While it may not have the world’s catchiest name, Googsystray is a heck of a useful app. That is, if you use a lot of Google apps like GMail, Reader, and especially Voice. It doesn’t just show you unread counts like so many other utilities, Googsystray integrates tightly with the Google services to give you the ability to make phone calls through Voice or send SMS text messages directly from your system tray. It works on most Linux and Windows systems, and can save you quite a bit of hassle (and several browser tabs).
Note: This article will focus on the Linux implementation. Past the installation step, the usage should be identical.
The software comes in a tarball for installation. Getting everything done is a simple process from the command line
#File and directory name vary by version tar -zxvf googsystray-(version).tar.gz cd googsystray-(version) sudo python setup.py install
If you’re returned to the prompt with no errors, installation was successful. Just run
from the command line to begin.
At first, Googsystray is unaware of your accounts. It’s got to have at least one to do its job, and that can be added by clicking the Add button in the top right corner of the General tab.
Place a check mark for any Google services you want Googsystray to monitor. From here on out, you can set up individual options for Google Voice, GMail, Calendar, Reader, and Docs.
Once you’ve chosen your preferred services and configured to your preferences, don’t forget to check out the Popup Window section. This is what you’ll see when you go to make calls or texts through Voice, or any other feature that requires a popup.
Go ahead and save your settings. If all went well, you’ll see the icons for your selected services appear on your panel.
The Fancy Parts
There are plenty of things that can show your email count in your panel, and if that’s all Googsystray could do, we wouldn’t bother writing about it. Where things get more interesting is with Google Voice integration. By right-clicking the Voice icon, you can bring up the menu offering several useful Voice options, such as initiating new calls.
Much like calling from the Voice homepage, the applet will call the number you desire and ring the phone of your choosing.
Similarly, you can use the same menu to bring up the options for SMS messages.
If nothing else, these two features alone make Googsystray worth the install for many.
During testing, this author encountered a few bugs that caused a complete application crash. This seemed to mostly occur when taking actions quickly, such as starting and stopping a Voice call in a short amount of time. It’s been a few months since the last release, at least according to the Sourceforge download page, so it’s possible some of these issues are being addressed.
While minor, there were some graphical issues as well. The notification numbers are rather shoddy looking, especially at larger sizes. This may be due to the software’s multi-platform nature, as it can’t reliably depend on a particular graphics library. It might also help if the popup window took its color template from the system settings, but once again the platform independence might make that difficult to implement.
While there’s still room for polish, Googsystray is certainly very useful as-is. While it may not integrate very well into my particular OS/desktop combination, it’s nice to know I could run it as-is across any PC in my home with identical results. For those like me who rely heavily on Google for communications, Googsystray is the way to go.
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