Articles

Use Actual Window Manager to Hide SSH Tunnels

  1. PuTTY SSH Client
  2. Minimize SSH Tunnel Sessions to Tray
  3. Different Settings for Tunnel and Interactive SSH Sessions
  4. Useful Links

If you use SSH tunnels to allow access through a firewall, or just to encrypt your communication, you might get sick of the proliferation of tasks littering your bar.

It is very easy, however, to use Actual Window Manager to automatically clear these up.

PuTTY SSH Client

This example uses the PuTTY SSH client, but the procedure would be similar with most SSH clients.

The PuTTY session: taking up space on the task bar
The PuTTY session: taking up space on the task bar

First allow your client to automatically connect to its server to initiate the tunnel. This is optional, but will allow you to run the tunnel from a shortcut, and make Actual Window Manager automatically hide it - no need for manual intervention.

To connect automatically with PuTTY, set your SSH session to use an encryption key (instead of password authentication). Set up pageant to handle this key. See PuTTY documentation for details.

Once you have your PuTTY session connecting automatically, create a shortcut to the session, pointing to putty.exe -load '<session name>'.

Minimize SSH Tunnel Sessions to Tray

Now, instruct Actual Window Manager to minimize this window to the tray. With an instance of your SSH tunnel running, open Actual Window Manager.

  1. Add a new rule in the the Configuration module.
  2. Name the rule something like 'SSH sessions'.
  3. Click on the target icon in the right pane, drag it over your SSH session and release.
  4. The details of the window such as class and program should be filled in, 'Window caption' is not essential for specifying a window because it can change, even at runtime.
  5. Choose the Minimizing property sheet, check the box After deactivation (specify a useful delay like 1000 ms), select the tray item in the Minimization Mode
  6. Click the save icon, and you are done.

Actual Window Manager <i>Configuration: showing the rule controlling PuTTY sessions.
Actual Window Manager Configuration: showing the rule controlling PuTTY sessions.

Now, when you open a new instance of your SSH tunnel, it will automatically put itself into the system tray when minimised or deactivated, instead of cluttering the task list.

System Tray: PuTTY session minimised and unobtrusive
System Tray: PuTTY session minimised and unobtrusive.

By the way, deactivation simply means you have focused another window. When this happens, the tunnel will stay for the delay you specified, and then shrink into your system tray where it can be further hidden by WindowsR.

Different Settings for Tunnel and Interactive SSH Sessions

If you want these options to be applied only to the program when it is used as a tunnel (as opposed to normal interactive sessions) then the procedure is more complicated.

With PuTTY, the windows caption is not updated immediately when the program starts. This means that Actual Window Manager cannot distinguish between normal and tunnel sessions from windows caption only. Instead, simply make a copy of the putty.exe file, to something like _putty.exe. Then, add a rule in Actual Window Manager for windows with program _putty.exe, and specify the same minimising characteristics as above.

In this way, you can also have Actual Window Manager to automatically minimize the session upon opening - this option can be also found in the Minimizing property sheet. Simply select At startup function.

Enjoy your space.

Learn other 39 functions of Actual Window Manager or download the application for free and experiment yourself!

Useful Links

See the following links that will be your guides in getting acquainted with Actual Window Manager:

  • Download the fully-functional 60-days trial version of Actual Window Manager right now. It is completely free!
  • Window Manager Home - the official page where you can download or order the risk-free version and read what users say about Actual Window Manager.
  • Actual Window Manager Help section - the full list of features available in Actual Window Manager.
  • Here you can find the information on how to create specific settings for any window.

Check out our articles. You can find other ways for using the features presented by Actual Window Manager which are sure to make your work easier!