The Notification Area is in the lower right corner of your Windows desktop. It gets its name from the fact that sometimes, when Windows has a suggestion or message for you, the text appears down in this area, as in the example shown in Figure 1.
The idea, of course is to read the message. Then decide what you want to do. If you understand the message and want to pursue what it's offering, just follow the instructions provided in the message. (This usually involves simply clicking anywhere within the text of the message). If you just want to get rid of the message, and not pursue what it's offering, click the Close ( ) button in the upper right corner of the message.
The Notification area also holds icons for processes that are running in the background. In a nutshell, these are programs that don't have a big program window on the screen, or a taskbar button. Rather, they just do their jobs "behind the scenes" without disturbing. For example, a program that scans all your incoming e-mail for viruses might show its icon in the Notification. It keeps an eye out for viruses, but does its work behind-the-scenes. It won't disturb you unless a situation comes up that requires your attention.
To keep the Notification Area from taking up too much space in your taskbar, Windows often hides some of its icons. When icons are hidden, you can click the < button at the left side of the Notification Area to bring the hidden ones out of hiding, as in Figure 2.
Like everything else in Windows, you can change Notification Area settings to your own tastes. To do so:
Right, click the Start button and choose Properties.
In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box that opens, click on the Taskbar tab.
Two options for customizing the Notification Area appear in the lower portion of the dialog box, as shown in Figure 3. Your options are:
Show the clock: If you clear this option's checkbox, the current time won't appear in the lower right corner of your screen.
Hide inactive icons: If you clear this option's checkbox, Windows will never hide Notification Area icons. Instead, all of its icons will always be visible.
You can also choose which icons are hidden and which aren't. Click the Customize button to see a list of all current notification icons, and notification icons that have appeared in the past. The Customize Notifications dialog box, shown in Figure 4, opens.
To choose how you want any notification icon to be displayed, click on the Behavior that's currently assigned to that icons, as in the example shown in Figure 4. Then, choose from the following options, which appear in the drop-down menu:
Hide when inactive: If selected, this option ensures that the icon remains hidden whenever it's not in use, or doesn't need your attention.
Always hide: Choosing this option prevents the icon from ever appearing in the visible portion of the Notification Area.
Always show: Choosing this option ensures that the icon is always in the visible portion of the Notification area (provided the process that the icon represents is running).
Restore Defaults: Clicking this button restores all icons to their original, default behaviors, as though you never customized them.
After making your selections, click the OK button in each open dialog box.
Tip: For a quick shortcut to the Customize Notifications dialog box, right-click the clock in the lower right corner of the screen and choose Customize Notifications.