Windows Vista Tutorial

The System Tray (Notification Area) in Windows Vista

The notification area ('system tray') in Windows Vista This and the next tutorials cover the notification area (aka "system tray") in Windows Vista: this is the area, by default at the bottom right of your screen, where Vista displays the time, and a (growing) number of other icons, as time passes and you install more applications. These tutorials will show you how to customize the notification area, how to show or hide notification icons and system icons.


Overview of the Notification Area ("System Tray")

The notification area, or system tray, is part of Windows Vista's taskbar: it can display as much or as little information as you need, but it typically shows you the time (Windows clock), the volume icon, and some networking status. Most computer manufacturers also include hardware and Windows maintenance software with Windows Vista: along with anti-virus software, these usually share a spot on the notification area.

System Icons

Windows Vista system icons Windows Vista has four system icons: the Clock (not an icon per se), the Volume icon, the Network icon, and the Power icon. Each of the system icons can optionally be hidden from the taskbar; the Power icon is only available for laptops or mobile devices running Vista on battery power.

To customize which system icons are visible or hidden, right-click on an empty area of the taskbar, and choose Properties; in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window that opened, click on the Notification Area tab, check or uncheck the checkboxes listed under System Icons:

Showing or hiding system icons from the Windows Vista taskbar

Notification Icons

The notification icons are icons displayed in Windows Vista's taskbar by various applications (programs) you have installed and running. A typical example of volatile notification icon is the new email envelope icon that shows you when new mail arrives.

Force-display notification icons in Windows Vista Many notification icons are hidden, and can be displayed simply by clicking the expansion arrow in Vista's taskbar. The next tutorial explains how to permanently show or hide notification icons from the taskbar in Windows Vista.

Notification icons in Windows Vista The screenshot on the right shows a series of expanded notification icons; you can right-click, single-click, or double-click on notification icons to get access to a menu of options; in most cases, a right-click on the icon is expected.

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