How-To Geek

Make Windows Live Messenger Minimize to the System Tray in Windows 7

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If you’ve used Windows Live Messenger in Windows 7, you’ve probably noticed that instead of minimizing to the system tray, the taskbar button always stays put. Luckily you can force Messenger to work the way you are expecting with a simple tweak.

To accomplish this, we are going to use the Compatibility Mode feature—which will trick the application into using the old behavior for previous versions of Windows.

Force Messenger Into the System Tray

Firstly, you’ll need to close Windows Live Messenger completely by right-clicking on the icon and choosing Close window.


You then need to go to the start menu and find the program. In this case it’s Start, All Programs, Windows Live, Windows Live Messenger.


From here we are going to utilize the lovely Windows 7 right-click and select Properties.


Then click on the compatibility tab on the right.


Then check the “Run this program in compatibility mode” box, choose Windows Vista, and click apply. This is the magical step that tricks Messenger into using the old behavior instead of the new Windows 7 mechanism.


When you reopen the program it will still display itself in the taskbar as it did before.


However if you now close it by clicking the fabled “X” in the top right hand corner, your system tray will be complete with a little blueish green man.


He’s been known to associate with some less than savoury fully green characters, so you can now sleep easy knowing you’ve done him a world of service by separating him from those other shady messengers.

Daniel Gilbert is a geek from down under that really likes Firefox and audio recording.

  • Published 06/29/09

Comments (76)

  1. john/Ireland

    Sweet! About the only thing that annoyed me about 7, thanks for that.

  2. fudkink

    Now I can’t sign in. There is a problem with the ‘Hosts’ file. Any ideas?

  3. mp

    Great! Thanks for help.

  4. Ravi

    Thanks a ton! It was very annoying otherwise!

  5. Zashkaser

    I rarely comment on blogs but yours I had to stop and say Great Blog!!

  6. Patrick D. Ferguson

    After 4 emails to Microsoft support & a month of waiting for reply’s which were nothing but Scripted reply’s, after having me jump threw the most basic of hoops and to come up of course with nothing more than telling me what they can do for me now is to forward my issue to a higher level of support for further investigation. HA-HA. What a nerd I was to think this group of support Techs. could help me. I just finished with my reply to Microsoft this is it:

    I found a solution to this problem with one Google search found a site, HOW TO GEEK and it took me about 5 min’s to find and solve my problem! After 4 emails to you goofy dept. & a month of waiting for Microsoft to find an answer; with nobody even understanding anything other than to “stick to the scripts.” you all have been GIven to follow no matter what you may really think; It’s a wonder Microsoft is a leader in anything. If it hadn’t been for Bill Gates buying DOS ( A totally Flawed OS from IBM who had he morals & values to throw out the DOS flawed forever OS but poor business sense to sell it to anyone that came along, Oh crap, I’m just rambling; you get the picture etc. Anyway here is the work around in windows 7 that everybody is needing you to fix so they can use your program windows live messenger. (I may be wrong) your programmers can solve this one.

    your site will stay in my favorites forever Thanks!!

  7. Luke B

    You can also click on the little arrow next to the notification area, then click on customize.

    Select MSN Messenegr and change the default behaviour to “show icon and notifications”

    This works for all applications.



  8. Recruitment guy

    Thanks a million!

  9. J


    This article and how to put back the quick launch bar on made my day. I was so annoyed with the new (forced) layout on 7. Of course some things do come in handy, but certain others are just pointless with the windows taskbar.

  10. Jonathan

    Thank you so much! I am a control/neat freak and I couldn’t stand having that icon there all the time.

  11. anonymous

    hmm, alternative: use Miranda.
    combines all the IMs in one, Open Source, and doesn’t suck.

  12. tomashcu

    awesome thanks!!!

  13. Andre

    Nice, thank you!

  14. JM


  15. clickerX


  16. Thomas

    There is a cool utility which makes this super easy called MessengerToTray it is available in German and English!


  17. Ivo

    Worked perfectly, solved me another problem
    Thanks alot, Geek :)

  18. Sam Patel

    thank you very much for your help, it did work…


  19. Kane

    Step-by-step clear instructions to exactly what I wanted fixed. Thanks a ton!

  20. Ruthie



  21. nuwan

    Great! its working

  22. Cory


    That annoyed the mess out of me, especially when i only have 1 conversation window up and yet still i have to click into the win7 preview screen…

    again…Thank you so much!

  23. elliott

    works perfectly, thankyou



  25. Frank

    Great, every w7 installer that uses wlm should read this.

  26. Sharon

    Wow, thanks for this helpful tip! :)

  27. Alex

    Also works great for skype too!

  28. Michael

    awesome – thanks!

  29. Cryonic Core

    Try changing to Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or 3 compatibility mode. Will probably work better.

  30. abdulhkeem

    yeah thanks it was really annoying whet it was like an open windows

  31. PeeJay

    OMG! THANK YOU SO MUCH! wlm was annoying me soooo much! i mean why couldnt it work like every other bloody Windows OS?! D00D YOU MADE MY LIFE! =D

  32. rosa

    all i can say Thanks!!!! this was on thins i hated from win 7 thanks again!! =D

  33. SloppyGoat

    This doesn’t work!!! WTH?!!!

  34. RogerRogerson

    You sir are an ideas man, bloody champion – thank you very much, It was driving me mad not minimising to the tray.


  35. Jizzz


  36. Big Dog Knew

    Top banana, cheers for that!

  37. Kandi

    Thank you! This was bugging me! Works like a charm.

  38. Austin

    Thank you very much, much appreciated :).

  39. DrSus

    Great trick, thanks so much! :D

  40. Luis Gabriel

    As someone write above, rarely write comments on blogs, but this was really helpful.

  41. Kimberlee

    OH MY GOD!! Thank you soooo much for posting this!

    I never write and say thanks, but I’m so thankful!!!


  42. Signe

    Thank you for posting this! That was probobly the only thing that annoyed me on 7, and now it is fixed! ;D

  43. allthings

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. This was the last maddening thing about 7 that I’ve been dealing with.

  44. anonymous

    It works with spype too! just exit skype and do the same!

  45. Raunak Mehta

    Works beautifully! Thanks for the brilliant workaround.

  46. Pedro

    Tanks from Portugal :)))

  47. Lapo


  48. ungxpr

    Thx a lot

  49. Jeff


  50. Mae

    thanks =)

  51. Coolzombi

    AWESOME ! Thanks a lot !.. Its so easy loll

  52. Batman

    Without people like you, using WLM and its horrible features would be much more of a nightmare.

  53. Kimzter

    Awesome! Thanks a bunch!

  54. Littlehogarth

    I love that you need compatibility mode to run applications as they were designed.
    Article was perfect. Used the same method for Skype and other applications that should just be running in the background.

  55. Juan


  56. Jamie

    This is great and worked wonderfully. I do have a question if you know the workaround for making the icons in the notification bar left click like they used to. Now when you left or right click it only behaves as a right click and won’t open the application like it used to. With the current way, it takes two clicks to open it when it used to take one. Would LOVE your help!!!

  57. Amy

    Thank you! Glad it was such an easy fix, not even a regedit involved.

    And I agree with Littlehogarth, it’s ridiculous that a MS program doesn’t play nice with a MS operating system.

  58. Prakash

    Awesome…. Nice Solution

  59. John Coleman

    Thank you … this worked for me and I’m glad because yes it was annoying. Windows 7 seems nice but jeez it really gets some things so wrong (i.e., I hate the way folder.jpg images are displayed now as opposed to Windows XP’s ‘flat’ look).

  60. Martin

    Thanks, it worked ^^

  61. Stanley

    Hi, I have tried following the instructions and it was SUCCESSFUL. HOWEVER, then after my windows theme is forced to go into basic theme with no AERO functions.

    IS there any way I can keep my Aero functions and have ONLY the messenger to perform as the older version with all that minimising to taskbar function ?

    Thanks you for your time!

  62. Dister

    Don’t, keep in the same, just was 2 icons of WL, now 1, bot in tray none :(
    But any way. 1 better the 2 in this case

  63. thang

    awesome, i love u

  64. Kaelyn

    Geez it was so annoying to have the messenger just sit there, thank you for making this little tutorial!

  65. ZiZ0

    Like It So Much ! , Thanks Alot ! (:

  66. Kalliban

    This also works for skype :)

  67. Junior

    Great! Thanks!!!

  68. ofir


  69. lucb1e

    Genius solution ;-)

  70. iphoness

    This totally worked! I spent 20 minutes looking through the settings just the other day to realize that you couldn’t minimize WLM to the tray. Now I can! Yay! Thanks!.

  71. Arpine

    Seems like it stopped working last week :( I guess due to some new windows update?

  72. Guy

    The fact that such an app doesn’t have a ‘Minimize to Tray’ feature makes me feel like a professional software programmer !

  73. Maz


  74. Angel98392

    Thank you! May the Force be with you.

    I thought the MS rant was funny considering he is giving his money to a guy he loathes.. me I meditate daily in the hopes that Gates grows a brain and throws away all his communist ideals. The money? I despise Macintosh far more because their privatized. At least PC is a lot closer to a Free Market… which is why the product is better.

    Steve Jobs is awesome as an engineer and had some great ideas. However as a business man? he was a stereotypical genius. That is able to create some wonderful products but lacking in Common Sense in every other area.

  75. Jason

    You sir, win one Internet. Thank you SO much.

  76. Jerm

    Wow finally!! I was SOOOOO mad about this stuff lol.
    Now I tried it with AIM and it wont work >_>

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