How to Manage Icons on the Notifications Area

The notifications area is an important part of the Windows system.  This component of your computer’s system has been around and included in the graphical user interface of early versions of the Windows operating system like Windows 95.

This is also a part of the Windows desktop screen that most people get annoyed with because of the warning messages, balloon notifications and pop up prompts that comes out from the icons that has found home on it. Programs and applications at present automatically add a system tray or notification area icon during the installation process. There are also others that asks your permission if a system tray icon will be added or not after the installation process. If you find the notification area as something that is hard to manage then you need to read this tutorial.

Never before has the notification area been easier to manage and customize as it is on Windows 7. On this tutorial, you will be taught how to customize, configure and transform the notifications area so it works exactly the way you want it to. You will also learn how to do the following:

  • Locating the Notifications area
  • Controlling how notifications display and behave
  • Turn System icons on or off
  • Restore the notification area into it’s default behavior
  • How to set icons to permanently display
  • Changing the positions for any notification icon

The Notification Area

Your computer’s notification area also known as the system tray is located on the bottom right part of your computer screen. Its functions include:

  • easy access to programs that has its icon on the system tray.
  • easy access to controls for some basic functions of your system like time, date, network connection, action center and volume.
  • provides notifications and warning messages which includes balloon messages and pop up prompts like the one that appears when you are running out of battery power.

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The notifications area has program/application icons as well as system icons that  can be hidden or displayed. If there is at least one icon that is hidden in it, there is an arrow up icon on its extreme left portion. When you click on it, the hidden programs will be displayed in a pop up box like the screenshot that you see below.

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Going to the Settings of the Notifications Area

The controls for your computer’s notifications area is accessed on a Window. From this settings Window, you can tweak how icons behave (whether they are displayed or not), turn system tray icons on or off, restore display behaviors of all icons to default or set all program and system icons that you choose to always be displayed on it. To go to the settings Window of the notifications area, just follow any of these two steps:

1. The easiest way of going to the settings of your computer’s notifications area is by clicking on the arrow up button on the extreme left side of the system tray then clicking on the “Customize” link on the pop up box that appears.

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2. Alternatively, you can also access the settings by clicking on the “Start” button and typing the word “notification” on the start menu search box. On the search results, click on the item that says “Notification Area Icons” under the “Control Panel” category.

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Controlling the Display Behavior of the Icons On the Notification Area

Your computer’s settings for the notifications area displays a list that contains all applications and system icons available for display. From this settings Window, you can also access different customization options that tweaks the behavior for the listed icons.

Each icon listed has three available display behavior options. These are as follows:

  1. Show icon and notifications- The program/application icon and all notifications related to is displayed always on your computer’s notification area.
  2. Hide icon and notifications- The program/application icon and all the notifications that is related to it is always hidden from the notifications area but you can access them by clicking on the arrow up button.
  3. Only allow notifications- The program/application icon is hidden but all the notifications that are linked to  a particular icon are displayed

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After you do the changes and tweaks that you want, click on “OK”.

Turning a Specific Icon On or Off

System icons (Volume, Network Connection, Battery Power Level etc.) are capable of being hidden from the notification area completely. This means that even after clicking on the arrow up button, the icons will still not show up. If you want to select the display availability of a certain system icon on the notifications area, just click on the link that says “Turn system icons on or off”.

ScreenHunter_116 Apr. 07 13.27The next Window will show a list of icons and their display behaviors with an on or off toggle box. After choosing your desired behavior for each system tray or program icon, just click on the “OK” button.

ScreenHunter_116 Apr. 07 13.34Restoring Icons to their Default Behavior

There would be times that out of curiosity, you or someone else who used your computer messed up with the display preferences for the icons on the notifications area. In this case, you can choose to restore everything back to how everything used to behave before you did any changes. The default behaviors for the icons are as follows:

  • Show icon and notifications (applied to all system icons)
  • Only show notifications (for all program/application icons)

To restore these values, just click on the “Restore default icon behaviors” link then click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the Window.

ScreenHunter_117 Apr. 07 13.43Setting Notification Icons to Always Display

You can also choose to have all icons and notifications display always. This is done simply by clicking on the checkbox labeled “Always show all icons and notifications” then click “OK”.

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Changing the Position of an Icon on the Notification Area

Changing the position and location of a particular system/program icon is simply done by clicking on it and dragging it to you desired location.

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You can also do this drag and drop procedure if you want to hide any application, program or system icon.

That’s it! You now learned some of the basics in managing icons and notifications that comes out of the system tray every now and then. This part of the Windows system is essential in keeping you updated with what’s happening to your computer and the different programs and applications that you installed on it. By now, we are confident that you are already familiar with what the notification area or system tray does and as well as the tweaks and configurations that are available for all icons that are on it.

You should also take note that this part of your system needs to be cleaned every now and then for any program that is running to make sure that your computer’s RAM or system resource is not wasted because of some unnecessary or unused programs that are kept running due to lack of maintenance and monitoring. Please feel free to drop us a comment if you have other tips or experiences and even problems with the notifications area of your computer.