Fix: Safely Remove Hardware Icon Disappeared in Windows 10

By: Ivan Jenic
6 minute read

It is safer to click on “Safely remove hardware,” when you want to remove your USB flash drive from a computer, than just pulling it out. But, what if this button disappears from the notification area? Don’t worry, we have a solution for that.

How to Open Safely Remove Hardware Window in Windows 10

Missing Safely Remove Hardware icon can be a problem, but users reported the following issues as well:

  • Safely Remove Hardware icon not working, missing, not showing, not responding, not active – Many users reported that Safely Remove Hardware icon isn’t working on their PC. According to users, the icon isn’t responding, and in some cases the icon isn’t showing at all.
  • Safely Remove Hardware icon won’t go away, always present, stays on, stuck, always showing – Several users reported that they can’t remove Safely Remove Hardware icon. According to them, the icon is always showing and it seems that it’s stuck.
  • Safely Remove Hardware icon flashing – Several users reported that their Safely Remove Hardware icon is flashing. This can be caused by corrupted drivers, so be sure to reinstall them.
  • Safely Remove Hardware icon does not show devices – This is an unusual problem, and several users reported that they can’t see their devices using Safely Remove Hardware feature.
  • Safely Remove Hardware error message – Sometimes various errors can appear while using Safely Remove Hardware feature. These errors are usually caused by your settings or by driver issues.

Solution 1 – Create Safely Remove Hardware shortcut

As staff from Microsoft forums pointed out, “Safely Remove Hardware” icon can sometimes disappear from the notification area in the taskbar, especially in Windows 10. So, even if the device is found, and it functions well, this button just doesn’t show. Luckily, there’s a simple solution for this problem, and all you have to do to solve it is to follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows key and R at the same time. This will open Run window.
  2. Enter the following command into Run, and press Enter or click OK:
    • RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll
      Safely Remove Hardware icon does not show devices
  3. This will open Safely Remove Hardware dialog, from this dialog, you can select the device you want to remove, and remove it, by clicking on Stop.
    Safely Remove Hardware error message

We hope that this problem won’t happen more than once, but if it does happen again, you can create a Desktop shortcut to Safely Remove Hardware dialog, so you don’t have to launch it from Run every time. To create this shortcut, just follow the instructions:

  1. Right-click on Desktop, and go to New>Shortcut.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon not responding
  2. Enter the following location of the shortcut:
    • RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll
      Safely Remove Hardware icon stuck
  3. Click Next, and rename it to Safely Remove Hardware.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon flashing
  4. Click Finish.

Solution 2 – Change your notification settings

Several users reported that Safely Remove Hardware icon is missing on their PC. This icon isn’t missing and it’s most likely hidden in your Taskbar. To reveal this icon, you just need to click the arrow in the bottom right corner to show more sysbar icons. If the icon is available, you can permanently pin it to your Taskbar by doing the following:

  1. Connect a USB flash drive or any other removable storage to your PC.
  2. Click the arrow in the bottom right corner to expand the sysbar section.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon does not show devices
  3. Now locate Safely Remove Hardware icon and drag it to your Taskbar.
    Safely Remove Hardware error message

After doing that, the icon should be pinned to your Taskbar and visible whenever you insert a removable media.

You can also change this setting using the Settings app:

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. When Settings app opens, go to Personalization section.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon missing
  3. From the menu on the left select Taskbar. Now in the Notification area click on Select which icons appear on the taskbar.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon always present
  4. Locate Safely Remove Hardware and make sure that it’s enabled.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon flashing

After doing that, the icon should appear in your Taskbar and the problem will be resolved.


Solution 3 – Reinstall your devices

According to users, you might be able to fix this problem simply by reinstalling your devices. If Safely Remove Hardware icon is missing, the problem might be your drivers.

To fix the issue, you just need to remove the problematic drivers and let Windows reinstall them. This is rather simple and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Win + X menu and choose Device Manager from the list. You can also open this menu by right clicking the Start Button.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon won't go away
  2. When Device Manager opens, go to View and check Show hidden devices.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon flashing
  3. Navigate to Universal Serial Bus controller section, and delete USB controllers. To do that, simply right click a device and choose Uninstall device from the menu.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon does not show devices
  4. Confirmation dialog will now appear. Click on Uninstall button to remove the device.
    Safely Remove Hardware error messageNote: Keep in mind that you might have to uninstall all devices in this section before you can fix the problem.

After removing the problematic driver, you just have to connect your USB device to the PC and Windows 10 should automatically recognize it. Once your device is recognized, Safely Remove Hardware icon should appear again.


Solution 4 – Restart Windows Explorer

This is just a workaround, but several users reported that it worked for them. If your Safely Remove Hardware icon is missing, you can restore it simply by restarting Windows Explorer process. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Now locate Windows Explorer on the list and right click it. Select Restart from the menu.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon not working

After doing that, Windows Explorer will restart and your Safely Remove Hardware icon should reappear. Keep in mind that this is just a workaround, so you’ll have to repeat this solution whenever the issue occurs.


Solution 5 – Change your device policy

If Safely Remove Hardware icon is missing on your PC, you might be able to fix the problem simply by changing your device policy. To do that, connect your USB flash drive to the PC and follow these steps:

  1. Go to Device Manager.
  2. Expand Disk drives section and double click your removable storage.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon does not show devices
  3. When Properties window opens, go to Policies tab. Select Better performance and click on OK to save changes.
    Safely Remove Hardware error message
  4. Optional: Some users are recommending to repeat these steps and select Quick Removal option again. This isn’t mandatory, but sometimes switching between these two options fixes the issue.

After enabling this option, Safely Remove Hardware icon should appear again on your Taskbar.


Solution 6 – Check if Plug and Play service is running

Windows uses all sorts of services in order to run properly, and if Safely Remove Hardware icon is missing, the problem might be related to your services. To check if the necessary services are running, do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc. Press Enter or click OK.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon not showing
  2. When Services window opens, locate Plug and Play and double click it.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon stays on
  3. Properties window will now appear. Check the Service status. If the service isn’t running click on Start button to start it. Now click Apply and OK to save changes.
    Safely Remove Hardware icon flashing
    Note: Some users are suggesting to change the Startup type from Manual to Automatic, so you might want to try that as well.

It unlikely that your Plug and Play service is stopped, but sometimes these issues can occur, so be sure to check if the service is running properly on your PC.


Solution 7 – Use third-party tools

If Safely Remove Hardware icon is still missing, you might want to consider using a third-party solution as temporary workaround. Many users reported that they used USB Disk Ejector software to safely disconnect their USB devices.

This is a free and portable application that allows you to safely disconnect any USB storage device from your PC. If you can’t fix the problem with missing Safely Remove Hardware icon, be sure to try USB Disk Ejector.

That would be all, I hope that problem with Safely Remove Hardware icon disappearance won’t bother you more than once. Tell us in the comments, do you prefer to ‘use’ Safely Remove Hardware button when you’re removing your USB (or some other peripheral), or you just pull it out?


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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