One thing that annoys me to no end about Windows 7 is the status displayed by the network icon present in the taskbar. Often you can't identify what's making it have a grey color. It returns to normal for sometime after I've rebooted my machine but later again changes to a grey color.

I doubt I'm having dns issues or any network issues for that matter as I'm able to open all websites fine. Windows troubleshooting does not find any error with the network. Any suggestions on how to find the culprit?

Here's an image displaying the icon showing up in grey color. enter image description here

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    you've got to love the simple ipconfig /all...tells it all, no misunderstanding. – Alex Oct 26 '11 at 17:46
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    It is not grayed out. I think the icon you see after a reboot is just Windows 7 trying to establish the internet connection. The icon in the screenshot is the default active-connection icon. If you had an issue, you'd see a yellow caution mark super-imposed. – Belmin Fernandez Oct 30 '11 at 16:38
  • Ching Chong's answer is the correct one, as far as I could test myself. – JoeWhite Jun 24 '15 at 17:32
  • @Tony It might be a valid explanation but there is another explanation. This greying-out thing was happening because the icon was moved into the "hidden notifications" popup. Try to do a simple test. Move that network icon back and forth between the taskbar and the popup. Notice that it's blacked out in one place and grey in another. This happens on every copy of windows. – Mugen Jun 28 '15 at 6:20
  • @Mugen OK, I can reproduce the behavior you mention, which is probably normal. The glitch is that the greyed icon sometimes also appears in the taskbar. This should probably be addressed in a separate question. – JoeWhite Jun 28 '15 at 8:32

The icon you see there indicates the connection is good and it can "see" the internet.

If there is a yellow exclamation point superimposed over the icon, it usually means it can see the network but it cannot contact the microsoft site it uses for testing it's internet connection. It generally means there is some sort of connection but that the system cannot verify what type of connection. Holding your mouse over the icon will indicate why.

If there is a red X over the icon it means there is no connection and hovering your mouse pointer over the icon will indicated why.

So you're confusing the white icon with a historical "greyed out" look that usually indicated a disabled feature. It's not grey, it's just white, and the superimposed icons will clue you in as to what problems the connection have be experiencing.

  • Any guesses what could be the problem in this case? – Mugen Oct 26 '11 at 18:16
  • 1st step is nearly always to make sure you have up to date drivers. Then check if your AV or Firewall software puts some hold on the connection until it is completely loaded. – music2myear Oct 26 '11 at 19:16
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    @Mugen: basically, you are seeing its default state. It isn't "greyed out", but rather gets either a red X or a yellow caution icon. – surfasb Oct 27 '11 at 3:18
  • @surfasb Got it. Basically that state is "normal, everything fine". Thanks. +1 – Mugen Nov 1 '11 at 15:01

The internet connection is fine. The reason why the icon appears to be grey is a temporarily broken Windows visual theme. Try to restart explorer.exe.

"Broken" Windows Aero theme:
"Broken" Windows Aero theme

Normal Windows Aero theme
Normal Windows Aero theme

Compare with the Windows 7 basic theme and the classic theme:
Windows 7 basic theme Windows 7 classic theme

In my case this problem occured after I disconnected a remote desktop connection to the computer with this issue. While the remote desktop connection was active, as far as I can remember I worked on the remote PC with the Windows 7 basic theme.

  • This should be the accepted answer! – JoeWhite Jun 24 '15 at 15:23
  • @Tony You can link my post in the comments under the question so that OP gets a notification. – Ching Chong Jun 24 '15 at 16:47

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