Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray

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Windows 7 Logo   Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System TrayEvery Windows user has seen the Windows system tray (also known as the notification area) become cluttered over time. We’ve covered disabling distracting desktop notifications in the past, but what if the icons themselves are the problem? With Windows 7, Microsoft has included a variety of tools that put you in control over which icons appear.

If your system tray is cluttered with applications you never use and don’t need, you may want to uninstall some of them or prevent them from running in the background — perhaps by disabling the “auto-start” or “minimize to tray” options in the program itself. However, you may want an application running but not want its icon sitting in your taskbar all day – that’s when these tricks can come in handy.

Drag & Drop System Tray Icons

The quickest way to tidy your system tray is with drag and drop. Click a system tray icon, hold down the left mouse button, and drag it to the arrow next to the system tray. Drop it into the little window that appears and it will be hidden from your taskbar.

system tray drag and drop   Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray

System tray icons you put here continue to run in the background, but they don’t take up any space on your taskbar. Click the up arrow to access the icons and use them normally.

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You can also rearrange the order of the icons in your system tray by dragging and dropping them. To restore a hidden icon, just drag and drop it from the hidden icons window back onto your taskbar.

Customize Notification Area Icons

To customize the notification area icons further, click the up arrow by the system tray on your taskbar and click the Customize link. You can also press the Windows Key and B at the same time, then press Enter to reveal the hidden system tray icons.

system tray icons customize   Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray

The Notification Area Icons control panel allows you to configure the behavior of each icon individually. Each icon has three available settings:

  • Show icon and notifications: The icon will always appear.
  • Only show notifications: The icon will be hidden in normal use. When the icon displays a notification bubble, it will temporarily appear so you can see the notification.
  • Hide icon and notifications: The icon will never appear. Windows will prevent the icon from showing notification bubbles.

select notification area icons   Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray

To revert these settings to the default, click the Restore default icon behaviors link at the bottom of the window.

You can also disable the icon-hiding behavior entirely, if you like – check the Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar check box and Windows will show all running system tray icons on your taskbar.

show all system tray icons   Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray

Turn System Icons On or Off

Windows includes some of its own system tray icons, known as “system icons.” You can control these by clicking the Turn system icons on or off link at the bottom of the notification area icons window.

Each included icon can be turned off to hide it from your system tray entirely – it won’t even appear in the hidden notification area icons window. You can disable the volume, network, power, and Windows action center icons here.

You can also disable the clock from here — if you do, the clock on your taskbar will disappear.

turn system icons on or off   Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray

Remove Old System Tray Icons

If you’ve used your Windows system for a while, you may notice that icons for old, uninstalled programs appear in the Notification Area Icons control panel window.

To get rid of these outdated icons, run CCleaner (download it here) and tell it to clear your Tray Notifications Cache. You’ll have to log in and out after clearing this data.

ccleaner tray notifications cache   Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray

If you’re a geek that’s familiar with the Windows registry, you can also clear this data manually. Launch the registry editor and navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\TrayNotify key. Delete the IconsStream and PastIconsStream values in the right pane. Finally, you’ll have to log out and log back in (or restart Explorer.exe) for your changes to take effect.

For more information on Windows 7, download our free Ultimate Windows 7 Guide.

Do you have any more questions about tidying up your system tray, or any helpful tips to share? Leave a comment below!

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17 Comments - Write a Comment


Mike DeGeorge

I appreciated the one about turning system icons on or off. Well, I actually appreciated them all :P but that one came in handy just now. Didn’t see that option before. Thank you! :D



I use the little “Tray Cleaner” (version 1.60, portable) once in a while. Cleans up left-overs of uninstalled programs. Small and efficient.

Chris Hoffman

Ah, that might work too — CCleaner works if you already have it installed, though!


jun naluan

tanx for the tips


Shakirah Faleh Lai

Just use Ccleaner to clean everything every week.

Chris Hoffman

CCleaner doesn’t remove installed programs, though!

Shakirah Faleh Lai

Yeah, use another software to do that.

Chris Hoffman

Actually, now that I think of it, I suppose CCleaner does have an integrated software uninstaller…


Larry Johnson

Thanks I cleaned up a bit. :)



Geat share but in a nut shell here is how you can tidy up the system tray in windows 7:
1. In the notification area of the taskbar, find the small upward-pointing triangle and click it. Alternatively use this two-step keyboard shortcut: Windows key+B, Enter
2. A small window (shown on the right) will open. Click “Customize”.
3. A dialog box with a list of notification area entries will open. An example is shown in the figure below.
4. Each entry has a drop-down menu on its right where you can select from three choices: “Show icon and notifications” or “Hide icon and notifications” or “Only show notifications”.
5. After making your selections, click “OK”.

You can check out more on the topic at:

Chris Hoffman

Basically, sure. But you’d be surprised how many novice computers benefit from screenshots and detailed tutorials!



it was a nice read, thanks



Thanks for share ! Great Tips !


Rigoberto Garcia

Great tips Chris. Thanks…


Silviu Despa

Thank you for this! I always had these problems!



Thanks for the tips!


Piet Deje

Thanks. It helps…

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