How-To Geek

Get the Windows 8 Charms Bar in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Using a RocketDock Skin


Have you tried one of the Windows 8 Preview releases and found you like the Charms bar on the Metro Start Screen? If you’re not quite ready to give up Windows 7, there is a way to get the Charms bar from Windows 8.

You can easily add the Charms bar to your desktop in Windows 7 using a RocketDock skin. RocketDock is a free, customizable application launcher for Windows. See our article about RocketDock to learn how to add it to your Windows Desktop. You can also use a portable version of RocketDock.

To add a “Charms bar” to your Windows 7 desktop, extract the .rar file you downloaded (see the link at the end of this article). RAR files are associated with WinRAR, which is shareware.

NOTE: You can use WinRAR free of charge for 40 days but then you have to buy it ($29.00). However, you can also use the free program 7-Zip to extract RAR files.

Once you extract the file, you’ll see three folders and a StartMenu.exe file. Copy the “Charmbar transparent” folder to the Skins folder in the RocketDock program folder.

NOTE: If you’re using a installed version of RocketDock (not on a USB flash drive, or other location), the RocketDock program folder will be in C:\Program Files for 32-bit Windows or in C:\Programs Files (x86) for 64-bit Windows.


Before continuing, if you want to be able to go back to the previous setup of RocketDock before adding the Charms bar skin, make a backup copy of the Icons folder and the Settings.ini file, if one exists, in the RocketDock program folder.

NOTE: The Settings.ini file is created if you select to store the settings in a portable .ini file to make RocketDock portable, or even just to be able to backup your settings.

Copy the new Icons folder to the RocketDock program folder, replacing the existing one and the files in it.

The Settings folder you extracted contains two settings files, Settings.ini and Settingstransparent.ini. The Settings.ini will give you a Charms bar with a black background, like the one in Windows 8. To get a Charms bar with a black background, copy the Settings.ini file to the root of the RocketDock program folder, replacing the current Settings.ini file, if there is one. However, if you want a transparent Charms bar, rename the Settingstransparent.ini file to Settings.ini and copy that file to the RocketDock program folder.


The next time you start RocketDock, it will automatically use the new skin, icons, and settings and place a Charms bar on the right side of your Windows 7 desktop. You won’t see the bar at first because you must move your mouse to the right side of the screen to access the Charms bar.


Here is a list of what the icons on the Charms bar do:

  • Search – Opens up an Explorer window with the Search box active
  • Share – Opens up Network Connections
  • Start – Opens the Start Menu
  • Devices – Opens the Device Manager
  • Settings – Opens the Control Panel

NOTE: As mentioned earlier, if you are using the 64-bit version of Windows 7, the RocketDock program folder is stored in C:\Program Files (x86). By default, the Start icon accesses the StartMenu.exe file in the C:\Program Files folder. Therefore, you have to manually edit the settings for the Start icon. Right-click on the icon on the Charms bar and select Icon Settings from the popup menu. Change the path in the Target edit box and click OK.

The Settings icon may not work, either. If it doesn’t open the Control Panel, edit the Target on the Icon Settings dialog box for that icon, as well. For us, we had to change the drive letter, which, for some reason, was assigned the capital letter ‘I’ (i).


Remember that you can go back to your previous RocketDock skin, icons, and settings by replacing the Icons folder and Settings.ini file with the backed up copies.

Download the Charms bar skin for RocketDock from

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 06/14/12

Comments (9)

  1. bulet bro

    This whole Windows thing just sounds a little too girlyman for me.

  2. Basara

    I can’t believe that there is someone actually want such a big-ugly-patch-like thing to appears on their beautiful desktop

  3. r

    well, maybe if you’re a girlyman

  4. Fantasm

    I really don’t understand the fascination with “charms”, “Metro” etc…
    To me, it looks like playskool icons for the illiterate… (and girlymen – LOL )
    I seriously wonder how anyone could want this stuff…

    It’s like the whole world just decided to collectively dumb itself down…

    I hate Metro…
    I love my big (NON-TOUCH) 40″ monitor…
    I frakking Hate Windows 8 and see no reason to upgrade…

    I am at a loss here, I will never go Apple… made the mistake of getting an Ipod once…
    Do I really have to look at Linux or will MS pull it’s head out of it’s rectal cavity and give us a Windows 9 that we want….?

    I have no desire to use my email account as a part of Windows…
    I hate Metro
    I will never find a touchscreen I can afford as big as my current monitor, and I have no desire to coveer one with finger prints… Hell, I can’t even REACH the top of my monitor…
    Media Center costs extra???? Give me a break, does that mean Windows 8 will be cheaper? I doubt it…. and one more frakking thing to install… Nice…. NOT….
    No Aero in Windows 8????
    Sorry, I LIKE AERO….
    I guess it makes sense… take a computer that can display millions of colours and dumb down the menu to do about 16 colours… maybe we should dig out our old EGA cards… Seems they’d be over kill for the Metro Screen…

    I could give a rats’ ass about Xbox, Facebook social apps and all that other crap….And No, I’m NEVER buying an App from Windows Store…

  5. Barry Etheridge

    Er … wot he (Fantasm) said but without the moderation! ;o)

  6. tony

    I have to agree that thing is just plain ugly i don’t think i will be switching to windows 8 if that ugly crap is there.

  7. al

    girly man lol…

    what the hadies is microsoft trying to do to us..make us loke GOOGLE?
    making my tablet incorporate my email addy just to get an app i need to have email?
    what is the world coming to? I heard there is rumor tablet makers are trying to get “rid”
    of the desktop computer…..if that is true…then it’s app city for me…and apps are cool, but
    to incorporate them for access to my personal information…i just cannot believe my personal
    information is needed to get what i want…even if i paid for the program..whatever progam i am
    talking about.
    windows eight….what the ehll for…who needs about giving us a computer that auto updates whatever we have on it..or at least from out of the box we doint have to spend our weekends playing…computer geek…for family,friends, and yeah….how about that dam facebook.

    i will neverrrrrrrrrrr go on face book for fear of getting beat up or killed by some jerk i dont even know who is added to my “friends” list …and i have noooo how be it..we the customer have to eat the poison apple from microsoft everytime they crap some weak worthless windows is a slap in our faces if you ask me….
    have a better day..
    and how about someone just making a simple ubuntu type browser with email etc…stuff we NEED, and dont have to constanatly buy from third party.
    im so tiard of computers updgrading and changing every four to six months…it DRIVES ME CRAZY. having to LEARN YET ANOTHER DAMN platform that does not serve me with what i need or want.
    bought a kindle fire..and i love it…at least i can toss it around when im pissed…and no problems
    with a kindle fire…it simply WORKS for me.
    email, browser….print…watch hd videos that stream so fast i cannot compare them to my thousands of dollars computer..i just want to THROW my freaken pc away…

  8. BG

    How funny.
    The features I loathe about Win8, people are trying to emulate.
    Using Win8 for 2 days and I wanted to smash the screen with a sledge.
    It will fail, watch and see.

  9. EverCracker II

    After running this on 2 PC’s to test the performance I have decided that the interface is the turnoff for me. I play EverQuest II like a PC dinosaur of the 90’s and watch movies.

    I don’t need to share my crap with people, I don’t need to touch my screen…and finally…I don’t think I should have to sign into 4 online services just to log into my PC. Look at this people…they are taking away the functional idea of a game-dedicated PC that is NOT used for any internet/social media. Essentially I see an OS made for a half-brained, cell phone addicted generation that likes to have no customization choices because that would too much to deal with…

    Us old timers know how to customize and overclock etc. to large extents, this OS if for people more interested in their crap being on the internet and shared than it is for efficient office work or clean gaming,

    Personally I’m going to invest in another retail copy of Windows 7 before they are pulled from the market in case I build another PC, and start exploring Linux for my games.

    Gamers that are stuck with this piss-poor OS after October have my pity.

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