[Windows] Open frequently used applications and files quickly with the free dock Winstep Nexus

Handy as Windows 7’s taskbar may be for launching all of your favorite apps and programs, it’s still not perfect. There’s still no official way, after three years, to dock specific files on your taskbar–only programs, and within their jumplists, files. Winstep Nexus is a beautiful dock that, along with allowing you to pin files and programs, also brings widgets, including the weather and a CPU widget, to your screen.

What is it and what does it do

Winstep Nexus is a docking program that brings not only apps and files but widgets to your desktop. You can have the weather, your computer’s stats, your bandwidth usage, and all of your favorite apps and files positioned right at the top–or bottom, or sides–of your screen.


  • CPU/RAM meters handily placed in your dock, plus many more other widgets
  • Launch apps and open files
  • Get an instant five-day forecast
  • Themeable to match any setup


  • Additional strain on CPU and RAM over using Windows Explorer to open apps/files
  • Can be awkward to use if you’re not used to it
  • Partial transparency only kinda-sorta works on Windows 8

Winstep Nexus’ main attraction is most likely its extensive “module” support. Anyone who’s ever used an Android device will be familiar with these as widgets–little graphical or textual icons that can give you the weather, your email, system statistics, and more. Of course, Winstep is a dock, and so you can always pin files and apps onto it.

With Winstep Nexus, you can really go all-out. The developer created this four minute video that shows off something they were able to create:

You’ll notice that they don’t even need to use Windows Explorer or the task bar at all, as everything they need is pinned safely to their dock.

The free version of Winstep Nexus is missing quite a few features, however. In the full version, which costs $24.95, you can add additional docks, allowing you to do things like categorize widgets, apps, and files into nice-looking docks on all sides of your screen. You can also use “Shelf Tabs” to replace your desktop, and view your running apps, all from your dock.

Conclusion and download link

Winstep Nexus is a great, well-rounded dock program. It’s got everything you could want from such a program, and more, including widgets that check your email, give you the weather forecast, the time, and much, much more. Though some people would much rather stick with the traditional desktop/taskbar/desktop widgets setup that Windows comes with, Winstep Nexus is a great way to combine all of that into one easy to manage place.

Price: Free with $24.95 upgrade

Version reviewed: v12.2

Supported OS: Windows 2000+

Download size: 31MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/41

Portability: Requires installation

Winstep Nexus homepage

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  • Eric989

    @Ashraf: I don’t have Windows 7 so I wouldn’t know. Does that search box support aliases/magic words/ what ever you want to call them? Like in my example, I can open Firefox and go to Dottech with simply typing fdt. That is crazy easy to remember, but can Windows 7 do that?
    And I don’t understand how a search box could ever completely replace a dock. What if you can’t remember what the program is called?

  • Ashraf

    @Eric989: I used to use text-based launchers. Then I discovered the search box in Windows 7’s start menu.
    @leonicholson: I used to use ObjectDock too. Then I discovered the search box in Windows 7’s start menu. :-P

  • leonicholson

    I use ObjectDock and HideDesktopIcons with Vista and Windows7. Both are free.

  • Eric989

    My all time favorite dock/application launcher is LaunchBar Commander from our good friend Mouser over at Donation Coders. You can set up programs on the top level of the dock or put them in sub menus. It is very customizable and lets you sort your programs however you wish and lets you choose custom icons for the programs or the menus. It has built in access to the control panel and a neatly organized start menu if you wish (I haven’t used my real start menu in months).
    It does not have fancy junk though. There are no widgets or gadgets or fancy animations or such, but it is very lightweight and portable.
    If you prefer a text based way to launch programs, I recommend either Executor or Find and Run Robot(FARR). Both are very customizeable and portable. They are similar to a previously featured program called Famulous but they are much more powerful. They both use aliases to launch programs. For example mine are set up to launch Firefox (or open new tab)and go to Dottech by simply typing fdt. They both do an excellent job of searching the start menu.
    Give them a chance and use them properly and you might save a lot of time. It is very important to set them up properly as both will try to do too much by default. In particular my first impression of FARR was that it was good at everything and great at nothing but then I narrowed its focus to just the start menu and a portable apps directory and I am much happier.
    Executor’s advantage is that it can use indexing and it is therefore faster at searching for stuff on your computer than FARR. FARR’s advantage is that it’s heuristic rules are great to get everything sorted exactly how you want it and to hide stuff you are not interested in. Also, FARR version 3 will be out later this year and it will have indexing and I imagine it will then blow Executor out of the water. Because of this I recommend FARR so you won’t have to set one of these programs up more than once(if you prefer Executor now but like FARR 3 better later).
    Right now, between FARR and Launchbar commander, I probably save at least 5 minutes a day by not being lost in the start menu, vainly scanning my desktop, or having to navigate to my portable apps directory or otherwise having to fire up their launchers. I used to put a zillion shortcuts on my desktop, but now it is faster to launch a program with FARR than it is to minimize two or three windows to even get to the desktop
    Again, don’t try to do too much with either FARR or Executor. They are not meant to be general search tools to scan your entire computer; use the program Everything for that. Point them at specific things like the start menu and a few folders and use aliases to launch your most used programs. .