The Mac’s Dock is fine with me. It’s simple, usable, mildly customizable, and gets out of the way if you want, and that opens up a bit more screen real estate. If there’s a problem at all it’s more in the trend to have many apps and not enough space to display all the app icons in the Dock.
So, what the Dock needs is some slimming and trimming and a friend to take the load off. That friend is Tab Launcher. Think of it as a movable, customizable mini-Dock for specific app categories of apps assigned to tabs. Yes. Tabs on a Dock.
Like the Mac’s Dock, Tab Launcher displays which apps are running, and you control the looks– color, shadow, fonts, shape, icon size, and where the tabs get placed on the Mac’s screen.
Considering that Tab Launcher costs only a few dollars, it comes with a long list of useful features. For example, icons, tabs, and windows can be adjusted by dragging. The most recently modified files can have their own tabbed folder.
There’s also a music player tab and global keyboard shortcuts to launch Tab Launcher, quit apps, put the Mac to sleep and much more. Configurations are extensive considering how simple Tab Launcher is to use.
Tab Launcher is more versatile than the Mac’s Dock because of, well, the tabs. That means you use less screen space but can display more apps, group the apps by categories, and add more functionality.
What’s happened over time is less Dock. I still keep plenty of apps in the Dock, but I use the setting that hides the Dock because Tab Launcher can be more versatile and much easier to organize. It’s not that I don’t like using the Dock, but in an era where many Mac users have a growing number of apps, the Dock isn’t flexible enough.
For example, it’s not easy to separate apps into easily distinguishable categories of apps. Once the number of apps grows then the app icons become so small they’re not easily recognized among the clutter. Apple would do well to improve on the Dock which actually dates itself back to Steve Jobs’ NeXT computers in the 1980s.