Here’s something that is really annoying in Windows 7: By default, the taskbar shows a few system icons and then groups all the rest of the tray/notification icons into one giant box. I have found this very annoying because I was always used to how in Windows XP, you could just click on the little arrow and it would expand out all the hidden icons.
In Windows 7, you still click on an arrow, but now the arrow points up and instead shows a box will all the icons grouped together like shown here:
I have several problems with this! Firstly, I don’t like how Windows 7 just assumes their system icons are better than the rest and thereby get all the real estate in the taskbar. Secondly, I don’t like the fact that now they all show up in this box rather than simply being able to view all icons by expanding out the notification area. Luckily, there are some ways to remedy these problems.
Firstly, click on the Customize link that you see in the screenshot above. This will bring you to the Settings dialog for the taskbar icons.
The first thing you can do is click on Turn system icons on or off and decide if you really care to have the Action Center and other system icons in your taskbar.
Next, we can ungroup the taskbar icons by clicking the checkbox next to Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar. This will go ahead and make all the icons appear on your taskbar. If you have a lot of icons, this could be a problem since Windows 7 doesn’t have the same hidden slider feature that was in Windows XP.
The only problem with this is that you can’t control which icons appear and which ones are hidden, they just all show up. The only solution is to uncheck it and then go through each icon manually and choose the desired behavior.
If you choose Show icon and notifications, then the icon will be moved from the grouped section onto the main taskbar area. Clicking on Hide icon and notifications will remove it from the taskbar and put it back in the grouped box. It’s best to choose Only show notifications if you don’t want the icon to appear on the taskbar, but still want to get any messages from the program.
Unfortunately, there is no way to remove the items that are in the grouped section. Other than the system icons, which you can turn on and off, all other icons will remain on either the taskbar or in the grouped box. If you want to remove it completely, you would basically have to make sure the process was not running by killing the process or disabling it from the startup items. Enjoy!