FIX: Windows plays no sound for tray balloon tips (notifications)

Windows has played sounds for various events for a long time now. Windows 8 also introduced some new sound events such as Metro toast notifications. But in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Vista, no sound is played for desktop notifications it shows in the system tray area. In Windows XP, it played a popup sound for balloon tips in the notification area so that even if you were away from the PC or the display was turned off, you would come to know that the system was notifying you about something via balloon tips. In modern versions of Windows, balloon tips are displayed silently. Well, luckily this can be fixed quite easily.

Balloon Windows plays system sounds defined in the registry using the PlaySound function. In the Windows Sounds Control Panel, there is actually an entry for the sound event called "System Notification". But even if you assign a sound to this event, it will not play. Clearly, Microsoft didn't intentionally want to disable the sound for tray notifications. It turns out there is a bug that causes the sound to not play.

When you use the Sounds Control Panel to assign a sound to System Notification event, it incorrectly adds the sound to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\AppEvents\Schemes\Apps\.Default\SystemNotification registry key. That key is incorrect because any system sound event that plays via the PlaySound function with the PLAY_SOUND_SYSTEM flag will not play unless it has an entry under the HKCU\AppEvents\Schemes\Apps\Explorer registry key.

Fix for the notification area sound

The solution is to simply add the sound directly to the registry at the correct key.

  1. Open Notepad
  2. Copy and paste the following text into the Notepad window.
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\AppEvents\Schemes\Apps\Explorer\SystemNotification\.current]
    @="C:\\Windows\\Media\\Windows Balloon.wav"
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\AppEvents\Schemes\Apps\Explorer\SystemNotification\.default]
    @="C:\\Windows\\Media\\Windows Balloon.wav"
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\AppEvents\Schemes\Apps\Explorer\SystemNotification\.Modified]
    @="C:\\Windows\\Media\\Windows Balloon.wav"

    Balloon notification sound

  3. Save this file with the .REG extension. To do this, click File menu -> Save and type the file name in double quotes. For example, "Balloon notification sound.reg". Then click Save.
  4. Now double click this .REG file you just created to merge it into the Registry.
    System Notification

That's it. The effect is instant. Now try to show any balloon notification. For example, let us plug in a USB flash drive and then safely remove it. The sound will play any balloon tips from now on.
Balloon Notification

Note that the system notification sound you add to the registry can only be changed or remove by editing the registry key mentioned above. Changing the sound for the event called "System Notification" from the Sounds Control Panel will have no effect.

7 thoughts on “FIX: Windows plays no sound for tray balloon tips (notifications)

  1. ORelio

    Awesome trick. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko

      You are welcome

      Reply
  2. Anthony

    I don’t know where this is in the registry. Can you help me find it?

    Reply
  3. Andrea Borman

    Thanks I was looking for this as it’s very handy feature to have. They have it stil in Windows XP but the default sound is not very loud but you can always change it to a sound of your choice.
    @Anthony,
    No it’s not in the registry you have to ad the key to the registry by following the above steps in the post that Sergey told you.

    Reply
  4. Patrick

    Just wanted to say, thank you so much for this! I would never have been able to work this out and it was driving me crazy.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko

      You are welcome.

      Reply
  5. Maples

    Oh my god thanks ALOT!!!!

    Reply

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