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ObjectDock adds a customizable dock with shortcuts and applets to your desktop. It works well as a supplement to the Windows taskbar with shortcuts to your favorite files and programs, and it can also mostly replace the taskbar entirely.
The free and fun utility focuses equally on both form and function. It's dead simple to add items to the dock. Just drag a shortcut, file or folder from the desktop or Explorer to a spot on the dock--and drag them off to remove them. You can also add new 'docklets' by right-clicking and choosing a clock applet, for example.
To customize the dock's appearance, you can choose from a variety of skins, effects and placements. Choose whether you want it on the top, bottom, left or right of the screen, along with whether it will auto-hide or always be on top. You can also decide whether you'll get a zoom or swing effect (or nothing) when you mouse over one of the shortcuts.
ObjectDock first installs as a supplement to the Windows taskbar, with shortcuts to the My Computer, Documents, Music and Pictures folders, as well as program launchers for your default Web browser, e-mail app and music player. You'll also get calendar, weather and Google search applets.
With a little tweaking, however, you can mostly replace the taskbar. Add a Start menu launcher, tell it to always be on top of other windows and to reserve the edge of the screen, and have it display open windows, and you get most of what you get with the taskbar. But you won't see your system tray icons, at least not with the free version.
The $20 Plus version adds in that system tray support, along with the ability to have multiple docks, fly-out menus and more.
If you're at all interested in customizing your desktop, ObjectDock is a fun way to start. On my XP test machine it used about 4MB of memory.
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