If you have a cluttered desktop, consider this: one reason why many of us keep so many objects on the desktop, aside from the fact that we have too many projects going on, is to avoid the “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon.
If you want to keep many icons within sight but are also looking for a way to keep them organized then you are likely to be quite pleased with this program.
Toolbox is a free launcher that provides floating, semi-transparent “containers” called toolboxes that can be placed anywhere on your desktop.
These toolboxes can house shortcuts to files, folders, URLs, and other objects. You can move and resize your toolboxes using the mouse and icons can be added or moved to then via dragging and dropping.
Toolbox is also designed to be used as a portable launcher for USB drives, and can easily convert to and work with relative paths at the click of a button.
First off, take a look at the screenshot above, which can explain a lot of what this program does at-a-glance. Another thing to note is that I tested the beta version of this program (2.97g), which may be considerably different from the latest stable release.
Here are some notes on this program:
- Interaction: CTRL+drag toolboxes to move them. Toolboxes can be set to snap to the edges and/or to each other (as if by magnetic attraction).
- Look and feel: is extremely customizable. Your toolboxes can be any color or transparency, and can even have their own custom image as background. The width of your columns, your icon and font sizes (and even their layout) are all customizable. You can toggle a title bar on (or off) and add a title to your toolbox if you like.
- Minimizing toolboxes: is (sort of) possible. For windows that have a title bar, double clicking that triggers a toolbox minimizing behavior, but it doesn’t look quite right and seems like an afterthought or something that is simply unfinished in this beta version.
- Managing your toolboxes: there’s a bit of a learning curve to come to grips with the various settings dialogs (there’s individual settings for a particular toolbox, and a ’general’ settings dialog). However, managing your toolbox is made so much easier via a “clone toolbox” function, such that once you’ve got a toolbox set up and looking exactly how you want it, you can simply clone it and keep all of your toolbox looking consistent (if that’s what you want).
- Using with a USB drive: Toolbox can convert absolute paths for icons to relative paths. This means that a shortcut listed as “F:’ChromePlus’chrome.exe” becomes “..’ChromePlus’chrome.exe”. This is useful if your USB appears as, say, the “F:” drive on your machine and as drive “G:” on another, the relative path will ensure that it runs on both. You can convert to relative paths per icon or universally across all toolboxes universally.
Wish list: here are some ideas that can make this program even better.
- The ability to grab a bunch of icons and drag them to a toolbox: I wanted to drag a whole section of icons on my desktop and drop them on a toolbox, but it wouldn’t let me. Instead I had to drag each icon individually, which was unnecessarily time consuming.
- Assign a toolbox to a folder: where all the items in the folder are automatically populated for you in the toolbox, and which could be automatically refreshed periodically or on demand.
- The ability to minimize toolboxes: all together or individually. It really needs a nicer looking minimized state: or even a couple of different ways to minimize, such as docking tabs (Hiddenmenu-style).
- Grouping toolboxes: such that if one toolbox is moved all others that are “grouped” with it move as well. Alternately, the option to, say, assign a hotkey (e.g. CTRL+shift) whereby moving a toolbox will result in moving all others that are touching it.
- The ability to move icons from the desktop to folders in Toolboxes: and have them physically move there in Windows explorer.
- Auto sorting alphabetically: for the icons in a toolbox, would be great.
The verdict: I really like this program for one simple reason; it’s not just a launcher (and anyway there are many free launchers out there), but also functions as an excellent tool to organize your icons and keep your desktop organized. (Although I say that loosely since it doesn’t actually organize your desktop icons, but rather organizes shortcuts). It is my current favorite compared to some of the other desktop organization tools mentioned on this site (e.g. Fences, BBox, SE-DesktopConstructor).
This program has apparently been in development for quite a long time and has lots of depth. The beta version I tested was fully functional and problem free; however, I really hope it continues to be actively developed, and that it is pushed a lot further (hint: see my wish list above).
[Thanks go to reader Stanmarch, who called this program to my attention in the comments section of the SE-DesktopConstructor post]
Version Tested: 2.97g (beta)
Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7.
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 2.15 megs).