Clock, Volume, Network and Power or Battery icons on notification area (system tray) is system icons that users can choose to display or hide. However, sometimes, any or all of these system icons can disappear, missing or hiding from systray area. The easy solution is to re-enable the showing of system icons on Notification Area tab of Taskbar and Start Menu Properties. However, sometimes, even the checkboxes to enable or disable the displaying of system icons are disable or grayed out, forbidding user from enabling the icons in notification area.

System Icons Enable/Disable Checkboxes Grayed Out Disabled

The problematic issue can happen if Windows group policy disables the Clock, Network, Power (or Battery), and Volume icons, or the registry keys related to notification area icons have corrupted. To re-enable and restore the check boxes, and hence user able to restore these system icons on notification area, the policies have to be turned off, and the registry keys reset, cleared or fixed. Note that Power icon may remain grayed out unless your computer is a notebook or laptop, or has a UPS battery backup connected to it.

Enable System Icons via Local Group Policy Editor

  1. Run GPedit.msc to start Local Group Policy Editor.
  2. Expand the tree to go to User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Start Menu and Taskbar.
  3. Change set the state value to Disable or Not Configured for the following group policies to enable showing or displaying of the icon in the notification area.

    Clock: Remove Clock from the system notification area
    Volume: Remove the volume control icon
    Network: Remove the networking icon
    Power (battery) Icon: Remove the battery meter

  4. Close the Local Group Policy Editor.
  5. Restart Explorer, Log off and log on again, or restart computer to make the change effective.

User who uses Windows without Local Group Policy Editor can modify the registry value via Registry Editor instead.

Turn On System Icons for Displaying or Showing via Registry

  1. Run Registry Editor (RegEdit.exe).
  2. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

  3. Delete and remove the following registry values in the right pane:

    HideClock
    HideSCAPower
    HideSCAVolume
    NoAutoTrayNotify
    HideSCANetwork
    NoTrayItemsDisplay

  4. Then, navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

  5. Again, delete any of the following registry values if found:

    HideClock
    HideSCAPower
    HideSCAVolume
    NoAutoTrayNotify
    HideSCANetwork
    NoTrayItemsDisplay

  6. Exit Registry Editor.
  7. Exit Explorer and restart, Logoff and login again, or reboot PC to apply the changes.

Fix IconStreams and PastIconsStream Registry Subkeys Corruption

If your computer is not affected by group policy (all policies have shown to be enabling the system icons), then the possible root cause for the Clock, Volume, Power and Network system tray icons to go into hiding, missing and disappearing from notification area is invalid or corrupted registry key entries of IconStreams and PastIconsStream. Microsoft KB945011 explains that “when the system or an application wants to put an icon in the notification area, the system or the application sends a discrete communication message to the operating system shell. If the operating system is very busy, that message may expire, or may time out. When this time-out occurs (such as shutdown prematurely), the icon does not appear in the notification area.” However, the error can happens more frequently than the cause specified by Microsoft.

To make the icons reappear, and enable the check boxes for the system icons, delete the specific registry keys.

  1. Run Registry Editor (RegEdit.exe).
  2. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\TrayNotify

  3. In the right Details pane, delete the IconStreams registry entry.
  4. In the right Details pane, click the PastIconsStream registry entry.
  5. Exit Registry Editor.
  6. Restart the Explorer.exe process.

All-in-One Registry Hack to Fix and Show Notification Are System Icons Disabled Issue

The following registry hack file contains all fixes listed above, and when apply, will delete all policies to disable the system icons, and reset and restore the notification tray icon streams to clean state.

Download FixTrayIcons.reg

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