Top 12 Desktop app launchers for Windows 10

By: Ivan Jenic
9 minute read

Windows 10 offers more features than any version of the system before. For desktop management and customization alone, it has the ability to use multiple desktops, and some more interesting features.

However, some people aren’t satisfied with the way Windows 10 is designed; Some people just have too many icons on the Desktop, and they struggle to organize it. Either way, something needs to be done to make their environment more productive.

If you have such problems, probably the best solution is to use an app launcher. By using this type of software, you’ll be able to free some Desktop space, and bring a dose of freshness on the way.

We’ve looked for the best Desktop app launchers for Windows 10, and created a list of the best ones available right now. So, if you’re planning to use an app launcher, but can’t make up your mind about which one is the best, make sure to check out our mini-reviews.

Best App Launchers for Windows 10

RocketDock

rocketdock windows 10 app launchers

RocketDock is probably the most famous name on this list. You’ve probably heard of, or maybe even used it back in Windows XP days, and guess what, it’s compatible with Windows 10, as well. In case you’re not familiar with RocketDock, it’s a program launcher/dock that sits on top of your screen.

The dock is designed after Mac OS X launch bar, and its simple purpose is to keep your favorite shortcuts in one place, so you can access always access them. When you install RocketDock, it will feature some default shortcuts, but you can easily modify it, and add whatever program or app you want. The best thing about RocketDock is that it can save a lot of space on Desktop, so if you have many icons, this can be a life-saver.

RocketDock is available for free, and you can grab it from this link.

ObjectDock

objectdock windows 10

Just like RocketDock, ObjectDock is also a well-known program launcher for Windows, that has been around for quite some time. It allows you to add your favorite programs and apps to the dock, for the quick access. It even allowed Windows 7 users to add Gadgets back in the day, but as you probably know, that feature has been discontinued. However, there’s still a way to add Gadgets to Windows 10, so you combine them with ObjectDock.

ObjectDock sports a simple design, as you have an impression that your apps are ‘sitting’ on a table. The dock is placed on the top of your screen, so it doesn’t interrupt your work. You can even add quick launch icons from the taskbar, for even quicker integration.

ObjectDock is available for free, and you can download it from this link. There’s also a paid version, which brings some additional features.

RK Launcher

rk launcher windows 10

RK Launcher is another free dock for Windows 10, used for storing your favorite apps and programs. You can add absolutely any app you want, but also files and folders. RK Launcher is placed on the edge of your screen, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the top edge, as you can move it to any side of the screen you want.

RK Launcher also sports a simple, and neat design, and it should perfectly blend with your working environment. The ability to change themes, and add custom icons and docklets allows you to completely customize the looks of RK Launcher.

Since RK Launcher can be placed on any side of the screen, and supports various apps, programs, and file types, it can be a perfect replacement for the taskbar. Although it was built for the previous versions of Windows, RK Launcher still functions well in Windows 10.

RK Launcher is available for free, and you can grab it from this link.

Executor

executor windows 10

Executor is a very simple program/app launcher for Windows 10, that allows you to access any installed program on app on your computer, simply by entering its name. Executor is placed in the taskbar, so all you need to do is to click on it, type the name of the app you want to open, and it will be opened immediately.

As soon as you install this program, it indexes all installed programs and apps, as well menu entries, the list of recently accessed items, and more. This is a really tiny program, with less than 1MB of size, so it basically won’t occupy any resources while running in the background.

It also allows you to assign a specific keyword to a program, so you don’t have to type the full name. Besides programs and apps, Executor also works well with URLs, so if you need to access a certain website quickly, just enter its address in Executor.

If you have problems interacting with Windows 10’s default search engine, Cortana, or you simply want to try something else, Executor can be a perfect alternative.

Executor is available for free, and you can download it from this link.

Launchy

Launchy windows 10

Launchy is another terribly simple launcher for Windows, that also work smoothly on Windows 10. The biggest advantage of Launchy is that it’s ready to use as soon as you install it, as you don’t have to set up a single thing. When you open the program, it shows just a search bar, along with a small Control Panel icon.

So, just type in the name of the program you want to open, and suggestions will appear in no time. Launchy doesn’t only open regular programs or apps, it also can search for old files stored in multiple folders, which can be more than useful.

Although Launchy doesn’t offer as many functionality features as Executor, you can still customize it with skins and plugins. This program can also serve as a solid replacement for Windows 10’s built-in Search.

Launchy is available for free, and you can download it from this link. The program comes in both portable and .exe versions.

XWindows Dock

XWindows Dock windows 10

Although its name might make you think this program works only in Windows XP, it’s actually perfectly compatible with Windows 10. XWindows Dock imitates MacOS’ launcher toolbars, and gives you some options that are also available in Apple’s tool.

The best thing about this dock is that it allows you the complete customization. You can change its appearance by adding graphics effects like reflections, transparency, shadow, blur, and more. But besides its fancy looks, XWindows Dock also gives you exceptional functionality features. You can add your favorite apps and programs, as well as some other Windows features.

You can also use the plugin manager to add some custom plugins to the interface, like a stack container, similar to the Stacks docklet seen in RocketDock. However, according to some online reviews, using XWindows Dock can be complicated at first, so you may need some time to get used to it.

XWindows Dock is available for free, and you can download it from this link.

InerziaSmartLaunch

InerziaSmartLaunch windows 10

Okay, we’ve talked about simple app launchers for Windows, but it can’t get simpler than InerziaSmartLaunch. The whole interface of this launcher is just a search bar! When you enter the name of the app you want to open, suggestions show in the context menu, just like in browsers, of on Google.

But despite its extremely simple looks, InerziaSmartLaunch can actually do a lot for you. Of course, you can search for regular apps and programs, but it also allows you to look for any recent document, folder (system or any other), or anything else. So, just type in what you’re looking for, and InerziaSmartLaunch will find it for you.

This program actually has some additional features, that can be more than useful. For example, it allows you to associate a certain keyword with an app or program, and open it simply by entering that keyword. You can use any combination of keywords, including a single letter.

InerziaSmartLaunch is available for free, and you can download it from this link.

Circle Dock

circledock windows

CircleDock is an interesting program launcher for Windows, mainly because of its unique looks. Well, it’s exactly what its name says, a circular dock for launching apps. But this launcher also works differently than regular launchers, because it’s not on the screen all the time.

To open CircleDock, you need to initiate it first, and it will immediately appear next to your mouse cursor, wherever it is. As soon as the dock opens, you’ll see all your pinned apps and programs sorted in a circular order, and you’ll be able to access them with a single click.

Besides regular programs and apps, you can also add other files and folders to CircleDock. This program also offers some basic customization options, and supports multiple monitors and virtual desktops.

Circle Dock is free, and it comes as a portable program, so you don’t have to bother installing it. You can download it from this link.

WinLaunch

WinLaunch windows 10

WinLaunch is another free imitation of app launchers from Apple’s operating systems. This program is based on the launcher from Mac OS X Lion. Similarly to Circle Dock, it starts minimized, in the background, and you activate it by pressing the Shift + Tab keyboard shortcut.

When activated, the launcher bar pops up, and shows you the list of all pinned programs and apps. As soon as WinLaunch opens, desktop icons are hidden, and the background gets blurred, which is a nice touch in design.

You can group shortcuts by groups, similarly to how it’s done in iOS; simply drag and drop one icon into the another one to create a group. You can create as many groups as you want, and make further customizations, like adding the name of the group.

There’s also the ‘Jiggle mode’, which allows you to move icons from one group to another. To add icons to WinLaunch, press F on your keyboard, the launcher will then be reduced to a smaller, movable window, where you can add icons by drag and drop.

WinLaunch is available for free, and you can get it from this link.

Appetizer

Appetizer windows 10

Appetizer is an open source application launcher for Windows 10. It’s very simple in design (well, like the majority of launchers), but also offers some useful features for accessing your favorite apps and programs.

The first thing you’re going to notice about this program is its unusual look. It reminded us of Microsoft’s vintage Maths tool (let us know if you agree), with these buttons and calculator-like interface. But enough with nostalgic comparations, let’s see what this program can do for you.

Unlike the majority of launchers, that scan your system for installed apps and programs automatically, Appetizer actually requires you to enter programs you want to access with it.

You can download Appetizer from this link for free.

Winstep Nexus Dock

winnexus windows 10

Even though functionality is probably the most important thing, Winstep Nexus Dock actually wants to charm you with its stunning looks. This application launcher is one of the best designed in the business, and it even comes with a handful of customization options. One of the customization options is the ability to set custom icons to your dock items.

When  it comes to usability, Nexus Dock is actually a quite simple tool to use. It works on the drag and drop principle, so all you need to do to pin your favorite program or app is to simply move it on the dock with your mouse cursor. Besides regular programs, Nexus Dock also supports files, folders, and other features. Everything has its own icon in the dock, so you won’t have the problem recognizing what’s what.

Nexus Dock can also serve as a replacement for the taskbar, because of its ability to show minimized, running programs and the system tray on the dock.

Winstep Nexus Dock is available for free, and you can download it from this link. If you want even more features, you can purchase the pro version for $24.95.

7Stacks

7Stacks windows 10

7Stacks, as its name says, is a free program launcher for Windows that imitates the stacks functionality from Mac OS X. It allows you to store mainly folders, but also files and programs in special ‘stacks’ on your Windows taskbar.

Once you create a new stack, you can pin up to 10 folders to it, and access them by simply pressing a button on your taskbar. You can basically stick any folder to stacks with 7Stacks, from special folders like My Computer, to regular folders on your hard drive.

Also, if you don’t want to place the Stacks folder on your taskbar, you can use the manual menu mode, and leave them on the Desktop. This software is useful if you need to access a lot of folders during your work day, but don’t want to keep on the Desktop, and make confusion.

7Stacks is available for free, and you can grab it from this link.

That’s about it for our list of 12 best app and program launchers for Windows 10. All these launchers have something unique to offer, and each one of them can replace a certain Windows 10 feature. So, if you’re not satisfied with how Micrsoft did its job with some of the features, or you simply want to try some new solutions, programs from this article are just a perfect fit for that.

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