Open it all with Nexus Dock

This free desktop dock opens anything and can be completely customized.

Nexus is Latin for both a group of things bound together and the act of binding them. That makes it the perfect name for Winstep's free Nexus Dock utility. Like other desktop docks, it has time and weather widgets, a screenshot tool, and quick access to Windows features like e-mail and the Start menu. But that's just the beginning of what this versatile app can do. It brings just about anything in your PC together on the desktop for instant access -- programs, utilities, files, folders, properties information, and so on -- and displays them in an interactive, expanding docking bar that, like the rest of Nexus Dock, can be customized to suit any need. You can add Modules, Separators, and Commands, change its Size and Position, alter its Appearance and Sounds, and do much more. It's already compatible with Windows 8, too.

We extracted and started Nexus Dock, which offered to check for the latest version and also displayed an optional Tool Tip. The dock is fairly substantial in its default configuration, with icons approximately the same size as our desktop icons. You can easily change the icon size to suit your style without sacrificing any flexibility since the dock automatically magnifies any icon the cursor passes over. This Mouseover effect produces a fun "wave" when you sweep the cursor side to side, but it's one of many effects we could configure from the Effects submenu, including Fluid and Blur. Clicking any dock entry let us configure its properties or open its container. The program's Preferences sheet offers a whole row of tabs, each with tons of options; the autohide feature has seven animation settings alone.

After getting the look, we were ready to customize the dock entries by linking programs, files, and such by clicking Insert New Dock Item. It was easy: docked items seemed to spring open before we'd finished a click. The newest version of Nexus Dock has noticeably faster and crisper rendering and lots of new effects, as well as touch-screen support, better laptop compatibility, and many new widgets.

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