Windows Vista Tutorial

Show or hide notification icons in Windows Vista

Notification icons in Windows Vista Like previous versions of Windows, Windows Vista allows applications to display a "notification icon" in the notification area of the taskbar ("system tray"). As time passes, these notification icons tend to occupy an increasingly invasive amount of space in the taskbar. This tutorial shows you how to selectively show or hide notification icons in the taskbar.


Customize Notification Icons

Configure notification icons settings and options The easiest way to access notification icons settings in Windows Vista is to right-click on the clock, and choose Customize Notification Icons from the context menu; this will open the Customize Notification Icons window, which lets you show or hide icons on an individual basis, and reset the default settings if needed:

Notification icons listing and settings

Manage your notification icons

Force-display notification icons in Windows Vista Notice that the top portion of your listing of notification icons is labeled Current Items: these are the icons currently residing in the system tray, whether they are visible, or hidden behind the retracted portion of the notification area.

Display or hide notification icons Click on the dropdown menu next to hide item to choose between one of three behaviors: "Hide when inactive" works only in some cases, since not all applications "talk" the same way to the operating system. "Hide" will always hide the icon: this means that it is still, as needed, in the notification area of Windows Vista's taskbar, but it is hidden from view, and can be revealed by clicking the circled arrow. The last option, "Show", instructs Vista to always display the icon in question - this is the default behavior of 99% icons.

The title of some notification item changes based on the context of the application. Outlook says "is offline" when it is, but the Hide/Show behavior affects Outlook as a whole, not only Outlook in its offline state. Likewise, the label of iTunes changes based on the current song playing, but here too, your settings affect iTunes as a whole.

iTunes' notification icon and its changing label

Reset the notification icons settings in Windows Vista

Reset the default notification icons behavior in Windows Vista Clicking the Default Settings button will reset the notification icons' behavior to their initial default (typically, "Show"). After having spent time as month passes customizing various applications icons behavior, make sure you click the Default Settings button on purpose.

Once you are done with your changes, click OK to apply them; click Cancel to discard your changes and close the Customize Notification Icons window.

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