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Issue #697: Nov 29 – Dec 5, 2020

Q: My questions relate to the pop-up square at the bottom right of the Windows screen that appears when you click on the little up arrow and shows icons for various apps running in the background. I am not sure if my issue is based there, but lately I have been getting a number of pop-up ads appearing down there, and I wanted to know if there is a way to block that. Also my RoboForm updater app now shows in triplicate, so I wonder how those can be deleted? Thanks for any ideas, and nice to see your Christmas decoration set up is in full swing.

– Fred M.
Niceville, Florida

A: Thanks for the plug on my “Christmas decoration set-up,” Fred.  By the time you’re likely to read this, the Geek Lights on the Corner will have premiered its 13th season, and be well on the way to helping people celebrate that great birthday party we celebrate at this time of the year.

The name for the are on the system toolbar from whence those pop-up squares originate is called the notification area.  I also hear it referred to as the “system tray” on occasion, but according to an article I read a few years back, that’s incorrect.  For anybody not completely clear on what area of your screen we’re talking about, it’s the area on the right side of the bottom of the screen, where the clock normally lives.  Besides pop-up messages, it’s also designed so that applications can place small icons there.  These are usually from programs that run on their own in the background, such as virus scanners and other programs that you want to keep ready at all times.  You can quickly crowd your display if you allow everything that’s capable of doing so to place an icon there.  So, use good judgement in which ones you allow.

As for your problem with ads appearing, I wish you’d have sent me some examples.  They could be coming from many different places, including from Windows itself.  Also, I hope you’re making a logical distinction between advertisements, and legitimate messages providing status of various programs. 

Let’s start by eliminating the most common sources of pop-ups: browsers.  In Edge, click the ellipsis (three dots) on the right side near the top of the Window, then click “Settings.”  In the “Search settings” box, type “Site Permissions”. Scroll down, and you’ll find two lines where you can adjust settings: “Pop-ups and redirects” and “Ads”.  Visit both, and set them to “Blocked”.  For Chrome, click its 3-dots icon in the upper-right, then click “Settings”.  Under “Privacy and Security click “Site Settings”.  Under “Permissions” click “Notifications”.  Turn off notifications from any site from which you wish to block pop-ups.  If this doesn’t eliminate, or at least significantly reduce the number of pop-ups, they are probably adware.  Software tools like AdBlock can handle most of them.

 I don’t use RoboForm, so that makes it a little tougher for me to answer that part of your question.  However, based on what you said, it sounds like there are multiple icons for it showing up in your Notification Area. .I’ve often noticed that Windows does not do a very good job of housekeeping the icons as programs come and go, and it often continues to show the icons for a program after it has exited (thanks, Bill!).  As if that’s not bad enough, when you move your mouse over them, they disappear with no message, or indication what happened.  If that’s not your issue, the only thing I can think of that could be creating multiple icons is multiple versions of the software running simultaneously.  Check to make sure you don’t have more than one version installed, and that your system is only running one instance of it when your computer starts up.

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