Difference between Toolbar and Taskbar

Computer terminologies can be quite confusing at times, especially when both seem to pertain to the same thing like toolbar and taskbar. These terms are in fact amongst  the most common terms in computer terminologies and are not that hard to learn. It might not that big of a help to users, but it doesn’t hurt to understand more of the computer world.


Toolbar vs Taskbar
A toolbar where options are included by the user with Internet Explorer.

Toolbar – previously known as ribbon, a toolbar is where the on-screen buttons, menus, icons and other input or output elements are placed. In other words, it is a widget where you can easily control the said elements. You’ll likely see them on common software such as office suites, web browsers, and graphics editors. Its main purpose is for users to easily manage their projects through the use of elements that are offered on your toolbar. Toolbars include your menu, file, home, edit, view, search, insert, save, open, etc.

Most toolbars are not customizable and will provide you with the default options.

Taskbars showing different programs running

Taskbar – It is a graphical user interface, or a widget, that shows which or what programs/applications are currently running on the device. Aside from that, it also provides links and shortcuts to other programs/applications like your start menu, quick launch bar, and notification area. The taskbar’s design will depend on the user and of course the operating system being used, but most often is a long strip along one edge of your display.

Most taskbars are customizable by the user.

Toolbar vs Taskbar

What’s the difference between a toolbar and a taskbar? Just by both being a graphical user interface, they do seem to be somewhat similar, providing users with more help and options to choose from, but they do have their differences.

Starting off with their origin, a toolbar can be found within the interface of a program/application, while a taskbar is usually a standard component of your operating system. Secondly, their purpose may be a bit similar in that they provide users with more options, but these options are quite different. The toolbar offers options for you to edit your project, save it, open a file, search, but it is limited to the project itself. The taskbar on the other hand will provide you with an option for a shortcut to open files or programs/applications, and at the same time give you a vision of what and which of those are currently running. A taskbar will also be where you can check for the time, notification area, start menu, and all other programs/applications the user may have included. Also, most commonly, toolbars are placed on top of the interface while a taskbar is placed at the bottom.

Comparison Chart

Toolbar Taskbar
Includes options like save, open, edit, search, view etc. Includes options like start menu, notification area, program shortcuts, time etc.
Usually placed on top edge of the interface Usually placed on the bottom edge of the interface
Provided by programs/applications Provided by operating systems