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PowerMenu: Extend the Taskbar Menu

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Published on November 11th, 2005
Category: User Interface

I’ve been using PowerMenu for a long time now. From the creator’s website,

Power Menu is a small app I wrote that adds ‘Always On Top’, ‘Minimize To Tray’, ‘Priority’ and ‘Transparency’ sub menus to all top level system menus.

Without PowerMenu
I use every function that this program adds to the taskbar menu. The taskbar menu or “system menu” is a list of options that appear when a process on the taskbar is right-clicked.

This also appears when the program window header is right-clicked.

With PowerMenu
But with PowerMenu, it adds the four functions

Priority – This lets you change the amount of processing power that s program receives. This is useful because there are some processes that are less important then others. For example, I like to convert video in the background when I’m surfing the Internet. If I don’t regulate the processes, the video converter tends to steal some power from my browser windows. In the end, my browser windows become choppy. It’s easier to put the video converter on a low priority so I can do my everyday computer tasks without much interruption.

“Why do I need this function? My Windows XP already provides a function like this!” In Windows ME computers and older, this is impossible to do without a special program (like PowerMenu) to change the priority. With Windows 2000 and up, it became possible to change the priority of a with a few steps. The Windows Task Manager has to be opened via Ctrl+Alt+Del. Then the program’s *.exe filename must be found in the process tab. Many times, this is difficult to do when the program’s filename is different from the actual application’s name. Take for example Ulead PhotoImpact. The filename is nothing like “photoimpact.exe.” It is actually named an obscure “iedit.exe.” This is why this menu is handy.

Transparency – I don’t really use this option that much. I’m not really a fan of transparencies. It was first implemented in Windows 2000. Now it is included in the subsequent Windows operating systems. Since it was implemented in WIndows 2000, all versions of Windows older than 2000 cannot take advantage of transparencies. Transparency does what it sounds like: it lets content below windows be partially visible. I never use it and I don’t really know who would.

Always on Top – Like it indicates, this very useful function keeps the window on top of everything., even if it is inactive and another window is being used. I sometimes use this when typing a report and I need an online article as a reference. Instead of going back and forth from window to window, it is easier to keep the article Always on Top while as I type my report.

Another application for this function is PIP. With television, PIP stands for “Picture in Picture.” This displays another channel in a small corner while a main program is being shown. I sometimes like to watch DVDs on my computer. It is easier to multitask when having the video in the corner of the screen while using the computer.

Minimize to TrayThis is the most useful function of this program. I use this one tmost often. Sometimes, when minimizing windows, my taskbar becomes very cluttered. Some of the programs could go to my task tray for later use. My media player is one of those programs. I just use it to play music. It does not need to take any space on the taskbar and I never need to see it since it is only playing music, not video. Look at what I do:

See the difference? I right-clicked on Windows Media Player and selected “Minimize to Tray.” Then it moved to the system tray as an icon.

PowerMenu is also customizable. It can be run with command-line options. The one I use is

PowerMenu.exe -hideself on

Since I use this program so much, I set it to automatically runs every time I login to my computer. The “-hideself on” parameter tells the program to open in the background so I will not even know it is there. On default, PowerMenu displays an icon on the task tray. This command-line option overrides that, making PowerMenu invisible.

To download and to learn more information about PowerMenu visit the creator’s website, About Thong Nguyen. Comment on your experience with PowerMenu!

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One Response to “PowerMenu: Extend the Taskbar Menu”

  1. Rob Says:

    PowerMenu is an incredible tool and one that I would’ve loved to have kept on my computer if only it didn’t cause my computer to incur drwtsn32.exe and dwwin.exe shutdown errors.

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