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Get a powerful, customizable and free dock for Windows with WinStep Nexus

25 November 2011, Nick Peers

Anyone who’s ever used a Mac will probably be aware how beautiful and functional its dock is. In comparison, the Windows Taskbar – even the revamped version sported in Windows 7 – can feel a little outdated.

If you’re hankering to ditch the Taskbar in favour of something more akin to the Mac, take a look at Winstep’s Nexus, a powerful – and free – dock that aims to supplant the Windows taskbar in your affections.

Download, unzip and install Nexus, launching the app when prompted after setup completes. After a short period, the main dock will appear. It looks okay, but nothing fanciful at this stage. Roll your mouse over it, though, and you’ll see icons leap out at you, ready to be engaged.

You’ll see some useful icons appear, such as a weather report and shortcuts to your browser and email program. Right-click the dock and you can start tweaking it to your exact requirements.

Add new entries – folders, programs, special modules like the CPU meter and weather widget already present, and a series of “internal commands”, which allow you to go to town on what Nexus displays, including the system tray icons (vital if you intend using Nexus in preference to the Windows Taskbar) and running apps.

While there’s lots of tweaking options via other right-click menus, cut the middleman and jump straight to selecting Preferences to open Nexus’ Options dialog. You’ll probably want to start by changing the look of Nexus – the default theme is, shall we say, functional rather than spectacular. To do this, switch to the Themes tab and browse those on offer – choose Leopard if you’re desperate to ape the Mac’s own dock.

Now you can finish off customising Nexus to your exact requirements – choose where to place it on-screen (Position tab) and hide the Taskbar (General tab), for example. There are literally too many options to talk about – just take the time to go through everything carefully.

The end result is a dock that is almost infinitely customisable to your exact requirements. But if for some reason you find yourself hankering for even more features you’ll need to shell out the princely sum of $24.95 for WinStep Nexus Ultimate.

Spendthrifts get loads of bonus features for their outlay, such as support for multiple docks and nested sub-docks. There’s also a tabbed docks feature for keeping things neat and tidy, while you can customise the System Tray icons so they’re more in keeping with their new surroundings.

Winstep Nexus is a freeware download for PCs running Windows 2000 or later. Nexus Utimate costs $24.95 and must be purchased directly from Winstep – there’s no trial version available.

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