The right side of the Dock can be used for easy access to files and folders. By putting aliases to folders on the right side, you can have access to the files in them without needing to open a Finder window. You can set these folders to appear in three different formats. It is important to understand that these are shortcuts to the files, and not the files themselves.
It is important to understand that the app icons shown in the Dock are not the apps themselves, but simply shortcuts to the apps. You can easily remove or add shortcuts, but this is not the same as removing or adding apps to your Mac. You can also access special functions of these apps through the Dock, and use these shortcuts as drop targets for documents.
Most Mac users use the Dock many times per day. So it would be worth the time to optimize your Dock. Add your most commonly used apps and remove others. Arrange your apps to make them easy to find. Add folders and files to the right side and set them to appear the way you want. Change your Dock settings to get the most from it.
Learn how to use and customize Stacks, a feature of the Mac OS X Dock. You can quickly access your files or applications through Stacks. They can be configured to show grid and list views. You can create custom stacks to hold specific items.