Notification area icons missing in Vista

When you start your Windows Vista computer, the Volume Control icon may be missing from the Notification area. Also, in the Taskbar properties – Notification tab, the checkboxes for Clock, Volume and Network may remain grayed out.

Simply logging off and logging on to your user account helps in most cases, if this is not caused by a Policy setting. Alternately, you may try terminating and restarting Explorer.exe to see if that works. If that does not help (and your computer is not part of a domain), use the instructions below to unlock the Notification area icons.

Registry Fix

Download trayicons.reg and save to Desktop. Right-click on the file and choose Merge. Click Yes when prompted for confirmation.

Note that the previously mentioned REG file removes the following Registry-based Policy values in your system:

  • HideSCAVolume
  • HideSCANetwork
  • HideClock
  • HideSCAPower

Additionally, it clears the IconStreams & PastIconsStream values as suggested in Microsoft KB945011.

Important: After running the .REG file, you need to terminate and restart Explorer.exe for the change to take effect.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

13 thoughts on “Notification area icons missing in Vista”

  1. This was a great help. I followed the link to restart explorer.exe and it resolved the issue. Usually my techie cousin fixes these issues but I was impressed with the easy to follow directions. Thanks!

  2. a while back i did an update and after that my network, sound and “safely remove hardware” icons were gone and in the notification area all of the options are greyed out. none of the tips on the internet i have found so far hasn’t worked for me:

    delete traynotify keys in the registry and restart explorer.exe
    disable/enable upnp service
    reinstall drivers
    system icons fix-it tool from microsoft
    reset registry keys to default concerning hide/unhide system icons
    replaced run32dll.exe and explorer.exe from vista service pack 2 (perhaps it was corrupted)

    after reading the tip of Robert about reinstalling service pack 2, i did that at the last hope and still the icons did not re-appeared nor could i enable it in the notification area.

    i don’t know else how to fix this besides reinstalling windows completely, which i rather don’t want to do.

  3. magico!!! restarting explorer and relogging the user account works! grazie, valentina Italy

  4. My notification area (SysTray) WinXP SP3 icons disappeared from one boot to the next and did not come back – no many how many reboots I did. Fortunately, at the same time, Windows notified me that I was running out of hard disc space. I got rid of about 20 GB of unneeded files, rebooted and – voila! – the icons reappeared. Check your free disc space if you have this problem and get rid of as many files as you can if it is less than 5 GB. A much more simple solution that works in this case!

  5. I discovered that my volume control and internet-connection icons were missing from the lower notification area because of a malfunction in the Windows “twirling colored ribbons” screen saver. I un-selected that screen saver and the problem was solved.

  6. Thank you very much! it worked great, I have been having this problem here in windows 7 also, so i can confirm that this fix also works.

  7. Thank you, Thank You, Thank You. It was driving me nuts. Looked everywhere, then found your post, went into task bar properties, checked the box and fixed the missing volume icon in 5 seconds!

    Wish it was all that easy!

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