Posted by: kurtsh | October 31, 2010

HOWTO: Automatically restore missing SysTray icons in Windows (a.k.a. “How to automate stopping/starting EXPLORER.EXE”)

You’ve seen this before:  You look at your System Tray to use a tool that’s normally there, but it’s gone.  You look at Task Manager and the process is still running for your tool but the icon’s just missing from the System Tray making it inaccessible.

Aggrevating, ain’t it?  In 15 years, we’ve never fixed this – I assume – because the workaround is so easy to do.  Simply stop & restart the EXPLORER.EXE process and all your icons reappear.  This requires going into Task Manager, killing the process, & using File-Run to restart EXPLORER.EXE.  Annoying.

imageSo if you’re running Windows Vista or Windows 7, here’s a quick way to automate all of that assuming you have administrative privileges:

  1. Start a new text file (i.e. run notepad.exe)
  2. Enter the following batch commands:

    taskkill /f /IM explorer.exe
    start explorer.exe

  3. Save the text file as RESTARTEXPLORER.BAT.  (Note the extension saved is .BAT and not .TXT)

The next time you want to refresh your Systray icons, simply double click the .BAT file and BOOM:  They’ll VERY QUICKLY reappear.  I drag & drop this .BAT file into the QuickLinks tray or the START menu.


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