“The single greatest piece of software. Ever.” At least that’s what you’ll see when you search for RocketDock with Google, because it’s the program’s tag line. And you know what? I simply have to agree with them. It’s pretty darn cool. Let’s check it out!

So, what is RocketDock? Well, before we go any further, let me ask you a couple questions. Do you ever get tired of your same old desktop design? Are you tired of looking at your programs all lined up in rows and columns? I mean, sometimes we get brave and split our icons up on different sides of the screen, but beyond that, we just deal with the same looking desktop everyday. But not anymore! The boring desktop life as you know it is now over, thanks to RocketDock and the team over at Punk Labs.

RocketDock is a small application launcher that allows you to place your desktop icons in a bar that you can place along any side of your computer screen. It is similar to the way programs are organized on a Mac computer. Not too impressive, you say? Well, just wait! First of all, RocketDock is completely free and with that out of the way, the next best part is that the icons take on an animation and appearance of their own to create a truly unique desktop experience. Take a look at my desktop below. What you can’t see is my cursor, which is hovering over the Internet Explorer icon. With RocketDock, the icons do a “wave” as you run your mouse across them. It’s so cool!

Want to learn more? Then take a look at RocketDock’s Web site for a more detailed demo video of some of its features at But, of course, the best way to see what this program does is to give it a try!

RocketDock sports an easy to use “drag and drop” interface that allows you to move your icons to and from the dock. It runs on Windows 2000, XP and Vista. It also includes the capability to minimize your programs to the dock, instead of the bottom of your screen. You can customize the look and movement of almost every aspect of the dock and since it doesn’t take up a lot of system resources, it won’t slow your computer down.

So, you say you’re ready to sign up? Well, you don’t really have to sign up, but go ahead and go to their Web site and click on the Download link at the top of the page. It’s a small 6.2 MB file, so it won’t take too long to download. Once the download is complete, double click on it to begin the installation.

The installation is pretty typical, beginning with this screen:

For a simple installation, just follow these instructions:

  • Choose your language.

  • Click Next when you see the above screen.

  • Agree to the License Agreement.

  • Select where you want RocketDock to be installed. If you don’t know, just leave it where it is.

  • You can now choose if you want a desktop icon for RocketDock. (I set it to automatically start with Windows, but you can do what you want).

  • Click Install.

  • Now, just click Finish and you’re all set!

If RocketDock doesn’t launch automatically, you can find it under All Programs on your Start menu. Or, you can open it with your desktop icon if you chose to have one. Your first dock will look like this:

To better understand all the beautiful features of this creative program, we should take a look at the different settings available to tweak. For instance, I prefer to only have my most used programs on my dock (sort of like a Favorites list). If you right click on any icon, this menu will pop up:

  • Icon Settings allows you to change the appearance of an icon or control which program a specific icon will open.

  • Delete Item will do just that: delete the selected icon.

  • Add Item is another way to add a program to your dock (although I prefer to just drag and drop).

  • Dock Settings will take you to the settings that control the entire dock (we’ll look at that a little more later).

  • Screen Position Options change where on your screen the dock is located.

  • AutoHide hides the dock off screen when it’s not in use. To get it back, just move your mouse to the edge of the screen where it’s supposed to be and it will reappear.

  • Lock Items keeps you from being able to rearrange the icon order by clicking and dragging them around.

Now, we will take a brief look at the dock settings:

I won’t go into as much detail here, but as you can see, there are plenty of options to truly customize RocketDock and make it a dear member of your desktop family!

  • General: This provides a good look at the options on the first page.

  • Icons: Here you can change the appearance and animation details for all the icons as a whole.

  • Position: This does just what the other Position Options did. It allows you to choose where on your desktop you would like the dock to sit.

  • Style: Here you can customize the background colors of your dock (to better match your desktop).

  • Behavior: This is where you can change settings, such as AutoHide, which I mentioned earlier.

Here are some more screenshots from the Settings window so that you can see what it’s like:

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to get use out of RocketDock. It is a fun way to spice things up on your desktop! You can put your favorite programs on there or add them all. Then whenever you have friends over, the first thing they’ll say is, “Wow! How did you get your desktop like that?” Just go for it and you’ll soon be installing RocketDock on all of your computers!

~ Brandon Freund