How to Fix: USB 'Safely remove hardware' icon missing

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Infopackets Reader Beth R. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I am using Windows 7 and the USB 'Safely remove hardware' icon in my tray bar seems to have disappeared. I understand that USB drives need to be 'safely removed' or they can corrupt, which I would like to avoid. What can I do to fix the USB 'Safely remove hardware' so it comes back? "

My response:

There are a few things you can try in order to fix the USB "Safely remove hardware" icon - I'll explain a few approaches below.

The fix below will work on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10.

How to Fix: USB 'Safely remove hardware' icon missing

  1. The first thing you will want to do is make sure that the USB "Safely remove hardware" hasn't been hidden from your task bar. To do so: right click the task bar at the bottom of the screen and select "Properties". In Windows 10 Creators Update, the option will be labeled as "Taskbar Settings" instead of "Properties".

    A new window will appear; under the heading "Notification area", click the "Customize" button (in Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8) or the option that says "Select which icons appear in the taskbar" in Windows 10. Next, scroll through the list until you see: "Windows Explorer / Safely Eject Hardware and Remove Media" and select "Show icon and notifications" for Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8; for Windows 10, select the slider to "on". At this point you can insert a USB thumb drive and see if the USB "Safely remove hardware" icon appears in the tray bar. If it does not, proceed to the next step.
  2. If the icon isn't appearing the task bar, another way around this issue is to create a link on the desktop which will initiate the USB "Safely remove hardware" window. I was able to find a PowerShell script that does exactly this - all you need to do is cut and paste it into PowerShell to make a shortcut on your desktop. Note that this method will not work for Windows XP users. To get started, click Start, then type in "powershell" (no quotes); wait for "PowerShell" to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Run as Administrator". Highlight the text below using your mouse:

    $AppLocation = "C:\Windows\System32\rundll32.exe"
    $WshShell = New-Object -ComObject WScript.Shell
    $Shortcut = $WshShell.CreateShortcut("$Home\Desktop\USB Hardware.lnk")
    $Shortcut.TargetPath = $AppLocation
    $Shortcut.Arguments ="shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll"
    $Shortcut.IconLocation = "hotplug.dll,0"
    $Shortcut.Description ="Device Removal"
    $Shortcut.WorkingDirectory ="C:\Windows\System32"
    echo "this is a dummy line"

    Right click the above text and select "Copy" from the dialogue menu. Next, go to the PowerShell command prompt and right click in the middle of the window. The text you copied above should be output to the command line. Minimize all windows and then look on your desktop. You should see a new icon with the title "USB Hardware". Double click it and it will bring up the USB "Safely remove hardware" window. If for some reason you don't see the USB "Safely remove hardware" window, proceed to Step #3 below.
  3. Sometimes Windows can go corrupt which can cause certain parts of Windows - including the USB "Safely remove hardware" feature - from appearing. In this case you can always try a third party utility to help you safely remove USB hardware from your computer, such as "Hotswap". There are other utilities available that do the same thing, but this one seemed to me to provide very similar functionality to the original USB "Safely remove hardware" window.

I hope that helps! If you still can't get it working, you are welcome to contact me for additional support described next.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

The three methods I described above should definitely reinstate the USB "Safely remove hardware" - however, if for some reason that still doesn't fix the problem, you are welcome to contact me for additional 1-on-1 support using my remote desktop service. Simply send me an email briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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