way Windows is now loading. These startups are in effect, suffocating Windows Explorer with conflicting processes before it can load. We'll need to do some trial and error to single out the startup item that is causing the problems. We'll need to go back into Safe Mode so take these steps to begin troubleshooting the issue...

  1. Reboot your computer. When the Power On Self Test (POST) is complete, press F8

  2. Select Safe Mode from the list of options that appears and press ENTER

  3. When prompted, select the version of XP that is installed and press ENTER

  4. When you are at the To begin, click your user name screen, choose Administrator

  5. Enter the administrator password and click the arrow button. You may not have an administrator password in which case just leave the password empty and click the arrow button.

  6. Click Yes to close the message stating the Windows is in Safe Mode.

  7. Press Ctrl and Alt and Delete twice in quick succession. The task manager will open.

  8. Click on the Processes tab if it is not already selected.

  9. Browse the list in this window. You are looking for explorer.exe.

  10. Once you've found explorer.exe, right-click it and select End Process from the options.

    Wait a moment and see if Windows Explorer starts up by itself automatically. If explorer starts up by itself then proceed to the next step, if it did not, then explorer is damaged and the appropriate solution can be found in the next tutorial following this one.

  11. Click Start

  12. Click Run

  13. Type into the run dialog: msconfig

  14. Click OK

  15. Click the tab titled: startup

    Within this list are all of the processes that run when your computer boots into Windows. At this point, we're not sure which processes could be causing the problem so we'll have to disable them one by one until, and boot into Windows normally until the taskbar appears.

  16. Disable only one of the processes.

  17. Click OK

  18. Reboot your computer and log into Windows normally. Is the taskbar there? If it is, then the last process that was disabled was the culprit. You can either leave it disabled, uninstall it completely or attempt to find an update from the developer that fixes the problem. If the taskbar is still not there, repeat these steps until you have found the process that is causing the explorer not to load.

Repair Windows

If the taskbar didn't load when you ended its process or none of the startup items were causing the problem then your only option left is to perform a repair installation of Windows. This will certainly fix the problem but will require the Windows XP CD/DVD that you received with your computer when you purchased it. If you did not receive a Windows XP CD/DVD with your computer then you will need to contact the manufacturer for one or purchase one off of the web. To begin repairing Windows XP, take the following steps...

Windows XP:

  1. Insert the Windows XP CD/DVD into the disc drive.

  2. Boot the computer using the Windows XP CD/DVD.

    You may need to change the boot order in the system BIOS! To access the BIOS setup, you must press a particular key when your computer is booting up. The key differs per manufacturer but it is usually either Esc, F1-F12, Delete.

  3. When you see the “Welcome To Setup” screen, press ENTER

  4. Accept the License Agreement

    Windows will now search for existing installations of Windows.

  5. Select the XP installation you want to repair from the list.

  6. Press the R key to start the repair.

  7. The setup will copy the necessary files to the hard disk and reboot automatically.

    Do not press any keys during the setup. Windows may reboot several times.

  8. Follow the instructions provided by Windows to complete the initial setup but choose to “Activate Windows Later” when prompted.

  9. Once the setup is complete, it is critical that you download and install all updates from Microsoft.

A repair installation of Windows will solve this problem. If it did not, you may have a damaged hard drive. This concludes the tutorial for fixing Windows Taskbar. You can refer back to this guide at any time if you ever experience this issue again.

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