Taskbar icons in AIR

Adobe AIR 1.0 and later

Many operating systems provide a taskbar, such as the Mac OS X dock, that can contain an icon to represent an application. Adobe® AIR® provides an interface for interacting with the application task bar icon through the NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon property.

About taskbar icons

AIR creates the NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon object automatically. The object type is either DockIcon or SystemTrayIcon, depending on the operating system. You can determine which of these InteractiveIcon subclasses that AIR supports on the current operating system using the NativeApplication.supportsDockIcon and NativeApplication.supportsSystemTrayIcon properties. The InteractiveIcon base class provides the properties width, height, and bitmaps, which you can use to change the image used for the icon. However, accessing properties specific to DockIcon or SystemTrayIcon on the wrong operating system generates a runtime error.

To set or change the image used for an icon, create an array containing one or more images and assign it to the NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.bitmaps property. The size of taskbar icons can be different on different operating systems. To avoid image degradation due to scaling, you can add multiple sizes of images to the bitmaps array. If you provide more than one image, AIR selects the size closest to the current display size of the taskbar icon, scaling it only if necessary. The following example sets the image for a taskbar icon using two images:

NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.bitmaps =  
            [bmp16x16.bitmapData, bmp128x128.bitmapData]; 

To change the icon image, assign an array containing the new image or images to the bitmaps property. You can animate the icon by changing the image in response to an enterFrame or timer event.

To remove the icon from the notification area on Windows and Linux, or to restore the default icon appearance on Mac OS X, set bitmaps to an empty array:

NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.bitmaps = []; 

Dock icons

AIR supports dock icons when NativeApplication.supportsDockIcon is true. The NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon property represents the application icon on the dock (not a window dock icon).

Note: AIR does not support changing window icons on the dock under Mac OS X. Also, changes to the application dock icon only apply while an application is running — the icon reverts to its normal appearance when the application terminates.

Dock icon menus

You can add commands to the standard dock menu by creating a NativeMenu object containing the commands and assigning it to the NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.menu property. The items in the menu are displayed above the standard dock icon menu items.

Bouncing the dock

You can bounce the dock icon by calling the NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.bounce() method. If you set the bounce() priority parameter to informational, then the icon bounces once. If you set it to critical, then the icon bounces until the user activates the application. Constants for the priority parameter are defined in the NotificationType class.

Note: The icon does not bounce if the application is already active.

Dock icon events

When the dock icon is clicked, the NativeApplication object dispatches an invoke event. If the application is not running, the system launches it. Otherwise, the invoke event is delivered to the running application instance.

System Tray icons

AIR supports system tray icons when NativeApplication.supportsSystemTrayIcon is true, which is currently the case only on Windows and most Linux distributions. On Windows and Linux, system tray icons are displayed in the notification area of the taskbar. No icon is displayed by default. To show an icon, assign an array containing BitmapData objects to the icon bitmaps property. To change the icon image, assign an array containing the new images to bitmaps. To remove the icon, set bitmaps to null.

System tray icon menus

You can add a menu to the system tray icon by creating a NativeMenu object and assigning it to the NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.menu property (no default menu is provided by the operating system). Access the system tray icon menu by right-clicking the icon.

System tray icon tooltips

Add a tooltip to an icon by setting the tooltip property:

NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.tooltip = "Application name"; 

System tray icon events

The SystemTrayIcon object referenced by the NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon property dispatches a ScreenMouseEvent for click, mouseDown, mouseUp, rightClick, rightMouseDown, and rightMouseUp events. You can use these events, along with an icon menu, to allow users to interact with your application when it has no visible windows.

Example: Creating an application with no windows

The following example creates an AIR application which has a system tray icon, but no visible windows. (The visible property of the application must not be set to true in the application descriptor, or the window will be visible when the application starts up.)

    import flash.display.Loader; 
    import flash.display.NativeMenu; 
    import flash.display.NativeMenuItem; 
    import flash.display.NativeWindow; 
    import flash.display.Sprite; 
    import flash.desktop.DockIcon; 
    import flash.desktop.SystemTrayIcon; 
    import flash.events.Event; 
    import flash.net.URLRequest; 
    import flash.desktop.NativeApplication; 
    public class SysTrayApp extends Sprite 
        public function SysTrayApp():void{ 
            NativeApplication.nativeApplication.autoExit = false; 
            var icon:Loader = new Loader(); 
            var iconMenu:NativeMenu = new NativeMenu(); 
            var exitCommand:NativeMenuItem = iconMenu.addItem(new NativeMenuItem("Exit")); 
                exitCommand.addEventListener(Event.SELECT, function(event:Event):void { 
                    NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.bitmaps = []; 
            if (NativeApplication.supportsSystemTrayIcon) { 
                NativeApplication.nativeApplication.autoExit = false; 
                icon.contentLoaderInfo.addEventListener(Event.COMPLETE, iconLoadComplete); 
                icon.load(new URLRequest("icons/AIRApp_16.png")); 
                var systray:SystemTrayIcon =  
                    NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon as SystemTrayIcon; 
                systray.tooltip = "AIR application"; 
                systray.menu = iconMenu; 
            if (NativeApplication.supportsDockIcon){ 
                icon.load(new URLRequest("icons/AIRApp_128.png")); 
                var dock:DockIcon = NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon as DockIcon;  
                dock.menu = iconMenu; 
        private function iconLoadComplete(event:Event):void 
            NativeApplication.nativeApplication.icon.bitmaps = 
Note: When using the Flex WindowedApplication component, you must set the visible attribute of the WindowedApplication tag to false. This attribute supercedes the setting in the application descriptor.
Note: The example assumes that there are image files named AIRApp_16.png and AIRApp_128.png in an icons subdirectory of the application. (Sample icon files, which you can copy to your project folder, are included in the AIR SDK.)

Window taskbar icons and buttons

Iconified representations of windows are typically displayed in the window area of a taskbar or dock to allow users to easily access background or minimized windows. The Mac OS X dock displays an icon for your application as well as an icon for each minimized window. The Microsoft Windows and Linux taskbars display a button containing the progam icon and title for each normal-type window in your application.

Highlighting the taskbar window button

When a window is in the background, you can notify the user that an event of interest related to the window has occurred. On Mac OS X, you can notify the user by bouncing the application dock icon (as described in Bouncing the dock). On Windows and Linux, you can highlight the window taskbar button by calling the notifyUser() method of the NativeWindow instance. The type parameter passed to the method determines the urgency of the notification:

  • NotificationType.CRITICAL: the window icon flashes until the user brings the window to the foreground.

  • NotificationType.INFORMATIONAL: the window icon highlights by changing color.

    Note: On Linux, only the informational type of notification is supported. Passing either type value to the notifyUser() function will create the same effect.

    The following statement highlights the taskbar button of a window:


    Calling the NativeWindow.notifyUser() method on an operating system that does not support window-level notification has no effect. Use the NativeWindow.supportsNotification property to determine if window notification is supported.

Creating windows without taskbar buttons or icons

On the Windows operating system, windows created with the types utility or lightweight do not appear on the taskbar. Invisible windows do not appear on the taskbar, either.

Because the initial window is necessarily of type, normal, in order to create an application without any windows appearing in the taskbar, you must either close the initial window or leave it invisible. To close all windows in your application without terminating the application, set the autoExit property of the NativeApplication object to false before closing the last window. To simply prevent the initial window from ever becoming visible, add <visible>false</visible> to the <initalWindow> element of the application descriptor file (and do not set the visible property to true or call the activate() method of the window).

In new windows opened by the application, set the type property of the NativeWindowInitOption object passed to the window constructor to NativeWindowType.UTILITY or NativeWindowType.LIGHTWEIGHT.

On Mac OS X, windows that are minimized are displayed on the dock taskbar. You can prevent the minimized icon from being displayed by hiding the window instead of minimizing it. The following example listens for a nativeWindowDisplayState change event and cancels it if the window is being minimized. Instead the handler sets the window visible property to false:

private function preventMinimize(event:NativeWindowDisplayStateEvent):void{ 
    if(event.afterDisplayState == NativeWindowDisplayState.MINIMIZED){ 
        event.target.visible = false; 

If a window is minimized on the Mac OS X dock when you set the visible property to false, the dock icon is not removed. A user can still click the icon to make the window reappear.