This small utility with a very flexible configuration and a small footprint is designed to spare real estate on your desktop and help you in your daily work.

It shows small text or gif files directly on the desktop, without any title, buttons, menu bars, toolbars or status lines so that the minimal amount of room is taken away from your desktop.

It is specially useful for laptop users: keep a small cheat sheet on top of all other windows in a desktop corner while you are doing some work in another application. And start applications, documentation viewers, web pages directly with a double-click.

Rightclick to popup a context menu.

Exit with <Esc> or <Alt/F4>.

There is not much more functionality to expect, however you can:

Actually, the best way to use «zeig» is to prepare your own cheat sheets, small text files to help you in your daily work: see below cheat sheets.


This program has only been tested on Windows XP.




Just run the setup program. This will install «zeig» in the programs folder, add an entry in the start menu and add an icon on your desktop. You can run Uninstall to remove this.

You may also want to double click the "zeig.reg" file in the installation folder, in order to add an entry "Open with Zeig" in the explorer context menu (see more ideas below). Or maybe you prefer to add a shortcut to zeig.exe in your SendTo folder.

After the first start, a folder is created in your applications folder which then contains the customable configuration file "zeig.ini" (see configuration below).

Starting zeig

In order to start «zeig» you can drag a small text or gif file and drop it on the «zeig» icon on your desktop.

If a folder icon is dropped on the «zeig» icon or if «zeig» is started with a folder name, the read.me file in this folder will be shown.

You can also start «zeig» from the command line or from the Command box in the Start menu with one the following options, followed by the name of the file that you want to show:


-w nnn specify the maximum width of the window
-h nnn specify the maximum height of the window
-x nnn specify the initial x-coordinate of the window
-y nnn specify the initial y-coordinate of the window
-topmost specify the 'always on top' property for the window (this can be reset with F4 at runtime)

and for text files:

-font "name size type" specify the font (include the name in curly brackets if it contains spaces)
-bg color specify the background color
-fg color specify the foreground color
-bd size specify a border
-relief value specify the border appearance. value = raised, sunken, flat, ridge, solid, and groove
-justify value specify the text alignment. value = left, center or right

some playful options:

-alpha value specifies the degree of transparency for the window. value between 0 and 1
-transparentcolor value specifies that one of the colors should be replaced by transparency (usually this is the background which is yellow per default)

Check for more options in the Tcl/Tk documentation (label widget). See for instance http://www.tcl.tk/man/tcl8.4/TkCmd/label.htm


You can configure function keys and the context menu by editing the configuration file (see zeig.ini in the application data folder). You can access this file directly by hitting <F1> then edit it with <F5>.

In this file you can specify functions and how they are accessed, either via the context menu, a function key or both. The default configuration provides many examples that should work with any standard Windows XP installation, although your mileage may vary.

You can also specify default values for the windows appearance and functionality. The Tcl/Tk documentation (specially the documentation for the label widget) can be very helpful to define this functionality.

If you want to return to the default configuration, just delete the zeig.ini file in the application data folder, «zeig» will create a fresh copy the next time it starts.

configuration file format

While reading the configuration file (zeig.ini) «zeig» concurently sets internal options, defines key bindings and builds the context menu. The format of each line of this file is:

See the documented examples of the zeig.sample.ini file in the installation folder.

Cheat Sheets

You can read any text file with «zeig», provided it does not have too long lines.

But the best way to use «zeig» is to prepare your own cheat sheets, small text files to help you in your daily work: howto's, memos, help files, small documentations written in your own language but also including directly callable references, some kind of extended hyperlinks which provide not only access to web pages, but also to local files or folders as well as to start applications or custom commands.

My habit is to keep a small text file called read.me in my folders that describe the contents of the folder, point to the important files and describes the actions that you can take in this folder. It may also point to other related folders.

I also often create a small description file for important files, such as downloads, which are not self-explanatory. The description file has the same name as the file to be documented with the extension .! (yes: dot bang, why not?), for instance:

some-download-V.1.03.exe the download of a cute application some-download.! the description file some-download.! would contain for instance the date and circumstances of the download, what this application does, the name of the application, the installation folder, the configuration folder, the web page where the download comes from, and whatever information that should be available about this application.

I configured the files with extension .me and .! to open in «zeig» on double-click.

But of course, your mileage may vary...

If you use a word processor (Open Office, MS Word) to edit your cheat sheets, do not use any formating options and make sure that you save the file as a plain text file.


If you double-click some line in the file that you are viewing, «zeig» will make its best to interpret the contents of the line. Here are the rules:

internal commands

ClipLine copies the contents of the line to the windows clipboard.
ToggleTopMost toggles the topmost (always on top) option.
Reposition x y position the window to the x and y coordinates on the desktop.
Exit terminates the program.
exec command executes a windows 'cmd' command (you may have a few problems with quotes or backslashes - this is a known bug)

internal variables

$filename the name of the current file.
$directory the folder where the current file is located.
$appdir the folder containing the user's configuration data.
$inifile the name of the configuration data file (zeig.ini).
$progdir the installation folder (typ. C:\Program Files\zeig).
$env(xxx) some windows environment variable as set at the start of the programm, e.g. $env(userprofile).

More ideas

You don't have to read this...

The name «zeig» means "show me" in german. I could have named it something like "Spickzettel", which means "cheat sheet" in german (or "antiseche" in french). It would apply quite nicely to this program. I use it in fact not only to remember sequences of actions, but also to help me actually doing them. Instead of writing somewhere (on a postit ;-) "don't forget to edit the version number before release", I enter a paragraph in the read.me file of the development folder such as: before release change the version: edit zeig.tcl edit read.me edit deploy.bat then: deploy.bat and check the result http://www.lhg.ch Thereafter I only have to doubleclick myself through the file, to execute all the needed steps. And the cheat sheet can be modified easily by hitting a function key to open it in my favourite text editor.


There are other very good (much better) file viewers on the net, but I could not find any barebones application which displays files with a minimal desktop footprint. That's why I decided to make my own, possibly somewhat suffering from the NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome.

I then thought it would be cute to add some extended hyperlink features so that these small cheat sheets become an active help to do one's work. Something like using them as intelligent check lists.

On the other hand the program had to stay very sleek, so that you don't spend most of your time waiting for windows to popup. This meant some tradeof, specially in the domains of scrolling and of hyperlinks containing spaces, backslashes or quotes.

Yet, have fun with «zeig». Any comments are welcome, preferably constructive: LHG@acm.org

Copyright © 2008-2010 Lionel H. Grillet, Zug, Switzerland