Tidy Your Windows 7 Notification Area

December 1, 2010, By Christian Cawley

With a lot of programs installed on your PC or laptop, you’re going to notice that the notification area – once referred to as the “System Tray” gets a little packed.

Windows 7 has pretty much avoided this area being over-subscribed with mini-icons by pushing them into a sub-menu which is accessed by a small arrow – but you might still find that icons appearing here are either too plentiful or completely irrelevant.

On occasion you might find that an icon for a program you have long since uninstalled is still showing, and right-clicking it to find a delete option will sadly prove unsuccessful.

However this and other settings can be applied to this group of icons, allowing you to decrease or increase their number.

Windows 7 Notification Area settings

Accessing the Notification Area Icons menu

In order to start adjusting how the Notification Area displays icons, you will need to open the menu that controls this. There are two ways in which this area can be reached:

Right-click the Windows Taskbar and select Properties. On the Taskbar tab you will see the Notification Area section with a button labelled Customize…. Click this to open the Notification Area Icons control screen.

You might also access the Notification Area Icons screen via the Start menu – just type notification in the Search box and select the first option in the search results.

Hiding Icons in the Windows 7 Notification Area

With the Notification Area Icons screen open, the process here should become clear. Each program that has an icon in the Notification Area is listed, and beside it a drop down menu from which you can choose one of the three options:

  • Show icon and notifications
  • Hide icon and notifications
  • Only show notifications

The icons will be configured to Only show notifications which should be enough, but if you have a disparate icon abandoned by long-removed software then you will need to set it to Hide icon and notifications.

Turn System Icons On or Off

By default, there are several System Icons that will display, but these depend upon the presence of certain hardware. By using the Turn system icons on or off link on the Notification Area Icons screen you can control which ones appear at all times.

This is a simple to use screen – each System Icon has an on or off option in its individual drop-down menu. Icons you might find here include those for the clock, volume, network, power and Action Center.

Show the Desktop

While we’re on the subject of the Windows 7 Notification Area and icons the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system did away with the Show Desktop button of previous versions in favour of the Aero “tab” found beside the clock in the Notification Area.

This little patch of the Taskbar can be used to either Peek at desktop – the default function, achieved by simply pointing at it – or Show desktop, which will require you to right-click the button and choose the option manually. You can also “untick” the Peek at desktop option to disable it.

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