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    Super Moderator Super Moderator Big Booger's Avatar
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    Apr 2002

    System Tray Icons Missing Fix

    A friend of mine emailed me saying he'd had problems with his system tray icons disappearing... and I remembered that a few moons and a sun or two ago, I had had the same problem. But I had forgotten how I fixed it. So I went to the web and did some searching, and found a really good article that worked for him:

    Systray Icons Missing
    The Problem

    Some Windows XP installations show a peculiar defect in that some systray (system tray, nowadays also called notification area) icons disappear or, rather, do not appear, when the system is booted and the user logs on. The problem is even more prevalent on systems with autologon. The most frequently affected icons seem to be the speaker icon (sound volume) and the power/energy icon.

    This has nothing to do with the hide inactive icons settings. The defect shows up when you don't have any icons set for hiding.

    The main cause appears to have something to do with the UPnP User Interface, but more on that later.

    If, however, your entire taskbar or any major part of it is missing altogether, then the rest of this article is irrelevant to you. Instead the Kelly's Korner tool Taskbar Plus! at!.htm may or may not help you. I don't know what exactly it does and can only recommend to use it carefully and to use only the function that pertains to solve your immediate problem, then test the result.
    Cannot create shell notification icon

    This is an error message that some programs, apparently all written in Delphi, show when they cannot reach the systray task to put their icon into the system tray. The most prevalent of these programs is Asus Probe. Most other programs don't throw an error message, but instead simply forgo creating an icon if they can't do it instantly. Both behaviors are insufficient, as we know.

    This problem can be solved with Startup Delayer (see below) and possibly by other means of delaying the startup.
    Some other known causes

    Make sure first that you either don't have the following registry values at all or, if you have any of them, that it is set to zero. Deleting the value entirely is easiest and safest:


    2005-04-05 – Reagan Wiliams reports that in Windows XP (2002) a similar value with the same effect is here (meanwhile confirmed):


    It is easiest and safest to just delete that value, but if it is all zeros, it should have no effect either. If it is non-zero, that may be the cause of your problem.

    2005-10-06 – Christian from Germany wrote that you should make sure you do have the following value, which should exist in a normal installation:


    Unfortunately the absence or presence of these keys do not guarantee that it all works.

    Also make sure that you don't have the taskbar set up the wrong way. Make sure that the quickstart icons are on the left side, not on the right, and the running programs area is in the middle of the taskbar. If they are arranged the other way around, then unlock the taskbar and drag the program icon area far to the right, between the quickstart icons and the system tray (system notification area). Then use the sliders to use the available space optimally and relock the taskbar. If this solves your problem, be happy. The problem for which most people visit this web page is much more intractable.

    Microsoft has not taken notice. The causes are obscure. Some users report successes with various changes that influence the boot and logon timing, but these changes do not reliably solve the problem. Often they make the problem occur less often though and make it bearable.

    The current hypotheses are that either some programs ask the taskbar to display their systray icon before the taskbar is ready to accept that request or that in the flurry of activity during booting and logon some of these messages to the taskbar get lost.

    First of all, be careful not to be fooled by others or by your own brain that may see causality where there is none. People try the weirdest things, then they get all their icons and conclude sharply (but wrongly) that whatever they did solved the problem. About the weirdest (and totally wrong) recommendation I have seen was to switch off your computer and let it sit without power for three hours. Don't fall into such a trap.
    A simple workaround

    The immediate workaround is to log off and log on again (not reboot, only log off). In many cases the icons then reappear. If not, you can try to repeat the procedure until you have all of them.

    If this works, then most likely you have the problem described in this article.

    The next time you boot your computer, wait for a full minute after the logon dialog appears, or until disk activity subsides entirely for at least 5 seconds. Only then log on and check whether this solves your problem at least most of the time.
    The Ostuni Workaround—so far most successful

    2004-11-11 – Francesco Saverio Ostuni wrote: "... I found a solution for me that works perfectly. I simply went to My network Places and on the left pane I chose to Hide UPnP devices. This operation does not disable the service (which I need)."

    Further he mentioned that the same can be done through Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs, on the left side: Add/Remove Windows components; select Networking Services, click on the Details... button, remove the checkmark for the UPnP User Interface, then click on OK. The result is the same. Now the icons are back every time at each reboot.

    This has meanwhile been confirmed by many other users and consistently kept a success rate of well over 90%, so we can conclude that this solves the problem on all but the most unusual Windows XP installations.

    Thanks, Francesco, in the name of the many systray users you've made happy!

    Apparently this option is only there after Service Pack 2 is installed. I'm not sure whether and how this would work in Windows XP installations without SP2.

    Updated this with a fresh link complete with imagery to show you how to do this!
    Last edited by Big Booger; May 8th, 2010 at 18:13 PM.

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