Lost your volume icon? Here’s how to get it back

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Every once in a while I get a phone call from a frustrated computer user.  Their complaint?  The volume icon has disappeared!  Which means they can’t use the on-screen icon that normally allows them to raise or lower their speaker volume.  Where does it go?  And more importantly, how do you get it back?

volume icon


As far as how it disappears, I can’t really tell you for sure.  Somehow the box gets unchecked.  It’s hard to imagine someone accidentally navigating to the place where that checkbox is and inadvertently unchecking it, then clicking OK – all without really being aware of what is going on.  More likely, some piece of software does it – whether by accident or design, who knows – and all of a sudden you can’t find the icon.

Of course,  there are often other ways to control volume:

  • You might have a volume knob on your keyboard
  • You could adjust the volume on the external speakers themselves
  • Some websites, such as YouTube, have an on-screen volume control right under the video
  • Windows Media Player (and others such as VLC media player) have slide controls on-screen

But still, there’s nothing like the reassurance of having the little speaker icon in the System Tray, right where you always know you can find it.  Unless it’s not there.

Note: the steps listed for each of the Windows versions below are based on the assumption that the volume icon is missing because of a setting (a configuration issue), which is most often the case.  If you actually have some Windows files that have gotten corrupted or been deleted, the process would be more involved and you might not want to tackle this project yourself.

Here are some ways to get back your volume icon:

Windows 7 or Windows 8:
For these two newest versions of Windows, the process is the same:

  1. Right-click on the Taskbar (the bar at the bottom of the screen) and choose Properties.
  2. Under the “Taskbar” tab, look for the button that says “Customize” and click it (this is to customize the notification area).
  3. In the new window, look for “Volume” under the list of icons.  Out to the right, click the drop-down menu and choose “Show icon and notifications”.
  4. Click OK to close that window, then OK again to close the Properties window.

Windows Vista:
For Vista, the process is similar to 7 and 8.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Right-click on the Taskbar and choose Properties.
  2. Click to view the Notification Area tab
  3. Under System icons, check the box that is labeled “Volume”
  4. Click OK to close any open windows

Windows XP:
Let’s face facts.  If you’re still running Windows XP, you have bigger problems than a missing Volume icon.  Still, you’re here for a possible solution so here is something you can try:

  1. Click Start – Run
  2. In the text field, type: mmsys.cpl
  3. Check the box that says “Place the volume icon in the taskbar”
  4. Click OK

If these steps don’t work, the fix is going to be a little more complicated and may involve editing the Registry.  The average computer user does not want to edit the Registry, since a mistake can really screw up the computer.  Take it to a trusted repair shop, or hire me to do it for you remotely.

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