How to remove past icons from the taskbar

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 23, 2006
Updated • May 8, 2013
Windows, Windows tips

You have uninstalled the program completely and are sure that no reference is left on your computer. What if there is still one left that you may not know about? Every item that appears on the left side of the clock on the taskbar is cached by Windows which means that the icon of the program is still available on your system even if the program has been uninstalled and is no longer available.

The system tray has a history of every icon that was ever placed in that area. Check this out by yourself by right-clicking the taskbar, selecting properties from the context menu and clicking on the customize button at the bottom of that screen. If customize is not active, activate it by enabling Hide Inactive Icons.

The list shows the current items at the top and past items below the current item list. I had about thirty entries of programs of which I was not using more than ten which meant that there were twenty entries with no meaning at all in there. Clearing this list is pretty easy, do the following:

  • Backup your registry first
  • Open your registry by hitting the left windows key + R ; Navigate to
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current-Version\Explorer\TrayNotify
  • Remove the keys IconStreams and PastIconStreams.
  • Close the registry and reboot your machine.

Windows will compile a list of available icons after the restart which means that all entries of programs that you used in the past will be gone.

Update: If you prefer a program for that task, try Tray Cleaner which handles the task automatically and is really easy to use. The process itself is still the same even on newer versions of Windows 7. You can check out an updated guide on how to clear old notification icons in Windows 7 if you are running that operating system.


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  1. bert said on October 23, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Past Icon Flusher what a Great tool 2 seconds done Bam Problem solved Thanks for the information

  2. Anbalagan said on December 20, 2007 at 3:05 am

    Some times When you check your TasKbar properties or when you hide or unhide icons you can see old icons from Uninstalled or old programs you dont have anymore. This Tweak will help you how to get rid of this problem Thanks to leobull of Xperience.or How To clear the Past Items or Icons list in the TaskBar, perform the following steps:
    1.Open Regedit Navigate to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Curre ntVersion\Explorer\TrayNotify
    2.Delete the IconStreams and PastIconsStream values
    3.Open Task Manager, click the Processes tab, click Explorer.exe , and then click End Process .
    4.In Task Manager, click File , click New Task , type explorer , and then click OK .

    Idid the tweaks to PC and now the problem is everytime i on my PC, some icon dosent load example volume icon! I have to everytime open task manager and end process “explorer.exe ” and type explorer in run new task for the icons to appear! Can someone help me solve this. Thanking in advance

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