Tooltips hidden behind Taskbar? Here’s the fix.

This week I am writing about one of the most annoying things about Windows XP (it also shows up sometimes in Vista). It’s when the tooltips get mistakenly hidden behind the Taskbar or the System Tray.
When you hold your mouse over an icon in the System Tray, you are supposed to get a little tooltips window that appears briefly, to tell you about that particular icon and what it is. Like this:

But sometimes, Windows messes up, and that nice little informative window gets put behind the taskbar, like this:

This used to drive me nuts – sometimes I need to know what that window says, such as the status of a program (online or offline), or my IP address, etc. No matter how much I fiddled with the cursor or repeated the attempt to see it, it wouldn’t work until some random time later on. Then I found the fix for it.

And the solution makes about as much sense as the problem. Both seem to be random. Anyway, if this happens to you, here’s what to do:

Click Start, and find a program in the list (it doesn’t matter which program). Right click on it, and in the new menu, choose “Sort by name” (near the bottom of the list). Then, do the same thing again. Your tooltips will now be visible again, where they should be.
This solution sounds like some kind of “ancient Chinese secret” or something, but it works. Maybe the Windows programmers at Microsoft just have a weird sense of humor.
This week’s video shows what happened when a goofball ran onto the field during a baseball game. He got what he deserved.

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July 30th, 2008

That sort-by-name thing didn’t work for me. But I was able to get it this way.

Right click on taskbar and select properties.
In the properties window select(or deselect) the “Keep the tawskbar on top of other windows” option and click apply.
The tooltips should show up then.

August 17th, 2008

Worked for me. Thanks JJ

Also, I might add, that in my haste to fix, my
first attempt failed because I forgot to
“Then, do the same thing again. ” as you

August 21st, 2008

Try ToolTipFixer available at

March 12th, 2009

This does not work on all computers. If you unclick the Keep taskbr on top of other windows you cant switch between open windows without minimizing the one on top.

Marketing Guy
December 29th, 2009

Great tip with firefox, I use it everyday and never know that.