Windows users have long wanted greater flexibility in the system tray, but it's been up to developers like 4t Niagara Software to provide it. We looked at 4t Tray Minimizer Free, a free tool that can minimize any running application to the system tray, also known as the notification area. That's enough on its own, but 4t Tray Minimizer can also roll up any window to just its title bar; make windows transparent; hide programs without displaying a system tray icon; set hotkeys for minimizing, maximizing, and launching applications; and toggle the entire system tray open and closed.
The program's installer includes a setup wizard for setting basic options such as launching at startup and displaying a system tray icon. We were also able to configure how 4t Tray Minimizer appears in Windows menus as well as add programs to its exclusion list and set hotkeys and title bar buttons. The title bar is a set of small, mostly transparent set of buttons that blend perfectly with the Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons in Windows' upper right border and appear in any non-excluded program. We could quickly hide (minimize) a window to the system tray and restore just it, any other window, or all windows by right-clicking the program's system tray icon and selecting our choice from an extensive menu of controls and options, including setup options. That's valuable, but we also had fun with the control that minimizes windows to their title bars, which proved handy for keeping several intricate displays active and accessible but out of the way. The program offers several ways to activate its functions, including hotkeys, menus, and control icons. The program's main interface is a horizontally split view displaying hidden windows above a list of Favorites; it's quite basic but handy if you have a lot of apps hidden or just prefer an actual interface. However, there doesn't seem to be anything you can't do faster and more directly from 4t Tray Minimizer's system tray icon.
We sure like 4t Tray Minimizer Free, which is a great example of how clever programming can add genuinely useful features to Windows that somehow were overlooked or omitted in the official release. If you're one of the many Windows users who has longed for a better, more useful system tray, wait no more.