Fix a missing System Tray in Windows

Martin Brinkmann
May 11, 2012
Updated • May 11, 2012
Tutorials, Windows, Windows tips

Today when I started my computer I noticed something that I never experienced before. Everything looked normal, except for the System Tray area in the Windows Taskbar. The System Tray was missing, and I first thought that I had hit a switch or something to hide it from the taskbar. All I saw in the System Tray area was the clock, and nothing else.  Since I did not make any changes to the operating system, or ran a tweaking software for that matter, I was not really sure what caused it.

Regardless of that, I knew that it had to be a switch or policy that was causing this. After some digging around in the Windows Registry, I found the key that was responsible for the missing System Tray.


NoTrayItemsDisplay was the only REG_Binary value in the Explorer key in the Registry, which made it look terribly out of place. The fix on the other hand was really easy. I simply deleted the key parameter entirely from the Registry, and restarted the explorer.exe process afterwards to see if it resolved the issue. Please note that you can alternatively log off and on again, or restart your computer to see if this recovered the System Tray.

Here are the steps outlined again:

  • Open the Windows Registry editor by opening the run box with Windows-r, typing regedit, and hitting enter afterwards
  • Navigate to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  • Locate NoTrayItemsDisplay in the listing, and check its value
  • If you want to be thorough, backup the key first by selecting File > Export from the menu bar
  • Select NoTrayItemsDisplay and hit the delete key on your keyboard and confirm the deletion message afterwards.
  • Log off and on again, restart your computer, or kill and start the explorer.exe process in the Windows Task Manager.

This resolved the missing System Tray issue on a 64-bit test system of Windows 7. It should work for other versions and editions of Windows as well.

Please note that you may also find the item under HKEY_Local_Machine\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer.


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  1. sl0j0n said on December 1, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    I have a different problem, the system tray is there.
    When I click the double ^ chevrons to open the notification area it pops up.
    But when I move the mouse over the notification area try to select an icon the notification area drops out of sight.
    Any ideas?

  2. Thaurane said on February 26, 2019 at 8:20 am

    I didn’t use the tweaker 4 others have mentioned but had the same issue. After deleting the registry entry and restarting explorer.exe they all reappeared. Thank you! The only thing I can think of is I just recently got windows 10 pro and may have accidentally turned then off? But going through them now I’m not seeing the policy unless I’ve glossed over it.

  3. Janet said on June 19, 2015 at 11:55 am

    PS How did you start explorer.exe??? I had to restart using task manager because there was nothing on the screen to click on……

  4. Janet said on June 19, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Thanks so much! How did you figure that out?????? :-)

    Any ideas regarding what causes this? I do not have any tweaker programs and am not aware of having done anything different….

    Many Thanks!

  5. wewhackers said on May 29, 2015 at 2:18 am

    thanks a lot all of you guys,,, i fixed it

  6. Threshold said on May 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I have this issue when explorer crashes and restarts and just some icons are missing (uTorrent, emule to name a few).
    These programs evidently miss the few cycles necessary to check if the icon is present in the tray icon so don’t add it back

    Is there any quick fix for that?


  7. Lencho said on May 12, 2012 at 7:17 am

    It happened to me, too, after trying out Windows Tweaker 4, which, by the way showed all checkboxes empty, whether they had been checked or not. I had already uninstalled the program when I noticed the missing tray icons. Since I had no idea what to look for in the registry, I reinstalled Windows Tweaker 4, brought the icons back and re-uninstalled Windows Tweaker 4.

  8. Win7 said on May 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Tweaker 4 did that to me as well.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      I have updated the original article.

  9. Boyfriend said on May 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks Martin for tip. Lysdexic has already pointed out root cause. I also suffered with said problem after using Windows Tweaker 4.

  10. Lysdexic said on May 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    The missing tray was because of that lovely Windows Tweaker 4 you were advertising a short while back.

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