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The taskbar is the bar on the bottom of the screen where all your running programs are displayed.  The taskbar, like the desktop, has a couple of other components attached to it which, while shown on the taskbar, are not part of the taskbar.  Let's look at our desktop image again.

Desktop

We see our familiar desktop from previous examples.  This time we are looking at the bottom of the screen.  The taskbar is that line at the bottom that looks like this.

Taskbar

This entire thing is not the taskbar, just the blue portion in the middle.  This is where programs show up when you have them open.  Here is an example.

Desktop

Here you can see there are two programs running on the desktop and four shown in the taskbar.  My Computer and My Documents are both open and the first two things shown in the taskbar.  Also open, but minimized are two we pages, MSN.com and Google.  When you minimize a window you can only see it in the taskbar.  That is how you get it back when you have it off the screen, but don't close it.  The main purpose of the taskbar is to display the "task" we are currently working on.  It displays the programs which we currently have open.

The parts to the left and right of the four taskbar items are displayed "on" the taskbar and, technically, are a part of it, but they are separate entities with different functions (covered elsewhere).  Technically speaking the entire bar is the taskbar, but generally speaking when we talk about the taskbar we are referring to the section which displays the tasks.

One thing work mentioning, the "taskbar" is sometimes referred to as the "start bar" because that is where the start button is displayed.  Start bar is a less accurate term than taskbar, so taskbar is generally the term used.  One more thing worth noting, the taskbar can be moved from the bottom edge of the screen to either the top, left or right edges.  It is most commonly found on the bottom edge, but it could be located on any edge of the screen and may also be set to "auto hide", which means it will display only as a very fine blue line until you bring your mouse cursor near it, at which time it will "pop up" (or down, left or right) from the edge so that you can interact with it.