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The settings for the notification area in Windows 7 have three options:

  • Show icon and notifications
  • Hide icon and notifications
  • Only show notifications

Well here is my problem. I have a misbehaving application that doesn't have any settings to turn off notifications. And it keeps nagging me to update itself even though I know that the next version is not running properly. I do not want to see the reminder notification popup at all. But after all the application have some useful options that I use daily to perform tasks. These are accessible from the notification area/system tray.

I would like to silence the application by setting the option to something like:

  • Only show icon

or

  • Show icon and hide notifications

Otherwise I am forced to use the option "Hide icon and notifications" which makes me have to use at least one more mouse click every time I use the application.

A small problem in the great scheme of things... but very annoying (to me at least).

Is there any way to make the notification area behave like this?

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1  
You know it's called the notification area for a reason, right? "Bottled water: The missing option? Why can't I buy bottled water without water?" –  ta.speot.is Feb 24 '12 at 8:28
2  
That may be part of my point here. There is always someone that makes a bad implementation that needs overcoming. ...and why is it at all possible to hide notifications in the notification area in the first place. As you suggest there should be no options at all for the notification area. Right? –  Anders Feb 24 '12 at 9:17
1  
On some programs the "updater" is seperate pieces. In those cases , you can squash the updater, without ruining the normal functions of the program. Sometimes it is a Service, sometimes a seperate DLL item, sometimes a startup item. On some programs they have the update tied in, very tight to the program (no stopping it), Replace those programs :-) I wonder if the reason your not getting control of the item is because it is not the main program, or using the main program name. When all else fails Macros , like autohotkey. –  Psycogeek Feb 24 '12 at 13:46
    
Can you accept one of the answers, please? You've got 3 options (two of the answers below amount to the same thing) to achieve what you originally asked, i.e. how to suppress a program's update notifications without disabling the notification area icon completely. –  supervacuo Jul 4 '12 at 22:21
    
@ta.speot.is It's not called "the notification area", it's called "the System Tray". –  BrainSlugs83 Oct 12 at 5:34

6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

As mentioned elsewhere, this is not how the Notification area is designed to operate. Notifications are its raison d'être, so being able to turn them off would be counter to the design goals of the system.

What it seems you really want to do is use it to open the program and don't care about notifications. For an equivalent solution, I would try something like this:

  1. Hide the icon (and subsequently, the notifications) by dragging it into the notification area's pop-up box (or through your method, which you seem to prefer).
  2. Create a folder somewhere containing only a shortcut to this program, pointing directly to its executable.
  3. Right-click the taskbar, choose toolbars, and click "New toolbar...". Then navigate to the newly created folder and, without opening it, highlight it and click "Select Folder".
  4. If you desire, unlock the taskbar and move/resize the new toolbar so that it is wherever you find it most useful.

This should work. I don't know the particular program you are struggling with, but those that I use often will not launch a new instance using this method, but open the existing instance. I believe that the program would have to instruct Windows specifically to not do this, though what mechanism that utilizes and whether this is true at all, is something I am not intimately familiar with.

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1  
Thank you for the effort. But what I really want is to be able to use the options available on the context menu when the application is running in the notification area. Not just open the program. –  Anders Mar 6 '12 at 8:08
    
I just have to accept that MS have a broken way to look at things and accept this as the best answer. The answer though is that there is no answer to my question... –  Anders Aug 9 '12 at 8:29
    
Problem with this is quite a lot of programs have useful quick access settings by right clicking the icon without having to launch the main window which can be slow. In my case (different from op) I want to keep the icon so I can use quick-access-menu. I have also found some applications which don't have a main window, only working through the icon! (bad design by the app and OS imho) –  Annan Mar 10 '13 at 14:59
    
I disagree with the premise that this is how it was designed. Originally, this was the "system tray" which gave quick visual indications of running programs, which software designers then added right-click shortcuts to. This is backed up by the presence of icons some which do not have notifications (volume, task manager, etc..). Microsoft added the "notifications" functionality in a subsequent version of Windows and then relabelled it "Notification area" to help explain the preferences. I personally would like an "Icon only" option here. –  tristankoffee May 7 at 17:05

Separate answer for a completely different tactic: you can disable balloon notifications for all notification area icons using local Group Policy. As HowToGeek explains,

  1. Open gpedit.msc
  2. "On the left side navigate to User Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Start Menu and Taskbar"
  3. "On the left side under Settings scroll down to “Turn off all balloon notifications” and double click."

I would not recommend this, as Windows occasionally uses these balloons for useful messages (your hard disk is failing, your battery is about to run out, etc.) — disabling the updates for your particular program is a much cleaner solution.

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This was one reason for asking the question in the first place. –  Anders Mar 13 '12 at 7:34
    
Which was, sorry? –  supervacuo Mar 14 '12 at 17:54
1  
That you answer is not recommended because it disables all notifications... not what I wanted! –  Anders Mar 15 '12 at 9:32

You haven't told us which program (or even what kind of program it is!), so your mileage may vary, but how about:

  • Close the application
  • Install and run the Fiddler web debugging proxy
  • Launch the application
  • Observe the hostname it contacts to check for an available update
  • Block that hostname using an entry in the hosts file (very few all-inclusive tutorials for Windows 7, but I found one that looks mostly complete)
  • Hope that the application doesn't bug out if it can't reach the update server, and fails silently instead (this should be the case for almost all non-internet applications)
  • Enjoy life without update notifications until you remove the line you added to the hosts file!

If your application "helpfully" remembers the presence of an update from the last time it was able to contact the update server, you may need to uninstall and reinstall the old version with the hosts file blocking in place to prevent it seeing the new download.

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I haven't told you about which program just because it is not interesting and an answer should not depend on it. Your answer is the the most appealing since it at least tries to solve a problem. On the other hand the fact that it's about an update is also irrelevant. The question is not about that, it could have been any notification. Your answer also suggests that there is no other solution to this. Beginning to regret that I asked in the first place... –  Anders Mar 7 '12 at 12:07
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I realise it should be irrelevant that it's an update, and it should be irrelevant which program it is, but -- as others confirm -- there is no general solution. Your program is using the notification area in a broken way, and the API does not allow you to suppress notifications per-icon, even if you want to get your hands dirty with code. –  supervacuo Mar 12 '12 at 21:36
    
That's not entirely true about it not being possible "even if you want to get your hands dirty with code" -- I believe LiteStep could accomplish this -- though, that replaces your whole desktop/explorer.exe, and if you do it wrong, and it can really wonk up your system. But ... you can always do it with code, somehow. It's just not supported, like, at all. :-) –  BrainSlugs83 Oct 12 at 5:44

This is not possible in the current Windows design. The notification bar was specifically designed to show notifications - the status quo of applications installing themselves here to show that they are still alive is the incorrect behaviour (they should be in the taskbar, not the notification bar).

But then it seems we're asking the wrong question. Why would you possibly want to not update? Updates can be protecting you from security vulnerabilities that could be used to compromise your machine. If it's your home machine they'll take your credit card details, and if it's your company one they'll take your company's IPR or your customer's credit card details (remember: 2 in 3 SMEs that get hacked go out of business within a year).

It seems to me that the best way to stop the application nagging you to update is probably to update the application.

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1  
I am an application updater in most cases for the exact reason you mention. The reason I didn't update this one is that it doesn't work (at all) in the new version... So I tried...and will try again when there is another update. I have made a decision to use this particular application anyway. It is a calculated risk that in this case is low. If I am wrong, I myself will suffer... And hey! If it is like you say. Why is there an option to: "Hide icon and notifications"? –  Anders Mar 6 '12 at 8:03
    
The reason for the "Hide icon and notifications" is to allow the user the ability to say "I don't care what that program has to say anymore - I will ignore all of it's notifications". For more details: blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2006/11/01/922449.aspx –  SecurityMatt Mar 6 '12 at 11:00
    
I disagree with the premise that this is how it was designed. Originally, this was the "system tray" which gave quick visual indications of running programs, which software designers then added right-click shortcuts to. This is backed up by the presence of icons some which do not have notifications (volume, task manager, etc..). Microsoft added the "notifications" functionality in a subsequent version of Windows and then relabelled it "Notification area" to help explain the preferences. I personally would like an "Icon only" option here. –  tristankoffee May 7 at 17:04

i would go with the "Hide icon and notifications" option, and eliminate that extra mouse click by adding a shortcut to launch the program, right click the program's shortcut and add some key combination

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If you stated the name of the program someone might have been able to tell you exactly how to achieve this. As it is, all anyone can do is speculate.

I would focus my efforts into disabling update notifications in the application itself. Every application I have seen with an updater has this option.

This is where I would start as it would offer the most elegant solution.

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