DragThing 4.0, by TLA Systems
Posted: 31-August-2001

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: TLA Systems Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Mark A Wood Class: UTILITY

DragThing 4.0 is an application for organizing all of your favorite applications, folders, website URLs, servers, scripts and just about anything else you would like to have at your fingertips. This review was performed on OS 9.2.1. DragThing 4.0 also runs on OS X.

Installing DragThing was a snap. Upgrading from Dragthing Lite 2.7 to the 4.0 application updated the necessary files on the first start-up. Users of the Lite version should note that DragThing 4.0 does not come with a Lite version. DragThing 4.0 works without being registered, but with many features disabled. You are also given a warning that it is shareware and you need to register. The shareware fee for DragThing 4.0 is $25. The upgrade fee from DragThing 2.x to 4.0 is $10, and you can still register DragThing 2.9 for just $10. DragThing 2.9 does not run on OS X, and does not sport the new customizing windows of DragThing 4.0, but for users of Mac OS 9, DragThing 2.9 may be all that you need.

Once installed the creation of a new dock (dock is Dragthing's name for a toolbar) is a very simple process. After creating a new dock, the user is presented with an options window for customizing the dock to your individual needs. There are multitudes of features from which to select. These include icon size and spacing, show item names, options for when DragThing will be visible, and how the icons react when selected.

Once you have your initial dock created, it is a simple matter of dragging and dropping your favorite items onto the spaces in the dock. Additional spaces can be added by moving your cursor over the top or bottom of the dock until you see it change to a double line, then drag open another row or column.

The dock has the option of being layered so that you can organize things any way you want. Each layer is represented by a named layer tab which can be displayed to the side, at the top, or not at all. For a dock with more than one layer, you will want to have the tabs showing so that you can switch layers. An option window appears when you create a new layer where you can name the new layer (such as Applications, Utilities, Folders, etc.), select the layer color, and the style of the spaces. It also provides the user the options of applying the current selections to all the layers. Setting up different color layers for different types of data makes it easier to recognize layers. If you ever want to make changes to these layer options, double-clicking a layer tab will bring up the layer options window.

Once you have mastered the creation of the basic dock, DragThing still provides additional features to ensure you have the dock that suits your needs and tastes. Additional colors can be loaded, the dock can be rotated, and your items can be arranged to your needs. Each dock can be trained to behave differently depending upon the foreground application. For example, you may want the dock to float, except when running certain full screen applications, such as iMovie. Version 4 contains a few more features over version 2.9, including more control over square sizing and text style, and sporting a whole new tab-style look for changing the settings. The most important feature of version 4 is compatibility with OS X.

DragThing 4, like its predecessors, is Apple-scriptable. It includes a lot of packaged scripts, such as duplicate dock or list hot keys, which automatically display under the Scripts menu. You can add your own scripts to the Script menu simply by placing them into the "DragThing Scripts" folder. Additionally, scripts placed in the "Startup Items" folder are executed automatically when DragThing starts up, and scripts placed in the "Shutdown Items" folder are executed when DragThing quits. This really expands the usefulness of the application, providing limitless possibilities.

The number of options for customizing DragThing docks, DragThing layers, and DragThing in general are too numerous to list in this review. The bottom line is that these options are organized very well, intuitive, and easy to change. In most cases, I found myself around without the need of any help document. Kudos to the author for a well designed user interface.

From this reviewer's standpoint, DragThing 4.0 is an excellent addition to any desktop. It's functionality is perfect in what it does, and it blends in very nicely with the Mac OS. Whether you're running the latest OS X, or Mac OS 9 or earlier, I highly recommend this desktop utility. Once you have used it, you will find it difficult to use anything else.


  • Flexible and Powerful desktop tool
  • Intuitive and Easy To Use
  • OS X compatible
  • Highly customizable with nice tile designs


  • No Lite version

Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice