Windows

Work around these Windows Live Messenger 2011 annoyances

Greg Shultz fixes some minor annoyances with Windows Live Messenger 2011 and its icon and default view.

If you are a Windows Live Messenger user, you know that Microsoft recently released the 2011 version of Messenger and that the product has been expanded beyond the Windows Live network to become a social networking portal. Well, almost. Windows Live Messenger 2011 will allow you to connect to your Facebook and MySpace accounts as well as to LinkedIn, but it won't allow you to tap into Twitter.

In addition to these main social networking connections, there are connections to all kinds of sites that allow you to share content with your contacts. For example, there are connections to Pandora, Hulu, Newsvine, StumbleUpon, Flicker, and many, many more. Surprisingly, considering the rivalry, you can even tap into Google's Picasa.

All these great new features aside, there are a couple of things that really annoy me about Windows Messenger in Windows 7. The first is that the Windows Live Messenger icon no longer appears in the Notification Area -- instead it resides on the Taskbar, where it takes up valuable space even when you are not using it. The second is that by default Windows Live Messenger opens in an almost full-screen view.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to move the Windows Live Messenger icon and compact the default view.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Moving the icon to the Notification Area

As I mentioned, having the Windows Live Messenger icon on the taskbar, as shown in Figure A, takes up valuable space and is more than a bit annoying to those of us who have been using this app from the Notification Area for years. And, the fix, which is officially supported by Microsoft, is really an odd one, but it works. To put the icon back in the Notification Area, you must configure Windows Live Messenger to run in Compatibility Mode.

Figure A

In Windows 7, Windows Live Messenger's icon stays on the Taskbar, not in the Notification Area.
To begin, close Windows Live Messenger. Then, track down the Windows Live Messenger icon on the Start menu by clicking the Start button and typing Messenger in the Start Search box. Once you see the Windows Live Messenger icon, right-click and select the Properties command. When you see the Properties dialog box, select the Compatibility tab. Then, in the Compatibility Mode panel, select the check box and choose Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) from the drop-down list, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

You'll configure Windows Live Messenger to run in Compatibility Mode as Windows Vista (Service Pack 2).

To continue, click OK. Now, locate the Windows Live Messenger icon on the Start menu as described above and launch the application. When you do, you'll see the Sign In dialog box and an icon on the Taskbar. You will see an icon in the Notification Area momentarily, and then it will disappear.

To make the icon always appear in the Notification Area, you'll click the Show Hidden Icons button and then click the Customize command. When you see the Notification Area Icons dialog box, locate the Windows Live Messenger icon and choose Show Icon and Notifications from the drop-down menu, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Choose the Show Icon and Notifications setting.

To continue, click OK. When you do, you'll see the Windows Live Messenger icon in the Notification Area. Once you are signed in, you can close the main Windows Live Messenger window. The Taskbar icon will go away, and the icon will remain in the Notification Area just like it used to in previous version of Windows. Of course, when you are using Windows Live Messenger, you will see an icon on the Taskbar as well.

(Keep in mind that this trick will also work with Windows Live Messenger 2009 in Windows 7.)

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Getting the Compact view

When you launch Windows Live Messenger 2011, it will open in Full view, which can be annoying if all you wish to do at the moment is chat with a friend. After enduring this for a while during my first use, I discovered a miniscule button in the top-right corner, as shown in Figure D, which will allow you to switch to Compact view, as shown in Figure E.

Figure D

The button you use to switch from Full to Compact view is almost hidden in the top-right corner.

Figure E

You can switch to Compact view.

And best of all, once you switch to Compact view, Windows Live Messenger will always launch in Compact view -- you will have to manually switch back to Full view if you so desire.

What's your take?

Are you using Windows Live Messenger 2011? Have you been annoyed by these same oddities? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

47 comments
mayday733
mayday733

I think the updates are brill for 2011. But they seem to have changed some minor things as if they shouldn't really matter to the user but they do. The only reason I am not backdating to the 2009 version is cos this version allows Yahoo contacts now, and fixes a couple of conflicts with the old crossing with somebody using the new. It took me a while to work out the top right button switches to full view of contacts, but when it does the layout is in 6 columns, and doesn't offer you to change it to one column unless you minimise it, small but annoying. When you hover over names the information of the contact including their status is blocked by a set of options. And I want some way of reverting all the emoticons back to how they were too cos these are awful, at least give the option.

Andrea Borman
Andrea Borman

Well,last year before Windows Live Messenger 2011 came out I was using Windows Live Messenger for Windows XP. But despite what the name suggests,it also works on both Windows Vista and Windows 7.See here-http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials-system-requirements And also here-http://explore.live.com/windows-live-Messenger-XP I have used Windows Live Messenger 2011 but I did not like it as much as the XP version,which is also last years version of Messenger that everybody was using on Windows XP,Vista and 7. So I have installed Windows Live Messenger for Windows XP on my Windows 7 computers and it works perfectly on Windows 7 without any problems. And is fully compatible with Windows 7 and Windows Vista. So this is just to let you know, that,yes,you can use Windows Live Messenger for Windows XP on Windows 7 and Windows Vista if you don't like Windows Live Messenger 2011. And I find the XP version more user friendly than messenger 2011. Andrea Borman.

sheilagh.romero
sheilagh.romero

Has anyone downloaded Live messenger 2011 with Server 2003?

admin
admin

I found it easier to just stop using it. it's annoyance made me decide not to use it all anymore.

jfreedle2
jfreedle2

I think that it was a waste of programming effort to add connection to those services, as I do not use those services and there is a very high probablity that I will never use those services.

dlsy
dlsy

I can choice only remember my email address. I hate save my password in the MSN. How can I to fix it?

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

I just installed security updates, and now MSN messenger gets a "certificate cannot be verified" error. Gotta love it. I also just installed a MS wireless keyboard and mouse, and was beleaguered with warnings like "This driver has not been verified..." "The publisher cannot be verified..." MS Hardware. MS Drivers. MS OS. Security warnings from MS. Amazing. ;-)

techrepublic
techrepublic

Really, those minor things are annoyances? Going to all that trouble to "fix" them is more of an annoyance than the "problems". The small amount I use Windows Live Messenger warrants me changing nothing. Oddly enough it never fired up in "full screen" mode when I used it the first time. Maybe because I upgraded from a previous version.

Q1rrm
Q1rrm

I had found the compact view, but was so glad to find the way to get the icon out of the Task Bar and back to where it belongs. Ha! One thing you did not address is where they have hidden the menu. I still haven't found that.

lnelson5
lnelson5

One other irritation is that is takes almost 1 full minute for it to come up when you click on the icon. I am running a 64 Bit system 2.9 Ghz, so it should not be that slow. The old version is much faster coming up, so what is 2011 version's problem?

joel
joel

Don't work around it, just don't use it. They'll notice and actually fix it.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Would like to get rid of those annoyting ads [I know there is a hack out there....].

william j
william j

These 2 things were real annoyances, now the one that remains is that yoyu can't put your nickname anymore, it seems we're forced to use our real name...

rcschaff
rcschaff

Thats a great fix, I have another issue is that it tends to show people online when they have actually logged off of messenger. I have to sign out and back on then it updates to show who is really online and offline.

Beejai66
Beejai66

I tried to upgrade to this version and cannot. I know have no working version, I cant upgrade, and I cant go back to an earlier version. Even MS themselves cant seem to help me solve my problem, grrr. I wish I had these minor annoyances, LOL

Rushynet
Rushynet

Already uninstalled it and started using something else.

Daniel Breslauer
Daniel Breslauer

Switch to Compact view. Go to Options and get rid of the Groups, Favorites etc. Takes 1 min. Did it on all 4 systems in under a minute. :)

mattweb75
mattweb75

Yeah I figured out the compact view thing to get it looking back as normal, the one gripe Ihave with it, is that it no longer rembers just an email address. Its either user and pass, or nothing at all, which is a pain having to type in the email address everytime on a shared home computer. I hope there is a work around for this somewhere???

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you use Windows Live Messenger for your instant messaging client? Are there other annoyances you'd like to work around? Do you recommend a different client?

l_creech
l_creech

Click the dropdown arrow next to your name, select "Show the menu bar."

l_creech
l_creech

Is a feature, has to connect to Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo, LinkedIn, AOL, etc... while it is starting. MS could fix this by changing the default to not connect to other social services until the user actually wants one connected, I think it was just easier to connect all and be done though. If you really want to see slow, try starting Windows Live Messenger behind a corporate firewall that blocks access to Facebook, MySpace, and their ilk...

theusmale2
theusmale2

that's how they make $$$ If we don't use it we are the ones who get hurt. remember there's no great movement out there. much easier to do what the other IT suggest. just ad rad.msn.com to restricted sites in security settings in IE, it works. & it's easy to do too.

seppos
seppos

Hi.. I don't know what ads you mean, but if you want to get rid of ads in the main window, just add a site rad.msn.com to Internet Explorer blocked/untrusted sites, and they will be gone. Works with any version and even in the web :)

l_creech
l_creech

Click drop down menu beside name, click edit name. Opens web page where you can change your "display" name across all Windows Live Properties. edited for simplicity.

regk
regk

I spent several hours researching this subject yesterday Ended up just un-installing the whole mess. Have no desire for its' use. Thanks for the tip on how to make changes, that was helpful to better understand some of Win 7 handling. I am new to Win 7!

Daniel Breslauer
Daniel Breslauer

I absolutely hate the new emoticons/smilies. They're completely different and do not match the old ones. I must note that when the icons changed some 4 years ago, with the previous major change, I had exactly the same feelings, and I did more-or-less get used to those icons, so maybe it's just a matter of getting used. But I would prefer to have the previous ones back. Of course one could do that, but I don't have the time for it.

APitchford
APitchford

There are quite a few things that annoy me about the new Windows Live. I used to have a lovely alert sound set, but the WL folks wrecked it by putting time limits on the sound clip used. It used to not matter - it would simply play the whole file in MSN 8. I would prefer to have my own colours in the chat window I see - now I'm stuck viewing my friends' colours instead. The system tray icon thing is just annoying - at least there's a workaround. And finally, Windows Live now supports other browsers - this is a good thing - but those other browsers will not remember my Hotmail password. Apparently, only the very buggy IE has that ability. I have been seriously considering moving to Pidgin, or some other chat client that will give me back my chat preferences.

fkowal
fkowal

OK, First let me start out, I like the new Messenger! There I said it. I think it works way better than the old one.. There I said that too. I am reading various post on here and I come to this: Do you folks forget about the TOOLS MENU / OPTIONS Menu for most of the MICROSOFT software? ON MESSENGER window GOT TO TOOLS / OPTIONS and PLAY WITH THEM to set MESSENGER HOW YOU WANT IT. I seem to be reading post about folks that are supposed to TECH HEADS. Yet lately i seem to be reading comments on Tech Republic who are beginners, Not just here in this Post about Live messenger but other post too. Come on folks, INVESTIGATE the TOOLS/OPTIONS menu on your software before you go start complaining. P.S I am not a TECH Exec, somewhere I am just a advanced user that others come too for PC support. The one annonyance I have, The new WLM 2011 made Messenger Plus Live quit working correctly, can wait til this http://www.msgpluslive.net/news/2010/10/19/messenger-plus-live-paves-the-way-towards-the-release-of-plus-5/

ZoltanZ
ZoltanZ

is totally messed up from the Live Essentials package .. Tried to open an e-mail which had an EML attached e-mail inside it and Live Mail would not recognise it as an e-mail. I ended up uninstalling and putting back 2009 version !! So much for Microsoft new updates !

Angel_Tech
Angel_Tech

Digsby is a great IM program. you can use your msn/hotmail, gmail, yahoo, facebook, twitter, aol, etc.. all at the same time.. check emails without opening your inbox in a browser. answer chat messages without switching windows.. of course it's not perfect.. but none are.. I also like Nimbuzz but havent used it much lately :) The Windows Live Essentials package is just a pain and no worth to install it.. in my personal opinion.. Cheers.

CelticElf
CelticElf

I have noticed that the newest version of messenger forces you to have it remember both your ID and password, there is no more choice to remember only your ID...

craigc
craigc

They have really wrecked the video chat feature. I commonly used the text with video combination, and now the text is an extremely narrow column (fixed size) on the left side. The image sizes are relatively unadjustable, with my image in the lower left corner, overlapping the transmitted image from IM partner. Neither image can be dragged/relocated or conveniently resized. The faulty assumption made by microsoft is that if I have video, I MUST have and/or want audio. WRONG! The thing would be tolerable if I could at least get the chat dialog to full width below the video images. So far, I have found no way to modify any of this. Can anyone point out anything they would describe as "improved" in this latest release? So far I've noticed features I don't (currently) want and will (likely) never use. And to get these, microsoft has severley degraded features I commonly used. Way to 'upgrade' microlost!

Sean Byrne
Sean Byrne

I've been using Messenger since version 5 and out of all the versions, my favourite was around version 8 and then it went downhill after that. E.g. I really dislike that picture sharing tool. I also don't really like the new emotions, as I use to think Messenger had the best looking emotions out of all the Internet chat applications I've used, well that until this 2011 version. When most people install the Windows Live 2011 package, they use the default settings, which installs everything (Writer, Bing bar, etc.) For curiosity, I installed Windows Live 2011 on a clean OS, measuring the disk usage before and after and found that it Gobbles 2.2GB of HDD space with its default installation settings! For someone with a small OS partition or drive (e.g. SSD), be sure to use the custom installation to choose only to install Messenger. Also, watch out, as a day or two later after installation, it will suddenly pop up asking to set your browser to IE8, Bing as default search, etc. If I could, I would really like to go back to MSN Messenger v8 or if someone could develop a "decrapifier" tool for Windows Live 2011. ;-)

christophea
christophea

Hi. the facebook 'likes' are treated as contacts in my live messenger.how can i remove or hide a contact in the list. when you add my live plus my facebooks contacts...believe me.. you get a lonnnng list. couldn't we just right click on a contact and click hide or remove????

seppos
seppos

Also, it's quite possible to add that site to Group Policy, so it would affect to all of your corporate network :) It is just an easy way to block some ads, than using 3rd party ad-blocker softwares.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

You mean "restricted sites" in the Internet Options' security tab. OK. Will try....

stobek
stobek

Just tried it out. Works like a charm! I'll be doing this on all my computers. Thanks for the tip! :)

stobek
stobek

But if you want to change your name to something else entirely, then all the emails you send out will also have that name. You want to maintain some level of professionalism when sending out emails (I do not use this email for work, but have used it to speak with hiring parties in the past) What I'd want is to have it the same way as before: your real name for emails and any name you want for chatting.

BrandonCollins
BrandonCollins

I'm with you on that one, I really want to get the old ones back. These new ones have no character. Definitely my biggest disappointment in this version:(

l_creech
l_creech

Can easily open EML attachments if you set the file type association. By default MS chose not to take over the extension as lots of people are running multiple e-mail clients and may have already purposely set EML to another app.

stobek
stobek

I find it really ridiculous that they force you to use your real name (if you entered it into Hotmail) when before you could enter whatever name you liked. Because of this I've resurrected an old email account plus skipped the update on one of my computers just so I have a bit of privacy. I don't give my name out to just anyone. Maybe 10% of my contacts knew my real name before.

techrepublic
techrepublic

It doesn't do that to me. I just have it remember my username.

seppos
seppos

Still works. At least I tried out with Windows XP. Why not to change back?

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