Information about the Windows notification area (systray)

Updated: 06/30/2020 by Computer Hope
Notification area in Windows 10.

Officially known as the notification area, the system tray (systray) is sometimes called the shell notification area and taskbar status area. It is part of the Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, and 11 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 on the bottom-right side of the screen and is next to the current time.

Note

This page is only about the Windows notification area, aka systray, and does not have questions about the Windows Taskbar, see: Issues and questions related to the Windows taskbar.

Do I need the systray to be loaded?

Yes. In early versions of Windows, if you End Task the systray process or stopping the process, it would cause problems for programs, including Windows. 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 loaded 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 a notification icon each time the computer starts.

To disable this program depends on the program associated with the icon. However, many programs can be adjusted by right-clicking the icon and clicking Properties or Settings and disabling the icon or the 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.

There are thousands of different icons that can be listed in the Windows Notification Area, we've 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.

McAfee VirusScan shield
McAfee antivirus
McAfee antivirus
Associated Program: McAfee VirusScan.
When Loaded: After the installation of McAfee.
Norton antivirus
Norton antivirus shield
Associated Program: Norton antivirus.
When Loaded: After the installation of Norton antivirus.
AVG antivirus
AVG antivirus
Associated Program: AVG antivirus.
When Loaded: After the installation of AVG.
Windows sound icon
Windows sound icon
Windows sound icon
Windows sound icon
Associated Program: Microsoft Windows.
When Loaded: After the drivers for the sound card have loaded. If you are missing this icon, see: How to fix missing or lost sound in Windows.
Adobe Acrobat icon Associated Program: Adobe Acrobat.
When Loaded: When Adobe is running or when updates are available for Adobe Acrobat.
Windows hardware removal icon Associated Program: Microsoft Windows.
When Loaded: When hardware connected to the computer can be safely disconnected.
Microsoft IntelliMouse icon Associated Hardware: Microsoft IntelliMouse.
When Loaded: After the mouse drivers and the mouse are installed and loaded.
Windows dial-up networking icon Associated Program: Dial-up Networking.
When Loaded: Once connected to the Internet.
Windows update icon
Windows update shield icon
Windows update icon
Associated Program: Microsoft Windows update.
When Loaded: Once a patch is ready to be installed, or installation is complete, this icon is displayed. If a patch is ready to be installed, double-clicking this icon opens the Windows update. How to update a Microsoft Windows computer.
Dr. Watson icon Associated Program: Dr. Watson.
When Loaded: Located on the Windows 9x systray when Dr. Watson is watching the computer.
Drobo Dashboard icon Associated Program: Drobo Dashboard.
When Loaded: When Drobo Dashboard and Drobo are connected to the computer.
AOL instant messenger icon Associated Program: AOL instant messenger.
When Loaded: Once connected to the Internet and the program has loaded into memory.
Real Player icon Associated Program: Real Player.
When Loaded: After Real is installed on the computer.
Microsoft Messenger icon
Microsoft Messenger people icon
Associated Program: Microsoft Messenger Service.
When Loaded: Once the MSN Messenger has loaded.
ICQ icon Associated Program: ICQ.
When Loaded: Once ICQ is installed.
NVIDIA video card icon
NVIDIA video card icon
Associated Program: NVIDIA video card drivers.
When Loaded: When NVIDIA video card and drivers are installed on the computer.
Windows local area network icon Associated Program: Local area network.
When Loaded: When a network connection is up. If this icon is missing, see: Missing network icon on the Windows notification area.
Microsoft Windows display properties icon 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.
AutoHotkey icon Associated Program: AutoHotkey.
When Loaded: When the scripting program AutoHotkey is installed and running on the computer.
First aid icon Associated Program: First aid.
When Loaded: After the installation of First Aid.
Microsoft Active Sync icon Associated Program: Microsoft Active Sync.
When Loaded: After the installation of Microsoft Active Sync or Windows CE device.
Microsoft Outlook mail icon Associated Program: Microsoft Outlook.
When Loaded: When you receive an e-mail in Microsoft Outlook, this icon should appear in your systray.
Winamp icon Associated Program: Winamp.
When Loaded: After the installation of Winamp.
Microsoft Windows schedule icon Associated Program: Microsoft Windows.
When Loaded: After the installation of Microsoft Windows 95+
ATI video card icon Associated Hardware: ATI video card.
When Loaded: After the successful installation of the ATI Video card software.
Windows CPU usage Windows Notification icon 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.
Pandora Windows Notification icon Associated Program: Pandora.
When Loaded: When Pandora music streaming program is installed on the computer.
WinVNC Windows Notification icon Associated Program: WinVNC.
When Loaded: When WinVNC is running.
Java Windows Notification icon Associated Program: Java.
When Loaded: A browser or other program using Java is loaded.
APC UPS Windows Notification icon Associated Program: APC UPS.
When Loaded: After installing the software associated with your APC UPS (uninterruptible power supply).
Apple QuickTime Windows Notification icon Associated Program: Apple QuickTime.
When Loaded: After installing Apple QuickTime.
Belkin Nostromo Windows Notification icon Associated Program: Belkin Nostromo gamepad.
When Loaded: After installing Nostromo software.
Google Desktop Search Windows Notification icon Associated Program: Google Desktop search.
When Loaded: After installing Google Desktop search.
CRT Windows Notification icon
SecureCRT Windows Notification icon
Associated Program: CRT and SecureCRT.
When Loaded: After CRT or SecureCRT telnet program is installed.
Symantec Norton Ghost Windows Notification icon Associated Program: Symantec Norton Ghost.
When Loaded: After Symantec Norton Ghost is installed on the computer.
Bluetooth Windows Notification icon Associated Program: Bluetooth.
When Loaded: After any Bluetooth is installed on your computer.
Folding@Home Windows Notification icon
Folding@Home Windows Notification icon
Associated Program: [email protected].
When Loaded: After [email protected] is installed and is running on the computer.