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The volume indicator allows you to control the sound output by your computer. It can disappear, and the option to enable it has moved around a little.

My sound icon has disappeared. How can I find where to make it show back up on my tray at the bottom of my computer screen?

Not to be confused with an on-screen volume indicator, what we're discussing here is a small icon that sits in the system tray, typically on the right hand side of the screen from which you can adjust the sound output volume.

The good news is that it's typically a simple system setting to display it or not.

First let's identify the little guy:

The sound icon in Windows XP
The sound icon in Windows XP

The sound icon in Windows Vista
The sound icon in Windows Vista

The sound icon in Windows 7
The sound icon in Windows 7

As you can see, it's a small speaker icon. Click on it and you typically get the global volume control, right-click on it and you'll get additional options.

If it's there, that is.

And as it turns out, the option to display it has taken a little trip, moving to three different places in three different versions of Windows: XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Windows XP

In Control Panel, open the Sounds and Audio Devices applet and click on the Volume tab.

Sound volume indicator option in Windows XP

Check, or uncheck, the Place volume icon in the taskbar option as you like.

Windows Vista

Right click on the task bar, and click on Properties, then click on the Notification Area tab:

Sound volume indicator option in Windows Vista

Windows 7

Right click on the clock and click on Properties:

Sound volume indicator option in Windows Vista

Regardless of where it ran off to, the option's there in all three versions of Windows, so you can elect to show the sound icon, or not, as you wish.

Article C3894 - October 17, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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32 Comments
Eli Coten
October 17, 2009 12:59 PM

All this assumes the sound is working correctly. Sometimes the icon's not there because the drivers are not installed or the wrong drivers are installed, though these days most sound cards seem to be supported "out of the box" this is rarely a problem.

Laura Sawyer
October 19, 2009 12:04 PM

When I go to properties in the notification tab, as shown on your example for Vista, I can see the Volume (and Power) squares to click, but clicking on them to activate them does nothing at all. No check appears in the box. I checked out the "customize" in the top part, which was interesting in itself, but it did not include the Volume.

That thing must have disappeared in the last couple of days with a automatic Windows update or something.

I run anti-virus (McAfee) and several spyware programs, so I don't think it's that.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks for any help.
Laura

Lee Hatch
October 20, 2009 5:35 AM

In XP home my volume icon keeps disappearing. To retrieve it I must uncheck "display icon", check it again, click on "apply" and "ok", log off, log back on...and it is on the task bar...until I shut down the computer. I have to do this every time!! There must be a better solution.

Marty Wolfson
October 20, 2009 6:21 AM

Lee: maybe it's a setting? If you use the classic start menu, right click on start, select properties, click taskbar, select customize and check the setting for the icon. Could be it's on "always hide".

Karl
October 20, 2009 8:51 AM

I have the same problem as Laura and the icon has disappeared after updates (one for the modem and at a a different time an update for W-Defender) and as with Laura I am unable to check (or uncheck) the show volume icon as it is greyed out as well as well as the network and power boxes. A system restore is the only way to get the icon back. A bit extreme don't you think?
P.S. Haven't wasted my time searching Microsoft since my time would be better used rearranging my sock drawer.

Lee Hatch
October 20, 2009 9:48 AM

Marty: Strangely enough all my icons, EXEPT VOLUME, are marked "hide when inactive" but I have indicated "always show" for the volume icon. Strange eh?

PooterMan
October 20, 2009 12:38 PM

I prefer to have the 3 icons for clock, power, network, and volume always on display in my system tray, and my settings are permanently set for this. Hide Inactive Icons is unchecked. However, on my Vista Home Premium based laptop, I have noticed that whenever I do anything that requires me to reboot, the network and volume icons always disappear. Retrieving them is impossible as the settings then show the checkboxes greyed out even though the options are both still checked. The only way to get the icons back is to shut down the machine completely, then power it up again. Even then, this does not always get both of the icons back every time. Very annoying. Id' love to know if there is a solution.

Carl
October 20, 2009 3:09 PM

The same thing happened to my Volume Icon in the Task bar. The way I got it back is I went to the Control Panel > Sounds and Auto Devices, The "Place volume control Icon" was checked, I unchecked it then cleared the page and Control Panel, Then went back and checked "Place volume control Icon in Task Bar" It is back in the task bar now.

Carl
October 20, 2009 3:15 PM

The problem with the Volume Control Icon I mentioned above occured after the Windows (MSN) October Updates were installed.

Louise Ivey
October 20, 2009 3:58 PM

When I click on Volume control I get an error message saying "Windows cannot display Volume Control. Volume Control has not been installed. Use add or remove programs"
This happened about a month ago. I understand that the SndVol32.exe is missing, but what can I do to get it back?

steve
October 21, 2009 9:45 AM

Help! My volume icon has also disappeared from task-bar...tried everything here. Cant customize, cant check greyed- out volume box. Have Vista

Karl
October 21, 2009 11:47 AM

Steve -- I hate to say it but did you try a system restore since that is the only thing that would work for me?

Allison
November 9, 2009 10:19 AM

I have this same problem. I found a temporary easy solution.
Open your task manager (ctrl+alt+delete)
Under the processes tab, click on explorer.exe then end process
Go to File>New Task and type systray.exe
Go to File again>New Task and type explorer.exe
Your notification icons should be back.

Katie
November 17, 2009 3:30 PM

Windows Vista

Right click on the task bar, and click on Properties, then click on the Notification Area tab

To the directions that was given to us, what if our volume box is greyed and cant be clicked on? then what do I do?

Robert DiGrazia
November 18, 2009 7:22 PM

Re: I understand that the SndVol32.exe is missing, but what can I do to get it back?

In XP, SndVol32.exe ought to be in WINDOWS\system32\. If it isn't, copy it from WINDOWS\system32\dllcache\.

I, too, once found SndVol32.exe had evaporated, and copying from dllcache made everything happy. (This once happened to the fax software, too. I copied a bunch of files named fx??? from dllcache to get fax working.)

lissette calderon
November 28, 2009 12:48 PM

i accidently deleted my volume how do i get it back!i cant get any volume and the volume buttom that shows in the right lower corner is gone

mark
November 30, 2009 6:49 AM

I have windows xp and the icon has disapeard i have been to control panel but were there is says audio devise it says no audio devise i own a laptop wiv built in speakers???????? :s

Yvette
December 7, 2009 3:40 PM

I see a couple other people having the same issue I'm having. Computer seems to be wigging out, beginning with automatic updates that refuse to install. Then I lost my wireless capability--only devices showing as malfunctioning are two adaptors that can no longer load their drivers, though it says both are working properly and already have the most current drivers installed.

Now my volume control in the system tray is gone. I've also tried steps outlined here, but these don't work if your option to install this control to the tray is grayed out--it will not allow me to select it. I can go in through control panel to keep changing the volume or turning it on and off, but that's more trouble than I want to go through each time. I'm sure if I can change volume through control panel, then the icon should not have disappeared because the device is malfunctioning--it's working fine. How do I get it back in the system tray when that option is grayed out?

I have Vista on a Gateway laptop.

michael
January 22, 2010 10:17 PM

Right click on the task bar, and click on Properties, then click on the Notification Area tab

To the directions that was given to us, what if our volume box and the power box are greyed and cant be clicked on? then what do I do?

Linda
June 1, 2010 6:04 AM

I recently deleted alot of software and now it seems I have no volume on my HP netbook. When I go into the control panel and click on sound and devices it says "no audio device" and everything is greyed out. HELP!!!! I'm sure I deleted this.

Tina
June 7, 2010 3:56 AM

This solution published by another person worked for me (not sure how temporary it is because I just did it tonight):

Open your task manager (ctrl+alt+delete)
Under the processes tab, click on explorer.exe then end process
Go to File>New Task and type systray.exe
Go to File again>New Task and type explorer.exe
Your notification icons should be back.

Posting this for the "grayed out" people because the question seems to keep coming up with no updated "official" answer yet.

ANGELY
July 8, 2010 8:21 AM


hi, i don't have the sound icon for windows xp,, and i did all the steps above and still nothing has appeared...

JOHN BACHE
November 10, 2010 3:10 AM

Hi I'm having same problem on XP professional,sound icon disappears from notification area every time I restart my computer.
The volume icon tick box in control panel/sounds is ticked but still no icon.

If I use task manager: click on "explorer.exe"-"end process"-"new task"-type -"systray.exe"-"new task"-"explore.exe" hey presto volume icon appears.
However when I reboot next morning the icon has gone again.Can you help?

David Johnson
February 15, 2011 3:50 PM

Hi i tried the opening the task manager and clicking on explorer.exe etc but my box is still greyed out and my volume icon is still missing

Sally H.
March 14, 2011 9:32 PM

My Volume is grey and cannot be checked ... what now?

kyon
November 4, 2011 7:04 AM

haha simple, very simple, i was having problems with a new audio device from 4rx but i already fix it, thanks.

Craig Fearing
November 15, 2011 8:54 AM

For those using Vista on laptops who have the "Greyed out" problem with clock, volume, network, or power icons, I have learned by trying tips searched on the web that I can always succeed by powering off, removing the battery and ac power sources, restoring them, and restarting. This apparently restores the BIOS settings or something and restores the icons to their normal condition. I haven't discovered what makes them go away randomly, but that method seems to restore them.

Mick Guidera
November 15, 2011 2:31 PM

No matter what i try, i still cannot get the volume indicator back and worse still there is no sound at all, any ideas.
Regards Mick

Bob
February 28, 2012 9:28 AM

Pace Volume Icon in the taskbar box has been checked on; however, the icon doesn't appear.
Any thoughts ?

Joan M.
March 27, 2012 9:27 AM

Thank you so very much for your easy to understand solution to my suddenly disappearing sound icon!!!

Don K.
October 14, 2012 5:24 PM

I went to the Control Panel and completed the task (however the task was already checked). The icon did not appear in the system tray. My version of Windows is XP. Do I need to re-start to have the task completed?

Deb
December 11, 2012 9:23 AM

found all the info to restore volume icon, but cannot click on it to turn it back on...

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