Fixing Hidden Windows Tooltips


[Update: one commenter said that s/he objected to the high memory usage of this fix. Now there’s a version 2 out that will take between .3 and 1.5 MB instead of 7MB or more. See my second comment (third overall).]

I started working on a new/old laptop (new to me, but was my wife’s before her employer bought her a work-dedicated machine). Yeah, my old laptop was pretty much unusable at this point (like go make a cup of tea while waiting for it to switch from a Firefox window to a Word window). Great! Except for one annoying thing: over in the task bar, the tooltips are partially or fully hidden. Sometimes this is marginally annoying (as in the example below). Sometimes the tool tip is so covered over by the system tray that you can’t even read the message box so if you don’t know which icon you’re looking for, you can’t find it. Uggh!

So in a case that isn’t completely egregious, but gives an idea of the problem, it looks like this:

Hidden Tooltip

So in other words, you end up with the tooltips behind the taskbar. This bug has existed since Windows 95. The Microsoft solution is absurd: logout, restart, hope it improves (it doesn’t, or rather it does, until the next time). Other solution suggested: set it so that the taskbar does not always stay on top. Great idea, except that is even more annoying than the broken tool tips. I looked at a bunch of help forums and everyone agrees that there is no fix. Everyone, that is, but someone who posted in a comment somewhere, which led me to the Tooltip Fixer from Neosmart which immediately and simply fixes the hidden tooltip problem. And voilà!

Tooltip Corrected

I downloaded it, installed it and in three minutes it was fixed. It took me longer than that to make a small donation to his Chip-in fund. I only gave $5 (I’m a cheap bastard), but if everyone with this bug gave him $5 none of us would be poorer and he would be retired.

5 Responses to “Fixing Hidden Windows Tooltips”

  1. Well, that’s obviously a consideration. In general, I go through and kill background processes and services that I don’t like, but I find the hidden tool tip really annoying.

    That said, you’re right and I think it’s worse than that actually. I believe it may have some sort of memory leak and grabs more memory over time. So if you habitually hibernate or go to standby instead of actually shutting down and rebooting, it can turn into a major memory hog (like 37MB instead of “just” 7MB). Seven is already a lot, of course (same as the MYSQL daemon and almost as much as Google Desktop), but 37MB is a little out of control for what it does (that’s about the same as Internet Explorer which is about half the memory load of Firefox).

    Really Microsoft should fix this and and it should take little or no memory. Barring that, this is the best fix I’ve found. Obviously, whether or not you use it depends on how aggravating the problem is. For me I have a couple of apps that sit in the system tray and usually I just want to hover over them for a status report. Impossible with Windows messing up. So for me it’s worth it.

  2. Regarding memory usage, the author recently completely rewrote the code and got rid of the .NET libraries and such, so it’s cut memory usage way down.

  3. the true fix is: properties and untick “keep the taskbar on top of other windows” then all the tool tips will be on top of the sys tray. Its nothing to do with windows messing up, its just Bill Gates is a pleb when it comes to gui design

  4. I know about that “fix” Jim, but it isn’t so much what I would call a “fix” as a “workaround”. I personally *like* having my taskbar visible at all times. I change windows often and don’t want to have to Alt-TAB or take action to show the taskbar (mouseover or whatever).

    So I *want* to keep that box ticked and yet still have tool tips work.

    AFAIK, the utlity I mention here is the only thing that allows me to achieve both of those.

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