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What’s the Simplest Way to Minimize Applications to the System Tray?

We’re always on the lookout for the simplest and easiest solution to perform a task, preferably while using the least amount of system resources. Here’s how to minimize to the system tray with a tiny little application helper.

The tool we’re using is called RBTray, and it weighs in at a truly massive 101 KB zipped up, including both 32 and 64-bit versions and the source code—and there’s no installation required.

Using RBTray to Minimize Applications

Once you’ve downloaded and launched the application, you can simply right-click on the minimize button of any window to send it to the system tray.

image

Once you’ve done so, you can simply click on the icon in the tray to restore it, or you can right-click it to close the window directly from the tray.

image

There’s no good reason to include a video here since the application is so simple, but if you’re the visual type and you want to see a video of how it works, you can watch it in action here:

The great thing about RBTray is that it barely takes up any system resources. Here’s the amount of memory it’s taking on my 64-bit system with 8 GB of RAM:

image

Setting RBTray to Run at Startup

Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the executable are included in the download file, and you’ll want to use the correct one for your system. Not sure what version of Windows you have? Here’s how to figure that out.

image

Open up a separate Windows Explorer window and type in the following to get to the startup folder:

shell:startup

Create a shortcut to the correct version of RBTray here:

image

And that’s all there is to it. Note: thanks to our friends at Cybernet News for pointing out this app to us.

Download RBTray from moitah.net

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/30/10

Comments (18)

  1. Bri

    Been looking for a program like this for quite some time now. Thanks!

  2. Nivekian

    I prefer Power Menu, sure it uses more resources but it has more options

  3. Elsa

    I have a different problem. I had Office Professional 2003 on my computer and after a crash…, I reinstalled Office Home & Business 2003. I am using Word 2003 and when I use the Mail Merge function, I would like to choose a different sheet in excel, it gives me “Confirm Data Source: /OLE DB Database Files or MS Excel Worksheets via DDE(*.xls) or Excel Files via ODBC (*.xls) options. If I choose one of the excel options, it only gives me ‘Entire Spreadsheet’ option and opens Sheet 1. Is there a setting that I can change to give me an option to change the Sheet or is it the Office Home & Business the problem?

  4. Harish

    Sounds no different from TrayIt! application which I am using for a long time now…anyways thanks for the pointer :)

  5. asdf-chan

    Doesn’t work for me, to lazy to debug.

  6. red

    try TrayIt!

  7. Duh

    Windows key + M

  8. Ricky Rick

    @ Elsa. Here is your solution. If you have a specific question that is off-topic, why don’t you do what everybody else does and write the authors an email or start a thread in the Forum.

    What you did is like walking into a restaurant and yelling “hey – i need a plumber.”

    This post is about RBTray and other possible related tray applications/solutions. Just because you have a problem, it doesn’t mean you can get attention from opening your mouth wherever you feel like it.

  9. Tardio

    I use Minimize To Tray 1.5, better than RBTray.

    Will try TrayIt :)

  10. Robert

    If your a Linux user looking for the same solution, check out AllTray. I have used it for Thunderbird to keep it open without eating my taskbar, as well as for song bird and on occasion Chrome.

  11. Joleca

    Have also been using TrayIt! for years.. Recently stumbled on RBTray and use it at work on a portable drive as unable to install TrayIt! (which does require installation).. Pros and Cons (depending on how you see it) to both programs..

    With TrayIt! you have to install the program. You can set it to run at start-up and you can set it to run minimized in the background. After you set it up initially, you never need to see the program window again (like RBTray).. The biggest difference (and to me the biggest benefit) is that once you use it to minimize a program to the Tray, you can set it to ALWAYS minimize to the Tray by right clicking on the program icon in the Tray and checking “Place in System Tray”.. Then all you have to do is click the minimize icon on your program (normal LEFT click) or click to minimize from the Taskbar and the program window will always go to the Tray instead of the Taskbar.. leaving you with a much less cluttered Taskbar..

    With RBTray, you ALWAYS have to RIGHT-click to send a window to the Tray.. if you forget and left click, it will end up on your Taskbar instead.. And you have to remember to navigate to where-ever you saved the file and manually start RBTray since its not installed, every time you want to use it.. I’m ok with doing that at work since we aren’t allowed to install software, and it does help to make it easier to see which windows I have open (and sometimes you can have 20 or more since most of our systems use browser windows), but I’d much rather be able to have it start up and run without me having to remember to have to do anything differently.

    So, my vote is for TrayIt!

    One more thing I forgot…. just checked my Task Manager and TrayIt! even uses far less memory than RBTray….. per Leo’s snapshot above, RBTray is using 1,536 K while my Task Manager shows TrayIt! is only using 240 K… That’s 1/6 of what RBTray is using, so if memory is an issue… TrayIt! uses much less…

    Just my 2¢ (or maybe with inflation, 10¢)….

  12. Dan

    The easiest way to do this is just to press Windows+M.

  13. Dan (not Sept1 @ 12:21 Dan)

    Dan, that only puts it on the taskbar, not in the TRAY area.

    I suggest “The Wonderful Icon”

    Does all that you mentioned, plus more.

    –Dan

  14. miki

    Win key + D (show desktop)
    again Win key + D (restore previous)

  15. Emo

    I really think so too:P I have been surfing around the internet for a while this week, and its kinda hard to find anything good to read on blogs=] Maybe thats because there are too many of those around =) But this site actually keeps catching my attention=) Great stories, and kawai design ^__^. Ill be sure to give it more time from now on =]

  16. Emo

    I can’t think of a good comment =( Just wanted you to know i was here =P

  17. Rizelmine ending

    That as kewl =)

  18. Hadi

    I think WinRoll does much more better. with winroll you can bring features that have been seen on other OSes to windows e.g.(shading,semitransparent windows, always-on-top value)

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