eXtraButtons is a free Windows Explorer tweak that adds a number of buttons to your windows title bar. Among the function provided: minimizing windows to the tray area, minimizing to a single common icon in the system area, or minimizing to “box” (i.e. a floating icon on the desktop).
Other buttons provide the following: always on top functionality, roll a window up to the title bar, push window to background, set window to custom or pre-set transparency, and duplicate active application windows. Users can customize and mix-and-match the buttons theywould like to see, which can reduce clutter and provide only the functions that seem useful.
eXtraButtons is beta software and is still a work in progress. It currently works on Windows XP/Vista/7 32 bit applications; however, it will run in a 64 bit environment but will appear on most 32 bit applications within that environment.
Note that the developers have indicated that they are aiming to eventually make it work in 64 bit environments and 64bit Windows explorer.
Here’s a list of PROS, notes, and a Wish list:
- A nice collection of functions: I am glad to see the window roll-to-title bar function making a comeback. The ’copy window’ function is interesting, although I cannot say I find it very useful.
- You can customize the visible buttons/functions: allows you to select exactly which functions/buttons to display, which is a great thing because having all of them in there is simply overkill.
- Keyboard shortcuts: can be defined for each function.
- Tooltips: hover over a button and a little tooltip appears to show what it does (see screenshot above).
- Low memory usage:
- You can customize the way it looks: from the font color in the buttons themselves to the order displayed to the option to add separators (i.e. a little bit of space) between them.
- Allows adding applications to an exclusion list: for example, if you find that eXtraButtons just doesn’t play well with a certain application you can simply add it to the list and deactivate eXtraButtons for that program.
- Note on installing on Windows 7: if you have problems changing the settings then modify the program executable so it runs as administrator (right click properties/compatibility and check “run this program as administrator”. If that alone does not fix it reinstall as administrator (right click “run as administrator” on the installer itself, then modify the exe to run as administrator.
CONS: here’s a list of things that the developers could do to make this software even better
- 64 bit support: hopefully is on the way. The promise of 64 bit support is the reason why I featured this app here in the first place.
- Fixing visual styles: it doesn’t quite look right in some applications: e.g. separators between buttons look completely wrong in MS Office. It also has a knack of showing up in dialogs where it has no business appearing (e.g. warning or error dialogs).
- Suggestions for minimizing to “box” on the desktop: make the background transparent, and add a tooltip that can tell you what the window or folder title is when you hover over the icon.
The verdict: although we’ve seen pretty much all the functionality that this software provides previously (in applications such as DM2, WinRoll, RBTray, and others), what I like about this is the focus on providing all of these functions as buttons that you can add or remove next to the built-in minimize/maximize/close buttons in any normal window.
I also like the fact that this project is in development and that 64bit support is (hopefully) in the works, which is not something you could say about most of the similar programs just mentioned.
My advice: use only the two or three functions that you like, or you will end up with simply too much clutter on your title bar.
Version Tested: 126.96.36.199 (beta)
Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7.
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 952K).