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OS X tray icon overload

We used to make fun of Windows users and impossible number of tray icon in bottom right corner. Observing my OS X tray today I noticed that it’s almost 700 pixels wide and that it doesn’t look like the trend of expanding will stop.

Does this mean that next version of OS X will slowly start introducing “hide unused tray icons” like with Windows or there is nothing that we can do as we need all of them?

How is your tray? Wider or shorter? Am I missing anything?

5 responses to “OS X tray icon overload

  1. I hate system tray icons. Really loath them. In mine, all I have are Spotlight, fast-user-switch, the time, language select (to switch between UK English and Unicode entry), battery mater, wifi, bluetooth, dial-up (for my 3G connection), SSHKeychain and ExpanDrive.

    I saw a to-do list app on one of the Mac blogs recently that included in their sales patter that unlike other apps it uses the system tray rather than “cluttering up your dock”. So, it puts itself in an area of the screen that cannot dynamically resize itself, or be resized by the user, or hidden away, or cannot be accessed by keyboard – and that’s considered a benefit? Not in my book.

    I’m constantly looking for ways to offload stuff from the system tray either to the dock or to the Dashboard.

    The OS X system tray sucks a lot less than the Windows system tray – but that’s only because it’s had less time to get filled up with clutter, and most of the contents follow the clean black-and-white design of the original system tray icons.

  2. It gets worse. Put in there a CPU and/or RAM and/or bandwidth monitor and that thing has so much stuff in that you can never possibly access all of them – maybe if you switch to Finder but I sometimes see funny new icons up there when I start an application that only has few items in menu bar – makes you live under constant assumption of “there be dragons” ;>

  3. You can sort the tray icon usage into the following categories:
    – some serve as shortcuts to frequent actions (e.g. switch keyboard layout)
    – some icons serve as monitoring tools, all you ever do is look at them (e.g. CPU meters)
    – some serve as notifying tools (e.g. you have a new message!)
    – some serve as means for minimizing the application that runs in the “background” and just letting the user know – hey i’m still around!
    Some apps, of course use combinations of the four.

    My thoughts are: Obviously the tray can be a useful thing, but can quickly turn into an overcrowded bar (pun!), which defeats its purpose – accessibility. You can pretty much say the same for other app containers: the task bar (dock bar), the desktop itself. But those two at least let me organize my workplace the way I see fit. Do I need stuff to be accessible? Yes. Does it need to be constantly in my face? No.
    Just let me decide where I want my app and how I want to access it, and make it easy to change my mind.
    Sounds simple, but i’m sure it’s a very tough UI challenge.

  4. That’s bloody overkill! I’ve got half that and think it’s a dash too much. Think I’ll soon tell everything I don’t need the icon of (like growl and quicksivler) to just not display it. All it does is take up space and I know they’re running anyway.

    In fact, I’ll go do just that right now.

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