On my taskbar, I had a volume icon, which disappeared when I clicked on it.
How do I get it back? The volume is at 100.
Actually, taskbar icons – or more correctly, notification area icons – are by
default managed by Windows in such a way that what it thinks are less
frequently used icons are sometimes hidden.
We’ll look both at how to get at the icons, how to take control of the
icons, and perhaps most important of all, tell Windows to stop messing with the
The notification area
The right-most part of the Windows taskbar is referred to as the notification area. The idea is that running programs can place icons there to notify you of important statuses or events.
If there are a large number of active icons, the notification area is by default configured to only show some and often only some of the time.
The small triangle at the beginning of the notification area is actually an indicator that there are more and when clicked, it causes them to appear in a popup window:
And even though it says customize … that’s not really the customize that we want.
Controlling notification area icons
Right-click somewhere else in an empty area of the taskbar and click Properties:
Click the Customize… button.
In the resulting control panel for the notification area, you can control at an individual level what you want each notification area icon to do:
Always show the icon and its notifications
Always hide the icon and its notifications
Show only the notifications that an icon might generate
Select for each as you will.
My approach is different.
All icons, all the time
Near the bottom of that control panel window, you’ll see an option: “Always show all icons and notifications in the taskbar.”
I click that.
It’s a one-click way to simply turn everything on. That way, I know that I’m not missing anything and I have a full picture of what’s trying to notify me or not.
Vista and XP
Vista’s controls for the notification area are similar, but in a different location. Right-click the task bar, click Properties, and then click the Notification Area tab:
In Windows XP, things are slightly different yet again. Right-click the taskbar, click Properties:
If “Hide inactive icons” is checked, you can then click Customize… to further control what is and is not shown.