Why No Onscreen Volume Indicator?

I am running Windows XP home edition on a new Gateway notebook (Model MX7515). My Gateway desktop and older laptop both indicate the volume on the screen by showing green vertical bars (the same as on most TVs). My new notebook changes the volume while pressing the increase and decrease buttons on the keyboard, but there are no green vertical bars on my screen, so I don’t know how high or low the volume is.

Those on-screen displays are kinda handy. I have something similar on my desktop, including the volume up/down controls on my keyboard. Quite nice.

But on my laptop? No such luck. I’m in the same boat you are.

The “problem” is that those volume indicators are not part of Windows. They’re actually added by some of the additional software installed on your machine. Typically they’re installed by the keyboard software for keyboards that include volume controls.

Things get a little more complicated with laptops, because they may have dedicated volume control keys, or they may have key-combinations that perform the same function. The manufacturer of the keyboard software may, or may not, elect to include an on-screen display.

It gets even more confusing, because when you purchase the same type of equipment from the same manufacturer, you might expect it to have the same feature set. Two laptops from Gateway, for example, separated by a couple of years, for example. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Even within models separated by less time, manufacturers are typically always on the look-out for better or less expensive hardware components, and if it doesn’t make a substantial difference in functionality, even the same model of machine might come with different, though similar, components from several manufacturers. And needless to say, the supporting software included with those components might be different.

The only real advice I have is to check the control panel applets for both your keyboard and sound card. Look around for options that might control the on-screen display. There are so many different manufacturers that it’s possible that some allow you some control, and perhaps default it off.

Past that, I’d check with the manufacturer’s support to find out if your specific model even has this feature.


  • Brian Berney

    Dear Leo,

    I loved the little volume bars on my last laptop, and missed them. But I found a program “volumouse” at http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/volumouse.html
    It’s a great little program that allows you to set the volume (with my beloved volume bar :-))) using the scrolling wheel on a mouse… I use a wireless mouse with my laptop, and it worked fantastically for me. You can program it to function if you hold down the control key, or Alt key, and many other ways (like pausing the pointer over the task bar for example…). The volume bar appears on the screen, with your pointer. Hard to believe that such a small program can make me smile every time I use it! :-))) Just like Atom Time, the atomic clock time syncronizer… Another great little program! Good Luck!

  • http://Aol John Wen

    The green bar volume display is part of windows media center. If you haven’t used it in a while or you never used it or you don’t have it you won’t have the green bars. If you do have it just go throught the motions like you want to set it up. say NO to the set up questions. When it wants to connect to the internet. Just X out. Your green volume control will be back.