How to Intellihide the Mac Dock For Better Efficiency

Last month I started using Linux for the first time, and one of my favorite features in many of the distros that I tried out is the intellihide feature. This is a feature that can be applied to the panel and various dock applications (ie. Docky, Cairo).

Unfortunately, this is a feature that is currently absent in Mac OS X, even though there is the similar autohide feature. For Mac users who are not familiar with intellihide, here’s a brief explanation of both.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the autohide feature for the Mac dock. This simply hides your dock out of the way until you move your mouse to the dock’s location. So if you have your dock on the bottom of the screen, whenever you move your mouse down to the bottom the dock will pop up and then disappear as soon as you move your mouse away again. This is slightly different from the intellihide feature found in Linux.

With intellihide, the panel or dock is hidden only if it overlaps any window in the active window group (currently focused windows).  This means that as long as a window does not overlap the dock, it will remain in sight. However, once a window covers it (ie. you maximize a window), then it will disappear. To bring the dock back you can still move your mouse to the dock’s location to bring it back up, or you can simply move the window away from the dock’s area.

As you can see, intellihide is move convenient and means less work for you. So now, here’s how you can get the Mac’s dock to intellihide instead of autohide.

There’s a useful little Mac application called DockIntellihide.app that will let you add the intellihide feature to the dock in a matter of minutes. You can download the latest version from Github. Once downloaded, drag the DockIntellihide file to your Applications folder.

As soon as you open the application, it will begin to work immediately. If you have a window over the dock area, the dock will be hidden. If not, the dock will remain in sight. In this manner, you can easily test it out to see how it works. There are no preferences or anything for this application; it just works.

Since it’s hard to show a feature like this in a screenshot, I’ve provided a quick screencast below of DockIntellihide.app in action.

It’s also important to know that you will need to have “enable access for assistive devices” checked off in system preferences in order for this app to work. If you don’t have it enabled, you’ll be prompted to do so once you open DockIntellihide.app. To do this, open System Preferences, click on Accessibility (under the System section) and then check the box next to “enable access for assistive devices.”

Enable access for assistive devices in Mac OS X.

If you like the feature, you may also want to add it to your Login Items (System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> Login Items). Just click on the plus button to add the DockIntellihide.app.

Add DockIntellihide to your Login Items.

This app is far from perfect and a bit on the buggy side. For instance, I notice that when I use my window manager (Cinch) to maximize a window, the dock doesn’t hide at all. Even manually resizing a window doesn’t seem to hide it. However, when I move a small window to the dock area it hides (although not immediately), and then I can quickly maximize the window. When I resize the window, the dock pops back up.

Regardless, it does get the job done and helps to keep the dock out of the way, giving more space for maximized windows.