Today, I will introduce you to a sweet little program that was a real lifesaver for me, when I was doing my computer projects. It’s still real useful today, considering the enhancements it brings to the normal, boring windows of.. well Windows operating system.
This nice little program will not make tea for you, and will not find your soulmate. But it’ll add a very important feature (at least I consider it to be important) called transparency. It’s not the titlebar transparency Vista gives you. It makes the whole window see-thru! Moreover, you will also have options such as Always on Top as long as the program runs.
First of all, go get XNeat here. As you can see from this page, there is a list of features that XNeat offers to you, the user.
As you can see, the interface of XNeat is real simple. This interface is not what you will use most often though. It’s only for customizing the different settings of XNeat. Probably, you’ll just click on the icon, and have it in the notification area near the system clock. The options are to be found somewhere else! 🙂
After you have gone through the various tabs and menus to customize your settings, like above, you can choose which options are available in the Context Menu when you right-click on windows in the TaskBar. After you have customized your settings, click on the Close button. Notice that XNeat’s icon is still in the notification area. (That black star/blob thing.)
Now, to use XNeat, simply right-click on any window in the TaskBar. You will notice a new set of options, as shown below.
As you can see, you can now set transparencies of windows, and see “through” them, at other windows or things below the transparent windows. Other options are click-through, that make Windows seem “non-existant” where you can click at options below them in other windows. They are just floating ghosts above your current window.
The Send To Tray option is quite useful, allowing you to send windows to your notification area. Particularly useful to send IE’s download windows to your tray to avoid closing them, and freeing up TaskBar space.
The Hide Window does just as its name suggests. It hides windows from view. You can access the hidden windows through what I call the TaskBar menu. How to access that? Simply right-click on an empty space of the TaskBar, then in the menu, select XNeat Windows Manager. You will have several other options about windows there.
Finally, another great feature of XNeat is that it allows you to re-order windows currently in your TaskBar. You just need to drag-and-drop to re-order them. Just click-and-drag the window you want to re-order in the taskbar, then release it where you want it. It should be another possible window position in the taskbar though. You can also put the TaskBar to be transparent, although that feature doesn’t work very well on my Vista install. It just makes the bar dimmer, but not transparent.
You can also access XNeat’s menu by clicking on the icon in a window. The one near the File menu. It’s just to the left of the window title, on topmost left of the window.
Well, some scenarios when you could use XNeat now:
1) You are typing on a Wordprocessor, but need to refer to another document on your computer. Instead of switching between the windows each time, just right-click the Wordprocessor’s window in the TaskBar, and apply the Make on Top and Transparency effects to it. Put it to 30% transparency or so, depending on your liking. Now, you can see through your wordprocessor, to the document below it, but still be able to type. You will need to disable the option “Opaque on Hover” though for this trick to work.
2) My fav! Chatting while working. What I do is that I make the chat window transparent, like 30-40%, then enable the Make on Top and Click Through options. Then, I disable the “Opaque on Hover” option. Finally I position the window so that it’s unobtrusive. Now, I can work, read but chat at the same time! I can still follow the discussion in my now-ghostlike chat window.
I leave the other options for you to discover. XNeat Windows Manager is a small, but really powerful feature. I’m sure you’ll put it to good use, specially that Hide Window feature! 😛
Comments appreciated! 🙂