RocketDock is an application launcher for Windows modeled after the Mac OS X launch toolbar. It’s a dock that sits along an edge of your screen and contains a collection of shortcuts that expand when you hover over them and launch programs when clicked.

You can easily add shortcuts to programs, files, documents, folders, and even actions to the dock. The look of the dock is customizable using themes and icons. Docklets are available to help extend the functionality of your dock.

We’ll show you how to install RocketDock, change the dock settings, add shortcuts to the dock, change the settings for shortcut icons, and add new themes to your dock. We’ll also show you how to install and setup a docklet, using the Stacks docklet as an example.

Install RocketDock

To begin, double-click the .exe file you downloaded (see the link at the end of this article).

If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.

NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

Select the language for the setup program from the drop-down list on the Select Setup Language dialog box and click OK.

The Welcome screen on the setup wizard displays. Click Next.

Read through the License Agreement and select the I accept the agreement radio button. Click Next.

The Select Destination Location screen displays. If you want to install RocketDock to a different location other than the default location listed in the edit box, use the Browse button to select another location. We accepted the default location. Click Next to continue.

On the Select Additional Tasks screen, you can select the Create a desktop icon check box to put a shortcut to RocketDock on the desktop. This option is not selected by default. Click Next.

The Ready to Install screen displays with a summary of the settings you selected. If you want to change any of the settings, use the Back button. Otherwise, click Install to continue with the installation.

Once the installation is done, the Completing the RocketDock Setup Wizard screen displays. Click Finish to close the setup wizard.

Start RocketDock

If you chose to put a shortcut to RocketDock on the desktop, double-click it to start RocketDock. If not, you can find a shortcut to start RocketDock on the Start menu.

A dock displays at the top of your screen with some default icons, which are shortcuts with PNG images as icons. By default, common folders including My Computer, My Documents, Network Places, My Music, My Pictures, and Control Panel. The Recycle Bin is also available on the dock.

Change Dock Settings

Right-click anywhere on the dock or the icons to display a popup menu for RocketDock that includes options such as Icon Settings, Dock Settings, AutoHide, and Lock Items. The Screen Position item displays additional options so you can choose to which part of the screen you would like to anchor the dock (top, bottom, left, or right edges). The Lock Items option locks the dock so the items cannot be accidentally removed or edited.

The look and behavior of RocketDock is completely customizable. To change the settings for your dock, right-click on the dock and select Dock Settings from the popup menu.

The Dock Settings dialog box displays. The General screen allows you to choose to run RocketDock when Windows starts (Run at Startup). You can also choose to minimize applications to the dock instead of to the Taskbar (Minimize Windows to the Dock), which display on the dock as window thumbnails.

Click Icons on the toolbar on the left to access general icon settings. This screen allows you to specify a minimum (Size) and maximum size (Zoom) for all the icons on the dock, as well as the Zoom Width and Zoom Duration. You can also choose the Hover Effect.

Click Position on the left to select the Screen Position for your dock. You can also choose how it is centered on the chosen edge (Centering) and how much it is offset from the edge of the screen (Edge Offset). If you have multiple monitors, you can choose on which Monitor your dock displays.

The Style section allows you to change the theme for the dock, change the font for the icon labels or disable them, and change the opacity for the outline, shadow, and for the dock itself. Click Get More to go to the official

The Behavior screen allows you to select the Icon Attention Effect, which indicates how the icons on the dock behave, and to toggle and fine-tune the AutoHide and Popup behavior.

Add Icons to Your Dock

Adding icons to your dock is easy. You can drag shortcuts from your desktop or files and folders from Windows Explorer and drop them anywhere on the dock, and rearrange the icons by dragging and dropping, also. To remove an icon from the dock, simply drag the icon off the dock to anywhere else.

Here, we’ve added Mozilla Firefox to our dock.

Customize Icons on Your Dock

To customize an icon, simply right-click on the icon you want to customize and select Icon Settings from the popup menu.

RocketDock comes with a few icons you can use, but you can download additional icons using the Get More button on the Icon Settings dialog box. There are icon packs available on Deviantart. that include icons for common programs as well as standalone icons for lesser-known programs. You can also find icons on the RocketDock Icons Addons page.

Add Themes to RocketDock

There are several themes that come with RocketDock that you can use to change the appearance of your dock. You can find additional themes on the RocketDock Skins Addons page. There are also some available on Deviantart.

To add a downloaded theme to RocketDock, download it and unzip the downloaded file. Place the folder containing the skin files in the following folder.

C:\Program Files\RocketDock\Skins

The following dialog box may display. If it does, click Continue to paste the folder.

The new theme folder is pasted into the Skins folder along with the skins that came with RocketDock.

Now, when you select Dock Settings from the popup menu on your dock, and click Style, you’ll see your new theme as an option in the Theme drop-down list. Select it and click OK to apply it to your dock.

Here is our dock with the Smoked Glass theme applied.

Add Functionality to RocketDock

In addition to adding icons to your dock and customizing your dock’s appearance, you can also add functionality to your dock, by adding Docklets to RocketDock. One very useful docklet is called Stacks. This docklet adds a single icon to your dock that displays a folder’s contents when clicked on the dock. You can create folders of shortcuts to programs, files, and folders and add each folder as a stack to categorize your dock.

We’ll use the Stacks docklet as an example when showing you how to add a docklet and set it up. There are also docklets that add clocks, calendars, email notifiers, battery indicators, shutdown/restart/log off functions, among others to your dock. You can download docklets at the official RocketDock Docklets page.

To add a docklet to RocketDock, extract the contents of the downloaded file and move or copy the docklet folder to the following folder:

C:\Program Files\RocketDock\Docklets

If RocketDock is running, exit it by right-clicking anywhere on the dock and selecting Quit. Restart RocketDock and right-click on an empty area of the dock. Select Add Item from the popup menu and then select the option for the docklet you added to RocketDock. In our case, we selected Stack Docklet.

A default stack icon with a down arrow is added to the dock. Clicking on it does nothing initially because you have to add a folder containing program shortcuts, files, or folders. To setup the stack, right-click on the stack icon and select Icon Settings from the popup menu.

The Stacks Docklet dialog box displays. To select a folder, click the browse (…) button to the right of the Folder edit box.

Select a folder containing shortcuts, files, and/or additional folders on the Browse for Folder dialog box and click OK.

NOTE: Once you select a folder, be sure that folder remains in the same location. Otherwise, the Stacks docklet will not be able to find the folder. When you add or remove files from the folder, the changes are reflected on the corresponding stack icon on your dock.

To change the icon for the current stack, click the browse (…) button to the right of the Icon edit box.

The Icon Settings dialog box displays. Select a folder from the Folders list on the left (if you have more than one folder available) and then select an icon from the Icons box on the right. Click OK.

NOTE: Remember you can download additional icons from the RocketDock Icons Addons page (the Get More button takes you to this page) and from Deviantart. To make the downloaded icons available in RocketDock, use the ‘+’ button below the Folders box on the Icon Settings dialog box to add your extracted icons folder to the list of Folders.

Select an option by which you want to sort the icons in your stack (Name, Creation time, Last modified time, Last access time, or Kind) from the Sort by drop-down list and how you want the icons displayed when you click the stack on your dock (Automatic, Fan, or Grid) from the Mode drop-down list. Click OK to accept your changes and close the Stacks Docklet dialog box.

When you click the stack icon on your dock, the contents of the chosen folder displays. Click an icon to start the program or open the file or folder.

You may encounter an issue with getting the Stacks docklet to keep its settings. When you quit RocketDock and then start it again, any Stacks docklets you added to your dock may lose their icons and not display any shortcuts, files, or folders. The download page for the Stacks docklet explains how to fix this.

Download RocketDock from

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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