Docktop is a launcher for Mac OS X with versatile customization options. This background-only application provides a dynamic launchbar on your desktop — behind or above the icons — to which you can add items to open applications, files, folders, web links, or AppleScripts.
You can place the launchbar anywhere you’d like and you can easily add items to it with any combination of icon, link (URL), title (displayed when your mouse simply hovers over an item), & label (optional text shown directly below an item). Docktop functions similarly to the Dock and you can drag and drop files or folders on to the launchbar items to handle the dropped items with the launchbar item. When dragging onto folders, the dragged items will be moved to the target folder. Holding down the Option key as you drag the item will copy it and Control or Command-Option will make an alias to the dragged item in the target folder. With an optional global hotkey, you can summon and dismiss Docktop at will. Docktop makes a great launcher for kiosks (it includes password protection and can hide the Desktop folder) and companies can use it to provide consistent, persistent links on the desktop. With the Clone option, you can create as many instances of Docktop as you like, each with its own items, labels, position, etc. Docktop is also great for individuals to keep track of your most frequently used items.
Docktop is fully-functional trialware with a 7-day trial period. Until you register, whenever Docktop is launched you will receive a notice asking you to register and pay the registration fee. After the trial period is over, you will not be able to use Docktop. If you find Docktop useful—and we hope you will—please consider paying the nominal registration fee. Once registered, the initial dialog will no longer be displayed and the trial period limitation is removed. Your registration is good for the life of the product and all future upgrades will be free of charge.
Please contact us with any comments, requests, or bugs that you encounter. Your help to make this an even better product is greatly appreciated. This is just one of our many applications available for download—and most of them are free! To see our other work, click here.
Installation & Usage
Simply copy Docktop to your Applications folder (or anywhere, really), and launch. The first time you open Docktop, the preferences window will also open. Whenever the preferences window is opened, the application will attempt to hide all other applications so you can see exactly where and how the Docktop launchbar will be displayed (any application that was not hidden before opening the preferences should be restored to visible when you close the preferences window). On subsequent launches, Docktop will just open its launchbar. After your initial configuration, if you need to modify the preferences, Control-click on the Docktop launchbar (or its items) to display a contextual menu that allows you to access the preferences or other options including quitting the application. As of Docktop v1.3, you can disable the contextual menus which can leave you with no obvious way to quit the application or to modify the preferences. If this is the case, you can use the script “Open Docktop Preferences” included on the Docktop disk image to access the preferences and quit the application.
With the preferences window open, you can set many options to configure just how Docktop operates to make it most useful for your needs. If you enable the option to “Require Administrative Password to Quit or Modify Docktop” you will need to enter the system administrative password to make any changes to Docktop once the preferences window is closed. When password protection is active, using the contextual menu to open the preferences, quit the application, or edit or remove an item will all require you to enter the administrative password to continue. (The password you enter is not stored anywhere so there is no need to worry about security issues.) Using this feature makes Docktop attractive for applications such as Macs used as kiosks. If you wish, you can enable a global hotkey to hide or show the Docktop launchbar. When enabling the hotkey, only the first letter in the hotkey field is used.
You can use any text as the default banner title (this works great for advertising in a company or kiosk setting). Anytime your mouse hovers over an item in the Docktop launchbar, the banner will display the title of the item. Moving your mouse off of the item will return the title to the default. If you wish, you can disable the title banner altogether and, when used this way, the item titles will be visible through standard tool tip boxes. For added convenience, you can also set a label for each item (independent of the title) that can be optionally shown below an item in the launchbar. To enable this option globally, make sure you check the button to “Use Bottom Label”. To disable this on an item by item basis, simply leave the “Label” field blank when editing the item.
When changing the preferences, the Docktop launchbar’s title bar turns solid and allows you to drag the launchbar anywhere on your desktop. If you want, you can enable the “Fixed Position” option to anchor the launchbar to the edges or center of your main screen. With “Fixed Position” enabled, any time you add or remove an item from Docktop, the launchbar will readjust itself to the fixed position. If you manually drag the launchbar, the option for “Custom Position” will be enabled. To precisely position the launchbar, you can use the buttons in the preferences window that will move the launchbar in one pixel increments.
The preferences also allows you to position the launchbar either horizontally (in a row) or vertically (in a column). This enables you to position the icons at the top, bottom or sides of the screen — whatever works best for you. If you want the launchbar to float over all other windows, change the level to “Above All”; to situate the launchbar behind the Finder icons, set the level to “Desktop”. The opacity of the Docktop launchbar can also be adjusted from the preferences. Lowering the opacity allows for a more subtle effect. There are also options for how the background of the launchbar is displayed (including not showing the background at all). You can also change the size of the icons. If you want, you can also automatically adjust the size of the icons when adding or deleting an item. With this enabled, if the total number of items would make the launchbar taller or wider than the main screen, Docktop will attempt to shrink the size of the icons so the launchbar will fit (and the converse when items are deleted; the icons will be enlarged).
If you’d like to have Docktop automatically launch whenever you login to Mac OS X, just enable the option to “Add to Login Items”. Individual items can also be added to the Login Items by using the appropriate contextual menu (assuming the menus are enabled; you can modify this by using the “Enable Item Menus” checkbox).
If you are using Docktop in a kiosk environment, you may want to enable the option to “Hide the Desktop”. With this option enabled, no icons will appear on your desktop. With the Desktop hidden, you can still open Finder windows and the icons — and the files & folders they represent — will still be kept in the Desktop folder. Any files or folders that were on your Desktop are still accessible from the Desktop folder. This folder is located in your Home folder. For quick access, you can use the “Open Desktop Folder” from the Docktop contextual menu. To fully enable this option, Docktop must quit and relaunch the Finder. If the Finder is busy (copying files, emptying the trash, etc.), wait until the Finder is finished before you continue. Relaunching the Finder while it is busy may result in data loss. If you have required authentication for the Docktop preferences, authentication will also be required to open the Desktop folder from the Docktop contextual menu (again, assuming the item menus are enabled).
The main feature of Docktop, of course, are the items. When you click the “Add Item” button or choose an existing item to edit or delete, the edit window will open. (You can also directly edit an item by Control-clicking on an item in the Docktop launchbar and choosing “Edit Item...” or delete it by selecting “Delete Item”.)
In editing mode, Docktop makes it very easy to assign an icon, title, URL, & label for your item. An item’s URL can be used to open an application, file, folder, web link (any type of link including web pages, FTP servers, mailto links, etc.) or AppleScripts. For web links, just put in the full URL, including the scheme such as http://www.jonn8.com/ or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Local applications, files, folders, or file shares can be added by using the target item’s path such as /Applications/Mail.app (make sure to use the POSIX — forward slash — form of the path — to make this easier, you can drop the target item into the URL field and its path will be entered properly). You can use just about any URL including specialized URLs specific to applications (e.g., if you have installed Skype, try using an URL like skype:email@example.com or skype:+12125551212).
You can mix and match the icon, title (the text displayed when the mouse hovers over the item), URL, & the label (optional text that is displayed directly below an item). You can drag and drop an item into the icon frame in the edit window to select an item. When the option to “Update Title, URL & Label when Choosing an Icon from File or Folder” is enabled, any item you drop in the icon frame will automatically populate the other fields with the item’s properties. If this is not enabled, just the item’s icon is used (you may also manually choose items from the “Choose Icon” menu and this option will also apply). By default, when you drop a file in the icon image well, the icon of the file is used. Sometimes, however, you may want the actual image content of the file, not the icon. To achieve this effect, hold down the Option key when you drop an image file on the icon image well. If you do this, even if the option to update the title and other information, only the image will be added for the icon property. If you decide later that you don’t want to use the custom icon, you can revert to the default icon by clicking the “Default Icon” button. To change the item’s position in the Docktop launchbar, just adjust the position slider.
A single click on an item in the Docktop item will open the URL assigned to the item. Control-clicking on an item, however, brings up a contextual menu that allows you to edit the item, reveal it in the Finder, add it to your Login Items, or remove it entirely. If the URL of an item points to an application, you can drag and drop files & folders onto the items icon and have those items opened by the application. This may not work if you have set the level of the launchbar to “Above All”.
If you would like to have multiple launchbars, use the “Clone” button in the preferences window. When you click this button, a cloned version of Docktop will be created in the same location as the current Docktop application. Once cloned, simply launch the clone and then use its preferences to assign its items, location, size, etc. Since each Docktop clone has its own preferences, you can assign unique hotkeys to each cloned instances and how or hide the individual launchbars as necessary. You could have one launchbar for utilities, another for games, and yet another for documents — whatever you wish.
As you’ve probably realized, Docktop works great in a kiosk environment. To make it even more useful, Docktop can hide the Desktop folder (note: this setting will be retained even if Docktop is not running; disable the option in the preferences to restore the visible Desktop folder). With the Desktop hidden, any files or folders that are on your Desktop are still accessible from the Desktop folder. This folder is located in your Home folder. For quick access, you can use the “Open Desktop Folder” from the Docktop contextual menu. If you have required authentication for the Docktop preferences, authentication will also be required to open the Desktop folder from the Docktop contextual menu. Even with the Desktop folder hidden, applications can load and save files on the Desktop, its just that their icons won’t be visible without opening the Desktop folder. Also, with the Desktop hidden, clicking on the Desktop will not cause the Finder to activate. To activate the Finder, click on its icon in the Dock or use the application switcher (Command-Tab).
- v1.3 - Released December 8, 2006
- Added an option to hide Docktop on launch (but only if the global hotkey is enabled).
- Added an option to disable item menus.
- Added an option to use an actual image for an item in the launchbar, not just an icon from a file. To enable this, hold down the Option key when dropping an image file (e.g., .png, .jpg, etc.) on the icon image well in the Edit window.
- Added a feature to reset Docktop to the default position if the Option key is held down during launch.
- Made the Command key optional when defining the Global hotkey.
- Improved Mac OS X 10.2.8 support.
- Improved the registration process.
- Fixed drag and drop support in the Edit window.
- Minor interface updates.
- v1.2 - Released February 21, 2006
- Compiled as a Universal Binary.
- Added an option to hide the Desktop. When hidden, the files are still available in the Desktop folder accessible from the Finder or the “Open Desktop Folder” option from the Docktop contextual menu.
- Integrated the “Multiply Docktop” functionality directly into the Docktop preferences. Click the “Clone” button to create a new instance of Docktop that allows its own preferences, items, position, etc.
- Fixed an error that occurred on some systems when re-launching Docktop after changing the background image style.
- v1.1.1 - Released December 23, 2005
- Added option to disable the spin animation on launch (Mac OS X 10.4+ only).
- Added an AppleScript utility for creating multiple instances of Docktop each with its own position, buttons, and preferences.
- Modified the click action for application buttons. Clicking on an application button will now more closely mimic clicking on an application icon in the Dock. If the application is document-based with no window open, clicking on the application button in Docktop will now activate the application and cause a new document window to open (if the application supports this behavior).
- Minor code optimizations and interface enhancements.
- v1.1 - Released June 10, 2005
- Added global hotkey to show/hide the launchbar.
- Added user-specified size of the icons.
- Added drag and drop opening of files/folders for application items.
- Added drag and drop move, copy, and alias of files/folders for folder items.
- Added fixed positioning to anchor the launchbar to the edges or center of the main screen.
- Added option to position the launchbar vertically as well as horizontally.
- Added option to use round or square background or turn off background entirely.
- Added automatic resize option when an item is added or deleted.
- Added option to disable confirmation when deleting an item.
- Improved the behavior of labels: if no item has a label, icons won’t be offset to allow label boxes, even if the option to show labels is enabled in the preferences.
- Fixed an issue when using a folder as an item. Now, clicking on a folder item opens the folder as the expected.
- Fixed several minor issues & improved the speed of the application when launching items.
- v1.0 - Released June 1, 2005
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