Long-time Windows are already familiar with their taskbar icons flashing orange whenever new activity is detected in the parent applications, but few know more specifics about this actually customizable feature.
By default, whenever new activity is detected inside an app, its icon flashes 7 times quickly and 3 times slower, after which it activates the permanent orange background to let you know that it needs your attention.
For example, when you run a messaging app, like Skype, in background, and someone sends you a message, the Skype icon starts blinking to inform you that new activity has been detected. After 7 quick and 3 slow flashes, the icon stops blinking completely, but it turns to orange to indicate that you have a new message.
Even though Microsoft does not offer options to customize these flashes, you can actually choose how many times you want the icon to flash orange using a very simple registry tweak. The same trick works on Windows 7 and Windows 8, and it runs smoothly on Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (version 1709) as well.
What you need to do is launch the Registry Editor in Windows 10 by simply typing regedit in the Start menu – administrator privileges are required to make changes, so users with standard accounts won’t be able to tweak the number of flashes of their taskbar icons.
What’s also very important to know is that you are recommended to create a backup of your registry settings before messing with tweaks like this one. Normally, no issues should be experienced whatsoever, but changing the value of certain registry entries could impact system stability and performance, and with a backup you can always return to the previous configuration should anything go wrong.
Once you’re running the Registry Editor, head over the to the following path (Windows 10 Fall Creators Update comes with an address bar at the top of the app, so you can simply paste it there to quickly reach the destination):
The Desktop registry section is the home of the majority of settings of your Windows desktop, and what you’re interested right now is the ForegroundFlashCount entry.
Simply double-click this particular item to edit it, and then select the Decimal option before making any modifications. In the left box, just enter how many times you want the taskbar icon to flash and hit OK.
Close the Registry Editor and a reboot is required to apply the changes, though you can also just reboot explorer.exe to see your modifications activated.
Unfortunately, no other tweaks can be made at this point, and there’s no doubt Microsoft should add them in future Windows updates, along with settings to easily adjust this flashing icon count. Users do like this kind of customization, and making everything available to everyone would really come in handy.
For example, what you can’t do right now and which would certainly be useful is change the color of the flash. At this point, it’s orange and it won’t change depending on your color themes or configuration in the Personalization section in Settings.
BONUS TIP: You can type 0 in the ForegroundFlashCount entry in Windows Registry to have taskbar icons flash continuously. This means that there won’t be any slow flashes, and the icon will continue to blink until you click it.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft adds such customization options in the Settings app of a future Windows release, but with the Redstone 4 update expected to be finalized in just a month, there’s a good chance it won’t happen until at least Redstone 5 in the fall. According to Microsoft’s release schedule, Redstone 5 should be ready in September.