I’ve long been frustrated at Windows’ tendency to suck. If some random part of Windows suddenly freezes, EVERY part of Windows is frozen. Sometimes I can’t even access my start menu, or anything on my system tray, or even touch my taskbar because Windows has ground to a halt because a butterfly flapped its wings on the other side of the planet.
I despise convergent and interlinked applications and lately I’ve started getting extremely aggressive about replacing parts of Windows I don’t like with highly specialized tools. In another Productivity Tip of mine, I’ve talked about Launchy to free you from navigating for commonly accessed files and folders through Windows Explorer. In this Productivity Tip, I’m going to talk about RocketDock and how it can replace your QuickLaunch and your Windows taskbar.
My friend Eric talked about RocketDock on his blog and got me interested in it. RocketDock is a FREE, extremely attractive application launcher. Fundamentally it’s a clone of the icon dock that Mac users are already familiar with. Just by itself without any customization, it can completely replace your Quicklaunch bar and look about a hundred times better. It also won’t be affected by Windows Explorer locking up. 🙂 Check out the video below to see EXACTLY how it looks and what it does:
You can launch applications from it, minimize applications to it, and customize it endlessly with all sorts of interesting ‘docklets’, which are custom user-made applications that extends its capabilities. For example, you can add a custom readout of your system information (CPU usage, disk usage, time), a huge variety of clocks, the ability to monitor and check your mail, monitor the weather in your area, the ability to launch your start menu from the dock itself instead of the taskbar, etc.
There’s another commercial dock application called ObjectDock that has years of docklet applications built for it, and fortunately, RocketDock was built to be compatible with all of these docklets. You can check out a huge gallery of docklets here on WinCustomize.com.
I’ve used RocketDock to completely replace my Windows taskbar and my Quicklaunch. All of my most commonly accessed applications are on the dock, I minimize running applications to it (which are thumbnailed, so I can easily see what’s in each minimized app), and I have a clock on it just like before. The entire dock auto-hides so it only pops up when I want it, and it does it MUCH faster than Windows’ default taskbar, and it looks cooler doing it. You can even customize the speed at which it hides and unhides. Also customizable are the icon size, whether or not they zoom when you mouse over them, and exactly where on your screen the dock sits. It’s a hell of a nice thing, and as I said, I’ve totally removed my Windows taskbar.
When everything on my system is minimized, THIS is what my desktop looks like:
I have no desktop icons (because everything I access is either accessible via Launchy or through the icons on the RocketDock) and no taskbar, because I use a program to hide it. When everything is minimized, my PC looks like it’s off.
When I move my mouse up to the top of my screen to bring up the Rocket Dock, this is what I see:
You can see all my commonly accessed icons on the left (Firefox, Notepad, 3DSMAX, Core FTP, Photoshop, Project, Explorer XP, MindManager, AllWays Data Sync, ACDsee, Quicken), my short list of system files and tools (My Documents, RocketDock Settings, Hide Taskbar, Battery Power Meter docklet, and my clock), and off to the right is the thumbnailed minimized applications I have currently open (Firefox, Notepad, 3DSMAX and Photoshop). When I mouse away, it immediately disappears and goes back to my perfectly black desktop.
Everything is very simple, very clean, and very efficient. It’s also not affected by any other part of Windows freezing, or random application freezes, because it is its own separate program, unconnected to anything else. It also looks damned pretty, and you can find lots of kickass high-resolution icons for common applications for it all over the internet. The icons I use can be found here in the gallery of an artist named Deleket.
If you’re wondering how to access the Start menu without a taskbar, you can still use the Windows key to bring it up, or a Start Menu docklet. And the tsakbar is by NO means gone forever if you still want it around! That’s just my personal preference, because fuck Windows. 🙂 Finally, if you’re wondering about your system tray, there’s a docklet available for that, too. All these things have been thought of, and solved.
So, that’s what I do to replace the Windows Taskbar. Has anyone else done something like this?