Click here to Skip to main content
15,439,373 members
Articles / Programming Languages / C++
Posted 26 Jun 2005


92 bookmarked

Shell Tray Info - Arrange your system tray icons

Rate me:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.
4.93/5 (40 votes)
26 Jun 2005CPOL3 min read
A tool with full source code that enumerates tray icons and allows you to reposition them as well as send mouse messages.

Image 1


The Tray Icon Info application lets you enumerate your system tray icons and rearrange their positions, so that you can have your more frequently used icons positioned to the left most side (or right most depending on your personal preference). I wrote this as I got used to having the MSN Messenger icon on the left most side of the tray and found it annoying and inconvenient when newly added icons pushed it to the right. I had to exit and restart MSN Messenger to reposition it where I wanted. This application simplifies things for me.

Supported OS

This application only works on Windows XP. It may run on Windows 2003 too, but since I wasn't sure and since I didn't have the option to test it out, I have a version check and the program exits if it's a non-XP OS. If anyone's interested, they can comment out the version check and run it in on 2003 - but I have no idea as to whether it'll work or not.


  • For some tray icons, I am unable to retrieve the icon, so I show a red octagon with a white question mark.
  • Using the toolbar or the menu, you can send a left click, right click or a double click message to the tray icon.
  • You can use the << and >> icons to move the icons around the tray.
  • Copy (Ctrl-C) will copy some textual info to the clipboard (includes both the tool-tip text as well as the owner process path).
  • Double clicking an entry in the list view is equivalent to sending a double-click message.
  • The tray has hidden icons - mostly put there by Explorer. These icons won't have tool-tips.
  • And er, if you are wondering why the toolbar icons look so ghastly, guess who designed them!

Technical notes

The trick used here is to enumerate the buttons of the ToolbarWindow32 window that represents the system tray. The following code is used to locate this window (routine FindWindow/FindWindowEx stuff) :-

HWND FindTrayToolbarWindow()
    HWND hWnd = ::FindWindow(_T("Shell_TrayWnd"), NULL);
        hWnd = ::FindWindowEx(hWnd,NULL,_T("TrayNotifyWnd"), NULL);
            hWnd = ::FindWindowEx(hWnd,NULL,_T("SysPager"), NULL);
                hWnd = ::FindWindowEx(hWnd, NULL,_T("ToolbarWindow32"), NULL);
    return hWnd;

Now I retrieve the count of tray icons :-

int count = (int)::SendMessage(m_hTrayWnd, TB_BUTTONCOUNT, 0, 0);

The number won't match the number of visible icons because of some hidden icons inserted by Explorer + the Hide Inactive Icons setting may be enabled.

BTW to retrieve toolbar info for each button, I use my CProcessData class. [CProcessData is a template class that makes it easy to use data allocated in a different process, and is useful when making inter-process SendMessage/PostMessage calls]

The dwData member of each TBBUTTON structure of the toolbar points to an undocumented structure. The first few bytes of the structure are as follows (on XP anyway) :-

    HWND hwnd;                
    UINT uID;                
    UINT uCallbackMessage;    
    DWORD Reserved[2];        
    HICON hIcon;                

There's more info, but I am not sure what the rest of it means. Reserved[0] has something to do with the visibility state of an icon when the Hide Inactive Icons setting is enabled, but it's behavior was too sporadic for me to give it a proper meaning and since I didn't really want that info, I didn't bother too much. All my Google searches on this undocumented structure resulted in nothing. It's times like this when you wish Windows provided full source code :-(

Anyway here's the code I use to retrieve the rest of the information I require.

CProcessData<TBBUTTON> data(dwTrayPid);
TBBUTTON tb = {0};
TRAYDATA tray = {0};
TrayItemInfo tifo = {0};

for(int i=0; i<count; i++)
    ::SendMessage(m_hTrayWnd, TB_GETBUTTON, i, (LPARAM)data.GetData());        

    DWORD dwProcessId = 0;

    tifo.sProcessPath = GetFilenameFromPid(dwProcessId);        

    wchar_t TipChar;
    wchar_t sTip[1024] = {0};
    wchar_t* pTip = (wchar_t*)tb.iString;        

        int x = 0;
            if(x == 1023)
                wcscpy(sTip,L"[ToolTip was either too long or not set]");    
            data.ReadData<wchar_t>(&TipChar, (LPCVOID)pTip++); 
        }while(sTip[x++] = TipChar);
        wcscpy(sTip,L"[Hidden Icon]");                

    tifo.sTip = W2T(sTip);

    tifo.hwnd = tray.hwnd;
    tifo.uCallbackMessage = tray.uCallbackMessage;
    tifo.uID = tray.uID;

    tifo.bVisible = !(tb.fsState & TBSTATE_HIDDEN);

    int iconindex = 0;
    ICONINFO  iinfo;
    if(GetIconInfo(tray.hIcon,&iinfo) != 0)
        iconindex = m_Image16List.Add(tray.hIcon);

For the rest of the code, see the included source code zip.



  • June 21, 2005 : Began work on the app.
  • June 27, 2005 : Published on The Code Project.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Written By
United States United States
Nish Nishant is a Principal Software Architect based out of Columbus, Ohio. He has over 17 years of software industry experience in various roles including Lead Software Architect, Principal Software Engineer, and Product Manager. Nish was a Microsoft Visual C++ MVP between 2002 and 2015.

Nish is an industry acknowledged expert in the Microsoft technology stack. He authored C++/CLI in Action for Manning Publications in 2005, and had previously co-authored Extending MFC Applications with the .NET Framework for Addison Wesley in 2003. In addition, he has over 140 published technology articles on and another 250+ blog articles on his WordPress blog. Nish is vastly experienced in team management, mentoring teams, and directing all stages of software development.

Contact Nish : If you are interested in hiring Nish as a consultant, you can reach him via his google email id voidnish.

Company Website :

Comments and Discussions

QuestionC # version? Pin
Member 914268823-Nov-12 5:06
MemberMember 914268823-Nov-12 5:06 
SuggestionMaking it work on WoW64 [modified] Pin
mklencke12-Aug-11 4:04
Membermklencke12-Aug-11 4:04 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
swdev.bali16-Feb-11 17:31
Memberswdev.bali16-Feb-11 17:31 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
zhangfancc19-Jul-10 20:02
Memberzhangfancc19-Jul-10 20:02 
GeneralNice demo app.. Pin
xsoftwerx15-Feb-10 16:40
Memberxsoftwerx15-Feb-10 16:40 
GeneralRe: Nice demo app.. Pin
fangyanxiang26-Apr-11 16:32
Memberfangyanxiang26-Apr-11 16:32 
GeneralWrong code and method Pin
kilt14-Sep-09 0:18
Memberkilt14-Sep-09 0:18 
GeneralVista 32 and Vista 64 Pin
Chris Havelick10-Apr-09 3:25
MemberChris Havelick10-Apr-09 3:25 
QuestionWhy right click menu are sometime sticky? Pin
lerognon21-Feb-09 9:26
Memberlerognon21-Feb-09 9:26 
AnswerRe: Why right click menu are sometime sticky? Pin
Andreone19-Aug-09 3:49
MemberAndreone19-Aug-09 3:49 
QuestionCan we hide a particular icon in the system tray? [modified] Pin
Kishore_Vuppala4-Feb-09 17:54
MemberKishore_Vuppala4-Feb-09 17:54 
Newsabout "GetIconInfo" Pin
oneg6615-Jan-09 5:26
Memberoneg6615-Jan-09 5:26 
Generalnotes Pin
jo0ls16-Dec-08 1:50
Memberjo0ls16-Dec-08 1:50 
Questionclass Pin
gq_the_fallen_angel16-Jun-08 6:49
Membergq_the_fallen_angel16-Jun-08 6:49 
Questionhide a single tray icon from system tray Pin
Jayapal Chandran15-Mar-08 0:27
MemberJayapal Chandran15-Mar-08 0:27 
GeneralSome icons' handle of tray buttions are invalid Pin
gshine61012-Aug-07 20:06
Membergshine61012-Aug-07 20:06 
GeneralWorks on Vista Pin
Thomassen16-Jun-07 0:31
MemberThomassen16-Jun-07 0:31 
QuestionAnyone know of a similar program that just lists the systray icons? Pin
badbob00111-May-07 6:36
Memberbadbob00111-May-07 6:36 
AnswerRe: Anyone know of a similar program that just lists the systray icons? Pin
lerognon21-Feb-09 9:23
Memberlerognon21-Feb-09 9:23 
GeneralJust what I needed! Pin
Hans Dietrich9-Apr-07 1:14
mentorHans Dietrich9-Apr-07 1:14 
GeneralRe: Just what I needed! Pin
Nish Nishant9-Apr-07 1:54
sitebuilderNish Nishant9-Apr-07 1:54 
GeneralRe: Just what I needed! Pin
Hans Dietrich9-Apr-07 2:00
mentorHans Dietrich9-Apr-07 2:00 
QuestionHowto make ShellTrayInfo work automatically at boot? Pin
5h17h34d13-Feb-07 17:19
Member5h17h34d13-Feb-07 17:19 
AnswerRe: Howto make ShellTrayInfo work automatically at boot? Pin
S.H.Bouwhuis18-Jun-07 13:14
MemberS.H.Bouwhuis18-Jun-07 13:14 
GeneralCompiling Error Help Pin
swarup9-Dec-06 0:28
Memberswarup9-Dec-06 0:28 

General General    News News    Suggestion Suggestion    Question Question    Bug Bug    Answer Answer    Joke Joke    Praise Praise    Rant Rant    Admin Admin   

Use Ctrl+Left/Right to switch messages, Ctrl+Up/Down to switch threads, Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right to switch pages.