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Turn Off System Tray Messages in Windows 7

written by: Lamar Stonecypher•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 1/16/2010

Is the notification area in the system tray in Windows 7 trying to share messages with you at every system restart? Messages that you've seen before or simply don't care about? If so, you can take control of your notification area and system tray. This article shows you how.

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    Messages and Notifications

    Windows 7 gives the user unprecedented control over what icons and messages the tool bar's notification area will display. This includes the somewhat surprising ability to disable the Action Center entirely and to obtain fine-grained control over the type of messages you are willing to see.

    As an example, shortly after installing Windows 7, you may have seen a notification that said, "Find an antivirus solution." Several different types of notifications can be made in this area. To view the types, go to Control → Action Center (or Control Panel → System and Security → Action Center) and click on "Change Action Center settings" in the left-hand pane.

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    Action Center 

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    The next screen shows the type of notifications you can turn off. These include for Security messages:

    • Windows Update
    • Internet Security settings
    • Network firewall
    • Spyware and related protection
    • User Account Control
    • Virus Protection
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    And for Maintenance messages:

    • Windows Backup
    • Windows Troubleshooting
    • Check for updates
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    Change Action Center Settings 

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    To access the area where you can completely turn off all Action Center notifications, from the "Change Action Center settings" pane, click the back icon twice to arrive back at the Control Panel main screen. In the search entry field at top-right, start to type in


    After a few characters, it should match to "Notification Area Icons."

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    Notification Area Control Panel 

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    Click on "Remove icons from notification area (system tray) on the desktop." This will cause the Notification Area settings dialog to open, and the first choice is "Action Center."

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    Notifications Settings 

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    And the options for Action Center are

    • Show icon and notifications
    • Hide icons and notifications
    • Only show notifications
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    And there you have it. Windows 7 gives us more options about what the notification area will show us and tell us than any previous version of Windows, and the settings are not even hidden.

    Note that hiding the Action Center icon and disabling its notifications does not disable the Action Center itself. It still can be accessed from the Start menu/orb by typing in "action center" or going to Control Panel and selecting Action Center.

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    My suggestion is that you carefully consider which notifications annoy you the most and which may provide the most benefit. (Let's hope they're not one and the same.) For example, it's not bad to be reminded that you need to obtain an antivirus program or to periodically clean up the PC or to run a system scan with Windows Defender.

    Windows 7 is already better about some notifications. For the last few years, Vista has told me each morning that it's downloading the program guide for Media Center. I consider this little more than fawning puppy behavior - look at me, look at what I can do. I have to wonder what programmer thought it would be a good idea to brag about a common, unremarkable task at every startup. I have to wonder why nobody pointed out that it would be better to only declare when it failed to connect to get the guide. Now that's something I might be interested in knowing.

    And from Media Center in Windows 7? Not a peep.

    I hope that this article has helped you take control of your notification area system messages and icons. Thank you for reading this, and thank you for visiting Bright Hub.

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