ObjectDock: Quickly Customize Your Desktop And Increase Its Functionality [Windows]
What is ObjectDock? As the name implies, it’s a dock, which is a program that provides quick access to other programs, folders and widgets right on your desktop. It’s a key symbol of Apple computers, but with third-party programs, such as ObjectDock, Windows machines have the same capability.
So what has allowed ObjectDock to maintain its stellar user base? It’s likely due to it’s balance of functional and practical features, yet stylish and customizable interface. We’ve recently added ObjectDock to our Best Windows Software page, so read on for an in-depth look into ObjectDock and all it has to offer you.
Downloading And Installing ObjectDock
I’m going to be upfront and honest, StarDock, the maker of ObjectDock, doesn’t provide the easiest process of downloading it. First there are two versions, Free and Plus. Upon clicking the download link for the free version, StarDock prompts you to enter your email address to grant you permission to download it.
However, all they do is provide a link to ObjectDock on CNET’s Download.com, so there’s no real reason to even go to the StarDock website in the first place, other than to get all the official information and specifications about ObjectDock.
So should you go through Download.com? You can – it’s reputable, and definitely safe. But I get rather annoyed by their installer, which always seems bloated and includes unnecessary steps. Instead, I recommend going through FileHippo.com, which is reputable as well. They always have the most current version, and all the previous versions as well.
After you download the file, the installation is straightforward and simple. There’s no bloatware inserted into the installer, like I warn about in my article covering the steps in which to prevent junk from getting on your computer during this process. The installation is speedy as well.
NOTE: ObjectDock will automatically be added to your start-up, but if you want to disable this, you can do this in the settings.
After installing, you’ll be prompted to run ObjectDock. Once you do, it will appear at the bottom of the screen and the settings window will appear as well. These settings are what we’ll be walking through next, so don’t discard them. Simply having ObjectDock does not make your desktop look awesome – the magic lies in the customization.
Checking Out The Basic Settings
The ObjectDock Settings window has three tabs: The ObjectDock icon, Home, and Settings. As a rule of thumb, Home is where the customization takes place,whereas the Settings tab deals more with the in-depth settings, although that’s a general rule and isn’t matter of fact. The ObjectDock icon doesn’t really have anything that you can access elsewhere in the settings window or via the dock itself.
So let’s say you closed this window after seeing it, or want to open it back up later – how do you do that? The quickest way is by right clicking somewhere on the dock. You’ll then see an option for Settings. If you click on an icon instead, you can still access the Settings window, you’ll first have to hover over Dock Options and/or Settings, depending on the icon, and then choose Settings (Unfortunately, they didn’t make it consistent).
Now back to the settings.
Customizing what’s on your dock: Shortcuts, docklets and more
There are three main things you can have on the dock: shortcuts, docklets, and separators. Shortcuts can be specific ones chosen through ObjectDock, like your document editor or media player, or you can manually drag any application shortcut onto it from your Desktop or folder, which is probably the fastest way. To get a specific shortcut, you can add shortcuts via right clicking and going to Add > Shortcut.
Alternatively you can add them via the Settings window by clicking on On my dock and then Add a new shortcut.
Docklets are basically miniature applications right within the dock. ObjectDock comes with several, including ones for weather, time, battery life, Start Menu and more. There are other third-party ones available for download around the web. These can be added either by right clicking the dock (shown below) or through the Settings window, by going to On my dock and clicking on Add a new docklet.
Weather (expands to 5-day forecast after hovering over it)
Other docklets are the Recycle Bin (which has the same options that the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop does), Clock, Calendar, Web Search and Show Desktop.
Separators (pictured above) can be used to bring some organization to the dock. You can add them by right clicking and going to Add > Separator or through the Settings window under On my dock and clicking Add a new separator.
To remove anything from the dock, simply click and hold it, then drag it off.
Then just let go and poof.
Adjusting the position and size
ObjectDock can be on the bottom, top, left or right side of the screen. Its alignment can be adjusted to the left, right or centered. This can be adjusted in the Settings Window under Position or by right clicking the dock and hovering over Position.
It’s also possible to adjust the distance from the edge under More Options in the Position section of the Settings window.
The option to adjust the icon and zoomed size is directly under Position in the Settings window.
Other important dock adjustments to know
If you right click on the dock and hover over View, you’ll see that there are toggles for autohide, always on top, magnification and lock dragging (moving the icons around, and on and off the dock). There are also adjustments to show applications, all running windows and minimized windows.
Note that the autohide settings can also be adjusted under Accessibility in the Settings window.
The effect that happens whenever an icon is hovered over can also be changed under the Effect section in the Settings window. You can choose from five animations, adjust the amount and width of zoom, and edit the zoom quality.
Ghost-mode is a pretty neat feature that you can enable. It becomes effective immediately following the box being checked. Basically, the dock disappears and only a section of the dock becomes visible whenever hovered over.
Discovering The More Advanced Settings
Under the Settings tab in the Settings window, there are some further customization options. You can toggle ObjectDock startup, hide the Windows Taskbar and if you’re a Plus user, enable Aero Peek on running tasks.
There are settings for performance options…
And also for troubleshooting, if you’re trying to figure out a glitch or some kind of problem.
At the bottom there’s a button titled Advanced Tweaks that contains several other miscellaneous options that are good to look into.
Fit ObjectDock Into Your Look With Themes And Icons
Once you’ve added the shortcuts you want and set up ObjectDock, it’s now time to put your own personal touch to it with themes. ObjectDock does come with a handful of themes that don’t look too bad (pictured below). You can access these through the Settings window on the Home tab under Style/Color. Then click the link Change Background.
They also link to WinCustomize.com, which has a lot more to choose from.
In addition, you might want to look around on DeviantArt, which is my preferred place to look. There you can find not only themes for the dock, but also icons that you can use to customize the look of your shortcuts on your dock.
WARNING: The customization process can take hours upon hours due to your always trying to search for something a bit better that what you previously had.
Now that you’ve sunk hours into customizing the settings and look of your dock, you’re all set. ObjectDock certainly isn’t the only dock out there. In other articles which talk about tools to personalize your computer and how to clean up your desktop, I mention ObjectDock along side of RocketDock, another great option. Back in 2008, Tina covered 6 different docks, all of which I believe are still available to use. Do you use ObjectDock? If so, do you have any favorite themes, tips or tricks you’d like to recommend? What do you guys think about the use of docks? Are they good, bad or neutral for productivity? Share your thoughts below!
Image Credit: StarDock