Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 
 


Active Tray 1.1
by
Brigitte Lord

I've been using a nice little program for several months now ; Active Tray by Divcom Software is a utility that deploys cascading menus of items like MY DOCUMENTS, CONTROL PANEL and MY COMPUTER from an icon in the System Tray. It comes pre-configured with common items, but you can easily change that and add other folders, individual files or documents, programs or internet links. The program is basically a one-stop shortcut depot.

When I first installed Active Tray, it was under Windows 98SE which, as an OS, offered just a couple of cascading menus in the Start menu. It didn't cascade the all important MY DOCUMENTS, nor CONTROL PANEL. Before Active Tray, I used a program that cascaded menus of my choice from the top portion of the Start menu (above the separator). That route was long compared to Actrive Tray which sits in the bottom right corner of your screen (already near your pointer) while the Start button is w-a-a-a-y over in the left corner.

Another item I like to have cascaded is the CONTROL PANEL.  By default, Active Tray positions the CONTROL PANEL as a sub-item of MY FOLDERS, but I was glad when I could move it up in rank. Another item I promoted is MY COMPUTER. I then gladly removed MY FOLDERS from the tray list and was left with three cascading menus: MY DOCUMENTS, MY COMPUTER and CONTROL PANEL. I then added a few individual files and programs I access regularly.

Since last November, I have been using Active Tray under Windows XP Home Edition. Although WinXP comes with more features than Win98 and cascades menus and items of your choice from the Start button, I still use Active Tray. It's lean and contains only what I want. The Start button already has many other items and functions.

These are some of Active Tray's many features:

  • Support of any type of object (programs, documents, folders, internet links)
  • Import of tray objects from Windows shortcuts.
  • Flexible settings for each tray icon, menu and its items.
  • Customizable keyboard shortcuts for quick opening objects from the tray.
  • Popup menu for easy access to main functions.
  • Customizable style of program and user tray menus.
  • Friendly and easy-to-use interface.
  • Multilingual user interface.
  • Security option for locking change of settings by a password.
  • Introduction tour for novices.

The Active Tray keyboard shortcuts are more flexible than those in Windows. It will let you choose a single letter (or digit) as a shortcut, but I don't recommend this as every press of the letter will launch the item across your screen.  You can combine any letter or digit with the standard Ctrl+Alt that is used in all Windows keyboard shortcuts.  But if you are running out of sensible keys using this combination (as I am), Active Tray allows you to use the Ctrl or Alt key alone with a letter or digit, but beware of using a combination that Windows uses such as Ctrl+P which launches the Print applet in most programs.

If I could have one wish for this program, it is that folders could be opened as a whole. As it is, only items within a folder can be opened. Sometimes, I have to work with many files. This is the case when I am assembling the OPCUG newsletter. I rarely use the Newsletter shortcut listed in Active Tray because I invariably have to open the entire folder which holds dozens of newsletter files.

Active Tray is an award winning program that includes a comprehensive help file, user tips, and an introductory tour. From the main window are links to Divcom's e-mail and web support, program upgrades and online help. Such attention to detail gives Active Tray a very polished finish.

 

 

This is what Active Tray more or less looks like when you first install it (depending on programs and files present on your system).  The varied items on display show the program's versatility.  Items can be removed or others added by accessing the Main Window (see bottom screen shot).

 


Active Tray displaying some common items before customization (screen shot taken from Divcom's website).

 


At right, I have removed many of the default items shown above.  What remains is a functional list of items that I access on a regular basis.  There are many other items that I chose not to add because I already use Windows standard keyboard shortcuts for these (e.g. Notepad: Crtl+Alt+N).

                                                                                            A rather lean Active Tray after customization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This is the Main Window where items can easily be added or removed.  Items with green checkmarks will be displayed.  Those without checkmarks will not, but remain available for easy re-selection.  All checked items here are displayed in the screenshot above.
Items can also be deleted.


Bottom Line:

Active Tray 1.1
$19.95 USD 
from Divcom Software
Web site:  http://www.divcomsoft.com/atray/


Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

The opinions expressed in these reviews may not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members