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A clean desk may be the sign of a sick mind, but if your Macintosh desktop is cluttered with icons, you may want some help. Mac OS includes Launcher, a utility for arranging files and applications. However, if you're looking for more style and functionality, two shareware utilities, DragThing and DragStrip, are worth trying.

DragThing and DragStrip are virtually identical: they create docks of customized color, size, and location to hold aliases of applications, files, folders, and more. You can configure the docks to have multiple layers (tabbed or not tabbed) or multiple rows of buttons. The customization doesn't end there, you can also set them up to float, stay in place, or hide when you're running certain applications (a real screen space-saver for apps with a lot of palettes).

A classic example of both a DragStrip and its accompanying dock.

Once you finish creating a dock, you'll find it easy to use: double-click on an application icon to launch an application, and click on folder icons to open a folder. (Files can be added to the dock by dropping them on folder icons.) You can configure DragThing or DragStrip to launch applications and files with a single click, which saves time and may save your wrist from repetitive stress injuries. In DragThing you can also assign hot keys that will open folders or launch applications.

Both applications enable you to drop URLs onto the strip. Clicking on the icon for a Web site will open your browser to that page. You can also use DragStrip and DragThing to hold links to other networked computers. A single-click on the icon opens the network browser in DragThing to the correct folder, and in DragStrip it opens to your Web browser -- and with Keychains, there is no need to enter passwords.

DragThing and DragStrip are both alternatives to the Launcher, and both are far more customizable. In fact, once you get used to them, even the OS X Dock will seem familiar.

You can create several docks and strips to compartmentalize items on your desktop.
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