Customize and Tweak Your System Tray Icons in Windows 7

In Windows 7, the System Tray has become the Notification Area and it allows for more customization than was available in Windows XP. You can choose which icons in the Notification Area are visible and which are hidden.

This article shows you how to show and hide icons by dragging and dropping them and how to manually tweak the Notification Area icons, including showing and hiding program and system icons using the Notification Area Icons panel.

Customizing Your System Tray Icons

The Notification Area is accessible by clicking the up arrow on the taskbar to the right of the click and system icons, as pictured below. If you want an icon to be available without having to click the up arrow, you can drag that icon to the taskbar.

The icon moves to the notification area of the taskbar and is removed from the popup Notification Area.

You can also manually customize the Notification Area by clicking the Customize link on the popup.

The Notification Area Icons screen on the Control Panel displays. Programs installed on your system that put an icon in the Notification Area are listed on this screen, even if they are not running at the time. Notice that the program we moved to the visible part of the Notification Area on the taskbar is listed at the top of the list with the Show icon and notifications option selected. This option makes the icon visible at all times on the taskbar.

To make other icons visible at all times on the taskbar, scroll down in the list until you find the desired program. Select Show icon and notifications from the drop-down list. The Only show notifications option shows an icon in the popup Notification Area only unless it has a message to display. Then, it moves to the visible area. The Hide icon and notifications option hides an icon all the time, even when it has a message to display. Be careful when using this option. You may miss important notifications.

When you change an option for an icon in the Notification Area, the change is applied immediately. In this example, we chose to make SnagIt and Sizer visible on the taskbar, as well as WinSnap.

Notice that there are three other icons that are visible by default. These are system icons. You can easily show and hide these icons as well. To do this, click the Turn system icons on or off link at the bottom of the Notification Area Icons screen.

The System Icons screen displays. Select Off from the drop-down list for each system icon you don't want to display.

To return to the Notification Area Icons screen, click OK or click the Customize notifications icons link.

NOTE: We recommend you use the OK button to return to the Notification Area Icons screen. Every time you click on a link to “switch” between the Notification Area Icons screen and the System Icons screen, a new window is actually opened. It is better to close each window you opened by clicking OK.

Notice that the program icons you chose to make visible on the taskbar are moved to the top of the list. These programs display at the top of this list while they are running, if the Show icon and notifications option is selected.

If you have made changes and want to return to the default Windows settings for the Notification Area Icons, click the Restore default icon behaviors link. The same link is available on the System Icons screen, allowing you to return to the the default settings for the system icons.

If you want all your Notification Area Icons to be visible on the taskbar, select the Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar check box. All icons in the Notification Area will be visible, no matter how much room they take up on the taskbar.

Once you customize your Notification Area icons, these settings are persistent. When you restart your computer and start one of the programs you chose to always make visible on the system tray, it minimizes to the visible area on the system tray again.

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