RocketDock is a lightweight, highly customizable application launcher, or dock, for Windows. You can install it on your computer or use a portable version on a USB flash drive to provide quick access to your portable programs.

We’ll show you how to make RocketDock portable. However, first you must install RocketDock before making it portable. See our article about installing, setting up, and using RocketDock.

Once you have installed RocketDock, right-click anywhere on the dock or on the icons on the dock and select Dock Settings from the popup menu.

Make sure the General screen on the Dock Settings dialog box is active. If not, click the General icon to display it. Select the Store Settings in a Portable INI (single-user) check box so there is a check mark in the box. Click OK.

A Settings.ini file is created in the RocketDock program folder. This file contains all the settings for RocketDock, including all the information needed for the icons on the dock.

Now, you can copy the RocketDock folder from C:\Program Files on 32-bit systems, or C:\Program Files (x86) on 64-bit systems, to your USB flash drive.

Run RocketDock from your USB flash drive by double-clicking the RocketDock.exe file. Setup your dock by dragging program shortcuts, files, and folders to it. You can even add docklets, as we showed you previously.

When you add an item to your dock, you need to make some changes to the icon so it will run from your USB drive no matter what drive letter is assigned to your USB drive. However, before changing the settings for your icons, if you’re using the icons from the programs you added to your dock, extract the icons from the .exe files for the programs and put them in the Icons folder in your RocketDock folder on your USB drive. For example:


The drive letter does not matter at this point, when copying icons to the Icons folder. This allows you to select icons for your portable dock items that will have relative paths.

Now, to change the settings for your icons, right-click on an icon and select Icon Settings from the popup list.

On the Icon Settings dialog box, you’ll notice that your custom icons display in the Icons box on the right. Select the desired icon to assign that icon to the current item.

The Name of the item is taken from the name of the program file, other file, or folder you placed on the dock. The Name displays below the icon when you hover your mouse over the icon. To change the name, edit the text in the Name edit box.

To make the path to the executable file, other file, or folder relative, change the Target text. Remove the drive letter (e.g., “E:”) and insert “..” (without the quotes). See the image below for an example.

Remove the path from the Start in edit box.

Click OK to accept your changes.

To be able to quickly start RocketDock when you insert your USB drive, you can create a shortcut to the program on the drive. The autorun feature was removed in Windows 7, so this is one way of creating a shortcut on the root of your USB drive.

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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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