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Remove Synaptics Touchpad Icon from System Tray

In my quest to get rid of every useless tray icon wasting memory, I was very annoyed when Vista’s automatic updates installed a new driver and the icon for the touchpad ended up in my system tray again. There’s almost no benefit to this icon, so it needs to go.

The icon comes in two varieties that you’ve probably seen.

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 Just right-click the icon, and choose Pointing Device Properties from the menu.

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On the Device Settings tab, you’ll find a Tray Icon section. Choose the Remove tray icon from taskbar radio button, and it’ll immediately be gone.

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I realize this is very simple for most of you, but it’s good to cover everything that can save some memory.

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 08/15/07

Comments (13)

  1. rich

    So have you come up with what the ideal amount of RAM is for a basic PC user upgrading from XP to Vista? Is it true that going over 3 GB is unnecessary and thats the OS can’t manage over 3GB?

    TIA,
    Rich

  2. Mike R

    But won’t removing the tray icon not do anything but that? The device driver is still running, so it’s memory will still be in use. The only memory you are freeing is just an icon in the tray. I am guessing that your memory is not significantly altered after this tweak.

  3. The Geek

    Obviously removing the tray icon will only free the memory from the resident process running in the tray, but if you have 10 useless processes each taking up 1-4mb of ram, all of a sudden you are wasting up to 40mb for no good reason, not to mention the extra processor cycles that they all take.

    The device driver will always be running, which makes sense unless you want to disable the trackpad entirely, which isn’t what we were going for.

  4. devilicious

    i have a sony vaio. and recently i had spyware and it was successfully removed by the good people working in my college’s libarary. however, my computer’s been acting weird. i can’t change my desktop and i also cannot use my touchpad like before. so i went and look for the touchpad icon on my taskbar and could not find it. and after reading you entry, i remembered removing it from taskbar. now im trying to look for it but to no avail. i tried looking for it in the mouse options but i couldnt find it. please help me. and if you could give me some input on my desktop problem too, that would be highly appreciated. thank you!

  5. Sean

    Thanks. I’m reasonably savvy and can usually find this kind of stuff, but I was frustrated and found your pointer when I googled it. I appreciate you taking the time to post this.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  6. Casey

    This icon reappears in my system tray, after having disabled it, each time I boot back into Windows from standby. Additionally I get the stupid Synaptics Pointing Device welcome screen, where I again have to mark “do not show this screen at startup”. What I’m looking for is a way to solve these problems and I keep coming across this page in my searches, which I’ve been making from time to time during the past year without avail. So I’m posting here in hopes of finding someone else who’s experienced these problems or perhaps found a solution.

  7. Casey

    Well, I still haven’t managed to solve this problem. I thought I would drop in again and share more details.

    I’ve learned some things: the offending process is called SynTPEnh.exe; this stands for Synaptics Touchpad Enhanced. The involved registry values are under HKCU\Software\Synaptics\SynTPEnh — they are called TrayIcon and ShowTips. The former controls the tray icon, and the latter the startup welcome streen.

    The computer I’m experiencing this annoying behavior on is my WiBrain — it’s a UMPC running Windows XP SP3. Whenever I put it into standby then come out again, I find that the tray icon is back again! Not only that, but it will have changed the registry value of TrayIcon from 33 (for “remove tray icon from taskbar”) to 17 (for “animated icon in taskbar”; as an aside, the value 1 is used for “static tray icon in taskbar”).

    Today I had some time to kill, and spent about two more hours trying to solve this problem again. Yes, I know that it’s not a very important thing and that I could just customize the taskbar to “always hide” it — but software on my computer which won’t obey my wishes drives me crazy, and I can learn some things through such obsessive campaigns against it.

    First I tried disabling SynTPEnh.exe’s startup process via msconfig. I thought it was a brilliant idea at first, but apparently this process not only generates tray icons, but is actually a vital part of the driver itself. Without it running, I was unable to access the “Mouse” applet from Control Panel — it generated a nasty error, and asked if I wanted to uninstall Synaptics Touchware, since something was apparently wrong (viz. SynTPEnh.exe not running).

    The next thing I tried was downgrading — I managed to find a slightly-older version somewhere, and installed it. I think that did fix the tray-icon problem, and I was very happy and pleased with myself for a moment. But I soon found out that downgrading was to spawn a new and different annoyance. WiBrain’s hardware manager, which is configured to run at startup by default, would now give the error, “Could not obtain a Synaptics API object.” It’s really more like a warning, because it doesn’t actually cause any problem beyond not being able to enable & disable the touchpad via WiBrain’s little program; but unfortunately for me, error messages at startup are even more annoying than unwanted tray icons! WiBrain’s web-site recommendeds upgrading the Synaptics software to get rid of the error message. ::sigh::

    Upon uninstalling the older driver, I discovered that Windows was able to control my touchpad quite sufficiently through its own default “PS/2-Compatible Mouse” driver. I thought that was wonderful, and was ready to ditch the Synaptics driver altogether. Unfortunately, I soon realized that doing so would cause the same Synaptics API error with the WiBrain manager utility.

    I decided to reinstall the latest Synaptics driver, but to take proscriptive measures against it. Using regedt32.exe, I revoked all write permissions from the SynTPEnh key, but left full R/W access for its children. I tested the scenario by going into standby: SynTPEnh.exe once again replaced its pernicious evil, animated tray icon — but at least it failed, as I had hoped — to screw with the registry value again! ‘Good enough,’ I thought, while making the hand-washing pantomime. “I’ll just have to deal with the tray icon after I come out of standby, but at least it will be gone next time I reboot without having to tell it so again every time.” That’s what I thought… but apparently SynTPEnh.exe didn’t appreciate my revoking its privileges, and thence refused to run at all for the next boot. ]-:

    The next plan I hatched was to return to the downgrading idea, and simply disable the WiBrain Manager utility — that’s undesirable, because it disables keyboard shortcuts for controlling screen luminosity and fan-speed. Yet it’s also impractical, because anytime this program is run it re-installs itself in the registry’s run-on-startup list. ]-:

  8. Kruzer

    Thanks! Very thorough directions

  9. ljs063

    note: this workaround solution to unload/disable the touchpad has been tried on windows xp pro sp2 but should work for most versions of windows xp. proceed at your own risk.

    I had this problem years ago and googled for a solution to no avail, finally found a solution by playing around with it myself.

    Years ago I had a toshiba satellite loaded w/windows xp pro sp1 which allowed you to disable the touchpad in the bios and/or hardware and/or at least it allowed you to uninstall the touchpad from device manager, iirc, so that it was not neccesary to load any of the touchpad drivers/services (which take up system resources). This is the way it should be.

    Then I had a gateway 4000 series notebook loaded w/windows xp pro sp2 which also had Synaptics software. But this notebook had no option for hardware disabling of the touchpad or the ps2 port (which most touchpads are internally connected to), and it didn’t allow me to uninstall it or disable the touchpad or the ps2 port via device manager no matter what I did, as modern systems’s ps2 port is internal and integrated with other motherboard devices, therefore sometimes not possible to disable. The only way to disable the touchpad was by loading the Synaptics software and drivers/services, and then choosing the disable option. But this is unacceptable as it slows load time and takes up system resources, and doesn’t really disable the touchpad as it sometimes just pops to life, like on boot, before synaptics has fully loaded and applied the disable option.

    There had to be a better way, I thought. So I played around some more until I found the solution: install the wrong drivers for the device – only then will windows allow you to disable it:

    First uninstall all the Synaptics sofware/drivers/services. Reboot. Then go into device manager, click ‘mice and other pointing devices’, then locate the touchpad device. It will usually be listed as ‘standard touchpad device’ or ‘standard ps2 device’ or similar. The key to correctly locating it is to plug in a name brand mouse so that you know which one is your mouse and which one is the touchpad device (which will most likely be on the ps2 port). Next, right click on the device icon and choose ‘update driver’. Now you will get a series of questions and the key is to not allow windows to do anything automatically or anything it recommends. The answers to my questions were as follows: ‘no, not this time’, next, install from a list or specific location advanced, next, dont search i will choose the driver to install, next, uncheck ‘show compatible hardware’, in left hand column scroll up to ‘standard mouse types’ (it is the first listing in the column, listed before the A listings, NOT in the S listings), click on it, you will now see choices for it in the right hand column, select ‘standard serial mouse’, you will get a big scary warning, click yes, you will most likely then get a ‘cannot start this hardware’ message or similar error (which is what you want), click finish. restart computer. go back into device manager > ‘mouse and other pointing devices’. you should see a yellow arrow next to the device (which will listed as something like ‘serial mouse’ or standard pointing device). now right click the device and click ‘disable’, yes. now you should see a red X on the device icon. NOW it is disabled, and there will be no need to install any of Synaptics drivers or software for the touchpad.

    The key here is that you want to replace the ps2 touchpad/mouse drivers with serial or usb mouse drivers. Do not use any ps2 drivers, even if it is the wrong manufacturer and sounds weird, the touchpad will still work even if incorrectly. You want it to not work at all, so you must pick serial or usb devices in the list, then you must disable the device once the wrong drivers are installed.

    Word of caution: the warnings come up because the ps2 port (unlike in legacy systems and desktop systems) is integrated with the system devices and (i believe) shares drivers or resources with the keyboard, and changing the ps2 drivers can screw up the keyboard especially if you have some special keyboard. in my case (i had a gateway 4000 series notebook) my keyboard worked perfectly. but this is why you must have a functional usb mouse (preferably brand name so you can easily identify it in the system) plugged in, so that if the keyboard freezes up you can easily go back to device manager and change the driver (this time you would let windows choose most of the settings, to at least get the keyboard back up and running).

    It’s SO STUPID that this is the only way to really disable the touchpad and avoid loading any of the touchpad Synaptics software, but PC manufacturers and Microsoft are stupid and don’t realize that many consumers will never even use the stupid touchpad and prefer to plug in a mouse, and thus would want to unload the (resource hogging) touchpad software/drivers/services. Somehow they don’t realize (maybe because they’re rich and can buy the best hardware) that normal people can only buy average or below average powered systems and need to conserve their system resources as much as possible to squeeze every last bit of performance out of average/sub-par machines.

  10. ljs063

    just want to clarify a few things with the above post.

    keep in mind that once you uninstall the synaptics software/services/drivers, xp will load generic mouse/touchpad/pointing device drivers for the touchpad. It will often show up as ‘ps-2 mouse’ and other confusing descriptions making you think it’s your mouse – but it isn’t – it is the touchpad (the system really sees the touchpad as a mouse, because it essentially is). the pc hardware and xp are the problem, not synaptics which works great and uninstalls cleanly. this is simply a problem of a system not allowing you to unload or disable a driver, thus leaving you no choice but to install the wrong one, thus leaving it in a malfunctioned state. only then the system will usually allow you to disable it, or it will simply be disabled by virtue of having an incorrect driver. and keep in mind this is what we techies refer to as a ‘quick and dirty’ solution – one that is unelegant and can cause issues with another device (in this case the keyboard) which is why one has to be prepared for that outcome – by having a usb mouse plugged in, in case the keyboard becomes unresponsive you can just go back into device mgr and reverse everything. if you dont have a usb mouse handy that you can plug in, then you’re screwed.

  11. Casey

    I have solved my above issues. The solution was to downgrade to version 8.3.4.19 or lower of the Synaptics Touchpad driver, as well as to downgrade my Wibrain utility manager to version 1.5.0.0 or lower. For more information about this Wibrain-specific issue related to the recurring Synaptics Touchpad tray icon, see:
    http://www.umpcportal.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=5004

    Here are links to…
    version 8.3.4 of the Synaptics Touchpad driver:
    http://majorgeeks.com/Synaptics_Touchpad_Driver_d4913.html
    and version 7.12.3 of the Synaptics Touchpad driver:
    http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/win/115740

  12. Stan Barkin

    I have scoured the internet for suggestions for disabling the touchpad on my Inspiron 1525 but to no avail, mostly because the features I’d been advised to use don’t exist on my VISTA platform.
    Before I had to reinstall everything using the recovery disk I had downloaded a program that dismantled the touchpad when a mouse was employed and restored the touchpad function when the mouse was removed. Unfortunately, I did not write down the URL for this simple-to-use download.
    Anyone know what that download is?

  13. jay

    I just found this article searching for how to remove the tray icon… then when I right-clicked it, I noticed a “remove icon” option right in the context menu. duh

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