Windows added – and is still adding – a variety of features to become more user-friendly. However, anyone who’s used macOS would notice one glaring omission: an app dock. As with most things Windows is missing, there are third-party tools to fix it, including Mac dock for Windows apps, which give your desktop that extra bit of slickness.
Note: Most of the “vanilla” Windows dock apps haven’t been updated in a long time, and the best modern options require you to use an additional desktop customization tool called Rainmeter. It means you’ll need to do a bit more work to get your dock, but it’s totally worth it! If you don’t want to go through the trouble, then we also have a few non-Rainmeter docks for you.
How to Install and Uninstall Rainmeter App Docks
To get you started, here’s a brief summary of how to work with Rainmeter-based app docks in Windows. (You can install/uninstall non-Rainmeter docks as you do any other app.)
- Download and install the latest version of Rainmeter. It supports everything from Windows 7 and above, all the way to Windows 11.
- Click “Run Rainmeter” once the installation is complete.
Note: during installation, you will be asked whether you want Rainmeter to launch during Windows PC startup. It’s safe to disable this option.
- Rainmeter’s default app dock, “Illustro,” appears on your desktop screen.
- Rainmeter has its own skin installer in the form of the .RMSKIN file extension. You cannot open it with any other Windows app. Various .RMSKIN files can be downloaded from the collections available with DeviantArt, Visualskins, SourceForge, and other sources.
- In the following example, we’re downloading a .RMSKIN file for “Docker,” a simple dock featuring a clock showing the time.
- Double-click on any downloaded .RMSKIN file. It will prompt you to click the “Install” button.
- View the Rainmeter app dock on your desktop.
- To organize your Rainmeter-based app docks, right-click on an open space inside the dock to manage and edit the skin and add new apps to the dock.
- Each installed Rainmeter-based app dock has a “Basic.ini” and “Advanced.ini” menu under “Active skins.” This is where you can change the display settings.
- If you want a slightly different placement on your desktop, change the coordinates. You can also make the skin draggable, snap to edges, and have varying levels of transparency and load order.
- To uninstall a Rainmeter app dock, right-click anywhere, and click “Unload skin.”
Tip: want to make Windows 10 look more like Windows 7? Learn how to get started on this project.
1. Silmeria (Rainmeter)
Silmeria is one of the more popular docks available through Rainmeter and has that bold, sharp-angled feel of a Windows 10 Start menu tile. It feels perfectly appropriate for Windows.
First, create a free DeviantArt account to download the Silmeria .RMSKIN file, then double-click on it to install the Silmeria app dock on your computer. You can flip it to the left, right, top, or bottom.
You can customize Silmeria in various ways, such as adding thin white bars in the areas where you want the dock so that you can hover your mouse over them to make the dock appear. When you hover over a dock app, the colors invert, giving a clear indicator of what you’ve highlighted.
2. Momento (Rainmeter)
Once you come to grips with Rainmeter, the possibilities of the kind of docks, icons, and other desktop elements you can use expand immeasurably. Momento is just one of hundreds of examples of beautiful docks that can be used with the Rainmeter app.
Its flat, elegant interface clearly displays all the information you need, and it’s tight enough that you can squeeze plenty of icons into it. The black-and-white look gives it a cleanliness that you sometimes lose with all the multicolored icons representing the different software on your PC.
Tip: taskbar icons missing from your Windows PC? Learn how to bring them back.
3. Material Taskbar (Rainmeter)
Material Taskbar should motivate you to get Rainmeter for your Windows customization needs. It is loosely inspired by the Android design style and all about base color-coding and flat clear information.
As with a proper dock, it can contain not only your favorite apps, but also extra functions, like the Recycle Bin and a power button.
There’s quite a bit of flexibility with it, too. You can mess around with the colors and get rid of the “board” that the bar sits on so that you only see the icons. Alternatively, go for a fully monochrome style.
4. Darth Vader (Rainmeter)
This is the ultimate treat for fans of the Star Wars franchise. The Darth Vader Rainmeter theme transforms your desktop into a cybernetic reality.
All your installed Windows apps get a clickable futuristic makeover. Chrome, Skype, Picasa, Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, Excel, and other apps can be placed on the Death Star.
From Darth himself to R2-D2, all the Star Wars characters will help open your files and applications. For further customization, add your own favorite character variants in the “Settings and Manage” skin menu. Why settle for the boring Windows dock when you can populate it with the entire Star Wars universe?
5. Steampunk (Rainmeter)
If you like the sight and sound of steam on 19th-century machinery, Rainmeter’s Steampunk collection gives you the best possible audio-visual delight. These complicated bars and dials will transform your desktop from a digital interface to analog equipment belonging to the Industrial Age.
The Steampunk display just doesn’t show an analog clock. It also gives you overall CPU usage, RAM usage, Wi-Fi signal strength, and other vital computer data. A featured music player lets you play any MP3 or MP4 file right from the desktop.
If you don’t mind the sound of gears meshing at each click, you’ll love every bit of this relic from the past. You can add more gears to the mesh pile from the “Settings” section.
FYI: upgrade your Windows desktop with one of these cool 4K backgrounds.
6. Neon Space (Rainmeter)
This Rainmeter app dock theme is inspired by the Neon Space video game. Unlike the other Sci-Fi desktop displays, it is a bit more subtle, as it blends into your desktop background. You barely notice anything until you start your work with the different heads-up display (HUD) tabs.
At a glance, you can see everything ranging from time, weather, battery level, RAM utilization, network connection status, and more. You can open any music player you have, and a “HUD for Internet” launcher will allow you to open any online links saved to your computer.
The Neon Space app dock is definitely cool, but if you want more outer space options in Rainmeter, you can search online.
7. North Green (Rainmeter)
The Northern lights are one of the rarest natural phenomena. Brighten up your desktop like a sky with the Aurora-like effect of North Green, a simple-to-use Rainmeter skin.
It neatly arranges all your desktop apps to create a stunning background that literally illuminates your entire screen.
The apps are arranged in two columns to your left and right, and everything else is at the bottom. The performance of your PC is visible in a green light crossing through the middle, indicating that it’s satisfactory in every way. You get location information, weather reports, and many other similar data.
8. Quantum Dock (Rainmeter)
Price: Freemium (Site donation)
If you’re looking for a fluent UI-based customizable dock, with a modern look and feel, and support for common Windows applications, Quantum Dock is a good .RMSKIN to have. While the download page is free, you can only access it through a minimum donation of $1.
Why should you consider this freemium app dock? For starters, you get a fairly huge collection of fresh new icons for all your favorite Adobe and Office programs, all the major browsers, music players, and Windows system utilities. If you’re tired of the same look and feel of your Windows app icons, consider giving them a facelift.
The app dock entries are replaceable, and you can change your background opacity and gaps to easily blend with Windows 11’s latest fluent UI interface.
9. Winstep Nexus
Price: Free / $24.95
It’s hard to beat the power of Winstep’s Nexus docking system, as it’s one of the most current and offers a completely free version, which only provides a single dock that may be all you want or need. It also works much like your taskbar by displaying currently running applications.
The premium version works extremely well for multitasking and power users. You get multiple, tabbed, and sub docks, along with numerous organization and customization options.
On the downside, uninstalling Nexus from Windows can be tricky. Unlike the Rainmeter skins above, this program is very persistent and just won’t leave you alone. To proceed with uninstallation, right-click anywhere on the dock and select “Exit,” then go to Windows’s regular “Installed apps” under Settings to finish the uninstallation. There will be a few “warnings” that must be ignored.
10. My Dock
Price: Free trial / $1.49
Earlier Windows versions – such as NT, 95, 98, and 2000 – used to support streamlined docks to run your favorite applications, a useful feature which Microsoft has all but discontinued.
Thankfully, there is a substitute, My Dock, a Microsoft Store app that recreates the nostalgia of proper docks. At the same time, it easily works with the latest Windows version updates. You can download My Dock with a free trial, and the paid version is quite affordable.
Adding and removing any apps on this dock is a breeze. Frequently-used Windows utilities – such as Task Manager, Control Panel, Recycle Bin, and Photos – can simply be clicked. Change the theme from its default to macOS, Bouquet, Black Gloss, and a dozen other options.
It’s possible to easily hide the dock when not using it. Add unlimited items using a sub-level organization system by dragging and dropping icons.
Tip: widgets not working on Windows? Learn what to do to restore their full functionality.
ObjectDock is the only option on this list without a free version – it has a 30-day free trial instead. However, it’s the closest competitor to Nexus and offers a variety of customization options. You can even create separate docklets to add to your main dock for better organization.
One thing that really sets it apart is the ability to hide your taskbar, effectively replacing your taskbar with ObjectDock. Plus, any running programs/apps appear in the dock. If you’re searching for a dock to replace the Windows taskbar, it’s definitely worth the price.
While the website states it’s compatible with Windows 7/Vista/8, it also works well on Windows 10 and 11. It’s a less-expensive alternative to Nexus if you’re searching for a premium feature set.
RocketDock by Punk Labs has a retro feel to it, as it helps you travel back in time to the Windows NT operating system age. Remember the Windows 2000 dock, where all your favorite applications used to just hang?
RocketDock allows you to relive those times. It is a simple and safe application that you can install on Windows 11 (and below) devices. It feels somewhat like Appetizer, the legacy open-source software.
Unlike other fancy app docks on our list, RocketDock’s plus point is its simplicity. Each application or program you move out of the dock makes a “whoosh” sound, with gases igniting and fading away. Likewise, you can drag the apps you need into the dock, and they will imitate a faux shuttle launch.
Tip: learn how to turn any website into a desktop app in Windows.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I change my taskbar to dock in Windows?
There are two ways to change your default Windows taskbar to a dock. Hide the taskbar through “Settings -> Personalization -> Taskbar -> Taskbar behaviors,” check “Automatically hide the taskbar,” then add a downloadable Rainmeter skin to serve as a dock.
You can also use TaskbarXI, a paid software available with Microsoft Store. It converts any Windows taskbar to a dock.
What can I do when I can’t delete an app dock in Windows?
Some app docks don’t have an unload or exit menu when you click inside the space. To get rid of them, simply restart your Windows computer.
How do I fix my non-working Windows Start menu?
All images and screenshots by Sayak Boral.
Subscribe to our newsletter!
Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox