How to choose which items show in the notification area

Updated: 03/01/2018 by Computer Hope

The Windows icon.The notification area (also referred to as the system tray) contains icons that provide information to users about various aspects of their operating system. Good examples include the time and date, Internet connection status, and which background programs are loaded. To customize what information and which icons are displayed in the notification area, choose your version of Windows from the list below and follow the instructions.

Change notification area items in Windows 10

  1. Press the Windows key, type Taskbar settings, and then press Enter.
  2. In the window that appears, scroll down to the Notification area section.
  3. From here you can choose Select which icons appear on the taskbar or Turn system icons on or off.

The notification area links in Windows 10.

  1. Enter both of these menus and set the toggle switches to An on toggle switch in Windows 10. or An off toggle switch in Windows 10. next to each of the icons depending on your preferences.

Change notification area items in Windows 8, 7, and Vista

  1. From the Windows desktop, right-click the Taskbar and click Properties
  2. In the Taskbar Properties window next to Notification area: click the Customize button.
  3. In the Notification Area Icons screen that appears, you may choose the icons to show in the Windows notification area using the drop-down menu located next to each item (1). You may also enable and disable system icons by clicking the Turn system icons on or off link (2).

Customize Windows notification area

  1. When you are finished making your changes, click the OK button.

Tip: To show every icon, check the box next to Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar located at the bottom of the Notification Area Icons window.

Change notification area items in Windows XP

  1. Right-click the Taskbar and select Properties from the drop-down menu that appears.
  2. In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window, click the Customize... button in the lower-right corner of the window.
  3. In the new window, click the down arrow next to each item and select Hide when inactive, Always hide or Always show.
  4. When you're done, click Apply then OK.

Change notification area items in Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, and 2000

Users who are running these versions of Microsoft Windows do not have an option to customize systray icons. If your notification area is becoming cluttered, we suggest you disable the systray icon for one or more of your programs.

Many programs can disable the systray icon by:

  1. Right-click the icon in the systray.
  2. Select properties or preferences from the drop-down menu.
  3. Un-check any systray icon option. Unfortunately, all programs are different so you may have to do a little hunting for this option if it is even available.

Alternatively, you can disable the program from even starting up each time the computer boots.

How do I view hidden Windows notification (systray) icons?

The notification area in Windows 10.Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10

In Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10, hidden icons can be viewed by clicking the small up arrow one the left side of the notification area (shown right).

Windows XP

  1. Right-click the Taskbar and select Properties from the drop-down menu that appears.
  2. In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window, click the Customize... button in the lower-right corner of the window, the check box next to Hide inactive icons may be toggled to quickly hide or show inactive icons.
  3. Once this feature has been enabled in Microsoft Windows XP, two chevrons on the far left side of the systray (shown below) can be clicked to display all hidden systray icons. If they are not visible, there are no hidden icons.

Systray Chevron

Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, and 2000

If you're running Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, or Windows 2000 and the systray section is not visible, it's likely you're encountering one of the below situations.

  • The program is not open - Unless the program or a portion of the program is loaded it will not be visible in the systray.
  • The program is opened but not minimized - To help manage your systray, some programs will remove their associated icon in the systray when opened.
  • The program is open but the systray icon feature has been disabled.
  • The program does not have a Windows Notification icon.

Additional information