How to Change Windows Taskbar Preview Time for Improved Performance

For as long as Windows has featured a recognisable GUI, it has had a task bar running along the bottom of the screen. Windows 7 changed this long running feature for the better with what was marketed as the “Superbar.” Programs were grouped into labels, ready to be pinned as shortcuts, and previews were finally an option.

While the change has been good enough to survive right into the latest Windows 10 preview builds, the preview speed has always left a bit to be desired. Considering some previews have additional buttons – an obvious example being iTunes – waiting for a pop-up to take control is a pain.

These tweaks involve the Windows Registry; an in-depth explanation of the Registry and how it works is available here.

Begin by opening the Registry Editor – open the Windows Search and type regedit, then press Enter. Accept the prompt to open the Registry Editor.

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You should be presented with a tree navigation system along the side of the window. Go to the very top, and there should be a series of entries beginning “HKEY_”.

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Expand “HKEY_CURRENT_USER,” then the “Software” folder beneath it. Scroll through to the “Microsoft” folder. Within it, go to the “Windows” folder. Finally, click the “CurrentVersion” folder. This sounds complicated, but really is not.

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Inside the “CurrentVersion” folder will be a series of registry entries, not all of which will make clear sense. Ignore them, and instead right click in the blank space to select a new entry.

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Choose “DWORD (32-bit)” for the new registry entry and call it “ExtendedUIHoverTime,” then press Enter.

Rather unusually for a Windows process, this should appear to be finished. There is no further prompt until you click the new entry, whereupon you should see a small window containing a few options.

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First, look to the “Base” section and change it from its default Hexadecimal to Decimal. Both give the same result, but using Decimal is easier since they’re simple numbers.

Pick a value. The decimal figures correspond to milliseconds, and by default, Windows presents the options at 400 milliseconds. That’s close to half a second of waiting.

The value that you choose is uniquely personal, but “100” and “50” in particular give a very visible speed boost without making the previews appear instantly. Click “OK” when you have the finer details confirmed and know that you can change this value as often as you like by returning to this section of the Registry Editor.

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Do not close the Registry Editor. Instead, right click the Superbar and then choose “Task Manager.”

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Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 all require you to click the dropdown arrow to see the tabs. If you use any of these operating systems, click the “Details” tab. Those using Windows 7 or older operating systems should click the “Processes” tab.

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Regardless of how you get to the list of running processes, it is explorer.exe you need to click. After highlighting it, select “End Task.”

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The Superbar and any open Windows Explorer windows will then close. Do not panic for this is why the Registry Editor was kept open.

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Go back to the Registry Editor and then select “File” in the upper left, then “Start new task.” In this window you need only type “explorer.exe” to restore the Superbar. It will not, however, restore previously open instances of Windows Explorer.

Now check out the speed of the previews appearing on-screen. They should respond more rapidly to the mouse cursor. If you’re not happy with how it works, simply change the value in the registry, end the process and restart it again.

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While working with the registry may be daunting, it doesn’t have to be as hard as it appears. Follow the steps outlined above and everything should go swimmingly. If you’d rather not use our workaround with the Task Manager and Windows Explorer, you can restart the computer instead.

It is a subtle tweak, one that not everybody will notice, but if you move between open documents regularly, it’s an incredibly convenient change to make with a perceptible improvement in response speed. Media players like iTunes, with their included media navigation buttons, benefit most greatly as the standard speed is marginally slower than opening the full program and pausing that way.