If you’ve never used a dock, you might wonder why you need one. Windows might be the most popular operating system, but Mac and Linux have the best looking desktops. One of their shining features is the dock. Think of it as a taskbar, but 10 times more useful. With these five docks, you get the convenience of other operating systems while still using Windows. They might take some getting used to, but after you do, you’ll never want to go back.
What’s A Dock
If you’re unfamiliar with docks, they’re basically an organized way of quickly launching applications, folders and files. They normally sit along the edge of your desktop, which can be any edge. Some are even circular. Most are customizable and they’re great productivity tools. Of course, they’re also a fun way to change the usual Windows desktop look and feel.
RocketDock looks similar to the Mac OS X launcher, but it’s more customizable. It’s one of the most popular for Windows users mainly because it’s easy to use and insanely simple to tweak to your own needs. It’s drag and drop, so it’s quick and easy to add pretty much anything to the dock. Programs, files, folders and more can be just a single click away.
Two things that really stand out about this dock is the portability and docklets. RocketDock can be installed to a USB drive so it’s with you no matter what PC you use. This dock offers full support of ObjectDock’s Docklets which are add-ons for even more features. It’s free, easy to setup and doesn’t take long to master. This is the one to try if you’re a dock beginner.
XWindows Dock is one of the simpler docks on this list. If you just want a simple application launcher without a ton of customization to wade through, this is it. The only major cons is limited 64-bit compatibility and no real Windows 8 support yet. Windows Vista and 7 are the main targets for this program.
Unlike some of the other docks out there, you don’t get a ton of features or plug-ins. In fact, you only get a stack container and Gmail checker plugin. The dock itself looks great and drag and drop makes it easy to add items. Overall, it’s ideal for basic dock users and it’s completely free.
If you’re looking for a more advanced and stylish looking dock, Winstep Nexus might be perfect. The basic version is free, but to use features such as multiple docks, tabbed docks and 3D skins, you’ll need the Ultimate version for $25. The dock has a drag and drop interface and it really does look beautiful. If you like to have full control over running programs, processes and even PC performance, icons for all of these can be easily added.
It has the largest variety of features, which really is saying something. If you just need a basic dock, stick with the free version. But be careful, the power is addicting and you might not be able to stop yourself from upgrading to get all the powerful features.
Now we get to the more unique looking docks. Instead of the standard static docks, SliderDock is 3D looking ring that you navigate with your mouse wheel or keyboard. If for no other reason, try it because it just looks amazing. After all, how many of your friends will have a desktop with a dock like this?
Using it is simple. Drag and drop icons to the dock base. Nearly everything is customizable, so you get the perfect icons, the right size for the dock and much more. It can make your desktop look busy if you have other icons on the desktop itself. Clean desktops are recommended. One feature I love is you can hide the dock completely with a shortcut key when needed. The free dock is great for anyone looking to add a little flair to their desktop.
Circle Dock is my absolute favorite. It doesn’t actually dock to the edge of your screen like most docks. Instead of the usual bar, the dock is circular. Despite the unusual design, it actually makes organizing your icons much easier. The look is customizable so you can have a circle, spiral or oval dock. All three are easy to use and look even better than regular bar docks.
Thanks to sub-levels, you can add unlimited icons. When you need your desktop cleared, the dock is easy to hide. Plus, there’s no installation. Click the executable and you’re ready to go. It’s definitely a unique alternative that will truly make you fall in love with docks.
All of these docks are designed for all levels of users. Don’t let any advanced features intimidate you. Have fun and play around with these. Trust me, they’ll make your life much easier, especially if you need quick access to numerous files and programs.