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sTabLauncher: a stylish, lightweight and configurable dock

13 December 2012, Mike Williams

What’s the best way to organise and launch your programs? The arrival of Windows 8 has generated endless “Start Menu vs Start Screen” debates on this topic, but these have tended to miss an important point: many people really don’t like either.

If you’re looking for an alternative way to arrange your applications, though, there are plenty of simple but effective options around, and sTabLauncher’s dock is an excellent example.

The program is extremely unobtrusive, for instance – so much so that, on first launch, you might wonder where it is. Check the top of the screen, though, and you’ll see a couple of tabs, “Internet” and “Apps”, carefully faded into the desktop so they won’t cause any distractions. Move your mouse cursor over either and the dock will drop down, displaying a few sample icons (IE, Explorer, Notepad, Calc) which you can launch with a click.

Basic configuration worked just as we expected. So you can drag and drop additional files onto either tab, for instance. Or drag and drop icons within a tab to organise them however you like.

Organise apps and shortcuts into as many tabs as you need

And when you decide you need more than the default two tabs, right-click the program, choose Options > Tabs, and you can add as many as you like.

All this is presented with plenty of nice graphical touches, from the gradient tab colour schemes to the bouncing, Mac-style icons. STabLauncher is also highly configurable, though, so if you don’t like some aspect of the program then there’s a good chance it can be changed. So not only can animations be turned on or off, for instance, but you can use different animation styles, change their speed, size, opacity and more.

And yet, despite all this apparent glitz, the program remains extremely lightweight, using under 3MB RAM when running in the background on our test system.

There are also a few small issues. There’s an option to set up a Quick Music tab, for instance, which has built-in links to various music streaming services and (apparently) a built-in music player, but none of this worked for us.

And troubleshooting problems isn’t helped by the program’s complete lack of any documentation.

Still, sTabLauncher worked just fine with our own tab configurations – even on Windows 8 – so if you’re looking for a new launcher then it might be worth a try.

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