The taskbar is an essential part of the desktop experience in Windows 10, and this doesn’t change in the upcoming October 2018 Update (version 1809).
Even though it has received several updates in the latest Windows 10 feature updates, the basic functionality of the taskbar has remained unchanged, and so have the main customization options.
Used are allowed to move the taskbar from the default position at the lower part of the screen to the left, right, or top sides, automatically hide it on the desktop, use small icons, and enable badges.
And while these are options that come in handy, with some users hoping to get even more customization settings for the taskbar, on shared computers everything could become rather annoying if each user changes the configuration every time.
This can be easily avoided with the help of separate user accounts, but if just one account is being used, preventing changings to the taskbar isn’t a process as straightforward as you would expect it to be.
While at first glance it may be difficult to prevent taskbar changes, the Group Policy Editor in Windows 10 Pro provides you with several options to block unauthorized tweaks.
First and foremost, in order to launch the Group Policy Editor, you just have to type gpedit.msc in the Start menu or when pressing the Windows key + R. Navigate to the following path in the Group Policy Editor:
User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar
In the right side of the screen, there are several policies that are specifically implemented to provide more advanced control over the taskbar, and the first one is called Lock the Taskbar. As you could easily guess by simply reading its name, the purpose of this policy is to prevent others from moving the taskbar to a different position on the screen.
“If you enable this setting, it prevents the user from moving or resizing the taskbar. While the taskbar is locked, auto-hide and other taskbar options are still available in Taskbar properties,” the policy explains.
The next policy is called Prevent changes to taskbar and Start Menu Settings, and enabling it does not allow you to access the properties screen of the taskbar. If the policy is enabled and you attempt to launch the taskbar properties, you get an error message reading “This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator.”
There are also dedicated policies to Prevent grouping of taskbar items, do not display any custom toolbars in the taskbar, and remove access to the context menus for the taskbar. Their purpose is quite intuitive.
Windows 10 also offers two different policies for pinned icons. You can configure the operating system to not allow pinning Store apps to the taskbar and/or to block pinning of programs. Additionally, there’s a special policy that can remove all pinned programs from the taskbar.
You can also prevent users from resizing the taskbar, and last but not least, you can just lock all taskbar settings to make sure that no unauthorized changes are being made on your PC.
“If you enable this policy setting, the user cannot access the taskbar control panel. The user is also unable to resize, move or rearrange toolbars on their taskbar,” the description of the policy reads.
All these changes are available on Windows 10 Pro where the Group Policy Editor is bundled into the operating system, and enabling the policies does not require a system reboot. If you want to return to the original configuration, it’s enough to just disable these policies.