Skip to main content

Keep your icons out of my system tray!

Related topic: System Tray Scan Utility - identify programs that have icons in the tray.

I don't know about you, but I am saddened whenever I use a non-techie friend's computer and see more than two or three active tray icons in the Windows taskbar "system tray"*. (Usually I see six, seven, eight or even a few dozen!)

Why does it bother me? Because, most of the time, the computer owner has no idea what those icons are for, or how they got there.

It means that third-party installers (or worse, computer integrators or 'manufacturers' like Dell) have hooked more stuff into the auto start chain, which also means: more memory used, longer startup times, another prime opportunity to break the user's system with even more bloated, buggy software.

Brand new Dell 1501 system tray loaded with with an obscene number of running tasks

(Mis)quoting Scotty: "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."

In my experience, QuickTime and Adobe Acrobat Reader are the worst offenders: do we really need to have an application running all the time just so we can check for updates from time to time, or to restore broken file associations? Sun's Java installer is another candidate.

Perhaps this menagerie of always-running software provides some tangible benefit to the user; in my experience, most users are totally unaware of said benefits. They have no idea why these alien visitors have landed, their purpose, or when they will leave. All they know is that their Windows computer performance stinks.

I suspect that the vendors have the best intentions in the world - "We need to install this in order to provide the best user experience, streamline support, blah blah blah" - thus putting down a new layer of pavement on the road to hell...

And why have I been invited to party on my friends' computers? Because they are complaining of sluggish performance, slow start-up, mysterious problems that started happening "when I installed blah-de-blah mumble foo" application. So, I usually do a quick audit of all the programs / services that are scheduled to start up during boot (I use Sysinternals Microsoft's excellent Autoruns and Process Explorer utilities to find out what's running) - and remove anything that isn't essential - that is, if they don't use the program daily, it has no business camping out in the system tray, or even being in the auto start chain.

I've reached the point where, in the rare case that I actually install some nasty, bloated commercial software, I automatically use Autoruns immediately afterward to see what kind of shenanigans the installer was up to. This is the world we now inhabit - fear and loathing in installer land.

Look: If you are a software developer, or a company providing software that inserts auto-starting software into a user's machine - whether or not you show your face in the user's system tray - you owe it to the user to disclose to them, in clear and unambiguous terms, that you would like to increase the burden on their system, why you want to, the benefits as well as drawbacks, and ask the user if they want your extra junk on their machine. Failing this, your software becomes a trespasser, serving the forces of chaos.

Repent. Mend your ways. Stop dumping your crap into the auto start chain and adding gratuitous icons to the shell tray. Only then will you sleep the sleep of the just.


* Microsoft reminds us that the proper name for this is the "Notification Area", and Raymond Chen is even more adamant about it. We'll just keep calling it the tray since that's what people are used to. Feh.

Innovagent 200 malware

How do I remove this software that I accidentally downloaded? reached this blog because the icon is in my system tray. Running SpyZooka now (free version) but something tells me that it isn't going to work because nothing from the "Vista" solutions page did.


Try these

Try these:

Sysinternals Autoruns

When in doubt, google for "remove OR clean innovagent"

Good luck!

I don't have a comment I

I don't have a comment I need to leave. But I do like your choice of word-to-show-I'm-human. :)


Gosh, Thanks!

I would like to remove an

I would like to remove an Icon from my SysTray. When I try to right click, then choose properties and Customize, CUSTOMIZE is grayed out. I am sure it is a Registery or Group policy that is doing this. I still want the program to run, just get rid of the system tray icon.

i agree with everything said

i agree with everything said here, i have tweaked my autostarts and other stuff and deactivated many services or set them manual, now i have only 26 prozesses running in vista ultimate! before this, i had more than 100 running prozesses on a from acer with trial and adware programs infected and preinstalled new Acer Aspire 8930G-904G100WN (LX.AFB0X.003). i have bought a new vista ultimate dvd and installed everything fresh from this dvd. i have a hp photomart c7280 all-in-one printer, the printer installs many new services and running prozesses, i have written 2 scripts to active and deaktive the hp software. Now i only activate the hp services, when i need them.


HP ON.cmd
sc config Spooler binpath= "C:\Windows\System32\spoolsv.exe" start= "auto"
sc config hpqddsvc binpath= "C:\Windows\system32\svchost.exe -k hpdevmgmt" start= "auto"
sc config hpqcxs08 binpath= "C:\Windows\system32\svchost.exe -k hpdevmgmt" start= "auto"
sc config "Net Driver HPZ12" start= auto
sc config "Pml Driver HPZ12" start= auto

sc start Spooler
sc start hpqddsvc
sc start hpqcxs08
sc start "Net Driver HPZ12"
sc start "Pml Driver HPZ12"

HP OFF.cmd
sc stop Spooler
sc stop hpqddsvc
sc stop hpqcxs08
sc stop "Net Driver HPZ12"
sc stop "Pml Driver HPZ12"

sc config Spooler binpath= "C:\Windows\System32\spoolsv.exe" start= "disabled"
sc config hpqddsvc binpath= "C:\Windows\system32\svchost.exe -k hpdevmgmt" start= "disabled"
sc config hpqcxs08 binpath= "C:\Windows\system32\svchost.exe -k hpdevmgmt" start= "disabled"
sc config "Net Driver HPZ12" start= disabled
sc config "Pml Driver HPZ12" start= disabled