• Lost icons in notification area, Windows 10

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    One day a couple of weeks ago, I turned on my PC to see that all the icons in the notification area (by the clock), except the clock itself, had disappeared.   The programmes that used to be there still work but not many can be transferred to the toolbar icons to the left.  So this is very irritating although not a death sentence.  Going to PC settings and the toolbar settings shows that all the missing icons are greyed out.  I use Classic Shell and this works OK. I have scoured Google for anyone with a similar problem and have tried all the tricks and work-arounds suggested (like restarting Windows file manager, etc.) but nothing makes any difference.  I have tried adding another user with administrative control (User-2) and then the icons reappear as if by magic.  This is good in one way but, of course,  I can’t use all my programs with my original user with User-2 without reinstalling everything for User-2. Has anyone else had this and has anyone any novel ideas short of  a complete reinstall?


    Viewing 10 reply threads
    • #2606287

      Someone had similar symptoms, I think, here: https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/2023-10-cumuative-update-no-app-icons-in-system-tray-no-apps-in-settings/

      First check that Classic Shell and anything else like that is fully updated, and do a restart of the computer (not shutdown and turn on).  If that doesn’t work, I would try an over-the-top install, keeping data.  https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/6000015-repair-install-of-windows-10-22h2/

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2606293

      Classic Shell has not been updated in several years.
      It has been revived as Open Shell. The latest version is v 4.4.191. Installing Open Shell over the top of Classic Shell works since the base is the same.

    • #2606464

      I’m the person mentioned above.  I’m running no menu or Windows tweakers.  This happened to my computer and my wife’s laptop after the last major update – no icons on the notification area and the missing toolbar icons in Settings greyed out.  It’s maddening; I’ve tried most, if not all, of the recommended “fixes”to no avail.  I’m reluctant to do an over-the-top reinstall…

      • #2606627

        Thanks adleinc and PKCano for your suggestions.

        Cobber2076 – I am sorry you have had this problem although slightly relieved that someone else has had what seems to be exactly the same issue. I too am a bit reluctant to do an over-the-top install. I am still not sure if this relates to an update but I always manage my updates manually and don’t recall doing one immediately before this happened.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2606934

      UPDATE:  I found a fix through a brute-force search in the Registry for the word “tray.”  I came across the following:


      It was set to 1, so I set it to 0 and rebooted.  These were the results:

      • The system tray (“notification area”) icons reappeared.
      • Under Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Select which icons appear on the taskbar, the list is no longer blank; the full list of icons reappeared.
      • Under Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Turn system icons on or off, all of the icons that were greyed out (everything except Clock) are active again.

      I hope this helps you, Botswana12, and anyone else who comes up against this problem.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2606952

        Hey Y’all,

        After seeing this resolution to the problem I did a little investigation.
        Since the registry item you posted was located in Policies I went into the Group Policy Editor to see if there was a setting there and I found one.

        Under: User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Start Menu and Taskbar

        Setting: Hide the Notification area. This appears in both Win 10 and 11.

        You didn’t specify if you have Pro or Home in your OP.

        I also checked my Registry for that key:

        As you can see it doesn’t appear in my Win 11 Pro system. This indicates that somehow it got set maybe via GPO? In fact, in my “Canary” Win 11 Pro system the Registry doesn’t even have the Explorer entry under Policies!

        On my Win10 Pro laptop the key is also Not Present.

        So it would appear that something or someone added that key. You might want to see what software you have added recently that may have done this.

        May the Forces of good computing be with you!


        PowerShell & VBA Rule!
        Computer Specs

        3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2606971

      I have Win 10 Pro, which means I could have looked in the Group Policy Editor–but I didn’t think to do so.  D’0h!

      That setting was Enabled, so I changed it to Not Configured, rebooted, and the icons were still there.

      As to what might have added the NoTrayItemsDisplay key, I have no clue.  As I said, the disappearance of the tray icons manifested after the last major update.  I wonder if I should delete that key for safety’s sake (depending on the GP change to continue)?

      Thanks for your help and the reminder to check Group Policy Editor in the future!

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2606985


      Since you know the GPO setting is there I’d delete the Registry key and reboot to see what happens. You can always replace it if necessary.

      May the Forces of good computing be with you!


      PowerShell & VBA Rule!
      Computer Specs

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2607112

      Hi All,

      Many thanks for all the work you have put in.
      I have Windows 10 Pro and previously checked the ‘Hide the Notification Area’ in Group Policy as indicated in Retired Geek’s post. It was ‘Not Configured’ so I thought this was a blind alley. Now, however, I followed Cobber2076’s route into the Registry, found the NoTrayItemsDisplay and changed the ‘1’ into a ‘0’. After re-booting, lo and behold, everything was back to where it started with all my notification icons in place. So, problem solved – thanks again.
      The only change I found was in my backup files. I use Second Copy and had set it originally to copy only the few files set for archiving and to remove the archive bit afterwards. After making the reset to normal, I found that the backup was taking an inordinate amount of time, which turned out to be due to something having set the archive bit to ‘on’ in a multitude of files. Easy enough to change, of course, but curious nevertheless.

    • #2607113

      I hope this question has been resolved but have left it open just in case anyone else has something to add. I’ll close it in a few days if there is no further response.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2607271

        I hope this question has been resolved but have left it open just in case anyone else has something to add.

        I’ve followed this thread since inception.  Long rabbit hole and I’m glad you found a solution.  The only thing I can that might be helpful going forward is to consider getting image backup software and making regular image backups of your C drive to provide an easy recovery parachute anytime.

        In your case, with an up to the moment image backup at the ready, you could have done an over the top repair install of windows from an ISO file without risk or worry.

        I’ve done 3 over the top repair installs of windows from an ISO file they have worked beautifully every time fixing vexing issues without disturbing my installed software or user files.  If the over the top approach did not work, you could simply re-image you C drive back to the point just prior to doing the over the top repair install.  I use Macrium for image backups, but there are many other available.

        Custom desktop Asus TUF X299 Mark 1 16GB RAM i7-7820X
        Four 27" 1080p screens 2 over 2.
        Laptop Clevo/Sager i7-9750H - 17.3" Full HD 1080p 144Hz, 16GB RAM Win 10 Pro 22H2

    • #2607883

      Thanks, TechTango. That seems to be a very good idea. I used to use Macrium many, many years ago but never found the image backups useful, largely because I had upgraded the OS in between. Now things may be better and I do have a spare 1TB disk to store the image on. So I’ll give it a go, although hoping not to have this sort of problem again. I have tried System Restore quite a few times, all useless. Also, I am sure sfc /scannow works for some but never with the odd problems I have had. So Macrium again it is. Thanks.

    • #2608879

      Many thanks to all who read, responded and benefitted from this post.

    • #2609174

      Sorry to reopen this one, but coincidentally I have had a second instance of virtually the same thing. I recently (six months ago) bought a new Lenovo laptop with Windows 11 Pro for use when travelling. I set it up but have hardly used it in the past month. When I opened it up today, the notification area did not have the icons. Unlike on my PC, the taskbar settings were not greyed out and all the icons I wanted were marked as ON although not appearing in the notification area. Of course and as before, I tried to go to the key NoTrayItemsDisplay in the Registry, but it is not there. I then went to the GPE and found that the setting for Hide Notification Area was not enabled. Oh dear! Then I found, also in the same list but higher up under Start Menu another setting called Turn Off Notification Area Cleanup. This was marked NOT CONFIGURED. I enabled it and the icons appeared immediately after a reboot. So this is a third place to look if you have this issue.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
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