Docker Review (Customise Mac OS X Dock)Written by John Thompson on September 29, 2009 · Filed under Review, Software
I’ve always loved Mac OS X, but I find it a bit limited when it comes to customisation. My Windows desktop is almost indistinguishable from what it looked like when it was installed, but my OS X desktop? Well apart from a different wallpaper every 5 minutes of the day, it’s always been the same… So when I saw Docker, I naturally became excited at the prospect of being able to customise my Mac a little. After all, it’s playing catch up with Windows when it comes to personalisation.
I wasn’t expecting much of Docker, as it’s a free download, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. When you open the application, you have a selection of tabs at the top of the window, allowing you to customise the various aspects of your dock.
The first tab is “Styles & Colours”, which allows you to toggle between the default 3D dock that was introduced in OS X 10.5, or revert back to the old style 2D dock. In addition to this, you can choose whether or not icons on the dock become translucent when an application is hidden. Also in this tab is the option to change the indicator style which shows you at a glance which applications on your dock are currently open. You have the choice to either keep the default style, or change the indicators to arrows and change the colours they appeared as.
As well as this, the colour of the entire dock could be modified. This, for me, required quite a bit of experimentation until I got it the way I liked it, and every time you want to apply a change you’ve made, you need to type in your password, which becomes a nuisance, especially when you’re customising the dock for any considerable amount of time. I chose to make my dock black, and make the indicators brighter, so they stood out more, and I could easily see at a glance which applications I had open.
Amongst the other customisation tools available in the various tabs is the ability to change the icon size and magnification (this can already be done by going into your dock preferences), and there’s an added minimise effect called “suck”. Another minor, yet hugely helpful feature is the ability to prevent icons from bouncing in the dock when they’re trying to grab your attention. It’s one of my all time pet hates about the dock, and I was extremely grateful to find this feature in the settings.
The third tab, named “Stacks & Spaces” also offers a great addition to the dock. There’s an option to add a stack to your dock which contains your recent applications, recent documents or recent servers. It can also show your favourite volumes or items. I found this to be a great feature when working on various documents and closing them when another was opened. The final feature of note is the ability to change standard dock icons to whatever you like. It’s limited to 5 icons: Item not found (folders); Item not found (apps); URL Icon; empty trash and full trash. If you haven’t got an icon changing application on your mac, it’s a welcome feature, despite it’s obvious limitations.
In conclusion, I believe Docker to be a great application, especially as a free download. If you wanted to customise themes on OS X, you’d need an application such as CandyBar ($29), but I think Docker customises the dock very well, and offers many tools so you can get it just the way you want. It’s definitely worth downloading.
(Testing was carried out on Mac OS X 10.6.1, using Docker v1.6.3)