The primary function of the taskbar is to allow you to access commonly used icons quickly. One of the most clicked icons is the Network icon. Without this icon being on your taskbar, you’d have to go to the Network settings in Control Panel to search for and connect to wired or wireless connections.
Therefore, if the taskbar icon is missing from the taskbar, you have to get it back for good. Fortunately, this could be a minor setting or arrangement problem. However, the taskbar missing could also stem from deeper network and driver issues. Please read this post to the end as we explore ways to get your Wi-Fi or network icon back to the taskbar.
Wi-Fi or Network icon missing from the taskbar
If you can’t find the network icon on your taskbar, don’t fret because it’s usually a straightforward fix. Here’s what to do:
- Check if the icon is hidden.
- Enable the Wi-Fi icon on the taskbar.
- Enable the Wi-Fi icon in the Group Policy Editor.
- Reinstall the wireless adapter drivers.
- Restart Windows Explorer.
- Restart Network services.
For a breakdown of the above fixes, read on.
1] Check if the icon is hidden
The taskbar shows a specific number of icons at a time and hides the rest to keep things neat. It could be that there is no problem with your system, but the Wi-Fi icon is only hidden too. Before exploring any complex troubleshooting steps, confirm that the Wi-Fi icon isn’t hidden.
Click on the upward-facing arrow on the taskbar to reveal the hidden taskbar icons. You may just find the Wi-Fi icon here. If you do, you can access it from this hidden section. Alternatively, drag and drop the Wi-Fi icon onto the taskbar to show the icon.
2] Enable the Wi-Fi icon on the taskbar
Windows lets you handpick the icons that show up on the taskbar. If you don’t find the Wi-Fi icon with the hidden taskbar icons, the icon may be off, or your computer might’ve been set not to display it on the taskbar.
In Windows 10, press Windows key + I to open the Windows Settings. Click on Personalization and select Taskbar from the left-hand pane.
First, make sure the Wi-Fi icon is turned on. Click on the Turn system icons on or off link in the Notification area.
Confirm that the switch beside Network is toggled on. If it’s off, click on it to turn it on.
After toggling on the Network icon, check if it now shows in the taskbar. If it’s still missing, return to the previous screen and click on the Show which icons appear on the taskbar link under the Notification area.
Here, toggle on the switch next to Network to always show the network or Wi-Fi icon on the taskbar.
In Windows 11, it is not possible to hide the Network & Speaker icons in the corner overflow area.
3] Enable the Wi-Fi icon in the Group Policy Editor
The network icon could also be disabled from the Group Policy Editor. Here’s how to re-enable it. Start by opening the Run dialog box with Windows key + R. Input gpedit.msc in Run and press ENTER.
In the Group Policy Editor, go to User Configuration in the left-hand panel. Navigate to Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
In the right-hand area, locate the Remove the networking icon option and double-click on this item.
Select the Disabled option on the new window and hit the OK button to save and close the window.
4] Reinstall the wireless adapter drivers
Drivers make it possible for connected devices to function on your Windows computer. This also goes for the wireless adapter. When the wireless adapter drivers are buggy, outdated, or missing, it can cause your Wi-Fi icon to go AWOL.
Open the Run dialog box by pressing the Windows key + I. In Run, type devmgmt.msc and hit ENTER.
Find the wireless adapter under the Network adapters category and right-click on it. Select the Uninstall device option.
Follow the on-screen steps to complete the uninstallation process. On completion of this, restart your computer. Your machine will automatically re-install the driver fixing every bug in the process.
However, in some cases, you may not find the wireless adapter driver in the Device Manager. This means that the driver is missing from your system. Hence, you can’t uninstall it in the first place.
In this case, you must install the Wi-Fi drivers first. The short video below shows you how to install Wi-Fi drivers for Windows 10.
5] Restart Windows Explorer
To restart Explorer, press the CTRL + SHIFT + ESC key combination to open the Task Manager. Switch to the Processes tab and look for Windows Explorer.
Right-click on Windows Explorer and choose the End task option from the context menu. If there are multiple instances of the Windows Explorer process, end all of them.
Next, click on the File menu and go to the Run New Task option. Enter explorer.exe in the box provided, mark the Create this task with administrative privileges checkbox, and click on the OK button.
6] Restart Network services
Launch the Run dialog box with Windows key + R. Type in services.msc and click on the OK button. In the Services window, locate the following services:
- Remote Procedure Call.
- Remote Access Connection Manager.
- Plug and Play.
- Network Connections.
Right-click on each of these services and hit the Stop/Start options from the context menu.
Let us know if anything here helped you.