For most users, the Windows Taskbar is a matter of fact. It’s there when you install Windows, it does what it’s intended to and it rarely frustrates or malfunctions. But RocketDock, an application launcher for your Windows desktop, has a few compelling features that may just convince you to replace or supplement your Windows Taskbar with this well-designed desktop software. This review will take a look at what RocketDock does that the Windows Taskbar doesn’t.
Crossover Mac users who are new to Windows 7 will be the main beneficiaries of RocketDock. If you an Apple fan, you’ll immediately recognize RocketDock for what it is—the OS X dock, but for Windows. RocketDock can be placed along the side or top or bottom of your desktop and populated with icons for your favorite applications. As you mouse-over each application, it magnifies and animates in a very pleasing, very Apple-like manner. The icons are bigger than what you’ll typically see on the Windows Taskbar, and much more spatial and graphical than the interface you’ll find within Windows Explorer.
For Windows 7 users, this won’t be much of a difference, thanks to the introduction of Aero Peek and Aero Previews. But RocketDock’s bigger icon size lends itself well to live previews. That is, when you minimize a running application to the dock, it does more than place an icon in the launcher. Rather, you get to see a miniature preview of the application window, right in your RocketDock. This is particularly handy for chat windows and video players. You can keep an eye on what’s happening without changing your focus.
Running Application Indicators
The Windows Vista and Windows 7 allow you to pin frequently used applications to the taskbar. As an application, RocketDock achieves a similar function. You have a row of your favorite applications, and when you launch one, the shortcut gets a subtle indicator showing you that the application is already running. This lets you switch to it easily, instead of running another instance.
Multiple Monitor Support
With the Windows Taskbar, your taskbar will be on one desktop of the other. But with RocketDock, you can have different docks on each monitor.
RocketDock is a portable application. That means you can load it up onto a USB drive, plug it into another computer and have all of your favorite applications right there. This is great for tech support professionals who have a portable PC repair suite of applications on a thumbdrive.
You could literally spend all day customizing your RocketDock. From dragging and dropping icons, to tweaking auto-hide options to skins and other visual customizations, RocketDock is extremely easy to personalize.
RocketDock has a number of gadgets (called “docklets”), walls, icons and skins that you can use to further customize the look, feel and functionality of your RocketDock launcher. In this way, it becomes much more than a mere task switcher and application manager.
Even if you’re happy with your Windows Taskbar, you should give RocketDock a try. It’s free, it’s lightweight and frankly, it can be a lot of fun. Download it at http://rocketdock.com/.