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:
- Drag the window with your mouse to another location.
- Change the size by pressing <Ctrl> while using the scroll wheel
of your mouse (text files only).
- Make the window topmost (always on top) with the <F4> function key
(see also below the configuration file).
- Start your favourite editor on the shown text file.
- Popup a windows explorer window showing the folder (directory) containing
the shown file.
- Click on some line in the text file, and depending on the line contents,
view another file, a documentation file, or a web page, start an application
such as an editor on some other file.
- And even delete the currently shown file...
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).
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
| -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
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
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.
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:
- If the line starts with ! or #, it is ignored (comment)
- If the line contains only equals signs (=) a separator is added
to the context menu.
- If the line is of the form
-option = value
with one of the options as defined above
then the option is set as a default.
This option value can be overriden at the command line.
- If the line is of the form
label = hyperlink
then the context menu is augmented of the given label which, when clicked,
follows the hyperlink as defined below.
At the same time, the given key is bound to the same hyperlink.
Either the label or the key can be left out.
See the documented examples of the zeig.sample.ini file in the installation
You can read any text file with «zeig», provided it does not have too long
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
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:
- A leading ! or # is ignored
- Leading and trailing spaces are ignored
- Replace the internal variables in the line
- If the first or only word of the line is an internal command, execute it
- Otherwise pass the line to the windows cmd processor with the following
cmd /c start "" the-hyperlink
| 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)
| $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).
- Make «zeig» the default program for files with some extension like ".me":
This allows for instance to write with your favorite text editor
small documentation files (read.me)
in your important folders, then double-click them to view them and
take some further actions.
In order to do that, right click on some read.me file,
click on "Open with..." then "Browse...", choose zeig.exe in the
installation folder, and check the "Always use the selected program"
checkbox before you click on OK.
- Create a shortcut to zeig.exe in your SendTo folder:
This will allow you to view any text or gif file by rightclicking it to
popup the explorer context menu then clicking on the «zeig» entry in the
"Send To" submenu.
In default context menu of «zeig», there is an entry to open your SendTo
folder as well as for the «zeig» installation folder.
Just drag zeig.exe and drop it with the <Alt> key pressed in the SendTo
Or copy the desktop shortcut to the SendTo folder.
- The registry file (zeig.reg) provided with the «zeig» distribution adds
an entry in the explorer context menu to open any file with «zeig».
Before you use this registry file, make sure that it points to the folder
that you did choose at installation time.
Then just double-click it.
- Make «zeig» the default program for the gif files.
- Use «zeig» in conjunction with a screen capture utility:
I use an older (freeware) version of "FastStone Capture" which allows me
(among other things) with two mouse clicks to cut a portion of the screen,
save it to a gif file in a default folder with a temporary name and open
that folder in the explorer.
A double click on the file and a small window with the
desktop extract pops up in the topleft corner.
And once I don't need the gif file any more, there is an entry in the
context menu to delete it...
- Create a barebones text file with only lines that you can double click
to start applications, view files or web documents and use this text file
as a taskbar.
The corresponding shortcut, that you can create on your desktop
or even in your autostart folder,
may also contain configuration options for the font size, color, position,
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:
and check the result
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