It looks like is already a synonym of (26 questions). However, (95 questions) is off on its own.

I would suggest merging into , since as per this meta question from a month ago that term is more correct. But either way the current structure of being standalone and -> doesn't look right.

There are two questions for Linux that are in . I suspect that is not correct for these - perhaps this argues against a synonym, and a manual retag is in order?


After a week, it looks like the consensus is for a merge and synonym from -> . I'm happy to retag by hand, but don't have the rep for a synonym.

  • 1
    I personally think it would only make sense to also synonymize system-tray into notification-area. I don't think the term "system tray" was ever officially used for Linux desktop environments, was it?
    – slhck
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 14:29
  • I've seen it used, for example, in the QT library documentation, but no I don't think it's an official name.
    – dsolimano
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 11:57
  • Looks like there are five in favor and none opposed - may I request use of moderator powers to make this happen?
    – dsolimano
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


I've merged into and also created a synonym.


There is overlap between the two -- but they are separate things.

The term "System Tray" is used exclusively in reference to this specific Windows interface idiom:

enter image description here

The System Tray has evolvedm from a skinny gulch of pixels over by the clock in Windows 95, into a sort of ongoing system-wide non-application party house. The task bar is arguably the Windows GUI equivalent of Fifth Avenue -- a famous and pleasantly grand thoroughfare, steering and endless stream of important traffic through prominent real estate. Contrastingly, the system tray is like the Bushwick warehouse party block, where all persistent background-process-ish things can pop up and act out a little. No one knows where their neighbors are from, but playing around with it feels meaningful enough; in fact it's actually almost endearing... but for the fact that it's constantly loud, and none of all those among its conspicuously myriad and visually distinctive guests seem in charge.

I have nothing against the System Tray; it may not be up for a Pritzker (if you will). The incidence of places like the System Tray -- utilitarian affairs that serve a number of important miscellaneous purposes fairly well -- are as common in the physical built environment as they are on our screens. Here's an analogous gathering-ground from my personal desktop:

enter image description here

Comparatively, a Notification Area is a more general idea. Notification Areas can be found across the major OSes in varied forms...

enter image description here

... and they are also de rigeur on web apps, from Facebook and Twitter on down through the ranks (which I won't trifle my fellow superusers with screenshots of those). The Windows System Tray is more than a Notification Area... in fact contains a Notification Area; my first recollection of this paradigm is of Windows 2000, and the rounded-rectangle cartoon-y balloon that told me A Network Cable [Was] Unplugged, so resolute with clockwork conviction and so frothingly eager because dammit, this is important information, so what if the network cable wasn't unplugged a couple of those times.

Remember all that? The System Tray has been around awhile and it's still there (for the moment, while it's still dark before the Windows 8-rise). It is always "The System Tray" rather than "one system tray" or "another", right? Whereas when you think of a Notification Area, it's yet another in a ceaseless line of notification areas, with little n's and little a's and enough of a visual twist to distract you from both the competing notifications from other areas and actual notification it's supposed to be serving you.

enter image description here

I can't imagine merging these two tags, because one of them is a specific interface that's been around long enough to have visibly evolved, and the other is a vaguer term for a range of elements. The idea of a Notification Area is more abstract, less mature, and explosively diverse than the System Tray: a widget with a familiar crooked smile, who everyone knows from around the way.

  • 1
    You might want to check out Bartender.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 21:26
  • Hey thanks! That is almost as awesome as, like, if one could retain an actual bartender as close at hand. Salud.
    – fish2000
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 0:33
  • 2
    May I point out that Windows has no system tray, only a notification area? - blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2003/09/10/54831.aspx
    – dsolimano
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 0:53
  • Nice link, thanks, that was a very interesting read for several reasons -- I have to say that this is the first time I have heard that viewpoint advanced; it kind of reminds me of the Adobe PR campaign that sought to convince both designers and the public that saying "I used Adobe® Photoshop™" was preferable to the popular verbalized neologism "photoshopped"... granted, that was a more obviously quixotic mission as their audiences' context was a sentiment like "I photoshopped your mom's head into a disgusting tableaux" or similarly not synergistically trademark-friendly... but still yeah.
    – fish2000
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 7:58
  • And so yeah while I'm no expert, my understanding of ontologies is that they want to hold a mirror up to the entirety of life, which "life" in this case is constructive discussion of how to rock one's computer... I for one still say "system tray" as I did not get the memo. But so do people here say "system tray"?
    – fish2000
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 8:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .