Tips for minimizing your app to the Tray

It’s a nice feature for your software if your customer can minimize it as an icon to the system tray. From our “minimize to tray” program I learned a few things about. Here’s a rundown of the basic and not-so-basic tricks.

  1. You can add / modify / remove a tray icon with Shell_NotifyIcon. You can specify a callback message (for example WM_USER) to react to left/right clicks on the icon. To hide your program when minimized simply use ShowWindow.
  2. To minimize to the tray when your user click the minimize button, handle the WM_NCLBUTTONDOWN message and watch for the HitTest HTMINBUTTON (or HTCLOSE if you want to override the X-button).
  3. If you want to prevent Windows from hiding the icon, make a tiny chnge to the icon every now and then. (Do this only if you have good reason!)
  4. You can use DrawAnimatedRects for a minmize animation. Use FindWindow(“Shell_TrayWnd”, …) to find the location (= target reactangle for the animation)
  5. If the windows explorer crashes, the tray icons are gone and your user can’t get your application back. To detect this, use Shell_NotifyIcon(NIM_MODIFY, … every now and then and check the return value. If the function fails, then your icon is gone and you have to add in again.
  6. Don’t forget to remove the tray icon if your program closes while being minimized.

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