Download demo project - 21 Kb
We’re all familiar with programs that add icons to the
system tray - Windows NT/2000’s Task Manager, the Microsoft offline files
synchronisation manager, and many other third-party apps.
Quite frequently, these icons open a dialog of some sort
when double-clicked. The normal procedure is to simply hide or show the window.
It would be nice if the window displayed the same animation used when
minimizing or maximizing a window to and from the task bar. This article shows
how simple it is to do just that.
Drawing the Animation
It is actually very simple to duplicate the effect of the
minimizing and maximizing animation - just one function call will do the trick.
DrawAnimatedRects is used to draw and animate a rectangle. Here’s the
BOOL WINAPI DrawAnimatedRects(HWND hwnd, <span> int idAni, <span> CONST RECT *lprcFrom, <span> CONST RECT *lprcTo );
When animating the caption, the
hwnd argument is the handle
to the window to be animated, rather than the window to use for clipping and it
cannot be NULL, as suggested in the documentation. The
RECTs describe the start and the end positions of the animation.
The interesting argument is
idAni, which sets the type of
animation to display. If this is set to
IDANI_CAPTION, the window caption will
animate from the
lprcTo, in the same way as windows are minimized
(As a brief aside, the include files that come with Visual
C++ 6 include definitions for not only
IDANI_CAPTION, but also
IDANI_CLOSE. There is no documentation as to what
do, and when plugged into the example code, they fail to produce any animation
at all. Perhaps it was intended that Windows display an animation when opening
and closing a window in the same way as the Mac does. Whatever was intended, it
doesn’t appear to have been implemented.
Another thing to note is that the headers for the current
Platform SDK - April 2000 - only define
IDANI_OPEN, so it is necessary to
either use the Visual C++ 6 headers, or manually define the missing values,
which is what the example code does)
Determining the Animation Parameters
It’s not enough to know how to display the animation; we
also need to know the start and end position. When minimizing, the “from” value
is simple, you can use the
RECT of the window. This gives us the correct width
of the window, but the height is going to be larger than the caption bar. This
is not a problem, however. We have told Windows that we are animating the
caption, so Windows only uses the caption’s height.
The “to” value is slightly trickier. We need to get the
of the system tray. Unfortunately, there is no documented way to do this, and
each method we can use has its downside.
The most accurate way of getting the system tray dimensions
is to actually get the system tray’s window. Through judicious use of the very
handy Spy++ utility, we can see that the system tray is a window of class
“TrayNotifyWnd”, which is a child of the top-level window of class
“Shell_TrayWnd”. We can easily get these windows using
FindWindow, and then
GetWindowRect to get the dimensions of the system tray. As this
gives the best results, this is the preferable method, but it must be
remembered that this is undocumented and utilises window class names and
hierarchies that might not exist in future versions of the shell, so mustn’t be
relied upon. If this method fails, we drop through to the next method.
The nearest thing we can get to a documented method is to use the
SHAppBarMessage function with the
This will return us the bounding rectangle and edge position of the task bar.
From this we can tell where the system tray is. If the edge position is the left
or the right of the screen, the tray is at the bottom of the task bar. If the edge
position is the top or the bottom of the screen, the tray is to the right of
the screen. The only problem with this method is that it doesn’t give us the
actual coordinates of the system tray, just the rough position - we have to
give a default size for the system tray.
There is still the possibility that this will fail. This is
really only likely if explorer has been replaced by a third party shell. Many
of these shells now support a system tray (
Shell_NotifyIcon sends a
message to a top level window of class “Shell_TrayWnd”, which is the task bar)
If we find this window, we can get some dimensions for the system tray.
If all else fails, we just use a default value in the bottom
right of the screen.
Obviously enough, when maximizing, the “to” and “from”
values are the opposite to when minimizing.
One Last Nicety
Windows allows the animation to be disabled (using a registry setting, or a
tool such as the infamous TweakUI), so we must check for that before calling
DrawAnimatedRects. This is a simple call to
SPI_GETANIMATION value. If the animation has been disabled,
the window is simply hidden; otherwise, we call
The Sample Code
There are two main files in the example project included
with this article. MinimizeToTray.cpp contains the functions to minimize and restore
the window, and MinimizeDemo.cpp contains a simple dialog app that demonstrates
how to use these functions.
MinimizeToTray.cpp contains two public functions:
<span>VOID MinimizeWndToTray(HWND hWnd);
<span>VOID RestoreWndFromTray(HWND hWnd);
MinimizeWndToTray function displays the minimize
animation and hides the window passed in as a parameter. The
function displays the restore animation and shows the passed in window. Neither
of these functions adds or removes a system tray icon - that is left to the
One thing to note is that if
Shell_NotifyIcon is called before
DrawAnimatedRects, the entire taskbar is erased, and not redrawn until
the animation is complete. As long as the shell icon is removed after the animation,
the taskbar is drawn properly. So call
Shell_NotifyIcon after calling
MinimizeDemo.cpp shows how to use the two functions in an actual app, and even
shows a simple use of the
Shell_NotifyIcon function. The dialog is
minimized to the tray in response to the
WM_CLOSE message and to the
SC_MINIMIZE WM_SYSCOMMAND message. The dialog is restored when the icon is
This code is very easy to use. Simply drop the
MinimizeToTray.cpp file into your project, and add two function calls to your
app. There are plenty of comments in the source files, and the MinimizeDemo.cpp
sample is very easy to follow.
This code is public domain. Feel free to use and abuse it in
any way you want. If you do use it though, I’d appreciate it if you dropped me
a quick note. Consider it emailware.
The main purpose of this article was to explain how to use
DrawAnimatedRect, and provide as near to foolproof method as
possible of finding the position of the system tray. I didn't intend to describe
how to use
Shell_NotifyIcon. However, it is a reasonable place to
pass along a couple of tips on common problems:
The most prevalent problem with notification icons is that once you display a
menu for the icon, clicking outside of the menu doesn't dismiss it. Apparently,
"this behaviour is by design" and is documented in Microsoft's Knowledge Base
Another problem frequently encountered is that the notification icon stays
in the system tray, and disappears when the mouse moves over it. This is simply
that the program hasn't removed the icon before quitting - a call to
NIM_DELETE before exiting will
sort this out.
Finally, we have a somewhat tricky one. When double-clicking on one icon,
it is sometimes possible to also activate another. This happens if the first
icon is removed in response to the double-click message. As this message is
sent in response to the mouse button being pressed, released and then pressed
again, Windows still has a button up event left to send. And because the icons
have moved in response to the first icon being removed, this message is sent
somewhere it wasn't intended for. That icon may then innocently enough take
action in response to this message.
This is a situation where no one can take blame. However, it is one we can
work around. Instead of removing the icon once we action on the double-click
event, we remove it in response to the second button up, everything works
perfectly. The easiest way to do this is to set a flag when we receive a
double-click event, and remove the icon when the flag is set in the button up
handler. The example code included shows how to do this.
1.0 28 June 2000 Initial version
1.1 19 October 2000 Added useful tips on using Shell_NotifyIcon. Thanks to
Darren Schroeder for reporting this potential problem!