We were asked to provide a simple solution to the problem of removing obsolete notification icons (i.e. icons for programs that are no longer installed) from the notification area on the Windows taskbar. While you can do this with dedicated software tools, a simple trick is to remove two registry values and then restart the explorer.exe process. Doing this will basically reset the icons cache for the notification area and keep only those icons used by active applications. Since editing the registry is a rather complex task, we decided to provide a simple tool to assist all our readers.
Describing the Problem
After using Windows for a while, installing and uninstalling programs, you will end up with a long list of icons showing up in the notification area, on the taskbar, especially when scrolling through the Notification Area Icons window.
If some of programs have been removed, there is no way to remove their icons from the list. So, what do you do? Read on and learn the best way to solve this problem.
Clean the Notification Area Icon Cache
First, download Notification_Area_Cleaner archive found at the bottom of this article. Extract it and inside you will find the Notification_Area_Cleaner.bat file.
To clean the cache for the notification area and restart explorer.exe, double click this file. Windows might warn you that the publisher could not be verified. Don’t worry. You are safe. In the security warning dialog click Run.
For a brief period, the taskbar and your desktop icons will disappear. You will only see a command prompt window similar to the one below:
This is because the process explorer.exe is restarted and the notification area icon cache is cleared. After a few seconds, everything will be back to normal. If you computer is very fast you might not even get to see the Command Prompt window.
What to do Next
After this procedure, installed programs which had icons in the notification area, won’t have their icons displayed there. The notification area is now completely reset and Windows will show only its standard icons.
Also, installed programs won’t have their icons shown in the Notification Area Icons window. To have them listed there, you must run each program once.
After you have run all your favorite applications, you can customize the notification area again and decide which icons are displayed and which are not. To learn how to customize the notification area, read this guide: How to Customize the Notification Area.
Another thing to consider is that some security solutions might warn you or prevent you from running our batch file. Do not worry, we are not distributing a virus. However, we can’t provide any warranties either.