Windows - Restoring Tray Icons

Windows Quick Fix - How to Restore Missing System Tray Icons

Recently, many people have been experiencing, and reporting, a variety of problems with Windows after downloading and installing system patches via Windows Updates, which ironically are supposed to improve and protect one’s Windows computing environment, not create problems. Sometimes however, one’s faithful use of Windows Update can leave one’s computing environment exhibiting any of a variety of problem symptoms that are side effects of installing the very updates that are meant to protect it. One of these problems is that after some recent Windows updates by Microsoft, Windows no longer displays all of the icons that a user has configured for display in the system tray. 

Many theories abound on Windows support web sites regarding the cause of this problem. But like so many other similar types of problems with Windows, Microsoft, even on its own support web sites, has not provided clear information about the root cause(s) of it. One theory is that a given system may have too many startup processes and service daemons being run during windows login and some aspect of that process interferes with the user-interface execution thread that is responsible for attaching the various requested programs to the system tray. However, such explanations do not account for the recent appearance of the related problem, where none has existed previously in systems with otherwise stable configurations.

For whatever reason, like so many of these sorts of minor problems with Windows, Microsoft has not publicly shown much interest in fixing it, especially as it relates to versions of Windows in long term support mode, such as Windows XP and Windows Vista. Furthermore, Microsoft has shown since Windows 7, and now that Windows 8 development is nearing completion, that it appears to be moving away from the system tray as a feature at all in Windows, much to the dismay of many millions of Windows users.

One quick fix for the disappearance of system tray icons is to create and run a Windows console batch script that shuts down and restarts explorer, which is the program that runs taskbar in addition to creating and operating file explorer windows. The logical basis for this fix is that restarting the taskbar when there aren’t other startup processing running to interfere with it, enables it to execute properly. That this fix works for many people ninety-percent of the time, gives some credence to some theories regarding the basis for the underlying problem. To create the necessary batch script, open a test editor such as Notepad or Notepad++, enter the following commands and save the file with a .CMD file extension:

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
An important note is that the - taskkill - command is not available in Windows XP Home Edition. Users of XP Home may be able to substitute the tskill command for it.
After saving the commands above into a file with a .cmd extension a at convenient location, it is possible to simply double-click the script file so that it executes the commands. It may take a moment for system tray to refresh itself, displaying the various icons one by one as it initializes them. Although this a brute force fix for this problem, for now, this method appears to be one of the few available resolutions, especially after trying other suggestions provided by support web sites, includes, Microsoft’s own.
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