Information about the Windows notification area (Systray)

Picture of Windows systray.Windows 7 Systray

Officially known as the notification area, the system tray (Systray) is also sometimes referred to as the shell notification area and taskbar status area and is a section of Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and 8 operating systems.

This section of Windows displays small icons enabling a user to know what is currently loaded in the computer's memory. The Systray is located at the bottom right-hand-side of the screen and is next to the current time. In the pictures to the right, are examples of the Windows notification area.

Note: This document is only about the Windows notification area aka Systray and does not have questions about the Windows Taskbar.

Do I need the Systray to be loaded?

Yes. If you were to End Task Systray or stopping the process it could would cause problems for any programs including Windows that need it running. This program is very small and should not cause any issues with any other software on your computer.

Note: The systray.exe should only be loading from c:\Windows\System32 directory. If this file is trying to load from somewhere else it is likely malware trying to disguise itself as being the Systray.

I have a Systray Icon that I do not want to load each time my computer starts.

When a program is running in the background it may show an associated Systray icon each time the computer starts and it is loaded.

To disable this program depends on the program associated with the Systray icon. However, many programs can be adjusted by right-clicking on the Systray icon and clicking properties or settings and disabling Systray icon or automatic startup.

How to hide and view Systray icons

Missing Network icon on Systray

Systray icons

Tip: hovering the mouse cursor over a systray icon gives you information about that icon..

Although there are thousands of different icons that can be listed in the Windows Notification Area, we have taken the time to list a few of the more common icons. Some of these sections also list more than one icon because the developer of the program has changed the icon over time.



Associated Program: McAfee VirusScan
When Loaded: After the Installation of McAfee.

Associated Program: Norton antivirus
When Loaded: After the Installation of Norton antivirus.

Associated Program: AVG antivirus
When Loaded: After the Installation of AVG.



Associated Program: Microsoft Windows
When Loaded: After the drivers for the sound card have successfully loaded. If you are missing this icon, refer to the sound card troubleshooting section.
  Associated Program: Adobe Acrobat
When Loaded: When Adobe is running or when updates are available for Adobe Acrobat.
  Associated Program: Microsoft Windows
 When Loaded: When hardware connected to the computer can be safely disconnected.
Associated Hardware: Microsoft Intellimouse
When Loaded: After the Mouse drivers and the mouse have been successfully installed and loaded.
Associated Program: Dial-up Networking
When Loaded: Once successfully connected to the Internet.


Associated Program: Microsoft Windows update
When Loaded: Once a patch is ready to be installed or has been successfully completed this icon is displayed. If a patch is ready to be installed double-clicking this icon opens the Windows update. Additional information about updating Windows.
Associated Program: Dr. Watson
When Loaded: Located on the Windows 9x Systray when Dr. Watson is watching computer.
  Associated Program: Drobo Dashboard
When Loaded: When Drobo Dashboard and Drobo are connected to computer.
Associated Program: AOL Instant messenger.
When Loaded: Once connected to the Internet and the program has successfully loaded into memory.
Associated Program: Real Player
When Loaded: After Real has been installed into the computer.

Associated Program: Microsoft Messenger Service
When Loaded: Once the MSN Messenger has loaded.
Associated Program: ICQ
When Loaded: Once ICQ has been installed.

Associated Program: NVIDIA video card drivers.
When Loaded: When NVIDIA video card and drivers are installed in the computer.
Associated Program: Local Area Network
When Loaded:  When network connection is up. If this icon is missing follow the missing network icon troubleshooting steps.
Associated Program: Microsoft Windows
When Loaded: By default, after installation of Windows, or when selected to be shown in the display properties in Control Panel.
  Associated Program: AutoHotkey
When Loaded: When the scripting program AutoHotkey is installed and running on the computer.
Associated Program: First Aid
When Loaded: After the installation of First Aid.
Associated Program: Microsoft Active Sync
When Loaded: After the installation of Microsoft Active Sync or Windows CE device. 
Associated Program: Microsoft Outlook
When Loaded: When you receive e-mail in Microsoft Outlook this icon should appear in your Systray.
Associated Program: Winamp
When Loaded: After the installation of Winamp.
Associated Program: Microsoft Windows
When Loaded: After the installation of Microsoft Windows 95+
Associated Hardware: ATI Video Card
When Loaded: After the successful installation of the ATI Video card software. 
Associated Program: Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, and XP
When Loaded: When CPU Usage monitor is loaded or on Windows NT, 2000, and XP if Task Manager is open. 
  Associated Program: Pandora
When Loaded: When Pandora music streaming program is installed on computer.
Associated Program: WinVNC
When Loaded: When WinVNC is running.
Associated Program: Java
When Loaded: A browser or other program utilizing Java has been loaded.
Associated Program: APC UPS.
When Loaded: After installing the software associated with your APC UPS.
Associated Program: Apple QuickTime
When Loaded: After installing Apple QuickTime.
Associated Program: Belkin Nostromo game pad
When Loaded: After installing Nostromo software.
Associated Program: Google Desktop search
When Loaded: After installing Google Desktop search.

Associated Program: CRT and SecureCRT
When Loaded: After CRT or SecureCRT telnet program has been installed.
Associated Program: Symantec Norton Ghost
When Loaded: After Symantec Norton Ghost has been installed on the computer.
Associated Program: Bluetooth
When Loaded: After any Bluetooth is installed on your computer.

Associated Program: Folding@Home
When Loaded: After Folding@Home has been installed and is running on the computer.

Additional information

  • See the notification area definition for additional information about this term and related links.