If you'd like to have empty space in between some of the icon sets on your Windows 7 taskbar to keep things organised and separated, this simple hack will get the job done.
Lifehacker reader Virgilstar shared this excellent tip, and we tweaked it a little and made a custom icon for those of you within the software to make icons yourself.
The magic behind the trick is assigning a transparent icon to a shortcut and then pinning that shortcut to the taskbar as a spacer in between to sets of icons you want to keep separate. The steps below detail how to do so.
First, make a folder in an out of the way spot — you don't want your files to accidentally get deleted or moved later — and in that folder right-click and create a new text document. Rename that text document to spacer1.exe. You're just using the empty text documents to create dummy executable files to trick Windows. Repeat this step for as many spacers as you need. We created two for this tutorial.
Once you have created the number spacers, right click on each dummy exe and create a new shortcut. You don't need to rename the shortcut from the default spacer1.exe - Shortcut, the name won't be visible.
After you have the number of dummy executable files and shortcuts in accordance with the number of spacers you want, it's time to swap the icons. You don't want to space icons out with little generic Windows executable icons after all, you want to space them out with nice transparent open space.
We've created a 256x256 transparent icon for you. You can download it by right clicking on this link and saving the .ICO file to your computer — saving it right into the folder where you're stashing your dummy executables might not be a bad idea.
When you have the icon on your computer, right click on one of the shortcuts you created in the earlier step and select Properties. In the Properties menu click the "Change Icon..." button. Browse to the location you saved the transparent .ICO file and select that as the new icon.
Repeat this until you've replaced all the shortcuts' icons with the transparent icon. When you're done the folder you're working in should look something like this:
Now all you have to do is drag and drop the new shortcuts you created to the taskbar and position them where you want to divide the space up. In the screenshot at the top of this article we used two spacers to separate the start button and Windows Explorer icon from our two web browser icons and then again to separate the browsers from the other executables.
Have a clever Windows 7 hack? Let's hear about it in the comments.