TrayHelper v2.4

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Ireneusz (Irek) Zielinski, go to the web site
Requires: Pentium computer or higher running Windows 95, 98, 98SE, Me, 2000 or XP
MSRP: US$14.99 (shareware fee)

The Windows System Tray has become the repository for all manner of useful (and not so useful) utilities. My personal quest for the perfect event reminder utility has taken me into the System Tray repeatedly, at various times trying several dozen different programs designed to pop-up and warn when something (birthday, anniversary, etc.) is about to arrive. Microsoft Outlook, the Big Kahuna of all event utilities, is not a solution for me because it's too unwieldy and doesn't always work properly. My Sony Clie is a partial solution, because I carry it around all day, every day. But a good system tray utility which will hit me with annual reminders of special events, display a system clock and calendar, reset my system clock by hitting one of the atomic clock sites and synch events into my PDA is what I really need.

TrayHelper tries hard to please. It's a small, shareware Windows application which resides in your System Tray, uses very little memory and very few CPU cycles. In addition to reminding you about meetings, important events, birthdays, anniversaries, etc., TrayHelper can forward reminders to your mobile device via e-mail, check up to 50 e-mail accounts, auto-delete spam messages on those accounts, forward important e-mails to your mobile device, monitor your browser windows to kill unwanted pop-ups, and use Microsoft Agent characters to notify you of new mail and event reminders. TrayHelper has plug-in functionality too. The current list of free plug-ins includes WWW Server which quickly creates a small Web server on your computer; Atom Time Synchronizer which synchronizes your PC clock with an atomic time-server; Pinger which tracks the computers on your local network or Internet and notifies you when conditions change; WebSpy which tracks changes on WWW pages and informs you about them; Tasks which is a simple To Do list; Notes which lets you create and stick notes to your Windows desktop.

We normally don't bother with reviews of shareware, but every so often something such as TrayHelper comes along which seems genuinely useful. We tried almost all of TrayHelper's features during day to day use for about two weeks as a replacement for XReminder on one desktop computer (PIII/500 running Windows 98SE), ChronosClock on a laptop (Dell Latitude PII/333MHz running Windows XP Professional) and Palm Desktop on another desktop computer (P4/2/23GHz running Windows XP Professional). Everything seemed to work quite well. Time synchronization - especially important considering the inaccuracy of many computer clocks - was setup to poll a time server every 6 hours and correct the system clock if there was a difference of 15 seconds or more. The feature worked flawlessly.

We used a reminder setting which flashed the TrayHelper icon in the system tray rather than playing a sound file; a bit less intrusive for people nearby but just as effective for the person using the computer. You can also set TrayHelper to use Microsoft Agents to provide talking reminders - very irritating (we got bored with the unimproved mechanical voice of Peedy years ago). Data entry for reminders, events, meetings, etc., is child's play. Add an item at any time, modify existing items, add or enter extensive notes for any item.

We also tried the e-mail and anti-spam features. There's nothing new or unusual except for some slightly more versatile spam filtering settings. Some people may feel that anything is better than Outlook's rudimentary spam filtering however. What Windows users really need is a slice of the new intelligent filtering (latent semantic analysis) featured in Apple Mail supplied with MacOS 10.2. Everything else is half-baked at this point. Stick with Outlook or Eudora or whatever you prefer combined with SpamKiller.

Cons: There are only a few. I want a couple of additional features and some smaller configuration dialogs - not really "Cons" per se - but a Clipboard plug-in would be nice. I'd also like to see customizable reminder intervals - right now you can only select the interval from a drop list. TrayHelper is not a replacement for the system tray clock and calendar. Some minor bugs, e.g.: the Previous Page button in calendar mode is active all the time even when there is no previous page; boring (albeit effective) user interface.

Pros: The program works as advertised and the UI isn't confusing. The Atom Time clock synchronization plug-in allowed me to get rid of a similar System Tray utility. Because the Event Reminder can be set for single or recurring hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual alarms, it's possible to keep everything in the utility: birthdays, anniversaries, meetings, ToDo reminders and anything else you can think of. A separate utility called Backup Tool is installed automatically which allows you to transfer all of your TrayHelper settings to another computer - very handy. If you need this particular combination of features, TrayHelper is a good choice. Recommended.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to:




© Copyright 2000-2006 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe