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Issue #22: December 20, 2007

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I’d like to thank to Kathy Warson and the Insurance Professionals of the Emerald Coast for inviting me to speak at their December meeting.  Spouse Peripheral and I had a wonderful time meeting you all.

Q: I have Windows XP and there are programs shown in the lower right of the screen. My question is how do I add to or delete any of these?  I am speaking of icons for McAfee, my HP Multimedia keyboard, Kodak Easyshare, QuickTime, volume control etc.

– Dick N.
Fort   Walton Beach,FL

A: That area in the lower right corner of your screen is called the “System Tray” and the icons inside it are called tray icons.  They operate very differently from the icons in the taskbar.  Taskbar icons are controlled by the operating system, and their functionality is generally limited to minimizing, maximizing, or closing their associated application.  Tray icons are under the direct control of the application, and as such, can have detailed menus that change the way the program operates, call up configuration windows, etc.  The purpose of the tray is to provide an area on your screen where programs that run all the time can have a tiny space for you to interface with them.  It’s intended for programs like those you mentioned that you typically don’t interact with very much.  Placing them in the System Tray helps ensure your taskbar doesn’t get cluttered up with icons that you hardly ever use.

You have a very limited amount of control over what programs use the system tray.  As I implied above, programs are either designed to use it, or they’re not.  You cannot force a program to place an icon there if the program isn’t designed to use the tray.  Short of disabling an application, you also cannot stop one from using it the tray if that’s the way it was designed to operate.

With all that said, many applications that use the tray do have an option in their configuration to NOT display an icon in the tray.  Quicktime for example, allows you to turn off the tray icon by right-clicking on it, and selecting “Quicktime Preferences”.  In the dialog that comes up, go to the “Advanced” tab.  Near the bottom, you’ll find a checkbox labeled “Install Quicktime icon in system tray”.  If you uncheck this, the icon won’t trouble you anymore.  Check for similar configuration options in other applications, but remember that not all of them provide this ability.

A note to my readers:  I’d like to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and to say thank-you for being so supportive in helping me launch “It’s Geek To Me”.  I’ve enjoyed interacting with so many of you via e-mail, and meeting some of you in person.  My next live engagement is currently scheduled for January 26th, with the Northwest Florida Association of Computer User Groups’ Computer Expo at Okaloosa-Walton College in Niceville.

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