ShellEnhancer provides a wide range of Windows Shell customizations including Alt-Tab menu customizations, minimizing windows to tray, Windows transparency customizations, defining custom tasks and running them through hotkey or mouse-gesture/placement, hiding desktop icons, and a number of other window-management functions such as default placement and size, setting priority, locking position and/or focus, and others.

The first thing you realize when you install this software is the sheer number and breadth of features and customizations it offers; so much so that it makes it a little bit hard to use the program. Luckily, the makers of this have created a very good wizard that can guide you through most of what’s possible.

I will attempt to categorize this program’s many features below:

Alt-Tab switching functions: ShellEnhancer can completely revamp the Alt-Tab switching function. It features advanced features such as live previews (the preview functions mirror the original window in real-time), and the addition of keyboard and mouse navigation. You can also apply various degrees of transparency and other custom viewing options.

SE_2_0_mosaicMosaic Alt-Tab: one of my favorite functions, this presents the Alt-Tab options as little previous of Windows presented simultaneously on a grid. Very cool (see 2nd screenshot).

Minimize to tray functions: similar to TrayIt. Minimize a window while pressing the Alt key (by default, but can be changed as desired) and the Window minimizes to the system tray rather than

Transparency functions: ShellEnhancer can change the transparency of any window. This can be done by right clicking on the window or using hotkeys. Windows can be set to become transparent when they are not active (which the program calls ’fading’; strangely, this has to be customized for each window/application rather than applied globally). You can set windows to fade whenever you hover over a particular window button (such as the minimize or maximize buttons). It can also make Window’s menus transparent, including the context menu. In all cases the percentage of transparency is completely user-defined.

Hotkey tasks/functions: ShellEnhancer offers the ability to launch user-defined tasks using either mouse gestures or by associating tasks with touching any of the corners of the screen. This is very versatile; e.g you can create tasks to do anything from inserting a custom string of text to displaying the desktop or disabling the screensaver. You can create tasks that do a number of things in succession. An on-screen message can be optionally be displayed whenever a task is run.

Hide desktop icons: an interesting function which makes the icons on the desktop disappear when you are working with applications or open windows and reappear only when the mouse pointer is hovering over the desktop. You can set it so that the icons only disappear after a certain time has passed.

Roll up windows: this is where instead of minimizing a window you ’roll it up’ so that only the top bar and title are visible. You can do this either double clicking on the top bar, by using a hotkey, or by right-clicking on the window itself and choosing ’rollup’

Taskbar ordering: re-oder taskbar entries (a similar function to that of Taskbar Shuffle, except it is performed within a dialog using arrows).

Shell enhance applications: can provide customizations for the listview and treeview style displays in explorer and other applications (see screenshot).

Windows management functions: right click on any window and a menu appears that can do the following: setting priority, locking position and/or focus, setting transparency, and auto-managing the window’s sizing and placement among other things.

The Verdict:
This is the kind of program that has so many features and offers so many different functionalities that it is difficult to figure out a theme that unifies them. Except, of course, that they are all shell enhancements. It took a little bit more effort than I expected to come to grips with everything that this program has to offer, even with the built in wizard.

Having said that, the fact remains that this program is every geek’s dream, and provides very powerful windows shell toys and tweaks; I highly recommend it.

Version tested:

Compatibility: Windows XP or later. There are some issues with Windows Vista .

Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 2.5 megs). Also visit the program home page.