A Romanian programmer named Valinet has come up with a collection of tweaks that reintroduce the behavior of the taskbar and start menu from Windows 10, including positioning the taskbar on the side. He also brings back the Win+X menu and there are other tweaks.
Valinets Explorer Patcher for Windows 11 is hosted on GitHub. The patcher works by placing one, or even more for added functionality, .dll files in the Windows folder. After a reboot, the patcher then starts working and its tweaks become accessible. The Romanian states that the Patcher works on Windows 11 version 2200.194, which is currently the latest build, but that it ‘may’ also work fine on newer builds.
Perhaps the most important feature in the Patcher is the ability to place the taskbar on the left or right side of the screen. That is an option that was in previous editions of Windows, but not in 11. It is unclear whether Microsoft will introduce it itself. Some users find it more convenient to place the taskbar on the side, because horizontal space on a widescreen is less scarce than vertical space. Note that this is not about the icon alignment, which has moved to the center; that can be adjusted by default in the options of the os.
In addition to moving the taskbar, there are options to show the ‘all apps’ list immediately when opening Start, adjust the maxima of that list, bring back missing tray icons, combine taskbar icons restrict or disable it and bring back the old search function in Explorer. A gui is available for the most popular options, but more niche options require .reg files. Igor’s Lab, which also discovered the tool, posted its own Windows 10-esque preset file.
Valinet recognizes that placing a .dll in the Windows folder may trigger an antivirus alert. He admits that this is an unconventional way of working, which is regularly used by malicious software. Nevertheless, at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a better way to accomplish the drastic tweaks. For those who still don’t trust things, he invites you to inspect the source code on GitHub.