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RocketDock has been one of the best choices for a Mac-like dock in Windows for years. That’s why it’s on our Best Of Windows Software page. In fact, you’ve probably heard of it. But there’s more to it than just being a dock that is easy to use. It’s also more customizable, perhaps even more than one of its most popular alternatives, ObjectDock. If you’re unfamiliar with RocketDock, it is a dock that can be placed on any side of the screen and contains shortcuts to applications and folders.

Like ObjectDock, RocketDock also supports docklets, which are small applications that run within the dock. There are a lot of docklets available, but one that I have found to be very useful is called Stacks Docklet, which allows you to access files and shortcuts to programs and applications within folders docked to RocketDock. In this article, I’ll walk you through not only the features of RocketDock, but also how to customize it and make it even more useful than it is with its built-in features.

Setting Up RocketDock

Once you download RocketDock and follow the prompts through the installation, which are straight forward, you will see the dock at the top of your screen.

There are a lot of features though that I like to add and remove to improve it. All of these can be accessed through the settings, which is the icon with the hammer on the second from the right side (hovered over in the picture above), or by right clicking the dock and choosing “Dock Settings…”.

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There are five main sections in the Dock Settings window: General, Icons, Position, Style, and Behavior. All of these have settings which aren’t too complicated to understand and are also a must to familiarize yourself with. For instance, the General section has options controlling whether RocketDock will start up or not, and if you want to minimize windows to the dock. I will spare you the boredom of reading through what all the settings do – instead, I encourage you to check these out on your own.

Finding The Right Theme

Creating a look that fits you is really fun to do, but it takes a lot of time. The look of your dock is comprised of two parts: the skin and the icons. RocketDock comes with a variety of skins, and perhaps one of them will appeal to you. However, there are places all over the Internet that have skins and icons you can download and install. There are plenty of these skins and icons on the RocketDock website, and that is a great place to start. However, another place that’s worth looking into is DeviantArt.com. I mentioned this source in the ObjectDock article ObjectDock: Quickly Customize Your Desktop And Increase Its Functionality [Windows] ObjectDock: Quickly Customize Your Desktop And Increase Its Functionality [Windows] By now, you may have already heard of ObjectDock – It’s no stranger to those of us keen on Windows customization. It has actually been around for quite some time, so you might even consider... Read More , as well. Both of these locations are great sources for wallpapers as well. Below is an image of the skins page on RocketDock.com.

NOTE: Don’t start adding folders and custom icons before adding Stacks Docklet into your dock, otherwise you’ll be making more work for yourself.

Adding In Stacks Docklet

Once you find the right theme and icons for your dock, it’s time to add in Stacks Docklet for the final touch. You could say that Stacks Docklet has been around as long as the docks themselves, so there have been a few different locations online where it has been available for download. Now there are truly only two reliable sources. There are also two versions of Stack Docklet. Version one is considered to be more stable than version two, as version two is in beta, although I’m unsure if it’s still being developed further. That said, my experience with both versions hasn’t had any issues.

Step 1: Download

Stacks Docklet can be found on the RocketDock website, which contains multiple versions and downloads, or you can get it from the official website, which has only version two. There may be some of you who prefer the first version over the second, since it is said to be more stable. To my knowledge, RocketDock is the only place to acquire the first version.

Step 2: Install

You have a couple options for installing the Stacks Docklet: the manual way or the automatic way. The manual way obviously has more steps, but if you like doing things yourself and you want control, you will probably prefer that method more. This is actually the only way to install version one. Version two via the official website includes both methods. The automatic installation is pretty simple. Just download the file and launch it, then follow the prompt (pictured below) to install it into RocketDock. It automatically detects which compatible docks you have installed, so all you have to do is select the dock you want to install it into (if you have others besides RocketDock) and click “Install”.

The manual installation is a bit more complicated. When you download the compressed file What’s The Best File Compression Method? MakeUseOf Tests Zip, RAR & More What’s The Best File Compression Method? MakeUseOf Tests Zip, RAR & More File compression is an important and common task users frequently ask of their computers. Reducing a file’s size makes it easier to email or place on a flash drive. It also reduces bandwidth usage and... Read More , you’ll need to extract it with a program like 7Zip 7Zip - A Free Program to Unzip Uncommon Archive Formats 7Zip - A Free Program to Unzip Uncommon Archive Formats Read More and then move the files to their designated places. Version one doesn’t come with instructions to do this, but it isn’t hard – just cut and paste.

For those who don’t have experience in compressed files: If you choose the “extract here” the folder’s contents will be put directly where ever the compressed file is. If you chose “Extract to Stacks Docklet” then the contents (which may or may not already be in a folder) will be put in a folder. My point in saying this is that before moving the folder, check to see what’s inside it. If there’s another “Stacks Docklet” folder inside, you’ll need to move it out, otherwise RocketDock won’t recognize it.

For version one:
Open up the RocketDock folder, which will be in the Program Files programs, and open the folder called Docklets.

Cut the newly extracted Stacks Docklet folder and past it into the Docklets folder. RocketDock should automatically detect it and shouldn’t need to be restarted.

For version two, the instructions are available once you extract them:

Step 3: Add Stacks To Your Dock

Now that you have Stacks Docklet installed, all you have to do is right click on the dock, go to Add Item and select Stacks Docklet. Then right click on the icon and select Icon Settings. Now depending on what version you are using, the window will look different.

Version one:

Version two:

It’s at this point that you should know what folder you want to use and the icon to go with it. If you want the stack to display shortcuts to your apps, such as Microsoft Office, Windows apps or any others, I recommend creating a folder and then creating folders within that one for each stack that you want to have. This can be made anywhere, but I put mine in the Program Files folder.

Once you choose your folder, then you choose your icon. Like I mentioned before, there are loads of icons available – some which come in a pack and others are individual – the choice is yours. Once you download them (if it’s in a pack, you’ll need to extract them) put them somewhere that you won’t forget, and preferably will be easy to navigate to. Below is the icon window for RocketDock, which is what you use with the first version of Stacks Docklet. The second version just uses a normal “Browse for file” window that we’re all used to.

Step 4: And Repeat!

I’ll be honest, the process can be slightly tedious at first, but once you finish it’s pretty rewarding. It looks nice and it’s functional – a great combination for organization.

Conclusion

That brings me to one last point – organize. The more organized you are, the more useful this method will be. Plain and simple. I’ve covered this topic in an article about how to organize your computer files Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas For Managing Your Computer Files Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas For Managing Your Computer Files It's frustrating isn’t it when you can’t find that file? When you’ve searched every folder imaginable on your computer, and somehow it got lost….or worse, deleted. Now, there are excellent search tools for Windows that... Read More . I truly believe file organization is the only way to use a computer – otherwise, it really isn’t that productive if you can’t find things quickly, which is what this method in this article is all about.

Do you use RocketDock? If so, is Stacks Docklet something you use, or feel you would use? Or do you use something entirely different?

  1. Walt
    October 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you so much for a clear guide to RocketDock.

    Just a quick correction note. Under the section entitled "Finding the Right Theme" the word "compromise" is not the word you want; it should be "comprise". You don't want to compromise your article comprised of excellent ideas.

    All the best....

    Walt

  2. Tika Maya Thapa
    May 8, 2013 at 7:24 am

    ThanX !

  3. Md Mukhtar Mohsin
    April 25, 2013 at 11:15 am

    A much good utilty have been launched by the great Stadock 'ModernMix' .it allows us to run the modern apps of windows 8 in desktop .i think now its no fear to use windows 8.sir Aaron Couch you may write an article on it..

    • Aaron Couch
      April 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      I just might! I have heard of ModernMix. I'll look into it. Thanks for the comment.

  4. supertofana
    April 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    I knew the Rocketdock, but this Siute looks great.

  5. supertofana
    April 24, 2013 at 12:40 am

    It is worth to give it a try. Thanks

  6. Kev S
    April 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    One of the challenges with these apps and re skins is some times the uninstall process does not work well or is not possible.
    What is the uninstall process and does it affect other aspects of the system post uninstall.
    Deciding to remove an app should not cause issues. Many of these small applets do.
    Reviewers should go thru the uninstall process and comment and observe on that too rather than just all the shiny toy bits.

  7. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    April 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Nice article. This is my go to method of desktop organizing ever since I discovered stackdocklet. No dock aside than Rocket Dock works so nicely with stacks.

  8. Choon Khai
    April 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I used to use Stardocks and DellDocks, but stopped using them because it's not lightweight, I wonder if RocketDock is lightweight or not..

  9. Richard Borkovec
    April 23, 2013 at 5:46 am

    I have RocketDock set up where one dock is programs (on the bottom, Windows Task Bar on the top), and have another dock set up on the left, that auto-hides, with shortcuts to my document folders. It's a great program, and I've never had a problem with it.

  10. mike
    April 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    wwat icons / skins are youu using in the article ?

  11. harley
    April 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I've used RocketDock on one of my 2 monitors for a while & Free Launch Bar on the other. The only thing I can't figure out with RocketDock is it disappears under the task bar and when I want to use it I have to keep swiping it until it comes to the front. Otherwise it is really cool.

  12. HannibalCat
    April 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    The only problem with the stacks docklet in Rocketdock is that it forgets all your settings every time you reboot the PC. You can use the same docklet in Objectdock and it stays exactly as you left it.

  13. Sean L.
    April 20, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Thank you for this Aaron, been using Rocketdock for years, and never knew about Stacks Docklet....

  14. Chinmay Sarupria
    April 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    So which is better ObjectDock or RocketDock?

  15. juanDM4
    April 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    wasnt rocket dock kinda of "forgotten"? there hasnt been any updates nor development in years

    • Scott M
      April 21, 2013 at 1:44 am

      There are hundreds of new icons added every week.As to the actual operating system itself,I really don't know whether any evolution has taken place.

  16. Scott M
    April 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I've used Rocket dock for a few years now and wonder how I did without it.A great program.I've never had a bug in it and the library of available icons to use is huge.I keep it hidden on the top for my my most used functions and kepp runme hidden on the side for my photography and graphic programs.I use object dock on the bottom for various antivirus,tuneup,clock,advanced uninstall etc.Everything is right at my command with a move of the mouse to any of the three sides.Its handy and pretty.Plus its fantastic watching them pop up in all of their colours when I boot up the PC.

  17. Zviad Mikadze
    April 20, 2013 at 10:12 am

    great tip,thx :)

  18. Samuel Almeida
    April 20, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I'm not a MAC user, but I've always loved how they've managed to organize everything you need (and want) onto a dock. Being a Windows user, I've never felt the same love from the task bar... it's not as customizable as I'd like.

    Having said that, I've tried Rocket Dock a couple of times. I've made it extravagant, made it a little bit more simple and clean... I've done a lot with it. However, in the end, I've never felt that Rocket Dock and the default task bar can happily live one with the other. For example, if you (almost) definitely hide the task bar, where are you going to get your notifications (dropbox and the works), your clock and calendar, battery life and others.

    It doesn't work for me to have both simultaneously, and it doesn't seem appropriate to hide the windows task bar. Of course I haven't used Rocket dock in a couple of years, so I'm not sure what the possibilities are. However, last time I used it, the experience lasted a week. I'm still waiting for the integration to be a true success.

    • Snapai
      December 11, 2014 at 1:57 am

      If you use a shell replacement, like EmergeDesktop (which you'll probably discover if you're already finding stuff like RocketDock), you can add task manager, battery, and clock widgets to the taskbar area or elsewhere, without actually having a taskbar there. :)

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