The lower right hand side of the Windows 7 taskbar houses the notification area or system tray, as it is popularly known. There are several icons on this tray which often clutters it up. Some of these icons are required on a regular basis while others have sporadic usage. Many such old and unnecessary icons tend to populate the notification area. However, Microsoft introduced a method to do away or hide icons that are infrequently needed. The steps mentioned below will guide you through the process by which you can remove icons from the system tray and keep it clean.

Locate the small triangle pointing in the upward direction in the notification area and click on it. You can also use the keyboard shortcut of 'Windows + B' followed by 'Enter'.

This will open a small window where you can find the 'Customize' button.

Click on the 'Customize' button which will display you another window consisting of the notification area items.

There would be a drop down menu adjacent to each of the items that will provide you three choices – 'Show icons and notifications', 'Hide icons and notifications' and 'Only show notifications'.

Choose any of them as per your convenience and click 'OK' when you are done.

There is an alternative way of clearing the notification area icons. Bring up the 'Search' bar from 'Start' menu, type 'notification' and hit the 'Enter key. A list will show up where you will require clicking on 'Notification area icons'. You will be displayed another window from where you can directly choose the three options mentioned on step 4 above.

To clear all the icons off the notification area, click on 'Turn system icons on or off' in the dialog box. After selecting either 'on' or 'off', click 'OK' for the changes to take effect.

If you want to get back any of the system tray icons after turning off, you will need to click on 'Restore default icon behaviors' followed by 'OK'.

Removal of Old Windows 7 Notification Area Icons

Sometimes an icon continues to remain in the notification after uninstallation of the particular software. If you want to remove an icon of an uninstalled program from the system tray, you will have to edit the Windows registry.

Users who are habituated with registry editing, can follow the steps mentioned below which will help in clearing the 'tray icon cache' which contains the icons.

Make sure to back up the registry before you begin the cleaning process.Open the Windows Registry Editor.Find the following registry key: HKCU \Software \Classes \LocalSettings \Software \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \TrayNotifyDelete the registry value IconStreams from the right pane of the Regedit command.Delete the PastIconsStream value as wellClose the registry and back it on for the updates to occur. Besides, stop and restart the Explorer.exe program if you know the procedure.

This process is for advanced users. In case you find it tedious, you may use third party utilities like CCleaner. It helps you get rid of tray icon cache and is tagged as 'Tray Notification Cache'. Running the CCleaner requires you to log in as the administrator on most occasions.

Cleaning the notification area icons is often necessary especially when it becomes thronged with redundant icons. Icons tend to remain in the system tray for prolonged periods after being used regularly. This article is meant for keeping the notification area tidy retaining only those icons that are frequently needed. You may try cleaning the old icons from the Windows registry or using third party apps as discussed.

Author's Bio: 

Hi! I am Brook M. Perry, a prolific blog writer and keen author of articles related to online tech support and solution for issues related to computers and mobile devices. Being associated with the reputed remote pc support service provider Qresolve, I have resolved thousands of tech issues for our customers from worldwide. It is made possible with the mix of my academic and professional acumen in technologies and IT environment coupled with my dedication and passion to provide quick online computer support. My areas of interest are virus removal, PC security, endpoint security system, router support etc. You can follow me for my useful computer support articles on Ezine and other article-oriented websites.