The Mac’s Dock works OK. It’s not great, but it’s simple, almost elegant, easy to understand and use. And limited. What’s the Dock’s limitation?
There’s only one Dock. When you get a Dock crowded with apps and folders and documents, all the Dock icons squish down real small. That makes it tough to see what’s what on a smaller Mac notebook’s screen. Solution? Add a few more Docks, or more features.
The Dock’s Obvious Limitations
I like the Mac’s Dock. I use the Dock. The Dock is good for arranging the icons of frequently used apps The Dock is good for storing a few frequently used folders. Then it gets crowded.
By the time I’ve opened documents from half a dozen Mac apps, the Dock’s icons are smaller than my stock portfolio.
Either add yet another tool to manage app icons, folders, and documents, or figure out a way to use what you already know how to use. The Dock. But in multiples.
I decided to look at multiple Docks and Dock enhancements.
Docks, More Docks, Dock Enhancers
There’s a messy world of Dock enhancements are app launchers awaiting your testing. What I’d like is a Dock icon—a button—that when clicked would roll the current Dock over to another Dock with different apps or documents.
What I got for my research was a few hours of testing and trying and being tested and tried by Docks, Dock enhancers and launchers that do everything but what I want.
Dock-It: This enhancement tool gives you multiple Docks. Dock-It claims to avoid clutter and proceeds to add a bunch of features that make it complex to use. Navigate folders witha click. Change colors and transparency. Get quick access to System Preferences. Add a place for image and text clippings. Put a clock in the Dock. Email clipboard contents with a click. Nice, useful, but plenty to learn how to use.
Dock Spaces: This is close to my goal of multiple Docks. Dock Spaces lets you create multiple Docks which you can reach and swap from the Mac’s Menubar (which, by itself, is already crowded). I like this one. It even works in Spaces. It’s also developed by a student in the UK but it’s free.
Orbiter: Assume you don’t like the Dock and want to replace it. Orbiter can do that. It comes with seven themes, and floats wherever you want on the Mac’s screen. I don’t see Orbiter as a replacement, but more of an additional floating Dock that handles the overflow from all the apps and documents in your Dock.
A-Dock X: After trying out half a dozen Dock replacement and Dock enhancement apps, you begin to see why the Dock is pretty decent in the first place. A-Dock X a floating sidebar Dock which brings quick access to a number of enhancements you may want to try. Like the original Dock, A-Dock X has built-in separators, labels, multi-levels of folders, skins, and trash. It’s nice, but something else to keep track of.
Boxtop: Think of the Dock floating below the Menubar. Give it arrow keys to navigate through the app icons. That’s Boxtop. It’s interesting, but it’s also a diversion from the Dock; yet another place to move your eyes and hand to get to apps. That’s one of the Docks’ main benefits. Like it or don’t, you always know where it is.
Jump: Drag your applications folder to the Dock on your Mac.
Click it and you get a wide grid view of the apps inside. Jump is like that except it floats onscreen, but still gives access to whatever you put inside—apps, documents, folders. It can enhance your Dock, complement your Dock, or replace your Dock, but it’s more eye candy and something else to learn.
Docktopus: Instead of replacing or multiplying the Dock, Docktopus enhances the Dock you already know and love. Docktopus displays CPU and memory usage, as well as a specific folder’s contents. The Launcher badge is a pop-up menu which runs other apps or files. Docktopus is the most interesting and unique of all the Dock wannabes and utilities.
Quay: Since I can’t have what I want, which is Dock #2, or Dock #3 and a button that switches between the Docks, Quay is my enhancer of choice. Think of it as the Dock’s pop ups on performance enhancing drugs. Dock pop up menus have limitations. Quay removes most of those and adds more functions. Quay pops up options in apps and folders and gives more detail than the Dock’s pop ups. It’s a bit geeky, but since I can’t find a Dock multiplier that just multiplies my Docks, I’ll add more features.