I'm fine with having most of my tray icons hidden, however I want the Outlook Notification envelop to show at all times when I have new messages. Its important for me to know when I have unread emails, as I often miss seeing them come in and they are often important.

I'll change the settings to Show Icon and Notifications, however it randomly seems to reset itself every few days or weeks back to Only Show Notifications

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For example, it was working fine this morning, appearing when I had an unread message in my Inbox, and then it suddenly stopped working again. I only noticed it because I went to send an email and realized I had unread messages. I've only been here a few hours, so haven't signed off, locked my machine, rebooted it, or restarted Outlook.

Here's a picture of how my Task Bar usually looks. I don't like the Windows 7 big icons, and prefer two rows of items since I usually have multiple things open at once. I'm not sure if that setup has anything to do with why my Tray Icon behavior keeps getting reset or not.

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Why is my Tray Icon behavior getting reset, and how can I stop it from happening?


I noticed that I got both Windows Security Updates, and Microsoft Office updates on this day. I am beginning to believe that this is a bug in either Windows 7 or Office which resets the default tray behavior when an update occurs. That would explain the seemingly random times that the behavior gets reset.

It should also be noted that when the envelop disappears, it still shows up in my tray icons, however the icon is hidden and I need to click the drop-down arrow to see it. This makes me think it's the Windows Updates causing the problem. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the days this has happened on in the past to see if it relates to other Windows or Office updates to be sure.

  • Check out the event viewer, in windows logs applications, clear it, then next time it happens, check out what it says there, around the same time.
    – Psycogeek
    Jan 14, 2012 at 16:31
  • Have you tried setting the main Outlook tray icon (not the new mail notification) to always show in the tray? I'm wondering if perhaps whatever method Windows uses to track which icons are shown and which are hidden is failing for the new mail notification due to it not being a "real" icon - it is just an additional icon under the parent Outlook icon.
    – iridris
    Jan 20, 2012 at 21:50
  • The problem is solved by re-installing Windows 7.
    – Alex G
    Oct 2, 2012 at 11:07
  • 1
    Do you use CCleaner by any chance?
    – cutrightjm
    Feb 22, 2014 at 15:33
  • 1
    There's an option under Advanced, "Tray Notifications Cache", that will reset the habits of some of the icons in your notification area after a reboot.
    – cutrightjm
    Feb 22, 2014 at 22:41

3 Answers 3


You might be interested in this Microsoft support article, "FIX: The Taskbar is reset to the default settings when you use the "Automatically Log On" feature in Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008 R2" (KB979155).

It seems that the notification area settings in the registry are overwritten due to a race condition between explorer.exe and taskhost.exe.

  • Interesting, however I don't think that is my problem. My TaskBar customizations have never been reset, and the problem occurs while I'm sitting and working at my computer, not after I login.
    – Rachel
    Jan 12, 2012 at 17:35
  • This seems interesting: news.cnet.com/8301-13880_3-9956695-68.html.
    – ctype.h
    Jan 12, 2012 at 17:58
  • That article is about Tray Icons which don't appear at all, which isn't the problem I'm having.
    – Rachel
    Jan 12, 2012 at 19:51
  • It seemed like that might be the issue, but I guess not. I wonder where the settings for individual icons are stored in the registry so that we can just run a *.reg to fix the settings.
    – ctype.h
    Jan 12, 2012 at 20:13
  • The icon appears fine if I click the arrow by the clock and expand the list of all tray icons, however I want Windows to show that icon all the time. That can be accomplished by changing it's behavior to Show Icon and Notifications, but after a few days or weeks it will revert to its old behavior and I have to change the drop down again. It's very annoying and has caused me to miss at least one important email because I didn't think I had any new messages and didn't check my Outlook for a few hours.
    – Rachel
    Jan 12, 2012 at 20:30

In Outlook 2007 and 2010, the envelope will show for messages that are delivered to the default Inbox for each account. When a message is caught by the Junk E-mail filter or moved by a rule, the envelope icon is not shown. The icon is also not shown for additional mailboxes which have been configured from a single Exchange account.

Ensure also that in Outlook 2010 that you have chosen File-> Options-> section Mail-> option group: Message arrival-> option: Show an envelope icon in the taskbar.


If your case is not one of the above, then read this from New mail envelope and Windows 7 :

If you are using Outlook 2010, then the new mail envelope is not being displayed in the Notification Area (also knows as the Systray) but on the Outlook Taskbar icon instead.

When you are using Outlook 2010 on Windows 7, then the new mail envelope will no longer be displayed in the Notification Area. Instead, the icon of Outlook on the Taskbar will actually change to inform you about a new message. Unfortunately, when you’ve set your Taskbar in Windows 7 to use small icons, you will not get an envelope notification at all. In that case you could consider reconfiguring the New Mail Desktop Alert to be displayed as a permanent notification.

It may seem that your taskbar preferences conflict with the way Microsoft wants you to use Outlook, so you may have to adapt to it, or use another mail client.

  • That doesn't seem to be my issue since the New Mail Alert shows just fine after I customize my tray behavior for that item. My problem is the behavior seems to reset at random, without telling me, so I end up missing important emails because I don't notice them come in and don't think I have any.
    – Rachel
    Jan 16, 2012 at 15:17
  • Have you considered the possibility that it is Outlook itself that is resetting your preferences to what it considers are the right values?
    – harrymc
    Jan 16, 2012 at 15:19
  • Since the setting that is getting reset is a Windows setting, and not an Outlook setting, I am beginning to think it is a bug in the Windows OS which resets the default display behavior of system tray icons when something updates. I'm not sure if it would be Windows Updates, Outlook Updates, or even the Frequently Used Programs list, however that would explain the seemingly random times it gets reset.
    – Rachel
    Jan 16, 2012 at 15:23
  • 1
    I believe more in Outlook as the culprit. However, you could maybe trace this happening. The registry key being changed is maybe somewhere inside HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer, and Process Monitor can trace it by specifying a filter with "Event Class" of "Registry" and "Path" as the above registry key. Maybe also "Category" as "Write". Test this while changing it yourself to "Show Icon and Notifications".
    – harrymc
    Jan 16, 2012 at 15:41
  • Hrrm cool tool. The registry path you provided doesn't seem to get updated at all, however there are a whole bunch of other registry keys that get updated. They're mostly in HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\ and HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\UserAssist\ . If it doesn't kill my machine, perhaps I'll try and leave this running next time an update occurs and see if it touches any of those keys.
    – Rachel
    Jan 16, 2012 at 16:01

I faced the same problem and apparently there's no trick to show the Outlook tray icon while the rest of icons remain hidden but I heard that those applications that we frequently use are always shown on the bar, so maybe since you use Outlook so often you might give it a couple of days for the system to "get use to it" and start to show the tray icon most of the time.

"I don't like the Windows 7 big icons, and prefer two rows of items since I usually have multiple things open at once" I totally agree with this.

  • I don't think that will work because there are other programs I use frequently (such as EditPad, which is on my Quick Launch) and I've never seen it show up automatically in my Tray Icons. In fact, no icons ever show there except my outlook envelope (when it feels like it), which is how I prefer it
    – Rachel
    Jan 12, 2012 at 16:55

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