Customizing Your Dock’s Appearance

There are many settings on a Mac that determine how the Dock appears. You can change the size, hide it when not needed, and even move it to the left or right sides of the screen. You can change these settings in System Preferences, or by Control+clicking on the divider line in the Dock.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Customizing Your Dock’s Appearance.

Most Macs will have the Dock at the bottom of the screen. It's there by default. You can have it set to have it always on like this or have it Hide itself when you move away from it. I've got it set here just to be always on and the icons are medium size. But you don't have to use the Dock like this. You can customize it a number of ways.

So to customize it, one way to do it is to Control click on the divider bar here. That brings up some options. You can turn a lot of options on or off here or go right to Dock Preferences. So if you want to change something really quickly you can do it right here without actually having to go to Dock Preferences. You can get to Dock Preferences by going to System Preferences and clicking on Dock as well. It takes you to the same place.

So what are the things you can do to customize. Well one thing is you can change the size of the icons. If you want to make everything much smaller you can. You get very tiny. You can make them large as well. Of course the maximum size is going to stop depending upon the number of icons you've got. So if you have a lot of icons like I do you can't go too large.

Now if you have it very small you can still, kind of, get away with trying to figure out what's there by turning Magnification on and off. You can set a maximum and minimum size for magnification. What's magnification? Well when you move the cursor over the Dock what's under the cursor will magnify so you can still kind of pick out the icons even if by default they're pretty small.

Now you can also position the Dock somewhere else besides the bottom of the screen. So I can put it on the left side of the screen right here. It works the same way. As a matter of fact you can even turn on Magnification and it will work the same way there. You can position it on the right as well. Notice you still have the divider line. Everything still works the same. It's just a vertical orientation rather than a horizontal orientation.

Now another major option you have is the ability to automatically Hide and Show the Dock. Turn that on and this is how I work by default. The Dock will go away unless you bring your cursor down to the bottom of the screen. So interacting with the Dock is the same because you have to bring your cursor down to the bottom of the screen to interact with it.

The only difference is that you can't see which apps are running. So here, for instance, I can see Safari is running, Finder, you know System Preferences, Screen Flow. They're all running and when the Dock's not there I can't see that. Maybe you don't rely on being able to check that in the Dock then it really doesn't matter whether or not you have Hide and Show on or off. But it is nice to have that extra screen real estate for apps.

Another way you can customize the Dock is to determine what happens to minimize windows. So, for instance, here in TextEdit I have three windows open. I'm going to minimize each one by hitting the yellow button and you can see it becomes an icon on the right side of the Dock. Now I can change that so that minimizing windows goes into the Application icon. This doesn't change the ones that are already there. So I can still bring these up but now if I were to minimize them they actually go into the Application icon. Another words, they just don't appear in the Dock anywhere. I can Control click on the Application in the Dock and select which one to go to. Or just clicking on TextEdit itself will open up the front-most of those. I can use Window and TextEdit to get to them. But if do minimize a lot of windows it's nice to not have them all up here on the right side of the Dock if that's not your intention.

You can also change whether or not applications animate. Meaning they bounce. Click on Pages here and you can see it bounces up and down to launch. Now they do launch pretty quickly but sometimes applications take a long time to launch and you have this bouncing icon. But I can turn that off and you can see Pages won't move at all. So just get rid of that piece of animation if you find it annoying. Also you can turn on or off these little dots. See under Safari there you've got that dot. You can turn it on or off whether or not that is something that is indicated in the Dock as well.

Comments: 4 Responses to “Customizing Your Dock’s Appearance”

    Bob Poland
    10 months ago

    I use to make the app dots more visible and I select to make the dock black so the icons don’t fade away with the different screens.

    10 months ago

    You can also use settings to enable or disable reflection of the background of the dock and menu bar. You can also make them basic dark grey or light grey.

    Will Piper
    10 months ago

    Is it possible to rearrange the order of the icons in the Dock? The ones I use the most are on the left and I would like to move them more to the center. Thanks.

    10 months ago

    Will: Sure. Just drag them.

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