ObjectBar provides the ability to modify or extend the Windows Start menu and taskbar. This means you can use ObjectBar to create custom toolbars using the various parts of the Start menu, taskbar, system tray, and clock. This lets you control how the tools on the desktop function and look. Because these ObjectBar toolbars are skinnable, you can create a completely custom look for the Windows desktop. So, ObjectBar provides the tools for making your skins more interactive and functional.
You can download and purchase a shareware version of ObjectBar from Stardock (www.stardock.com). It is also a component of the Stardock Object Desktop Suite.
Using ObjectBar with a skinning package such as WindowBlinds allows you to re-create any OS environment on the PC. This means you can make it look like a Mac, a Linux-based computer, and so on. Not only does it look like a particular environment, but ObjectBar also allows it to operate like that environment. You also can, obviously, create OS environments that don't exist. It's all up to you and your creativity.
After you install ObjectBar, you can open it from the Start menu by selecting Start, All Programs, Object Desktop, ObjectBar. The first time you open ObjectBar, the Theme Browser opens (see Figure 14.5).
Figure 14.5. ObjectBar provides toolbar themes.
Themes can contain multiple toolbars and dictate the default placement of the custom Start menu/taskbar toolbars provided. Let's take a look at applying an ObjectBar theme to Windows.
Selecting an ObjectBar Theme
Make sure that the Available Themes icon is selected in the ObjectBar Icon panel (on the left of the application window). Scroll through the theme list to view the available themes.
Select a theme from the theme list. To view the toolbars contained in the theme, click the Bars from This Theme icon. A list of the toolbars in the theme is shown in list panel (see Figure 14.6).
Figure 14.6. View the toolbars contained in a theme.
To load a theme, click the Available Themes icon and then select the theme you want to load. Then click Load. The theme toolbars are placed on the Windows desktop (replacing the default Start menu, taskbar, and so forth).
At this point, you can close the ObjectBar window by clicking Close. An icon for ObjectBar is placed in the Windows system tray. To reopen the ObjectBar Theme Browser window, right-click the ObjectBar icon in the system tray. On the shortcut menu, point at Load and then click Theme Browser.
You can also load individual toolbars from a theme. Click the Bars from This Theme icon to view the toolbars for the selected theme. Then select a toolbar and click Load.
Downloading an ObjectBar Theme
You can also download additional ObjectBar themes. In the ObjectBar Theme Browser window, select the Themes on the Internet icon. This opens Internet Explorer or your default browser and takes you to the ObjectBar library (at www.wincustomize.com). The library contains a number of themes. When you find a theme you want to download, click the Download button.
Save the ObjectBar theme to an appropriate folder on your computer. The file is downloaded as a Zip file. You don't have to extract the theme; ObjectBar is capable of loading the theme directly from the Zip file.
To load the downloaded theme, click the Browse button in the ObjectBar Theme Browser window. Locate your downloaded theme, select it, and then click Open. The theme is applied to the Windows desktop.
ObjectBar themes are rated by winCustomize.com members using a five-star rating system (with five stars being the best). You can also get additional information on a theme by clicking the More Details button for a particular theme.
If you want to go back to the Windows XP default Start menu and taskbar, right-click ObjectBar in the system tray and select Unload ObjectBar.
Configuring an ObjectBar Theme
You can also change the configuration settings for an ObjectBar theme. Right-click the ObjectBar icon in the system tray and then select Configure Theme. The Theme Editor window opens (see Figure 14.7).
Figure 14.7. Configure the current theme.
On the left of the Theme Editor window, the toolbars available in the current theme are displayed. You can select a toolbar by clicking it. The Theme Editor provides five tabs that enable you to alter properties related to the current theme and the toolbars it contains:
ObjectBar themes included with ObjectBar or that you have downloaded already have configuration settings that have been determined by the theme author. You can play with the various settings; however, in most cases, the settings have already been fine-tuned for the best functionality and access of the toolbars. Keep these configuration options in mind, though, when you are working with ObjectBar themes and toolbars you have created (which is the subject of our next section).
You can also access other options related to the ObjectBar theme by right-clicking the ObjectBar icon and selecting General Options. These options allow you to configure such options as having ObjectBar loaded on Windows startup and hiding the desktop icons when the theme is applied.