By now most Mac users (and certainly Leopard users) know about Stacks, the new file-management feature that resides in the Dock in Mac OS X 10.5. Stacks are great for many things, like organizing a bunch of similar files or keeping all the parts of a project together. To create a stack, you just put a folder in the Dock and start grabbing files and drag them to the same folder. You get your choice of the way it displays your files when you click the folder--either in a grid or fanned out. The less-than-useful issue I noticed, is that when I have too many items in a stack, it automatically offers the overflow option of opening in the Finder. While it's still useful for a certain number of items, it seems like it could be better.

A hierarchical menu lets you get to the file you want without leaving the Dock. (Credit: CNET Networks)

I was going through my usual daily software scouting earlier this week when I came across a little software gem I think Leopard users will really like. HierarchicalDock is a free utility that makes folders in the Dock more accessible, especially if you have a lot of items in the folder. Simply choose or make a new a folder of items and drag it into the HierarchicalDock window, then drag the resulting "processed" folder to your Dock. Now, in addition to being able to use stacks, you can have multi-item folders with hierarchical menus for easier navigation. Any time you want to navigate the folder, just click on it to get a hierarchical display and drill down to the file you want to open without ever leaving the Dock.

I like most of the stuff Apple added to Leopard and Stacks is no exception--for some projects. But when I have a lot of items that I'm going to be using for a project like digital photos, for example, HierarchicalDock is the way to go.

Do you have a better program for the job? Do you think I'm crazy for not loving Stacks? Let me know in the comments!

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.