In Windows operating systems the taskbars default position is at the bottom. Why is that so? Especially it is strange to me because all windows application have their main menu bar at the top. To me it makes more sense to have the main operating systemu menu (which the taskbar is) at the top where all other program have their main operating menu, where they are controlled from. Web browsers with tabbed interfaces also have tabs at the top, not the bottom.

  • I think the fact that Windows has it on the bottom and Macintosh has it on the top indicates that it was an arbitrary choice.
    – sawa
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 11:38
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    Apart from notifications, the Mac OS equivalent of the taskbar (the Dock) is also at the bottom (by default).
    – Matt Obee
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 11:51
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    I like the fact that it draws less attention at the bottom, thus helping you concentrate on the current application. Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 12:32
  • You're asking as if that were a bad thing. Having a menu bar at the edge of the screen makes it "a mile high" which means it's a lot easier to reach it properly with the mouse; using two different edges of the screen lets you utilize this feature twice. Of course, the Windows 95 people screwed this up anyway - they beveled the menu buttons so you could not hit them if you slammed the mouse cursor against the edge of the screen, which continues to prove they didn't know what they were doing; but even a blind chicken etc.
    – tripleee
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 16:59

6 Answers 6


To my knowledge it was not a design issue but a technical one in win 95.
The taskbar should be at the top, but many of the win 3.1 app use absolute positioning on screen. And the top left 0,0 used to be in application "space" in win 3.1. There was too many issues with a taskbar at the top. It was decided to put it at the bottom to lower bugs. Nowadays every app can work with taskbar anywhere.

edit : after some search I find a reliable source

  • Interesting, my understanding was that the windows OS always controlled the positioning of apps.
    – S..
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 14:38
  • By default windows will control the positioning of apps but it can be overridden. And I think that only came along in 95 (I could be wrong)
    – CobaltHex
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 7:29

Keeping it as far away from where applications have their menu makes a clear distinction to the user that each is for controlling something very different.

Applications are controlled by menus at the top, the system is controlled by menus at the bottom.

Mac has also experimented with this dual concept. For instance the application dock is at the bottom, and open apps are placed there. But the application specific behaviour (not minimising, closing) are kept in top menus.

But mainly, the reason the taskbar is at the bottom is artbitrary, it's been there since Microsoft first added it in Cairo. Now users expect it, so to keep a consistent and predictable interface it is adhered too. See more about menu conventions for windows apps here. enter image description here

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    If the aim was to keep it far away from the application toolbar, why wasn't the taskbar at the top of the screen and the application toolbar at the bottom of the window?
    – Brendon
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 19:24
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    That's the same thing no?
    – S..
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 21:45
  • I'm curious to read an official design paper on this, what research was conducted, eventually learning why exactly they decided so, but what was said makes sense. It doesn't seem like the most convenient or practical idea - having to traverse greater distances with the mouse across a (potentially larger) screen, but if the decision was made to prevent user error, then it makes sense.
    – SNH
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 17:02
  • @Brendon: Application menus at the top of the window were there quite a bit before a task bar was around. Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 15:34

Partly arbitrary, but also historical. Mac OS didn't have a dock at the bottom until OS X and then it made sense to put it at the opposite of that standard menu bar, check out http://www.asktog.com/columns/022DesignedToGiveFitts.html to learn more about how there is a difference based on ergonomics of where you put things.


I know this is a bit of an old question, but here's a possible extra reason: It means that the cursor movement doesn't need to be precise when navigating an app. If the taskbar was at the top, you couldn't just throw the cursor to the top right corner to close a window, or the top left corner to access "File". Having everything in corners makes it just a tiny bit faster to use, because you don't need to "aim" for the main commands of the app.

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    This is very true. I was a strong proponent of a taskbar at the top because ease of access to both apps and menus, and I still keep it there, in fact I have consistently used the taskbar placed in the top for over a decade, but one of the reasons I had to adjust it by removing all pinned items and making shortcuts in the start menu instead was, that despite years (10+) of use one's mouse movements can be unpredictable, especially with higher mouse sensitivity, and will more often result to activating other apps by accident, because their icons sat next to open Windows.
    – SNH
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 16:53
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    This isn't quite true historically, this principle was missed because in early win9x there was a border around the start button, so if you slammed the cursor into the lower left and clicked nothing would happen. The realization of fitts law didn't come until later. Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 6:02

After some digging I found a post where they explain, that most users (98%, old data, but probably still relevant) don't relocate their taskbar despite the settings being just a right-click away, which may imply either that 1) (despite the easy access) users are unaware of the setting or 2) perfectly content with its placement.


According to Raymond Chen, of Microsoft, one of the reason the taskbar ended up at the bottom of the screen is due to programming bugs by third-party applications. He explained the reason in this blog post at MSDN.

Before Windows 95, a lot of Windows applications assumed that they can place their windows at the coordinates (0,0), which is the top-left corner of the screen. (The correct way is for the application to query the OS first on what are the range of coordinates that is safe to place the window.) So, if the taskbar (which was introduced in Windows 95) was placed at the top of the screen, windows that are placed at the coordinate (0,0) will have the entire title bar (and part of the windows' content) falling underneath the taskbar. Not only that, but because the title bar is obscured, it is difficult / impossible for the user to move the window away using only the mouse.

Therefore, the taskbar was placed at the bottom of the screen to allow these pre-Windows 95 applications to continue to work.

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