If you, like me, regularly use multiple applications at once, then you will know how switching between them frequently can take up precious time. Sure, it’s a lot easier to do it on a Mac than on Windows, with Exposé or Cmd + Tab, but sometimes, you need something even faster. Even worse is when you have multiple windows of the same application open, and need to get from one to another.
This is where applications like DockView and HyperDock come into play. They make it easy to switch from application to application, and from window to window, very quickly. As indicated by the names, both of these are apps that add extra functionality to your dock. When you scroll over an icon in your dock, they will quickly show you all the windows open for that application, making switching easy.
So if you’re interested in getting an app like this, which should you get – HyperDock or DockView? This article aims to put both apps through their paces, head to head!
Pricing is always a nice and easy place to start, and in this case, the winner is quite obvious.
DockView costs $7.99, which is a decent enough price considering how much time you will save. It also has a free trial, which you can use for as long as you want with no loss of functionality. However, a window will pop-up several times every day telling you to buy the app if you do with the demo. Also, the word “Demo” is subtly slipped into the Dock preview windows, so if you like your Mac to look perfect, then that might put you off the trial version.
HyperDock, on the other hand, costs a grand total of $0. You just can’t argue with prices like that! That said, it is in Beta, so when they reach version 1.0 (it’s currently on 0.9.12.1), it could become a paid application.
In both cases, this is a very straightforward procedure. Both are quick and easy to download. HyperDock, at 7.5MB, is a little bigger than DockView (3.9MB), but if you have a vaguely decent internet connection, neither should trouble you too much.
It is worth noting, though, that both apps only work on Snow Leopard, so if you try to install it on anything other than that, you will have some difficulty.
You install DockView the way that you would install most apps – simply drag the app icon into the Applications shortcut in the DMG window. For HyperDock, it’s also very easy, although you may not be as used to this process as normal app installations, because HyperDock is a preference pane.
Nevertheless, all you have to do is click the icon in the DMG, and confirm the installation of the pane in System Preferences. Very easy, but because you are probably more used to installing apps than preference panes, and the fact that it is a smaller file size, means that DockView has to win this section.
Both of these apps look beautiful, although there isn’t an awful lot to analyse, due to their minimalism and lack of an interface, as such. Both designs integrate effortlessly into the dock, and look as if they are a built-in feature of Snow Leopard.
You shouldn’t have any reason to change their designs, but if you want to do so, both make it easy. With DockView, you can change most things about it; the preview size, distance from Dock, and even the preview window colour. In HyperDock, you can change all of the same features, except for the colour.
While I appreciate that the ability to change the colour in DockView is good for people wanting to customise everything about the app, it does in fact mean that it won’t always fit with the OS X design. There are a few other elements in DockView that don’t look quite right, such as the controls on the iTunes preview.
HyperDock, on the other hand, gets everything spot on, design-wise, which, when you are trying to make your app feel like a part of OS X, is essential.
This is a tough category to call, as both are full of features, but both have features that the other would benefit from. However, to start with, here’s a list of features common to both:
- Close windows from the Dock
- Control iTunes from the Dock
- View iCal events in Dock
- Keyboard Shortcuts
As for those features exclusive to DockView, one of the best selling points is further functionality for other applications in the dock. For example, you can check your mail in Mail.app from your Dock, and play/pause files in both Quicktime and VLC Player. You can also activate badges which show you how many windows you have open in each application. However, this does not work properly if you use Dock Magnification.
Another of DockView’s big features which (surprisingly) HyperDock does not support is window previews when using Cmd + Tab. This is an excellent feature, and for many, could well be the feature that clinches the deal.
HyperDock, on the other hand, has Window Management, which allows you to move and resize windows using keyboard shortcuts, so that don’t have to move your mouse up to the title bar/resize icon. I absolutely love this feature, and it can gradually save you even more time. Hyperdock also integrates with Spaces, which, if you Spaces, can be very useful.
As I said, this category is very hard to call, but I think that because of the Cmd + Tab feature, DockView has to win, if only by the smallest of margins.
Basing this on the winners of each category, then the apps are equal (two category wins each), and it’s true, these apps, despite having many different features, are difficult to separate.
However, the whole purpose of this article is to find a winner, so we must go the average scores, where we find that DockView has an impressive score of 7.9/10, but HyperDock wins this with 8.9/10.
Although HyperDock is the winner, both apps are absolutely fantastic, and I would thoroughly recommend either of them to anyone. If you’re looking for some great design and window resizing features, HyperDock is the one for you. If you need the Cmd+Tab window previews, and don’t mind paying a bit more for it, then go with DockView. For now, however, I’ll be sticking with HyperDock.
One Final Thought: OS X Lion
By now, if you have any interest in Mac whatsoever, you will have heard about Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. If not, check out our article about the announcement.
One of the features that Apple showcased in their preview of Lion was Mission Control, combining Exposé, Spaces, Dashboard and full-screen apps. With a single gesture, you can quickly access all of your windows, easily.
So what does this mean for apps such as HyperDock and DockView? Will these be yet further casualties of Apple’s domination? Or will Mission Control open up a whole new area for potential optimisation?
As both HyperDock and DockView are Snow Leopard only, they almost certainly won’t work with Lion, so after Lion is released in Summer 2011, you may have to wait for a new version of these apps, if they come at all. Perhaps that’s another reason to go with HyperDock – If you’re only going to be using DockView for the next 7 or 8 months, is it worth paying extra?
We haven’t seen enough of Lion to really tell, but it’s certainly worth considering when making your decision.