Colin Cochrane

Colin Cochrane is a Software Developer based in Victoria, BC specializing in C#, PowerShell, Web Development and DevOps.

Windows Vista Disappearing System Tray Icons Fix

Yesterday I got out my laptop (which is running Vista Ultimate) to do some work on one of my websites.  When it loaded itself out of sleep mode I noticed that the battery, volume, and network icons in the system tray were missing:

 Naturally I was puzzled by this, and a little annoyed because I could no longer tell how much battery life was left (important because I like to get up and go sit on the deck while I work every so often).  First thing I did was check the Taskbar properties, and found something odd:



 As you can see in the above image, the checkboxes for the volume, network, and power icons are grayed out and not-selectable.  From my Windows development experience, I knew that Vista keeps a cache of recently used system tray icons in the registry, so on a hunch I popped open RegEdit and found where this cache is stored:


and the values

To make a long story short, I backed up the registry, deleted the "IconStreams" and "PastIconsStream" values, opened up the Task Manager, ended the "explorer.exe" process, restarted "explorer.exe" and just like that the missing icons had returned:

An odd problem, but thankfully one that is easily fixed. 

Edit (Added 01/28/2008):  It's worth trying to restart explorer.exe (see Step 4) before trying the registry modifications, because that may fix the problem on its own.

  1. Go to Start > Run (or Windows-key + "R"), type in "regedit" and hit "OK".

  2. Navigate to the key "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion \TrayNotify"

  3. Delete the values "IconStreams" and "PastIconsStream"

  4. Now open up the Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc), go to the "Processes" tab, select "explorer.exe" and click "End Process"

  5. Now open the "Applications" tab and click "New Task..." at the bottom-right of the window.

  6. In the message box that pops up type in "explorer.exe" and hit "OK"

  7. Explorer.exe will reload, and that's it! The missing icons should now be back in the system-tray where they belong.