The Dock in macOS is more flexible than you may realize. Change the size, location, color and more to fit your personal preferences.
The Dock is one of Apple’s most iconic features. It showcases the intuitive nature of their design while remaining highly customizable!
Anyone can change what app shortcuts are available on the Dock. But what you may not realize is that you can also customize the Dock’s size, color, location, and more.
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Change the Size
The dock automatically resizes depending on how many apps it holds. However, you can also resize the icons themselves, making the Dock much larger or smaller.
There are two ways to do this: with the mouse or through the System Preferences.
Using the mouse is quickest. Simply hover it over one of the vertical dividers on the Dock and drag up or down to make the Dock bigger or smaller. If that wasn’t easy enough, open the System Preferences and click the Dock button. The slider at the top of the window adjusts your Dock size.
Turn On Magnification
Magnification enlarges icons on the Dock as you hover your mouse over them. This is great for if you’ve got lots of icons, a small Dock, or a sight impairment.
Turn on Magnification by going to the Dock menu of System Preferences and ticking the Magnification checkbox. The slider to the right allows you to alter the amount of magnification to your personal taste.
Change the Location
By default, the Dock sits at the bottom of the screen. However, if you prefer you could move it to the left or right edge instead. Depending on how you use your Mac, this might make it easier to access the Dock when you need it.
Change the location of the Dock by holding shift while you click and drag one of the vertical dividers. Pull your mouse to a different edge of the screen to see the Dock relocate to that position.
Alternatively, in the Dock System Preferences, you can choose where you want the Dock to be positioned by selecting one of three options: Left, Bottom, or Right.
Hide the Dock
Free up some Desktop real estate by hiding your Dock when you don’t need it.
This handy feature allows more space for multitasking while keeping the Dock within easy reach off the screen. When you want the Dock to reappear, move your mouse to the screen’s edge and it will pop out — just like in fullscreen mode.
You can hide or show the Dock at any time by pressing cmd+alt+D. Or go to the Dock options in System Preferences and tick ‘Automatically hide and show the Dock’.
Change the Color
With Dark Mode on, the Dock, menu bar, Notification Centre, Finder windows, Spotlight search, and more will be dark grey or black giving a sleek new look to macOS.
Turn on Dark Mode by going into the General menu of your System Preferences. Two boxes of the top give the options of Light or Dark color schemes.
The largest part of the Dock holds shortcuts to your favorite apps. They’re easy to add, remove, or reorder by clicking and dragging the icons.
To remove an app, drag it off of the Dock or into the Trash — don’t worry, it’ll still be available to in Spotlight or Finder.
Alternately drag apps onto the Dock from the Finder window to add them to your favorites. You could also drag apps from the recent applications section of the Dock into your favorites to create permanent shortcuts.
This new section of the Dock sits between favorite apps and the stack and files. It updates automatically with whatever apps are currently running or to show three recently used applications.
You can turn this feature on or off in the System Preferences. Under the Dock menu, check or uncheck the box labeled ‘Show recent applications in Dock’.
Stacks and Files
The farthest right section of the Dock is used to store stacks, files, and the Trash.
Stacks and files can be added to the Dock by dragging any files or folders from the Finder. Keeping them here makes them easily accessible and is useful if you use certain items frequently.
Stacks work just like folders: click to open and see all the files inside. By control-clicking a stack, you can customize how it opens: fan grid or list. You can also choose to view it as a traditional folder icon.
The little round dots that appear beneath icons on the Dock indicate whether that application is running or not. You can turn this effect on or off using the Systems Preferences checkbox labeled ‘Show indicators for open applications’.
The System Preferences checkbox labeled ‘Animate opening applications’ determines whether or not icons bounce up and down upon opening. Some users have suggested that turning this feature off improves performance in macOS, although for most users the difference appears to be negligible at best.
The Minimize effect allows you to move an application’s window to the Dock when you aren’t using it. This is a great organization method and can help to clear multiple windows when working.
Through the System Preferences, you can choose to store minimized windows within the app’s icon or to keep them in a row alongside your Stacks and Files. You can also choose to have a window minimize when you double-click its title bar.
We hope that gives you some insight into how to customize the Dock on macOS. Experiment to find your favorite settings and let us know them in the comments!
Dan is a freelance writer based in South West England.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up to date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.