|DragThing 5.0.2, by
When you first start
DragThing, it automatically starts you off with a dock that is displayed on your
desktop that includes four layers: Applications, Documents, Folders, and URLs. It
even fills in some of the buttons for you to get your started (such as iTunes and
Safari under applications, and DragThing web sites under URLs). Customizing DragThing
to better suit your needs and work habits is where the fun really begins.
DragThing dock after revised for my own tastes
With my primary dock
setup with several layers, each representing a category (such as "Internet",
"Games", "Utilities", etc.), it became a breeze to get to my
favorite applications fast and easy. No more hunting for items through folders or
on my desktop. With DragThing's multiple rows and multiple layers, you get access
to far more items than provided by the OS X Dock, including categorical organization.
You can also setup up "hot spots", so that if my screen is filled with
windows covering my dock, I simply move the cursor to my screen hot spot (in my case,
it is the top left corner), and DragThing docks rise to the front for easy and immediate
access. Optionally, you can have the dock float on top all the time, but that can
be rather obtrusive.
The dock that you create with items of your own choosing is known as a "static" dock. All items in a static dock are managed by the user. In addition to static docks, however, DragThing also supports "dynamic" docks that can change throughout your session. There are three types of dynamic docks in DragThing: Process, Disk, and Window. The Process Dock shows all the items which are currently running, with various options such as showing background apps or listing items in the order they were launched. This dock is similar to the old OS 9 application window (created when you dragged the application menu off the top menu bar), but with much more flexibility and customization. There is also the Disk Dock that shows mounted hard disks, removable media, connected servers, and more. Finally, there is the Window dock which shows all the open windows. This dock may not seem useful at first, but it actually provides a very nice function. Back in OS 9, if you clicked on an open window from another application, the Finder not only put that application in front, it brought all of it's associated windows with it. However, in OS X, the Finder only brings the one window that you clicked on to the front, leaving associated windows behind windows belonging to other applications. This can be chaotic and very frustrating when dealing with several apps and several windows, but with DragThing's Window Dock, you can manage all your windows quite easily. By choosing to sort your Window dock by application, all of your windows are easily available without having to hunt through open windows. While Apple's Exposé provides some window management functionality, I found that the DragThing Window dock is much easier to use than Exposé. All of these dynamic docks are optional, and can be turned on or off as you desire. They can also be styled and customized just like the static docks.
The Docks settings panel; 1 of 11 settings categories under Preferences
The amount of customization that DragThing supports can be overwhelming. DragThing preferences apply to all docks, and contains 11 categories of preferences: General, Docks, Items, Appearance, Colours, Textures, Sounds, Hot Keys, Trash, Software Update, and Advanced. You can further refine your settings for each dock by choosing the Dock Options or Layer Options settings (under the Edit menu). Dock Options includes settings in the following categories: General, Visibility, Hot Keys, and Advanced. Layer Options allow you to specify the design of your dock (either for all layers in that dock, or for each individual layer). In addition to all the settings options, you can also change some of the view options on the fly using the View menu. The view menu also provides the method of displaying your cells: small icons, icons, large icons, and names (no icon). Finally, as if the built-in options were not enough, DragThing also provides a Scripts menu for executing Applescripts of your choosing (and includes several scripts to start your off with).
Some of the settings that I found most useful include using a hot spot to bring DragThing to the front, choosing the Brushed Metal texture for my dock layers, customizing the colors for my layers, activating DragThing sounds, and bringing back the Desktop "Trash" icon. For some reason, Apple abandoned the desktop trash in OS X and stuck it in the dock (which is just plain wrong). DragThing puts the trash back on your desktop, and the DragThing trash looks and behaves just like the OS 9 desktop trash. One thing that could improve the desktop trash, as well as the DragThing docks in general, is to somehow get the Finder to recognize the screen real estate that is being used by them. For instance, when I have a lot of volumes that mount on my system, instead of stopping short of the trash icon and starting a new column at the top, the Finder will overlay a mounted volume right on top of the trash can. In addition to that, sometimes the Finder places files and folders behind my DragThing dock, forcing me to minimize the dock so that I can drag the item to a better place on my desktop. One work around for this is to place invisible files with blank names on your desktop in the areas where you don't want the Finder to use.
For those of you who liked to use the "tabs" in OS 9, you can customize DragThing to reproduce that behavior by using the "Show Dock as a Drawer" option under Dock options Visibility tab. I was not a fan of OS 9 tabs, so I don't use this visibility option. However, I do use the other visibility option for translucency. You can adjust the translucency of your docks from Opaque to fully transparent, and everywhere in between. I set mine up to be slightly transparent when the cursor is not over it, and then fully opaque on mouse over. The translucency effect helps you to see when the Finder places an item on the desktop behind the dock.
One other issue to
note with DragThing is the fact that it provides all the functionality of the Dock,
plus much more, and all in a better package. How can that be a bad thing? The reason
this is an issue is because after getting up and running on DragThing, you immediately
want to dispose of the OS X Dock. All it does is interfere with your desktop and
your productivity. Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate the OS X Dock. You
can set the Dock to hide, but it still rears its ugly head when you mouse over the
bottom edge of the screen. It would be nice if DragThing incorporated some of the
animation features of the OS X Dock, such as the genie effects and enlarged icons
during mouse over. That way if we ever find a good utility to eliminate the OS X
Dock completely, DragThing would leave nothing to be missed.