Fix for When Clock, Volume, Power or Network Icons are Missing and Grayed Out in Windows Vista

By Lowell Heddings on May 1st, 2008

So you notice you are missing icons in the System Tray, like the clock or volume icons, and then you realize that you simply can’t enable them because the checkboxes are grayed out. So what do you do?

The problem exists because system policies were set that probably shouldn’t be, but either way your icons are missing:

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Normally you can re-enable the items by right-clicking on the Taskbar, choosing properties and going to the Notification Area tab:

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But they are grayed out… what’s up with that?

Note: I’m assuming you already did the normal Windows fix-it technique of rebooting, and the problem still exists.

Fix for Notification Icons are Missing and Checkboxes are Grayed Out

You can solve all of these problems by looking in two separate places in the registry, and then deleting a bunch of keys in each location. We’ll detail all of the keys here, but you can skip down a bit for a downloadable registry hack file.

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu search or run box, and then browse down to the following key:

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

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If you see any of the following key names in the right-hand pane, delete them:

  • NoTrayItemsDisplay
  • HideClock
  • HideSCAPower
  • HideSCAVolume
  • NoAutoTrayNotify
  • HideSCANetwork

After deleting the values in that pane, browse to the following key and then repeat the process:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

You’ll have to logout and then back in, and then most likely go back into taskbar properties and re-check the boxes for each.

Download Registry Hack

Just download, extract, and double-click on RestoreMyTrayIconsPlease.reg to enter the information into the registry.

Download RestoreMyTrayIconsPlease Registry Hack

What if the Volume Icon Still Doesn’t Work?

Over the last year, many people have reported a related problem to me: They just have no volume icon… and also no sound.

If you encounter this problem, you should immediately open Device Manager and make sure that there are no exclamation points next to your sound card, because the problem is likely that your sound card driver isn’t working.

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If there are exclamation points, or the sound card is missing and there are a bunch of “Unknown devices”, you usually need to reload the sound card driver from the manufacturer, but sometimes you can right-click on the device and choose to “Update Driver”.

Note: I’ve also run into this issue with Toshiba and Acer laptops, the solution for those usually being a BIOS update.

If you still have problems, head over to our forum and ask your question over there.

Important Note: Numerous people have reported to me that this problem happens much less after installing Service Pack 1, so you should probably make sure you are all patched up as well.

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 05/1/08
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