Every laptop and netbook should have an on-screen volume display, but unfortunately some don’t. The end result is that whenever you change the volume via the keyboard (usually a Fn+F8 for up and Fn+F9 for down) you have absolutely no idea what the volume level is other than by ear.

Why is an OSD volume meter so important on a laptop?

Because it’s usually the only thing that will tell you the current level of volume. On a desktop PC you have external speakers controlled by a physical knob. If you want to know where your volume level is set, all it takes is a quick glance at the knob and you know. You don’t have that luxury on a laptop.


Fortunately there is a free download, EHTRAY, that will work on most laptops (Dell, HP, Compaq, Toshiba, etc.) I use this regularly on my Dell mini 10v netbook and it works great:


EHTRAY is mainly a utility for people using Windows XP (although it should work on Vista and 7) as most laptops/netbooks with that OS need a utility like this to have a visual volume indicator.

I originally found this utility being discussed in a thread here. The download link for EHTRAY is here. Unfortunately the installation process isn’t exactly straightforward, so here’s how it goes:

(You’ll need a utility to extract RAR files. If you don’t have one, use 7-Zip.)

1. Download EHTRAY.rar

2. Extract ehres.dll and ehtray.exe to C:\WINDOWS\ehome (this is a directory you’ll have to create).

3. Run ehtray.exe and try out your keyboard volume control. If you see the big green text with the volume meter as shown in the screen shot above (even if the font is different), it’s working.

4. If it works, you’ll want this to run every time your computer starts. Assuming you’re running XP, right-click the Start button and Open All Users, like this:


Double-click Programs, then Startup.

Minimize this window. We’ll come back to it in a moment.

Click Start, Run, type c:\windows\ehome, like this:


..and click OK.

Right-click ehtray.exe and click Copy:


Bring back the other window (you can ALT+TAB to it) that has your Startup folder.

Right-click in there and choose Paste Shortcut.

You’ll see something like this:


You may have other programs in there aside from the shortcut you just pasted. That’s fine. As long as you have the shortcut to EHTRAY, it will start every time Windows starts.

What if EHTRAY doesn’t work but you still want a volume OSD?

  • The support site for your OEM (Toshiba, IBM, etc.) may have software there ready for download for your particular model that will give you some OSD functionality.
  • Searching Google for "[your make] [your model] OSD volume" may yield some helpful results so you can have OSD for volume control.