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Method for Managing Minimized Application Desktop Icons of Running Applications

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000195677D
Original Publication Date: 2010-May-24
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2010-May-24
Document File: 6 page(s) / 251K

Publishing Venue

Siemens

Related People

Juergen Carstens: CONTACT

Abstract

Currently used operating systems usually show a minimized application icon for every running application in the so called task bar at the bottom of the computer screen. If too many applications are in use some application windows might be hidden by others while some are minimized often causing a loss of overview for the user of the operating system. Additionally the above mentioned application icons tend to be displayed narrowly and do thus not allow to get an overview of which application window belongs to which minimized icon. The situation deteriorates if applications have the same icon, which makes it hard for the user to distinguish them. Multiple solutions to the problem are known. In some operating systems the user can resize the task bar resulting in a multilined system tray in which the minimized application icons are shown in more than just one row. However, this occupies space on the screen. In another solution the task bar can be set to multiline mode and to "auto hide". Using such a setup the task bar will automatically appear and disappear when the mouse pointer, or any other HMI (human machine interface) pointer, gets close to the screen borders. In that case the task bar does not occupy space on the computer screen but it is ovious that one will lose overview when the task bar gets visible and displays for example 20 minimized application icons. Applications which are no longer in use can be closed. However, in certain software environments such as operating with network diagrams in control center software, it is none the less necessary to have many network diagrams open at the same point of time.

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Method for Managing Minimized Application Desktop Icons of Running Applications

Idea: Bernd Steiner, DE-Nuremberg

Currently used operating systems usually show a minimized application icon for every running application in the so called task bar at the bottom of the computer screen. If too many applications are in use some application windows might be hidden by others while some are minimized often causing a loss of overview for the user of the operating system. Additionally the above mentioned application icons tend to be displayed narrowly and do thus not allow to get an overview of which application window belongs to which minimized icon. The situation deteriorates if applications have the same icon, which makes it hard for the user to distinguish them.

Multiple solutions to the problem are known. In some operating systems the user can resize the task bar resulting in a multilined system tray in which the minimized application icons are shown in more than just one row. However, this occupies space on the screen. In another solution the task bar can be set to multiline mode and to "auto hide". Using such a setup the task bar will automatically appear and disappear when the mouse pointer, or any other HMI (human machine interface) pointer, gets close to the screen borders. In that case the task bar does not occupy space on the computer screen but it is ovious that one will lose overview when the task bar gets visible and displays for example 20 minimized application icons. Applications which are no longer in use can be closed. However, in certain software environments such as operating with network diagrams in control center software, it is none the less necessary to have many network diagrams open at the same point of time.

In the following a novel method for managing minimized icons of running applications is proposed. For this purpose so-called "Icon Bars" are introduced, allowing a user to quickly access minimized or hidden applications. Such an Icon Bar represents a novel user interface (UI) element which holds one or multiple minimized application icons and can be enabled or disabled, depending on the users needs (see figure 1). The proposed Icon Bar displays a configurable maximum amount of minimized application icons. The user is able to configure the maximum number of rows and columns for each Icon Bar. Furthermore the configuration allows defining the maximum number of minimized application icons in the task bar. When exceeding this number, the minimized application icons can be shifted automatically to their assigned Icon Bar.

When starting an application, its minimized application icon can either be displayed in the task bar or in the respective Icon Bar automatically, depending on the amount of displayed minimized application icons in the task bar and its configured limit. In another configuration of the proposed managing method, minimized application icons may always be arranged in an Icon Bar, and not in the task ba...