Windows

Five free docks to enhance your Windows 7 desktop

Introduction

I'm a big fan of the dock. Whether it's on the Linux or the Mac desktop,  a dock creates a cleaner look and makes it easier to access your programs. Here are five good docks for the Windows 7 environment. They all offer a clean style and easy configuration. Each one offers a free version, and some offer added features in a paid-for release.

Note: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.

Photo: (XWindows Dock) Aqua-soft.org

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

40 comments
jr212
jr212

Object dock is not free

Slayer_
Slayer_

But since quick launch, pinning, and custom toolbars, I just don't see the point.

alan
alan

In the XP days a dock had some use. With '7' the taskbar is the Dock and better at it in my opinion. For one it does not lurk behind applications - and yes I know that docks can pop up to view - I just dont see the point of a dock with Windows 7. I like a clean Desktop and the use of the taskbar and Fences (Stradock) is great. All one needs.

Michael.Stanley
Michael.Stanley

There are many kinds of docs, some fancy, some simple. I use a simple attach to left side of screen, stay on top, bump windows to right, narrow ribbon that houses 65 small unique icons divided into groups that I use to quickly launch the myriad of tools I use during my development day. It doesn't cost much desktop space at all and provides an at-a-glance one-click-and-launch platform to start my apps/tools. For me, very useful, for others, perhaps not-so-much. But other people use different types of docks for various reasons. I research and none of the free ones met my needs. Prior to windows-7, this functionality was built-in. Windows 7 dropped it and I was forced to switch to a commercial product.

lynxman
lynxman

WTF?! For goodness sake, why has no-one said??? Just Rt click taskbar, click toolbars links, click view small icons, clear show text & show title options then pin as many shortcuts to everything as you like........I have about 25 there with space for many more.....way tidier & no space taken up at all!

mythink
mythink

@lynxman- issue with pined items is you cant tell if they are runing or just using space half the time I use delldock on my dell system but can use it on a VM on the Mac. The other option that would close to what your mentioning is a hack that that allows you to create a group so the icons will be on the task bar like windows XP but then when you run the App you have two icons one for the shortcut and the other representing the app is open. I did this before I found Dell Dock.


- Cheers

jimmeq
jimmeq

...less substance. This seems to be the direction TechRepublic has fallen into lately... How about an article on setting up an Outlook rule to auto-delete email from TechRebublic?

dal765
dal765

- dragging and dropping files onto a particular app to launch it - access to favourite (categorised) apps in 2 or even 1 click sTabLauncher is a favourite (tabbed, sliding, modern, nice colours), but I still can't quite wean myself from Launchmate (dating back to 1998!) Both are relatively low RAM users - 2Mb, 10Mb respectively. Hm, Objectdock etc in under 2Mb? Objectdock requires >40Mb disk, whilst these two need under 2Mb. But sTablauncher requires .NET v2..

richard.booth
richard.booth

So why do I have a need for a dock? What does a dock provide beyond a well managed task bar? I've spent a few minutes of my valuable time to simply find out the author likes certain docks.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Why would anyone want a dock? To clone a Mac? They are annoying and a waste of memory.

KlickitatEnergy
KlickitatEnergy

Many years ago, Microsoft Office provided the equivalent of the Dock with the Office toolbar.

OurITLady
OurITLady

I used to have shortcuts to all of my frequently used apps on the shortcut bar, when the company upgraded to office 2007 on windows XP I "undocked" the quick launch taskbar and ran that at the top of my screen to perform a similar function. Now on Win7 you can't undock the quicklaunch bar (or more accurately I guess there is no quicklaunch any more) so I started using ObjectDock, not quite as good for my purposes but it works.

jlwallen
jlwallen

On one machine I use two monitors. For that I put the dock on the second monitor which makes everything far more efficient.

jlwallen
jlwallen

I personally have a dock on the windows 7 machines i use. Why? two reasons: 1) It's incredibly efficient to have another location for a single-click icon to launch an application. 2) It allows for those extra icons while offering a far less cluttered desktop. And, I happily admit that I enjoy some eye candy. Why have the hardware to run effects and such and not use it. Just because one is an IT pro doesn't mean one cannot have a sense of style. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Just ignore the haters throwing mud at you for trying to provide us some information. I use ObjectDock and I appreciate knowing about other choices. I'll definitely check a couple of these out.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

But Windows 7 already has that. It's called the task bar. You can pin apps to it. I really don't see the need for the icons to balloon up or slide around. Wouldn't that just make the task bar more difficult to use?

OurITLady
OurITLady

After a certain point there's no room left on the bar for the apps you have open. I use ObjectDock, you can turn off a lot of the fancy graphics so it works almost the same as the task bar, just more room and you can leave the taskbar in it's normal position and have the ObjectDock toolbar elsewhere on the screen.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

but both of your reasons can be covered by re-enabling the Quick-Launch Toolbar that MS decided to get rid of in 7 (probably Vista too, but I skipped that one). Room for a lot more icons, too. I do that on all my 7 machines. Don't have to spend money or install a separate program either. If anyone's interested, here is a link to enable QL: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/888-quick-launch-enable-disable.html

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not opposed to them, but I don't see the advantage over the capabilities already built into W7. Then again, I don't have any apps pinned to my Taskbar in W7; I find it confusing to tell which ones are running, and I hate it when multiple open windows get consolidated into one icon. I pin the apps I start most frequently to the Start Menu, and there are only ten of them; maybe if I ran more apps more often I would see value in a dock.

Master G
Master G

Windows 7 already provides a bar that can be customizable on the flash withouth the need of a tool taking up resources on your system and slow down the performance when redrawing icons and other UI. There is no advantae as to having this as a tool to improve your system in any way. Also, I dont think this post by Mr. Wallen was meant for the IT, Tech community - it was for the hom users who likes pretty pictures instead of something practical and useful.

Andrea Solinas
Andrea Solinas

by personal experience Rocket Dock is very good, i`ve use it for many years now...why docks are good for me ? I personally don`t like too many folders and shortcuts on my desktop, with Rocket Dock i keep everything organised, it is true that the start menu in windows 7 is much better and the "search for programs and files" options works very well, but i still find dock very useful especially because i works on many different projects all the times and i need to access files quickly, and with Rocket Dock is easy you can just drag and drop a folder in it and you have your shortcut in the dock, you can customize the icon so it is even easy to find quickly, and the desktop stay nice and clean :)

kbyle
kbyle

Why can't you just use things as they were intended? Why must everyone always try to change things? Slow down and enjoy life for a while! And keep your hands off!

AnotherDoid
AnotherDoid

Probably refers to me too but I have been using RUNit for years and have found nothing better. Move curser to edge of the screen and the menu pops up. Simple and effective.

sohowv
sohowv

I agree, I would like to see what the advantages are of having this dock. I don't see anything that isn't or couldn't be put on the task bar. Am I missing something?

cvargo
cvargo

If not a docking station, or a dock for a boat......then............

CHaynes
CHaynes

My understanding of Docks are that they are the annoying bars that come preinstalled on Dell and HP computers (amongst others) that add no functionality other than to get in the way of other useful things on screen. Personally the first thing I do with these 'docks' is disable them. If you want a Mac buy a Mac. Windows has a taksbar which does exactly the same thing without the kiddy eye-candy.