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Top 10 Dock tips and tricks

Do more with your Dock and completely customise it with these quick tips


DockThe Dock isn’t just a place to keep your favourite apps. Yes, it is incredibly useful when you’re launching your most regularly used apps and folders, but it does a lot more than that. Over the years, new features have been added to the Dock to make it more powerful, and give users quick access to options that would otherwise require them to open a particular app and select the action required.

Whether you want to save a little time as you work, or you want to customise your Dock with customised icons, built-in spacers or documents and other files that you access a lot, we’ve got the best tricks and advice you’ll find. Some might require some Terminal expertise, but all of these little tweaks will give your Dock a visual boost that will hopefully boost your productivity and make your Mac feel fresh.

1 Right-click options

You can access quick controls for a number of apps with a simple right-click in the Dock. Mail lets you compose a new message with a click, while iTunes will offer playback controls and much more. Try different apps to see what kind of functionality they offer.

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2 Files and stacks

By default you’ll have a Downloads Stack next to the Trash icon in the Dock, but there are plenty of other options. You can insert any folder you like (including Applications), and you can even drop in often-used files that will open with a click.

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3 Transparent Dock

To remove the frosting effect from your Mac’s Dock, open Terminal and type defaults write hide-mirror -bool true. Hit Return and then type killall Dock, and hit Return again. You can return it to normal with the same command, but simply change ‘true’ to ‘false’.

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4 Minimise into icon

By default, when you minimise an application the window will be sucked down and slide in next to the Trash icon on the right of the Dock. To save some space, open System Preferences, choose Dock and click Minimise windows into application icon.

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5 Add spacers

You can add spacers to spread things out a little, or just to separate app categories. Open Terminal, and type defaults write persistent-apps -array-add ‘{tile-data={}; tile-type=“spacer-tile”;}’. Hit Return to enter the command then enter in killall Dock. To remove, drag the spacer out of the Dock.

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6 Drag to open

You can open files in an app of your choice by simply dragging and dropping the relevant file onto the app icon in the Dock. For example, open a Pages document in Word by grabbing it and dragging it over the Word app’s icon in the Dock.

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7 Full-screen access

Mavericks makes full-screen apps a great experience, but you can still access your Dock when you want. Drag your cursor down to the bottom of the screen. The Dock won’t appear, but lift your finger (or mouse) and drag down again to make the Dock pop up.

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8 Restart the Dock

If you make changes to your Dock in apps like Terminal, or if the Dock crashes and simply becomes unresponsive when the rest of your Mac is fine, open Terminal and type killall Dock. This will simply quit and restart the Dock, updating it with all the latest settings.

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9 Drag text

Text works cleverly with the Mac Dock. Highlight text anywhere on your Mac and drag it into an application and the app will use it instantly. For example, drag a URL into Safari to have it open the page, or drag text into Mail to create a new message with it.

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10 Get extra options

If you want to access some nifty extra options, head over to and grab the Secrets preference pane. It’s in beta, so be careful when messing around with the settings, but it offers lots of functionality you otherwise cannot use.

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