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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.

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.

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

Unzip RBTray somewhere, and then create a shortcut to the correct version of RBTray, sorta like this:

image

And that’s all there is to it.

Download RBTray from sourceforge.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 11/12/14
  • Yves Le Breton

    Big fan of RBTray here, but also been using TrayIt! with success. It also has some more advanced options which might interest people, such as always minimizing X program, grouping apps in the tray and setting up profiles depending on different usage.At 143kb, it's hardly more bloated than RBTray.

    http://www.softpedia.com/get/Desktop-Enhancements/Other-Desktop-Enhancements/TrayIt.shtml

    Cheers!

  • John Geldreich

    Seems useless to me. If I want to clear my desktop fast, I just use the built-in "show desktop" button (that rectangular area to the right of the clock on the taskbar) to minimize everything.

  • ligoten

    I got out of the habit of wanting to minimize things to the tray when Windows 7 gave me the space for more open programs on the taskbar.

  • Steve Capps

    How is this different from Alt-SpaceBar-N ??

  • Tom Wilson

    This is different. The tray is the little space over by your clock, not the task bar.

    Alt-Spacebar-N minimizes to the taskbar. That's not the tray.

  • Baht Simpson

    I've also been using TrayIt! for years - since 2006.

    Does exactly what it says on the tin. smile

  • Atiqur Sumon

    You can try my shortcut ( Windows+D). If you have any problem just replay me.

  • Tom Wilson

    You didn't read the article, did you? Win-D minimizes to the Task Bar. That's not the tray. They are two different things.

  • Lowell Heddings

    This article definitely seemed to attract the non-article-reading crowd.

  • Lowell Heddings

  • Göran Ingvarsson

    The HTG guy says: "We’re always on the lookout for the simplest and easiest solution..." well, ditto.I'd like to add 'the most elegant' to the 'ways'. Inelegant and graceless is just the way a clumsy, roundabout way of doing a thing strikes me, when there's a better, quicker, cleverer way to do it (and there always is - that's a lot of what's fun about computers:).

  • Kurt

    I believe we're aware of the difference between the taskbar and the system tray. The bigger question is what's the difference between minimizing something to the task bar or to the system tray? It is essentially the same thing, just on different parts of the start bar. Why get a program to minimize to the system tray when you can use a simple keyboard shortcut "Win+D" to minimize to the taskbar instead? Seems like more work for little to no difference. Please explain.

  • Tom Wilson

    The point of putting something in the Tray is that it's not in the task bar. This is especially useful for programs that are always running, but the user rarely interacts with.

    For example, I wrote a program that monitors the clipboard, and when you copy a SQL query string, it re-formats the query to a format that I can paste directly in to a c# program. That's all it does, and since it's largely automated, I don't need or want it in my task bar or in the alt-tab sequence. Putting it in the tray fixes this problem.

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