Let Me Control My Task Tray Apps Better Please

MeIt is no secret that applications that install themselves or stubs of themselves in the Task Tray create love/hate affairs with most users. If you use an application or service frequently, the convenience of having it there outweighs the overhead and resources it consumes. Most users are skilled at the various methods of removing applications from their startup when they don’t want them there and in those instances there are no issues, beyond losing what functionality the apps or services provided.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got several applications I do need to run on occasion, but not frequently, that need or use a Task Tray presence. I prefer to not have them in the Task Tray always. Instead I create shortcuts for these apps and place them in a ShortCuts folder and only activate them when I need them, so they aren’t sitting around hogging up resources. A few examples of this are:


  • Audible’s Download Manager
  • Amazon.com’s MP3 Downloader(I use Amazon’s service to order DRM free and cheaper music than iTunes)
  • My Webcam’s Menu Interface (the camera works better when it is running)
  • The Eye-Fi Manager (for uploading pictures via WiFi to my computer)
  • PDANet (for tethering my Windows Mobile phone) 
  • Callburner (we use this for recording podcasts on Skype.)

With the Amazon and Audible apps it isn’t that easy. Each time I activate the app by clicking on the shortcut it installs properly, but the service I’m using doesn’t recognize that it is running and I have to go through the process of installing it again from the web. That’s a real PITA. If I remove CallBurner the same thing occurs, the application has to reinstall itself and re-hook into Skype before you can use it. That process has sometimes caused a system crash.

Two things here, vendors.

  • Don’t assume I want your application always hanging around.
  • Figure out some way to allow users to turn your service/apps on and off with some ease.

Sure, I could avoid the hassle by just leaving things alone, but I like to at least think I have some control over my environment.