Malwarebytes Tray Application Appears in Alt + Tab Switching Window

After updating to Malwarebytes version 3.2.2, the “Malwarebytes Tray Application” window shows up in the Alt + Tab or Win + Tab task switcher window. This may be very annoying for users who use the task switcher frequently.

malwarebytes tray app in alt - tab window
Malwarebytes Tray App appears in Alt + Tab window
[Update] November 3: This issue has been fixed in Malwarebytes 3.3. See post Malwarebytes 3.3 Released: What’s New for details.

Malwarebytes is something that should run in the background, and I don’t see why the Malwarebytes Tray app (mbamtray.exe) window handle should appear in the Alt + Tab or Win + Tab screen.

According to user @Porthos, a “Trusted Advisor” in Malwarebytes official support forum, this change is “on purpose” to fix a different issue.

After some users complained, a Malwarebytes staff responded to them (in September 2017) saying:

We have plans to address these concerns. I can’t say for certain what our final solution will be, but we are aware that people aren’t ok with this

and…

I can’t really say what the final solution is. We have this defect filed as we understand having that extra application in the Alt+Tab menu is annoying, so our engineers are looking to see if we can the application not show up in that list, but still not cause the resource issues that the fix was designed to solve. (Of note, the fix was not “put the application in the alt+tab menu”, that was merely a side effect of the actual fix)

It has been a month, and they haven’t released any fix yet. The current version numbers as of this post (Oct 20, 2017) is mentioned below:

Malwarebytes version: 3.2.2.2029
Component package version: 1.0.212
Update package version: 1.0.3053

Hide Malwarebytes Tray App from Alt + Tab & Win + Tab

Here are a couple of workarounds for you to hide the Malwarebytes Tray Application from the task switcher.

Method 1: Move Malwarebytes Tray App to a new Virtual Desktop

Windows 10 allows you to create multiple virtual desktops. You can simply move Malwarebytes Tray App window to a new virtual desktop. To do that, use these steps:

1. Press WinKey + Tab to open the Task Switcher interface.

2. Right-click on the “Malwarebytes Tray Application” window, and click “Move to” and click “New desktop”

move malwarebytes tray app to new virtual desktop
Move Malwarebytes Tray App to new Virtual Desktop

3. Switch to the first or previous desktop and continue your work there. Malwarebytes Tray App shouldn’t appear in the task switcher of the other desktop(s).

For pre-Windows 10 computers, you may use third-party virtual desktop software to move the Malwarebytes tray app to another desktop.

Still, there is one problem. You’ll need to repeat the task after every restart or every login. That’s where Method 2 can be more practical.



Method 2: Hide Malwarebytes Tray App Window at Startup Using NirCmd

NirCmd from Nirsoft.net is an excellent multi-purpose command-line tool that can automate many tasks. It can hide an application window taking the window class name or window title as the input.

Malwarebytes Tray App’s window class name is MBTrayClose. To hide it, use these steps:

1. Download NirCmd (zipped) and extract NirCmd.exe to a permanent location, say d:\tools

2. Right-click Start, click Run.

3. Type the following command and click OK.

d:\tools\nircmd.exe win hide class "MBTrayClose"

That hides Malwarebytes Tray App (mbamtray.exe) from the Alt + Tab as well as the Win + Tab screen.

Run the command automatically at every startup [Optional step]

To run this command automatically at every login, create a script that launches the above command after a 60 second wait time after logging in.

1. Copy the following code to Notepad, and save the file as hide_mbtray.vbs in a permanent location.

Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
wscript.sleep 60000
sRunCmd = "d:\tools\nircmd.exe" & " win hide class " & _
"""" & "MBTrayClose" & """"
WshShell.run sRunCmd
Set WshShell = Nothing

2. Then, create a shortcut to the above script, with the following target/command-line:

C:\Windows\System32\wscript.exe "d:\tools\hide_mbtray.vbs"

** assuming that you saved the script, as well as NirCmd.exe in a folder named Tools on the D:\ drive. If you have NirCmd.exe saved in a different path, mention the correct path in the script file above.

3. Place the shortcut in your Startup folder located here:

C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
hide Malwarebytes tray app in Alt Tab window
“Hide Malwarebytes Tray App” Script shortcut in Startup folder.

The script will run at every login. After waiting for a minute, the script runs the Nircmd command-line automatically. The wait time is set because the command-line has to be run only after the mbamtray.exe app is loaded by the Malwarebytes service.


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About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in Windows — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP (2003-2012) who contributes to various Windows support forums.

1 thought on “Malwarebytes Tray Application Appears in Alt + Tab Switching Window”

  1. That thing kept causing my pc to autoswitch to desktop every one or two mins. I couldn’t type/chat without losing my keyboard, I couldn’t play online without dying at least one or twice and it was really frustrating. I uninstalled the program as of today until they fix it.

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