[Windows] Quickly launch commonly used programs and files with SE-TrayMenu, a customizable quick launch tool

SE-TrayMenu default setupThis next app has actually been around for quite some time, yet it still continues to receive regular updates. As of the time of this writing, the latest version was released on May 25, 2013. SE-TrayMenu is an application and system tray launcher for Windows, which also supports custom hotkeys to offer streamlined use. It comes in both a traditional install package and a portable one, which means it can be run from any external drive even a USB flash drive.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

TrayMenu-Config-AddFrequentlyUsedSE-TrayMenu is a lightweight and portable Windows launcher with some pretty powerful customization options. On top of supporting global and custom hotkeys, it also allows users to customize menus, shortcuts and more. The general idea is to offer a quick launcher for your most used apps and links, which resides in the Windows system tray at all times.

Pros

  • Launch custom shortcuts straight from the Windows system tray
    • Assign quick links to URLs, applications, documents, files, directories (folders), and more
    • Shortcuts can be connected to [complex] hotkeys for even faster recall
  • Lightweight and portable (10MB of RAM usage)
  • TrayMenu-Config-FormatRobust customization and personalization options
  • Several preconfigured sub-menu layouts and color themes to choose from
  • Multiple languages supported

Cons

  • Requires the Microsoft .NET Framework version 2.0 or higher to use

Discussion

First and foremost, this application is offered in two different packages: one is portable and the other is not. The portable version requires that you also have an archive tool like WinZIP, WinRAR or 7Zip to extract the necessary contents. Once the portable version has been extracted, it can be run from any directory including one stored on an external drive or USB flash drive.

For the purpose of this review, I used the portable version of the application. However, I did run the install package through VirusTotal along with the portable package. You can find the results listed in the ‘conclusion’ section below.

SE-TrayMenu directoryAfter extracting the contents of the portable package you’ll notice that it doesn’t just include a simple executable. There are three different folders, each of which contains additional content for use with SE-TrayMenu. The first folder includes a couple of icons for use with the app, and also serves as a directory where you can drop custom icon images. The second folder includes multiple language configurations, which range from Simple Chinese to Turkish (see language list screenshot below). The third folder includes quite a few “presets,” which are basically UI themes.

SE-TrayMenu language list

When you start the application a small light bulb icon appears down in the Windows system tray. Hovering over this icon will display a semi-transparent menu listing all the user specified shortcuts and links. By default, it includes a list of commonly visited Windows utilities and programs like Notepad, Command Prompt, and Windows Explorer.

SE-TrayMenu general settingsRight clicking on the icon will bring up a sub-context menu where you can access the application settings. The settings are divided up into four main tabs: main settings, applications, layout and color theme. This is where you can customize the various shortcuts and links offered in the system tray, and also personalize the way the menus look.

On the main settings tab, you can choose the main path for the application (this is useful if you’re running the app from a portable directory), the display language and configure several quick settings. If you want to show the popup menu with a click instead of just hovering over the icon, you can do so via the general settings. You can also enable launching with Windows, and change the layout or color scheme.

TrayMenu-Config-ApplicationsOn the applications tab, it’s just a simple configuration window for the various shortcuts and links that you want to appear in the sub-menu. You can add new links or shortcuts, edit existing ones or remove them altogether. You can also reorder how shortcuts appear in the menu by moving them up or down in the list. It should be noted that you can pretty much add anything to the list as a quick launch item, including programs, documents, directory links, and even URLs. You can even customize a [complex] hotkey for use with any shortcut or link that uses a combination of three different keys like CTRL + ALT + 1.

TrayMenu-Config-LayoutThe layout tab allows you to completely adjust and personalize the general design of the quick launch menu, while the color theme tab allows you to change everything about the –you guessed it- color scheme. Between these two tabs, you can change the size of icons displayed in the shortcut list, use a custom or predefined layout pattern and even alter the appearance of the submenu completely. If you want a purple menu tab with icons displayed in seven item wide columns, then you can do that. The options are pretty robust, to say the least. It’s slightly comical too that the personalization options are so vast considering SE-TrayMenu is such a lightweight application. Still, it’s definitely welcome and pleasing to find.

So, all mechanics and configuration options aside, SE-TrayMenu is a lightweight quick launch tool for Windows. Something like this would be ideal if you desire a lightweight and portable solution that always affords access to your most used applications. Even better, you can assign hotkeys to speed up the recall of any apps, software and links that you specify.

For reference, SE-TrayMenu uses about 10,000KB of RAM while running, which is just under 10MB.

Conclusion and download link

SE-TrayMenu aboutSE-TrayMenu is — as I’ve said five or six times now — a lightweight and portable quick-launch tool for Windows. While running, it resides in the system tray via a simple light bulb icon. Hovering over the icon will bring up a submenu with user specified quick-launch options. You can add links to documents, directories, applications, and even URLs; in essence, whatever you use most, you can toss in there for quick access. You can also assign complex global hotkeys which allow you to call upon your documents, directories, applications, URLs, etc. with a series of keystrokes. The excellent hotkey support is perhaps one the best features of this program but on top of that I’m quite fond of the personalization options. You can completely customize the popup menu by choosing a preferred layout and color theme, either from predefined settings or tweaking them exactly to your liking.

All in all, the recommendation rating is really straightforward when it comes to this application. If you want a way to quickly access your common files, folders, programs, URLs, etc. and want a program that doesn’t consume very many system resources, SE-TrayMenu is an ideal solution. Check it out

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.5.4

Supported OS: Windows (XP, Vista, Seven); no Windows 8 support officially listed, but it should work

Download size: 656KB (install package), 149KB (portable version)

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/46 (install version), 0/37 (portable version)

Is it portable? Yes

SE-TrayMenu homepage

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16 comments

  1. Briley Kenney
    Author/

    [@smaragdus] [@naveed] Actually, that’s what I said. I believe Ashraf just mentioned that the debate about the .NET Framework is continuous.

    Just because someone doesn’t agree with you, does not make the review “uninformed.” There are lots of techies from all walks of life. Some like iPhones, iPads and Macs while others like Android, Windows or Linux.

    The same goes for a review like this. I’m neutral about the .NET Framework, however I see that others may have an issue with it. Therefore, it sits in the “cons” portion of the review.

    My comment above was to briefly take you through some of my thought process. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of thought, time and effort goes into the production of these reviews.

    As for my use of the word “complain”, I’ve come to notice that a lot of folks that frequent this site are not happy with anything you do. In other words, you just can’t win with some people. Life goes on.

  2. smaragdus

    @naveed

    I have Windows 8 with .NET pre-isntalled. Yet there are applications written in .NET that cannot be run on Windows 8 since they require .NET 1.0 or 1.1, which are not supported by Windows 8 and cannot be installed on top of .NET 4.5 (or it might be possible but is not easy, one should uninstall all .NET versions and install 1.1 and a security update and then all other versions upon it). Perhaps in a year or two .NET 4.5 would not be supported by Windows 9 and apps that depend on .NET 4.5 won’t run. A major issue with .NET is that it is not backwards compatible, in contrast with Java and QT.

  3. naveed

    [@smaragdus]

    Not necessarily. There are plenty of non .NET applications that take up more memory than necessary, simply because they are not efficiently coded or they use heavy libraries.

    I’m not try to promote .NET here. It’s your choice if you want to use .NET or not, it makes no difference to me. A user who doesn’t like it can choose not to install it. But, portraying it as a con, particularly when that’s not really your opinion, but because of someone else’s complaints, is what’s irking me.

    Also, to give a little background, I code in Win32 and MFC (C++ without .NET) as well as .NET and Java.

  4. naveed

    [@Ashraf]

    So, let me get this straight. You nor Briley think that .NET is a con per se, you are neutral about it. But because certain people complain about it or debate about it, you choose to put it as a con. I was under the impression that this was a tech blog which was supposed to give us informed technical advice.

  5. GF

    With regard to NET Framework: once I installed in my Windows 95 an additional component (I don’t remember which component, perhaps WinSock 2.0) and then Internet no longer worked.
    Therefore, wrong or right, I will no longer install additional components in my dear PC.

  6. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@naveed] The debate for .NET will rage on and on. I, myself, personally don’t mind it. But there are some people who don’t have it on their computers (and either can’t or won’t download it) — that is why we put it as a con, just like a Java requirement would be a con too.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  7. naveed

    [@Briley Kenney]

    Yes, there are people who complain. In this case they are wrong. .NET is not a con unlike ads. You might want to include a third category called requirements and put it there. A requirement is not a con. There used be a guy on another website, who always complained when a program didn’t work on Windows 98. And this was very recent, not more than a year ago. This seems absurd now, but really the .NET complainers are not that far behind.

  8. Briley Kenney
    Author/

    [@naveed] I agree with you wholeheartedly, but there’s a reason I do it that way.

    I always put requirements in the “cons” section because no matter what type of software I write a review on, one person always seems to complain about requirements. Therefore, I include them in the cons section as more of a warning. Plus, the first thing that most readers seem to look at is the pros and cons, and then the conclusion. Many don’t even read the full review.

    Think of it as a guideline: Hey, this is going to require the Microsoft .NET framework, or hey, this app has ads, but they’re not obtrusive.

    Make sense?

  9. naveed

    I really wish you wouldn’t put reliance on .NET as a con. It’s almost an integral part of Windows. Make a mention of it if you need to, but by no means is it a con.

    Java, I get, it’s big and bloated, a memory and resource hog and recently a security hole. .NET programs are nowhere as bad. Yes, given a choice, we’d all prefer Win32 programs that don’t require anything but the core Windows libraries.

    Win32 programs are few and far between – they are hard to write and manage. Even MFC programs require additional runtime DLLs that need to be installed, though they are usually bundled with the program and installed transparently. Some programs especially games require installing Visual Studio redistributables that install automatically, but not transparently.

    These additional components can be a con if they constantly create problems – one example is Games for Windows Marketplace. Every single game that requires this is broken and forums are filled with users complaining about this. .NET can create problems too, but no more than Windows.