Is there a way to "hide" a normal windowed application in Windows?

I'm looking for something that removes it from the taskbar and possibly puts an icon in the system tray instead.

  • Well there's ones that retain the icon, or ones that use a "special" icon to "hide" the program from people (so when you hit the key combo to hide it, it's called the "Boss Key" :P ). That way nobody knows what the application is - it may look like a networking icon. And requires a password to restore. Sep 18, 2009 at 11:40
  • 2
    Anyone know a way to do this without using third-party software (i.e. with a registry entry, etc)?
    – Jim Fell
    Mar 9, 2016 at 15:00

8 Answers 8



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Auto Window Manager

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Take your pick. They all minimize applications to the system tray. They're all free and work with Windows XP.

  • Quite a few gems in your answer! Nice apps :)
    – alex
    Sep 18, 2009 at 10:59
  • yep, TayIt does just that, the others offer a a whole rake of more or less useful features.
    – Molly7244
    Sep 18, 2009 at 11:14
  • Just installed TrayIt; it's a really nice app, especially the ability to remember to minimize an application to the system tray.
    – alex
    Sep 18, 2009 at 13:10
  • 5
    unfortunately, None of these are able to hide a window's taskbar icon without minimizing it.
    – Malabarba
    Oct 19, 2009 at 5:11

As of the April 2018 update, Windows 10 is now able hide windows from view without installing extra software. There are now Virtual Desktops that allow you to isolate specific windows to separate environments. Here's how you enable the feature to do as you desire:

Configure your Multitasking settings.

  1. Open your Settings dialog
  2. Search for Multitasking
  3. Set the taskbar to only show the active desktop's windows


Move window to a different desktop

  1. Press ⊞ Win+Tab ↹ keys together
  2. Click the 'New Desktop' option at the top of the screen
  3. Drag one of the open windows to the new desktop window
  4. Click on Desktop 2 to switch to that desktop
  5. Observe that the taskbar no longer shows the windows that are open on Desktop 1



  • ⊞ Win+Tab ↹ = opens the Virtual Desktop management screen
  • CTRL+⊞ Win+D = create and move to a new desktop
  • CTRL+⊞ Win+ = move to the next desktop
  • CTRL+⊞ Win+ = move to the previous desktop
  • CTRL+⊞ Win+F4 = close the current desktop
  • 1
    This doesn't work for applications that run on startup. I like this solution but all apps that run on start-up, starts in Desktop 1. Is there a way to ensure apps start in a specific desktop?
    – kebbaben
    Jul 9, 2020 at 16:28
  • @kebbaben Windows doesn't persist desktops so you always boot with a fresh slate. Though, this question seems to offer a workaround using a 3rd party tool to auto-create the new desktops and assign apps to them: superuser.com/questions/1034074 Jul 9, 2020 at 16:42
  • 1
    This actually doesn't hide it all the time, only if the window is inactive. If it becomes active on a different desktop it will still show up on the taskbar.
    – Ashnur
    Sep 1, 2020 at 14:53
  • 1
    I love this solution - no need for extra software! thanks so much
    – Nick
    Mar 16, 2021 at 15:57

Try the open-source tools Minime and RBTray to minimize a Windows application to the system tray and hide it from the taskbar.

  • 1
    Hurray for open source! TrayIt's company doesn't exist anymore and PMW doesn't work in Win7. Minime does! Dec 20, 2012 at 0:39
  • 1
    Very nice. Minime.exe: ONE file. Portable. Ctrl-Shift-Z & Ctrl-Shift-A Done. (Win7 SP1 x64 compatible)
    – adam
    Jan 7, 2013 at 10:09
  • 1
    As of March 2017, SF is showing that the Minime executable installer contains malware. It's possible it's a bundle-installer or something along those lines, but I'm not going to test it right now...
    – Doktor J
    May 13, 2017 at 8:20
  • 9 detections from virustotal for minime.exe. Anyway it doesn't do anything different from the others so it doesn't seem to be worth it.
    – cdlvcdlv
    Jul 16, 2017 at 15:02

I use Process Manager for this. It has a lot of other options besides putting an app in the system tray, but I use this the most.

  • unfortunately, this also isn't able to hide a window's taskbar icon without minimizing it.
    – Albin
    Jul 25, 2018 at 21:36
  • Does not work under Windows 10 anymore. Probably due to a incorrect check for an older .NET Framework.
    – Maris B.
    Dec 7, 2020 at 13:53

I found a clever workaround in the Windows Seven Forums:

  1. Either create a new shortcut or copy a shortcut of the program (ex: CCleaner) that you want to pin to the taskbar to your desktop.

NOTE: If you already have this program pinned to the taskbar, then you will need to unpin it before doing step 2.

  1. Right click on the new shortcut (ex: CCleaner) on the desktop, and click on Properties.

  2. In the Shortcut tab, click on the Change Icon button.

  3. In the field under "Look for icons in this file", copy and paste the location below and press Enter.


  4. Select the blank transparent icon and click on OK.

  5. Click on OK.

  6. Right click on the shortcut (ex: CCleaner) with the new blank icon on the desktop, and click on Pin to Taskbar.

  7. Delete the shortcut (ex: CCleaner) on the desktop.

  8. The invisible program icon is now pinned to the taskbar.

See link above to post in Windows Seven Forums for example screen captures.

  • This is great, but Windows 10 has made some adjustments to their task bar where invisible images have a border around them. Still trying to figure that one out.
    – Tmanok
    Mar 5, 2018 at 19:58
  • 1
    so the icon is transparent but it still takes up the space, right?
    – Albin
    Jul 25, 2018 at 21:32
  • This doesnt work with windows 10. In the taskbar the icon of the program appears again once the program is started.
    – stot
    Aug 17, 2021 at 14:18

I think "4t Tray Minimizer Free" can still do it, at least for most cases:


It has multiple ways to hide to tray.

Sadly, the only reason I tried it today is for a pesky window that it fails to minimize to tray (one of "AnyDesk").


http://www.softpedia.com/get/Desktop-Enhancements/Other-Desktop-Enhancements/Dialog-Mate.shtml. The one I use because it's small, well integrated and has the favorites part also. Right mouse click on the normal maximize/restore control button (on application's Title bar) minimizes any application to an icon on Desktop, right-clicking on minimize button minimizes any application to Tray (what OP asked). It also adds convenient menu to all applications' Title bars for these aforementioned functions, and to set 'Always on Top' also.

  • Can you add in the relevant parts of the link into your answer? We ask this to help the OP out, so they will not have to search through information that may not pertain to them. This is also to preserve the relevant information in case the hosting site goes down. For more information, see this meta post.
    – Cfinley
    Apr 21, 2015 at 15:18
  • If this is software, please explain to us how to use the software in a way that answers OP's question.
    – Cfinley
    Apr 21, 2015 at 15:20
  • unfortunately, this also isn't able to hide a window's taskbar icon without minimizing it.
    – Albin
    Jul 25, 2018 at 21:34

Another solution is MenuTools, which is open-source, works in Windows 10, and was last updated on January 23rd, 2020. When you right-click on the title bar of the program, you will notice some additional menu items added to the context menu. One of those being Minimize to Tray which will hide the icon from the taskbar and add an icon to the system tray.

Screenshot of MenuTools

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