Gmail Tasks in Your Ubuntu System Tray

2009-02-22

Recently I switched to Gmail Tasks from Remember the Milk because I long thought the latter to be a little to cluttered for my taste. I wanted something more lightweight and quick. Gmail Tasks is a perfect fit: it’s quick to add new tasks, you can have several task lists, you can create sub tasks. That’s basically all I need at the moment.

Gmail Tasks exists primarily in your Gmail account, but you can put it almost everywhere since it is just a web page. This is how you integrate with the Ubuntu desktop:

How my tasks look like on the desktop

How my tasks look like on the desktop

Accessing Tasks Outside Your Browser

To be able edit your Tasks on you desktop, you need to install a program called Prism (package: prism). If you want to, you can also install other predefined applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar by installing the packages prism-google-mail and prism-google-calendar (there are more similar packages available).

You add Gmail Tasks by starting Prism from ApplicationsInternetPrism and enter the following URL:

http://mail.google.com/tasks/ig

As name, I entered just “Tasks” (without the quotes). Then you must check Desktop under Create Shortcuts. This will create a desktop short cut to Gmail Tasks. Nice, and sometimes enough for a web application that you only use occasionally!

Integrating Tasks with the Desktop Environment

To integrate Gmail Tasks a little bit more seamless with the Ubuntu desktop, we’re going to use a program called alltray (package: alltray) to put the Prism window in the system tray. alltray is started from the command line either without arguments (you can the click on a window to send it to the tray):

alltray

You can also start alltray with the program to send to the tray as an argument:

alltray <program>

This is the command I use to start Gmail Tasks with alltray:

alltray -st -na -g 300x724+980 xulrunner-1.9 /usr/share/prism/application.ini -webapp tasks@prism.app

This requires you to have created the Gmail Tasks web application with Prism earlier. Here’s what the arguments do:

  • -st tells alltray to show the window in system tray only at startup
  • -na removes “(Alltray)” from the window title
  • -g sets the window size and position on the form WithxHeight+XPosition+YPosition. I set it to a width of 300 and a height of 724 (the height of my desktop without the Gnome panels) and an X position of 980 (the width of my desktop minus the witdh of the window, to place it on the right side)
  • The last argument is how Gmail Tasks is started normally with Prism (you can see this command if you right-click on the Gmail Tasks icon on the desktop and choose Properties)

Right click on the desktop icon for Gmail Tasks (the one that Prism created) and change the Program field to include the alltray command with its arguments before the normal Prism command. When you double-click the Gmail Tasks icon on the desktop now, it will start in the system tray instead of starting as a normal window.

If you right click on the Applications menu and choose Edit Menus you can drag and drop the Gmail Tasks icon from the desktop to for example the Internet or Accessories menu. It is then safe to remove it from the desktop.

Starting Automatically when Ubuntu Starts

Making Gmail Tasks start automatically with Ubuntu is done by adding it to Sessions in SystemPreferencesSessions. Open the Sessions window and drag and drop the Gmail Tasks shortcut from the desktop or the Applications menu to Sessions window. Gmail Tasks will now start automatically in the system tray every time you login!

Conclusion

This is a (fairly) easy method to add your Gmail Tasks to your desktop, with the help of applications available in the Ubuntu repositories. This method could be used with any other web application too, like Facebook or Twitter for example. Hope this has helped!

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39 Responses to “Gmail Tasks in Your Ubuntu System Tray”

  1. Peter Thorin Says:

    If you’re on a system with Google Chrome, you can go to http://mail.google.com/tasks/ig and click the Page button and select “Create application shortcuts…” to do just that. Pretty nifty, although it won’t give you a tray icon.

  2. to Says:

    Great find, Adam, thanx for sharing!

  3. Dhruva Sagar Says:

    Hi,
    First of all I would like to thank you for this.
    Secondly I did just what you have and everything works mostly, expect that I get the annoying Prism icon in the tray, I wanted to get the gmail tasks icon as you have in your screenshot. What do I do for that? If you can help, that will be great!


  4. @Dhruva:

    I saved the favicon from the Gmail Tasks page in the prism directory in my home folder and used the -i (or -icon) argument to alltray with the path to the icon.

  5. Dhruva Sagar Says:

    Awesome!!! God Bless you!

  6. Jamie Says:

    Nice tip mang. Tasks are sweet.

    One thing – you had gmail.tasks@prism.app in your startup script when you named it “Tasks” above. You have to put the lower case version of whatever you named it, ie tasks@prism.app.

    -Jamie

  7. eliosh Says:

    You’re THE MAN. Solved me a problem even with toggl

  8. Loco Ulysses Says:

    Has anyone gotten this working with multiple prism apps?

    If I have my GTasks going in alltray, and I try to start another prism app through alltray, it doesn’t get trayed at all. However, I can still call “alltray” alone, and click on the prism app and get it in the tray no problem. Obviously though, I’d rather not have to do that…

  9. Celsius Says:

    Hi! Thx for your tips, it’s awesome!

    But I can’t find the favicon of Gmail Tasks. Indeed, the Gmail Tasks page is a blogspot page…

    Can you send me the Tasks favicon by mail please? Prism icon is just awful :)


  10. @Celsius:

    If you go to http://mail.google.com/tasks/ig in Firefox, you can right click and choose “View Page Info”. In the Media tab you can see the favicon and save it to your computer.

  11. Forteresce Valor Says:

    Hi! firstly thanks for the your instructions worked like a charm.
    I tried to do the same thing to get Google Voice running in my system tray. The problem is looks like two prism instances share the same group id so I can only get one in the tray using alltray at one time. I also tried doing it with “-no-remote” to the prism app but does not help. any suggestions?


  12. I haven’t tried this, but perhaps this link will give you some directions: http://lifebaker.com/en/2009/05/run-multiple-google-talk-client-at-your-desktop-with-prism/

  13. Jaak Says:

    I tried this and nothing happens if I try to send it to the tray. I double klick the tasks icon on the desktop and silence.

    I put the full command into terminal and it gives me an error:

    AllTray: Failed to execute child process “xulrunner-1.9″ (No such file or directory)

    Both prism and alltray are installed. When I open the webapp in a window and use alltray gui it works. When I use the command – it does not work. The prism app name is tasks.

    What could be the problem here and how to solve it?

  14. admin Says:

    @Jaak: Seems like xulrunner-1.9 is not on your path. Either you need to add it to your path or it is not installed (could be the case on Kubuntu). Try this:

    sudo apt-get install xulrunner

  15. Jaak Says:

    Thank you for the quick response. I am using Ubuntu 9.10 I ran that command and it installed xulrunner 1.8.1.16

    I opened the package manager it seems that 1.9.1.5 is also installed.

    Did a reinstall of the newer one and unistalled the one that “sudo apt-get install xulrunner” installed on the system.

    The problem still persists :)

  16. admin Says:

    Can you see xulrunner-1.9 in your path? (Try running it in a terminal)

  17. Jaak Says:

    Thank you again for the response :)

    terminal output:

    jaak@aspire3023wlmi:~$ xulrunner-1.9
    The program ‘xulrunner-1.9′ is currently not installed. You can install it by typing:
    sudo apt-get install xulrunner-1.9
    xulrunner-1.9: command not found
    jaak@aspire3023wlmi:~$ sudo apt-get install xulrunner-1.9
    [sudo] password for jaak:
    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    Package xulrunner-1.9 is not available, but is referred to by another package.
    This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
    is only available from another source
    E: Package xulrunner-1.9 has no installation candidate
    jaak@aspire3023wlmi:~$


  18. Okay, so some version of xulrunner seems to be on your path (which I think should be enough). Have you tried to re-install Prism? Maybe it is tied to an old version of xulrunner?

  19. Jaak Says:

    I played around a bit and found out that the location prism was pointing to for the ini file was wrong in my case. What I did:
    alltray -st -stask -na -g 300×724+980 xulrunner /usr/share/prism/prism/application.ini -webapp tasks@prism.app

    The subfolder under prism is actually a link that was there – it points to a folder under lib where the actual prism installation seems to be – strange.

    I also added the parameter -stask to keep the tasks only in the system tray.

    To make it autorun on startup I simply opened system – preferences – startup applications and pressed Add. Pasted the: alltray -st -stask -na -g 300×724+980 xulrunner /usr/share/prism/prism/application.ini -webapp tasks@prism.app

    and voilaa :)

    Thank you for sharing this,

    Jaak


  20. Glad it worked out for you in the end!


  21. [...] leía un artículo en Namsis.com en el que el autor explicaba como crear, con ayuda de una tercera aplicación, un lanzador para [...]


  22. [...] pod Ubuntu znajdę podobną aplikacje. Nic bardziej mylnego. Nie udało mi się. Wtedy znalazłem ten i oto przewodnik. Wszystko jest tam opisane, więc nie będę bez potrzeby kopiował. Od siebie [...]

  23. Mathew Says:

    works perfect thank you so much! Curious though, I am using Ubuntu panels and if I slide into another panel and then hit the icon in the tray the window pops up only in the first panel, is this a problem for you also? Thanks

  24. Jamie Thom Says:

    Thanks! I’ve been trying to get a grip on my task management and needed a way to use GTasks in the web, on my two Linux boxes, on my Android phone and on my work Windows box. This has nailed the Linux bit perfectly!

  25. lonelinsky Says:

    thx a lot for you sharing.


  26. [...] Gmail Tasks in Your Ubuntu System Tray « Namsisi – November 30th ( tags: linux google tasks desktop gmail gtd software prism alltray taskbar howto setup tip trick ) [...]

  27. Ray Says:

    Excellent Post! (copied to many others (Linux Journal did a Linux Minute video is where I first saw it).

    Just wanted to add some additional info.

    I added Google Maps as above, and needed to be certain that all of the check boxes in the Prism initiation window were checked (Show navigation bar, Show status messages and progress and Enable navigation keys.

    In adding the shortcut to the menu, I removed the alltray commands (as I all ready had it auto-running at startup via the System –> Preferences –> Startup Applications options.

    Running 10.10 Ubuntu and loving all I can do in it!

    Thanks again!

  28. najmi Says:

    Hi,

    Do you knows anything like Karamba tray apps/something like sticky notes (Screenlets for example) that will work with Google Task?

  29. Kelly Says:

    Yes this is cool, easy to understand and very powerful, plus it teaches you a thing or two about ubuntu. Thanks for the post.


  30. great post, thanks!!
    I sync now my notes on my LG 540GT + Android (app: gtasks) and my Ubuntu 10.04 + Gnome
    :-)


  31. [...] tasks in my system tray? Nope. Apparently this used to be possible with prism, a mozillalabs project to allow web applications to run natively in the desktop1. The [...]

  32. Ludo Says:

    Merci pour tout
    Ca marche nickel !!!


  33. [...] http://namsisi.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/gmail-tasks-in-your-ubuntu-system-tray/ 这篇文章的评论里提到一个更简便的方法,就是用chrome来实现。 [...]

  34. Adam Says:

    Reblogged this on Ye blog of Adam Wright and commented:
    Great article on how to integrate Google Tasks within a linux desktop using Prism, and then integrating within the Ubuntu indicator applet using alltray.


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