A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Unlike iOS, macOS on Mac offers customizations to change the look, feel, and function of the OS. You can select the preferred web browser as default, customize keyboard keys, and use third-party apps to optimize your Mac experience. The default dock on Mac is one area where Apple hasn’t made any significant changes. However, you can customize the dock using the default settings on the Mac or third-party options from the web.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

The macOS Dock usually appears at the bottom of your screen. It can be customized in various ways, especially if you’re new to using a Mac. In this article, we’ll explore the built-in options for tweaking the Mac Dock. If you want more customization, you can also install third-party dock replacements from the web. Let’s begin.

What Is Dock on Mac

The Dock has been a Mac feature for over a decade, providing quick access to the Finder (Mac’s file manager), running applications, favorite files and folders, and the Trash.

When setting up your Mac, the Dock is initially located at the bottom of the screen. Most users do not modify its position, size, or default settings. However, macOS offers a dedicated Dock menu in System Preferences for customization. Let’s explore the options and provide step-by-step instructions.

First, let’s discuss methods to change the Dock’s position, appearance, and size. Then, we’ll mention tricks for customizing it using third-party apps.

Change the Dock’s Size on Your Mac

The Mac ecosystem includes hardware like MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, and custom desktop. You may find the default dock size inappropriate. Follow these steps to change the dock size on your Mac.

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1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your Mac’s screen.

2. Select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.

3. Click on the Dock.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Step 4: Adjust the Size slider to change the Dock’s size.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Step 5: Enable Magnification animation by ticking the box to make the Dock items larger when hovering over them.

Step 6: Adjust the Magnification slider to change the size of the icons when your cursor hovers over them.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Magnification is useful when using dock on a big display and has too many apps on the dock.

Now that you have set the preferred Dock Size and magnification, it’s time to change the dock’s orientation.

Pro Tip: Change the dock’s size by positioning the cursor over the dock divider that separates apps from files and folders. The cursor will change to a double-sided arrow; click and drag to increase or decrease the dock’s size. No need to go to system settings to make changes.

Change the Dock’s Position on Mac

I’m fine with the default position of the dock at the bottom. The majority also stick with the default dock orientation, but if you are coming from Linux, you will appreciate Apple’s customize option. Follow the steps to change the dock position to left/right on the Mac.

Step 1: Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your Mac’s screen.

Step 2: Select System Preferences.

Step 3: Click on the Dock.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Step 4: Select Left, Bottom, or Right to change the orientation of the Dock.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Pro Tip: Change the location of the Dock by holding down the shift key, clicking on the divider, and dragging the Dock to the left, bottom, or right sides of the screen.

Hide or Show Dock on Mac

Similar to the Taskbar on Windows, you can hide the Dock on Mac to maximize the screen area. If you don’t want the Dock to interfere with your productivity, you can keep it hidden until you want to access it. To bring it back up, simply hover your cursor over its usual location.

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Here’s how to do it:

1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your Mac’s screen.

2. Go to System Preferences > Dock.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Step 3: Enable Automatically hide and show the Dock option.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Pro Tip: Enable/disable options from the Dock. Right-click on an empty space and make changes.

Hide Recent Applications on the Dock on macOS

Much like iPadOS, macOS puts recently used applications in the Dock. If you are not a fan, turn off the option from the Dock menu.

Step 1: Go to the Dock menu in System Preferences.

Step 2: Uncheck Show recent applications in Dock (it’s checked by default).

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

Why Do You Need a Third-Party Dock Replacement

You can make a few changes to the dock, but it is not enough. Sometimes, you need a dock that blends in with your UI. Apple is not offering that now.

Apple has not made major changes to the dock in the last decade. On the other hand, Windows and Linux have made the launch-systems awesome. Windows gives you an overview of the PC via the Start Menu.

A third-party Dock replacement won’t completely remove the default Dock from macOS. You can hide and rearrange the dock. The dock is linked to some native functions. Removing the dock won’t play nice with some features.

Instead, third-party apps like ActiveDock hide the default macOS dock so effectively that you won’t even notice it during regular navigation.

ActiveDock

ActiveDock is a full replacement for Apple Launchpad and Dock, offering many new features. It allows grouping of documents and apps, quicker switching between them, and the management of windows right from the Window Previews panel.

Additionally, you can customize the appearance of icons and the dock itself as needed. ActiveDock looks and behaves just like Apple Dock, so you won’t need to get used to it. It’s the same Dock, but better.

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My favorite function is the window previews, which allow for quick identification of open apps while switching between them. It also allows you to resize windows to different preset sizes directly from an app’s preview.

ActiveDock lets you group items in a single view. This is useful when you want all project-related resources easily accessible from the dock. You can add apps, files, folders, and photos, as long as they can be accessed via Finder.

A Complete Guide to Customizing Dock on Mac

In terms of customization, you can change the dock theme and add custom icons for apps. You can choose new icons for the Start Menu, Trash, and Show Desktop from the available presets. Neat!

ActiveDock provides a trial version that costs $25 to unlock all features.

Level up Dock Experience on Mac

By using the tricks mentioned above, you can easily customize the look and feel of the macOS Dock on Mac. If you are not happy with the built-in options, try a third-party Dock app to enhance the Mac experience. How do you optimize the Dock on Mac? Let us know in the comments below.

Next: Want to boost productivity with your new Mac? Check out the post below for the top seven Mac apps to stay organized.

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