Tutorial Thursday

One of the nice features that you get in Windows Vista with the Aero interface are thumbnails of running applications. These thumbnails are seen when you perform an Alt-Tab, and we’ve already shown you how you can increase the size of those. Now it is time to step it up a notch and show you how to increase the size of the Taskbar Thumbnails.

The Taskbar Thumbnails show up when you hover over a Taskbar item, and they can be quite useful since they are always refreshing. For example, if you were burning a DVD you could hover over the item on the Taskbar and just by looking at the small preview you should be able to see how far along the progress bar is. The only problem is that the thumbnail can be a bit small at times:

Vista Taskbar Thumbnail

We’ll go ahead and fix that problem right now…and you don’t even have to install the program! Feel free to click on any of the thumbnails below for a fullsize version.

  1. Go to Ave’s Vista Apps and download the program called Thumbnail Sizer. Note: You download the files by clicking on the image.
  2. After the download is finished, extract the contents and run the file called AveThumbnailSizer. Now drag the sliders back and forth to adjust the maximum width and height of the thumbnails that you desire. While dragging the sliders it shows the number of pixels that are currently selected:
    Vista Taskbar Thumbnail Resizer
    Note: Every time you adjust the sliders, it instantaneously updates the thumbnail sizes. So if you’re not sure what size you want just play with the sliders, and then hover your mouse over the items on the Taskbar to see if that’s what you’re looking for.
  3. I was never able to notice a difference with enabling or disabling the “Fade-in Animation” so I just keep it off. If you want the program to start automatically with Windows, go ahead and hit the button on the screen.
  4. When you’re done just close the window and enjoy your new, larger taskbar thumbnails! Below are two screenshots of the new thumbnails in action:
    Vista Larger Taskbar Thumbnail Vista Larger Taskbar Thumbnail

Pretty cool, huh? This is something Microsoft should include in a PowerToy for Vista because larger thumbnails make the feature more useful.

There are a few things that you should know about using this:

  • There is no icon in the System Tray for this. If for some reason you wanted to close it and restore the thumbnails to their normal glory, it’s probably easiest just to restart your computer.
  • After resuming from standby you have to re-run the program and adjust the slider if you want it to change the thumbnail size. This can be a little bit of a pain if you’re constantly putting your computer into standby, but otherwise it is great. If this bug was fixed I would be grateful!
  • There is no installation required, so you might want to stuff the folder somewhere where it won’t get in the way. I put it in the documents folder on my computer so that it’s not always sitting on my desktop.

So the program isn’t quite perfect yet, but it is getting there. If you’re running Vista with the Aero interface, I’m sure you’ll think this is pretty cool though.

Kudos to the How To Geek for offering a “ransom” on finding a solution for this.