There’s always been a rivalry between Apple’s MacOS and Microsoft Windows. Over the years MacOS has held the reputation for the most user-friendly interface, with Windows considered the more utilitarian system. Modern Windows has come a long way from those early days and really is on par now with what Apple has to offer.
However, after all these years Microsoft still doesn’t provide a Mac-style dock in their operating system. But there are third-party options you can try if you really want a dock on your PC.
RocketDock has been around for a long time now. In fact, the developers who made it haven’t released a new version since 2008! Yet somehow people still love this spunky little app launcher.
RocketDock still looks pretty good despite more than a decade without a facelift. You can however give it different skins, even using ones from other launchers such RK Launcher and Objectdock.
Adding and removing shortcuts is dead easy. It does exactly what you expect a dock to do, without any fuss and bloat. It’s also free under a Creative Commons license, so everyone should try it at least once.
Does Launchy really count as a dock? Perhaps not quite, but this smart little application launcher is too good to leave out of a list like this one. Launchy presents itself as a little window with a text-entry box. It indexes your Start Menu as well as documents and folders. You can set up your own shortcuts and launch what you need with a keystroke.
Launchy is free and open source, so anyone can try it without any sort of obligation. There are also skins available to customize its look.
While the software is free, the developer does provide the opportunity for people to donate some cash, which would be a nice gesture.
While most docks are inspired by what MacOS has done with the idea, XWindows Dock is a straight-up clone of the Apple software.
Like RocketDock, this dock hasn’t really been updated in a while and doesn’t seem to officially support Windows 10. Saying that, the dock worked quite well on our Windows 10 installation with one small issue. The dock shows up behind the taskbar.
This is easily fixed by setting the taskbar to auto-hide itself. This has the added benefit of really giving your desktop that MacOS look, but some people may be annoyed by this issue.
Since this is a clone of the Mac dock, the way it looks and functions is pretty similar. It has however been 8 years since the last stable release, so a future update may render it non-functional. For now however, this is the closest you’ll get to the classic MacOS dock.
Winstep Nexus is one of the few dock apps that officially supports Windows 10. There’s a free and paid version. It’s the free version that we’re referring to here.
This dock is like the basic concept from MacOS, but it gives it a real Windows flavor. It has reflective icons, support for animated icons and of course skins. It really is a very pretty dock with all manner of special effects. It’s also the only dock app with support for Windows 10’s Universal Windows Platform standard.
We also like the support for in-dock widgets and easy placement of the dock itself. Multi-monitor support is excellent, with high-DPI rendering and placement of the dock on any monitor. The Ultimate version does offer quite a bit of extra functionality, but for most users the free personal edition will be more than enough to cover regular use.
Circle Dock is the most innovative dock here, with its radial design looking completely different from anything else we’ve seen. This is also not a persistent dock. Instead you press a hotkey and then the doc will appear wherever your mouse pointer is.
It’s an innovative idea and very functional, but the software was never developed to the point where it matched the likes of RocketDock, feature for feature. Still, if you like experimental UI ideas, Circle Dock is well worth trying out.
A Docking Good TimeOne of the best thing about Windows is that if you don’t like something about it, you can change it with the right knowledge or tools. While Windows 10 seems to have put a damper on full UI replacements such as the venerable Rainmeter, it’s still possible to make yourself at home in smaller ways.