What's up with docks? For starters, they're handy little apps that launch other applications via shortcuts, typically from a centralized, customizable desktop menu. You "dock" your favorite programs, Web sites, documents, or anything that can be opened with a shortcut to the app, and launch them quickly from it. Appetizer is a neat little dock from Pogopixels, a developer that specializes in widgets and desktop gadgets. We looked at the installed version, but it's also available in a totally portable version that automatically detects apps even when run from a USB drive.
Appetizer's fully customizable and skinnable interface is fairly typical of the class, with adjustable transparency and background colors; options like always-on-top, auto-hide, and launch on startup; and the ability to handle plug-ins. Appetizer's control panel toggles open and closed, and the only other control on the interface other than a Close Program "X" is a small Eject Drive arrow, which will eject DVDs and removable disk drives. In addition to Add and Import Shortcuts and Options buttons, the program's console also offers a configurable Multilaunch button that can launch several apps simultaneously, a potential time-saver for daily chores. Appetizer can automatically import shortcuts from your Start Menu, desktop, or anywhere in your system, or you can add them manually, a process we preferred since it let us select just a few important items rather than duplicating our Start Menu in a widget. We quickly added a small selection of our most frequently accessed items to Appetizer's main view, and each performed exactly as it should when clicked.
Appetizer's options for configuring how the program looks and behaves let us set the appearance, transparency, size, orientation, and position of our dock and save it. It proved to be an unobtrusive but quickly accessible placeholder for stuff we need all the time. It's a testament to the usefulness of docks like Appetizer that newer versions of Windows offer some of the same functionality via widgets, gadgets, and other enhancements. Appetizer's combination of features makes it hard to beat, though.