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Completely Disable the System Tray on Windows 7 / Vista / XP

If you are the type of person that never uses any applications in the system tray, you might be interested in this registry hack to turn it off entirely. I can’t imagine using my own system this way, but we’re all about providing information.

Note that this tip should work in all versions of Windows.

Note that you could also use this in reverse… if your system tray is disabled and you don’t know why, you should check this registry key.

image

You can even remove the clock if you’d like, by right-clicking on the taskbar and choosing Properties. It’s on the Notification Area tab.

Manual Registry Hack

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu search or run box, and then navigate down to the following key (Create if it doesn’t exist):

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

image

Create a new 32-bit DWORD value in the right hand pane with these values:

  • Name: NoTrayItemsDisplay
  • Value: 1

You will have to logoff and back on for this to take effect. To remove the hack, just delete the key, or change the value to 0.

Note that disabling the system tray doesn’t actually prevent system tray apps from running, it just hides them. You should still disable any applications that aren’t needed.

Update: Note that the same registry key may exist in more than one location, so if you are trying to reverse this hack, you should search the registry for NoTrayItemsDisplay.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/13/08

Comments (28)

  1. Keith

    Do I have to restart for this to work?

  2. Smashpmk712

    I dont think this worked … I dont even have an explorer key at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer. I did at HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer though

  3. The Geek

    Sorry for being unclear, I’ve updated the article to prevent any further confusion.

    @Keith: You have to logoff and back on for it to take effect.

    @Smashpmk712: If the key doesn’t exist, you can just create it. The HKLM key will also work the same, but will be for all users on the system.

  4. Keith

    Thanks for the reply.

    I have created the key with the value and logged off and on and still nothing, oh well.

  5. Benman

    This worked fine for me in Vista, but I don’t think I really have any use for it. Still a neat trick!

  6. Martin

    Well the tip works nicely but the problem is that you can’t access applications that minimize to the system tray anymore :)

  7. Stuey

    I can’t imagine my PC with no System Tray. That would be horrible.

  8. Crash

    What if you dont have the “Explorer” sub-folder within the “Policies” folder?

  9. kei kusanagi

    ammm sir geek how can u create the
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

    need help sir hope you can help!!

  10. kei kusanagi

    thx for the info sir i finally understand the trik!!!

    but sir do you have a way to hidi only a spicific program/items in your system tray!!!!
    w/out using some programs!!!!

    or do your know of a program that can do that!!!sir hope you can help me!!!

    ™Kei²

  11. Timothy

    Hi :-)! I am having a slight problem and thought that you might be able to help. Here is the problem:

    I have a cd put out by dorling kindersley multimedia. When i insert the cd into the drive the program does not start but i do get this message: “The application uses WinG32.DLL, which has been incorrectly installed in C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory. Please move it to the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 directory”. How do i do this? Do i copy and paste it into the system32 directiory?

    Thanks, Timothy

  12. faczygeek

    I have the same problem with wing32.dll and wish to learn how to deal with it. thanks

  13. Eric

    I don’t see why anyone would want to get rid of the system tray!
    Any ideas?

  14. Paul Creamer

    Though I would do the above mostly with Vista & its diegadgets I liked getting rid of some items…. but I would proabbly never want
    to hide the systray.

    Nearly all of them are status indicators of stuff.
    Ie; if the network burps (disconnects) I will see it.
    If a friend im’s me I will see it there first.

    time&daTE i TURNED OFF and am using the gadget (bigger view at 3am).

    In my case I have 12 items in systray and there are only 3 that I would hide.

  15. John

    I can tell you why some people might want to do it. I use a lot of Stardock apps, & like for my systray to be in the Object Dock @ the top of my screen.

  16. Babur Mansoor

    Nice article though less useful, may be helpful in a particular scenario. Anyways i have some related issue. I need to disable or remove a program from System Tray. No double click and right click works on it. So i guess only a work around on the registry would help. Could you please help? Thanks

  17. jojo

    now has someone just to make a “on/off” switch of it for it to be perfect (just like the “Hide Desktop icons”)

  18. Amadaemon

    Why not just click the auto-hide the taskbar in properties ????

  19. hldn

    woo thanks a bunch for this post.. i logged on today and my system tray was gone.. was freaking out until i saw this post and checked my registry.. sure enough, somehow the key had been created and set to 1..

  20. Tim

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone knew how to remove the Cisco Network Magic system tray icon. I had to install it on my little sisters laptop to stop her from staying up all night, and if she saw the icon their I’m she would try to close the program or disable it. Maybe not but still I’d rather the Icon dosent show up. If theres no way to really remove this icon is there a way to run the app silently in the background?

    I hope to read a reply soon, thanks for your time.

  21. georgevega

    i would like to now how to intall a printer

  22. Suresh Kumar

    hi….I am using Vista. I only have HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS\CURRENTVERSION\EXPLORER.

    I dont see any Policy, but there is group Policy. Can you give a hand here?

  23. Chibusa Chiti

    Hey there like this post about hiding the system tray. What if you just want a particular program’s icon not to show? Not the entire tray but just some of the icons while leaving the program running.

  24. HKumar

    Ive been using this little trick for some time, i see someone else may understand it’s usefulness.

    chibusa- yes and no, if the program that you’re trying to hide is open source you’d tweak on that side first. Otherwise the reg hack works as described.

    been working on some other tricks, not sure am going to share )

  25. Panos

    Unfortunately it doesn’t work @ windows7 ….

    any ideas?

  26. sumanoid

    what if i only want to disable 1 icon?

  27. RacerMaster

    If you want to disable one icon (this is in Win 7), click the system tray arrow and click customize. You can customize icons from there.

  28. Exsosus

    This does not work for Windows 7. I became very tired of working on this issue, and the best way for those of you who need the taskbar gone (not autohide popping back out at you all the time!) get Stardock’s program called Objectdock for Windows 7 / Win All versions. This program has a checkbox right in the settings ‘Hide Windows Taskbar’

    Its a freeware program if you don’t want to buy the Plus version.

    Your problem is now over.

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