Call For Submissions: We Want to See Your System Tray – Lifehacker

Lifehacker has a System Tray contest going on. Most people think the system tray is boring (looking at the comments anyway).

That pretty much tells me they are not managing their system tray – they are letting it control them. My system tray is one of the most useful parts of my screen.

I keep my system tray pared down pretty well – I only run stuff I use every day in the tray. I don’t waste any time that way. I could make these rhymes all day.

But forget the rhymes – my tray is very functional, yet still simplistic. Keep in mind this is an eight month old install of Vista and I’ve installed a TON of crap that wants to live in my SysTray. I don’t relinquish my SysTray space easily.

So here it is – my SysTray in all of it’s glory:


This is my current system tray – in three rows, because I roll that way.

First row, from left to right:

image1) The Reinvigorate “Snoop” application – it lets me see who’s on my blog and what they are reading.

2) My application called “Live5” – it shows me the last five hits on my blog.


3) Active Sync – syncs my phone with my computer. Sometimes.

4) Latest Comment – another one of my own apps – shows me the last comment posted on my blog. Nice an fast way to see what’s being said, and by whom.


#5 Windows Sidebar. Yeah, Yahoo Widgets may be better, but I don’t like the new launcher/dock crap they added so I abandoned Yahoo Widgets after running it (Konfabulator) for years and years. Change isn’t always good.


#6 – Just my network icon. It does get animated at times though. It seems to get really excited if I accidentally hit a porn site.

Row 2, #1 – Switcher. Highlighted by Lifehacker here.

#2 Windows Live Messenger (beta 8.5.x). I’ve used it for almost ten years and have hundreds and hundreds of contacts in it. “I can’t quit you, WLM”

#3 – MSN Remote record. Let’s me remotely record thing on my Media Center PC.

#4 – Skype – absolute necessity to manage my overseas development teams.

#5 – TVTonic – how I get most of the Video Blogs I read every day. If you have an XBOX 360, try this! Heck, it’s good even with just a Media Center PC – but a 360 makes it rock.

#6 – Just the Vista volume control. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now…

Row #3, #1 – Linksys WebCam monitor application. Manages the video capture on my webcams (I have 6 that are all monitored managed by this software).

#2 Login control panel for one of my online hosting services – in this case

#3 – Windows Home Server (beta) application (backing up my shit so I don’t have to).

#4 – Windows Live OneCare – Perpetual Beta 2 (and no smart ass remarks – “perpetual” just means that I’ve been testing it from day one, and will continue testing it until Microsoft or I decide I won’t be anymore).

# Take a screenshot of your system tray: Make sure we can see everything you’ve got running, so hit that little expand arrow. Getting the picture snapped while the tray is expanded can be tricky with some screenshot software, so I’d recommend using the trusty old standard PrtScrn shortcut and then pasting the results into your favorite image editor and cropping to fit. # Write up a description of the programs running in your system tray: It doesn’t have to be long or flowery, but we want to know what applications you’re running and what they do/how you use them. # Send your screenshot and description to us: Compose an email to tips at with the subject title System Tray Show and Tell, then attach your screenshot and enter your description in the body of the email.

Call For Submissions: We Want to See Your System Tray – Lifehacker


  1. Taskbar notification Area?!? First I have heard that expression besides in a book in years. pfft

  2. Yep, Raymond admits that even folks at Microsoft started calling it the Systray, but hey, just because everybody writes my name the wrong way doesn’t mean that the wrong way is the right way. And besides, the shell team, which invented the term, did not write the ActiveX control. So, yep, the perpetrators of the crime reside largly inside Microsoft, but all is not lost yet, no? I can still come up here on a post about productivity and start trolling about a bit of bending over the ass backward compatibility naming for Win3.1…

    So, you win: It’ll be *called* the System Tray, but it *is* the Taskbar Notification Area 😀

  3. @Yuvi – although “Taskbar Notification Area” might be correct, common usage is “system tray” – and for good reason. The Taskbar Notification Area is NOT just a notification area – not since the first time you could interact with the system using the icons there.

    In Windows 98 an application called Systray.exe was actually responsible for placing the Battery Meter, PC Card Status, Volume Control, Quickres and Task Scheduler icons in the notification area (

    Also, the first examples I saw of interacting with the icons was through a Microsoft ActiveX called Systray.exe (SysTray.exe is an ActiveX control that is written in Visual Basic that demonstrates how to add icons to the status area of the taskbar. SysTray.exe also processes callback messages for taskbar icons. By using the new Visual Basic 5.0 AddressOf function, the callback messages are received and processed in a module that is registered as a callback function in a Win32 application programming interface (API) call.) (

    So if Raymond Chen has a spider up his ass over it, he should look at Microsoft themselves as the largest contributor to why it is called the System Tray (and why I’ll continue to call it that!) 🙂

  4. I have to nitpick: You and Lifehacker are wrong. It’s the Taskbar Notification Area, not the System Tray. Raymond Chen says why here:

    Get the nomenclature right folks! 😛