LaunchBar Commander is a free customizable application launcher for Windows
LaunchBar Commander is a free application that's similar and offers a lot of customization options on top of that.
Upon running it for the first time, you will be greeted by a message that says the program is donation ware (made by Mouser, a popular DonationCoder developer). A small panel titled "My First Dock" will open, click on the edges to resize it. This is a floating panel, so you can drag it around the screen.
The Dock has 4 buttons: Control Panel, Documents, Start Menu and a Sample Menu. Clicking one of the buttons opens up a menu with the contents of the selected option.
The Control Panel menu lists all the options available in Windows' namesake, the Documents menu displays links to files in your Documents folder, and so on. This is pretty useful for opening files quickly without having to navigate around in Explorer or opening Control Panel or the Start Menu. The program plays a sound when you click on a button which you can disable in the options.
Right-click inside the dock to view its context-menu. This has a few options to resize, center, rebuild the bar. One of the options includes the ability to dock the panel, i.e., place it on the edge of the screen. You can drag the docked panel to any of the four sides of the screen.
Hitting the close button minimizes the program to the system tray. Left-click on the tray icon to access the shortcuts that were on the dock are available from the tray. Right-click the tray icon and select preferences. This brings up the LaunchBar Commander settings window, that you can use to customize the dock. Undocking restores the panel to its original size.
Create your own dock
You can customize the pre-made dock or create your own. Shortcuts that you place in the dock are called Nodes. Click on the "Add Node" menu button (or right-click on a dock > Insert) and select "Add child - Dock": you may rename it to what you want.
Select a display style for the icons, menu, and border (optional). You can also set the dock to autohide, autoslide or reserve a space for it. Next, choose the background you want, set its color and transparency. You can even choose a custom background should you not like the ones that LaunchBar Commander ships with.
Let's add some shortcuts to the dock. Select Add Node > Add Child - Command. A new command is created, rename the caption, and set an icon (paste the icon's path) or use one of the built-in icons. There is a "Command path" box in the pane below, browse for the EXE or folder that you wanted to add. For applications add the word "%file%" in the argument box. That's it, your shortcut is created.
Want to do that in a single click? Drag and drop a shortcut or an EXE, to the LaunchBar Commander interface (over the dock's name). It will prompt you to copy the shortcut properties or create a link to the shortcut. Use either option and it will add the shortcut to the dock. The drag and drop method adds the application's icon, path, name, etc automatically, so you should consider using this if you want to speed up the process. What about dragging and dropping shortcuts on the dock interface? That works as well.
Note: You can right-click icons on the dock to access the Explorer context-menu options and execute them.
Adding folders is quite similar and these folders open like menus, i.e., they display the contents of the directory. And speaking of menus, you can create custom ones, but you'll need to place the nodes inside (EXEs, Folders, URLs, etc). You can place Folders inside menus too.
Multiple docks are supported, and since they are floating panels, you can place them where you want to. Each dock minimizes to the tray independently.
The application is also available in a portable archive. LaunchBar Commander is a brilliant program, it has some more advanced options, but this should cover the basics and help you get started with it.