I was looking at my taskbar in Windows 8 today and realize that there are a number of system icons on the right side that are just taking up space since they’re not giving me useful or important information. My PC’s plugged into the office network, for example, so the “network status” notification icon is pointless: it’s always the very same state, ON. How do I clean up my notifications area of the Win8 taskbar?
We’ve already jumped to the Windows 8.1 preview, but the functionality of the taskbar is the same and now that you mention it, you’re right, there are a lot of system icons that show up in the notification center that are just wasting space on the screen. For me, it’s the volume control since I have keys on my keyboard that control volume up, volume down and mute. That being the case, why have that tiny icon distracting me from what might be actual useful information?
There’s also the question of what else could be on that taskbar that isn’t being displayed? You might not realize it, but there are a lot of apps that are set to show up only if there’s something you need to know. An update? A system problem? Those are good. But what if you want to just have it show up all the time so you can quickly check the status of, say, Bluetooth, or because you want a super-easy way to access that particular system preference, something that can otherwise be a bit daunting in the Windows 8 work otherwise.
In all these cases, the path to customizing your Win8 taskbar is but a click away. If you know where…
To start out, here’s my current taskbar, zoomed in on the notification center area on the right side:
As you can see, it shows me network status and, like you, I don’t really need to see it, and it also shows me volume, which I’ve already explained is redundant with the labeled function keys on my keyboard. Yeah there’s the tiny bit of volume feedback with the “sound waves” coming out of the speaker (did you know it shows more or less waves based on how high your volume is set?) but I don’t really care about that on a day to day basis.
You might think that to remove a system icon from the notification center, you’d just right-click on the icon, but as you can see here, that’s not quite how things work on the volume icon:
Options, a mixer, device access, that’s all helpful if you need it, but “hide icon”? Not so much.
Instead, there’s a tiny up triangle to the left of the displayed system icons. Click on it and even more icons appear in a neat little box:
The link you seek, the link I seek, is just under the hand: “Customize…”. Click on it and you’re in the Notification Area Icons settings area:
You can see that for a lot of icons their controls appear here with a menu of options which turn out to be “Show icon and notification” (my current setting for Action Center), “Hide icon and notifications”, and “Only show notifications”. We’ll come back to these settings, but for now, click on the “Turn system icons on or off” text link just below the scrolling window.
That jumps you to the default system notification icons that show up on the taskbar, and finally give me control over the volume icon:
In this case, the choices are easier: “On” or “Off”. I’ll turn both Network and Volume off because they’re just not useful in my setup.
A click on “OK” and I’m back to the general notifications area icons window. This time I’ll zoom in to two entries:
You can see that the SBAMTray Appliation is set to only show up when there’s something to tell me. That’s good. But Bluetooth Devices defaults to being off and I want to change it. To do so, I’ll set it to “Show icon and notifications” (as you can see above) and click on “OK”.
Done. Now here’s my taskbar, new and improved:
Much improved. Now, what the heck does Action Center want to let me know about anyway…?