Tray Tools 2000 is a compact tool which allows you to launch up to 24 of your most essential applications from the system tray.
By default these include various Windows tools: Explorer, Notepad, the Registry Editor, Calculator and so on. We found these weren't visible when we first launched the program, but it seems a reboot was necessary, as least for us. Once our system was restarted, every one of the default tools had an icon in the system tray, and clicking this launched it, just as you would expect.
To configure Tray Tools 2000, click the program's own system tray icon, and select the Tools tab. Here you can remove any unnecessary items (like CDPlayer.exe, for instance), and add preferred programs of your own. There's a little work to do here, but it's essentially just like creating a shortcut: you'll provide a program name, path, optional command line switches, an opening window style (Normal, Maximised, Minimised) and so on.
We followed this procedure to add Google Earth to our system tray, for instance, clicked Close to remove the Tray Tools 2000 dialog, and Google Earth's icon was accessible right away.
Tray Tools 2000 has been around for a long time, and the interface doesn't always work as you expect. You soon learn its quirks, though, and the program does its job well enough, and without consuming too much background RAM (17MB on our test system). It's also recently been updated to run on Windows 7 and 8, so if you're looking to get more from your system tray then this could be the program to help.