Remove Unwanted Icons From Your System Tray
Windows' system tray is on the far right end of your task bar. It holds shortcuts to programs that load or install when your PC boots. The first image below shows what a typical system tray looks like.
The following image is an example of a bloated system tray.
Removing items from your system tray can be a two-minute project, or it can take half a day to sort out what's in the tray, what needs to stay there, and what can hit the bit bucket.
The first step is to identify the program that the icon represents and decide if it needs to be in the system tray (most aren't necessary). Hold the mouse cursor over the icon to see the name of the program the icon launches. Items such as RealPlayer, RealPlayer Jukebox, Napster, ATI's Video Manager, and AOL's Instant Messenger are the usual suspects.
The best bet is to right- or left-click on the icon to see if this opens the program's options box. If it does, hunt around for a selection similar to 'Remove from System Tray' or 'Check here if you don't want this program to load with Windows.'
The most comprehensive article about cleaning up your system tray--and
system resources in general--is Matt Lake's "
Unfortunately, some programs load at start-up and jump right into the system tray, and there's no easy way to stop them. To keep the squatters at bay, you'll need to roll up your sleeves and do a little work under your PC's hood.
The first place to look is in your Startup menu. Choose
Matt Lake's article identifies a couple of other common background Microsoft Office applications you can remove from your Startup list. Findfast occasionally indexes every Office document on your hard drive. It's supposed to work only in idle time, but what it thinks of as idle time (when the hard disk isn't working) usually doesn't jibe with how you see idle time (when you're not using the PC at all).
You can't help but notice Findfast doing its job: Suddenly your hard drive starts spinning wildly when you're just typing or reading. The other waste of space is Office OSA.exe start-up applet, which helps Office apps start a tiny bit faster, but not so much that it's worth the RAM the program consumes.
Microsoft provides tools to tweak your system tray, but they rarely tell
you about these gems. To check what programs Windows loads at start-up, select
Many items are self-explanatory. Among these are AdSubtract, my ad and cookie blocker; Ontrack's Fix-It AV tool that checks for viruses; and all the ZoneLab entries. These are items I want to keep.
Some items--WebWasher, GoToMyPC, and EM_EXEC--are intentionally unchecked. That's because I have these tools on my PC but don't want them to load on start-up.
And then there may be dozens of items listed that you won't have a clue about. Here's how to guess.
Some items may appear as if they belong to your sound card (or maybe an MP3 player), and they probably do. For instance, AudioHQ, Ahqtb, and ESQsonic are from sound cards. Anything with 'AV' somewhere in the name is likely part of your antivirus protection.
Here are some examples:
For a more complete list, see Denny Denham's excellent
My rule? Uncheck an item, and if problems occur, open Startup and check
it again. But whatever you do,
Note that some of the items on my Startup list are duplicates, with one checked and the other unchecked. Do I know why? Nope. Maybe because of a faulty installation. If it's unchecked, it's doing no harm.
Here are some frequently asked questions relating to Windows' system tray and Startup options:
You can't find msconfig in Windows 2000 because it's not included. But first, a disclaimer: I haven't used Windows 2000, so what follows is untested material I got by asking others.
While I abhor piracy, some people say obtaining a
Msconfig is only available in Windows 98, Me, or XP, so I recommend upgrading from Windows 95. Msconfig is much better than the old Win95 System Configuration Editor (Windows\System\Sysedit.exe) for editing system configuration files. Another option is to ask a friend who uses an appropriate version of Windows to send you the msconfig.exe file.
If you're going to stick with Windows 95, try using Mike Lin's
On my PC, the system monitor is located in 'C:\Program Files\Common
Files\Microsoft Shared\MSINFO\MSINFO32.EXE'. Alternatively, to install
Good luck and I wish you success with your start-up problems.