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May 13, 1996

Place any program a click away in the Windows Tray

One of the best, if overhyped, features of Windows 95 is the Task Bar. As even the Rolling Stones know by now, the Task Bar is the place where the Start button for Windows resides. The Start button, in turn, is supposed to make it easier for you to find and launch your various applications, Control Panel applets, and so forth.

Most Windows users have already figured out that the Task Bar can be reconfigured in a variety of ways. For example, you can point your mouse to any blank spot on the Task Bar and drag it to any edge of the screen (left, right, top, or bottom). Right-clicking a blank spot then clicking Properties enables you to set various functions. You can make the Task Bar stay on top of all other applications (or not), make the Task Bar "hide" until you slide your mouse to that edge of the screen (or not), and so on.

One of the things you haven't been able to do with the Task Bar, however, is place your favorite applications in its recessed area, where the time of day is usually displayed. This part of the Task Bar is formally called the "system notification area," but everyone just calls it the Tray. (Actually, during Windows 95 beta testing, the whole Task Bar was called the Tray. But this name was switched to the clunkier Task Bar at some point, without explanation, so we're stuck with it.)

Several applications have made the Tray their home. When you are logged on to Microsoft Corp.'s Network (MSN), for example, a tiny MSN icon appears in the Tray. You can right-click this icon while you're on the service to send e-mail, jump to various pages, sign out, and perform other functions.

Now one company has taken matters into its own hands and given us the power of the Tray for our own use. G.L. Liadis Software Ltd., a publisher of numerous shareware applications for Windows 95, has come out with Win Tray. You put this 249KB application in your StartUp folder and gain the capability to store as many as eight icons of your choice in the Tray.

Once you've used Win Tray's easy dialog box to select the applications you want in the Tray, they show up automatically every time you start Windows. You can configure the icons to launch your favorite applications with a double-click or a single-click (your choice). You can keep Win Tray's dialog box open during your Windows session or instruct it to hide. Right-clicking any icon you place in the Tray brings up the Win Tray window again so that you can reconfigure the program, adding or removing icons from the Tray.

The Tray is usually used for small system utilities, such as resource monitors and diagnostic tools that you want to frequently check on with a click. For example, the Windows 95 Resource Meter (located at C:\WINDOWS\RSRCMTR.EXE) automatically places itself in the Tray when you run it. Win Tray enables you to store other utilities there as well.

But there's no particular reason that you should be limited to utilities alone in the Tray. Any major application that you use frequently could be a candidate -- your word processor, say, or a favorite game. These applications are probably two or three levels down in your Start menu, whereas icons in the Tray area a lot easier to find.

You can obtain a registered version of Win Tray by sending $12.50, which includes shipping, to G.L. Liadis Software, 5167 Saling Court, Columbus, Ohio, 43229. CompuServe users can register by typing GO SWREG and selecting I.D. 72274,3252. (The registered version will be sent to your e-mail address.)

On the Internet, an unregistered shareware version is available by setting your Web browser to Click the Utilities keyword to download Win Tray or to see a listing of the many other programs from this prolific shareware author.

Brian Livingston is the coauthor of the new Windows 95 Secrets and author of three other Windows books (IDG Books). Send tips to or fax: (206) 282-1248.

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Copyright © 1996 by InfoWorld Publishing Company


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