In computing, a notification area (also system tray or status area) is the portion of the user interface that displays icons for system and program features that have no presence on the desktop as well as the time and the volume icon. It contains mainly icons that show status information, though some programs, such as Winamp, use it for minimized windows. By default, this is located in the bottom-right of the primary monitor (or bottom-left on languages of Windows that use right-to-left reading order), or at the bottom of the taskbar if docked vertically. The clock appears here, and applications can put icons in the notification area to indicate the status of an operation or to notify the user about an event. For example, an application might put a printer icon in the status area to show that a print job is under way, or a display driver application may provide quick access to various screen resolutions. The notification area is commonly referred to as the system tray, which Microsoft states is wrong, although the term is sometimes used in Microsoft documentation, articles, software descriptions, and even applications from Microsoft such as Bing Desktop. Raymond Chen suggests the confusion originated with systray.exe, a small application that controlled some icons within the notification area in Windows 95. The notification area is also referred to as the status area by Microsoft.
In older versions of Windows the notification area icons were limited to 16 colors. Windows Me added support for high color notification area icons.
Starting with Windows XP, the user can choose to always show or hide some icons, or hide them if inactive for some time. A button allows the user to reveal all the icons.
Starting with Windows Vista, the taskbar notification area is split into two areas; one reserved for system icons including clock, volume, network and power. The other is for applications.