The Power of the Mac Dock: A Beginner’s Guide

The Mac dock is the region on your Mac where you can have access to your entire computer. Depending on your preferences, it is available either at the bottom or left side of your Mac’s desktop. Saying that this area of your Mac is important is an understatement, more like it is essential for your Mac usage. However, the power of what the dock actually is capable of can easily be forgotten or even unknown.

Let’s first take a look at what the Mac dock does, then go more in depth on the dock’s importance and potential.

Basics of The Mac Dock

To launch an application in the Mac dock, all you have to do is click the application in the dock with a single finger press.

  • If you have an application on your desktop (or the Application folder) that you’d like to add to your dock, you can do so by clicking and dragging the application from your desktop to the dock, releasing once the app has landed.
  • If you’d like to remove an application from your dock, simply click and hold it, and drag it away from the dock. You can drop anywhere; the app will simply disappear.
  • If you want to rearrange the apps in the dock, you can click, hold, and drag an app to move it from its current location to another.


Digging Deeper

To go a bit deeper into an application’s dock options, you’ll have to right click (or tap with two fingers on the trackpad) on the app in the dock. This acts as the “more options” aspect of an application in docks. This is where you’ll able to access a couple of options that are more advanced than opening, while still being unique, depending on the app.


Every app in the dock comes with the options to remove it from the dock, have it set to open when you log in to your Mac, or open it up in Finder. Certain applications such as Pages comes with additional options like “Show Recents” (viewing recent documents). These additional options are different for each application.


There are a couple of small changes you can do to the dock to make it a bit more personalized. To access these changes, go to the “System Preferences -> Dock”. You can make the following changes:

  • Change the Dock’s Size
  • Enable Magnification (Set Size)
  • Dock Position (Left, Bottom [Default], or Right)
  • Change Effect when Minimizing Windows
  • Other Options…

Folders vs. Apps

Before, we were focusing on applications, which usually have their own set features and options without the influence of others. However, new issues arise when we have multiple items in one area (a folder), now in your dock. Currently in my dock, I have two folders – Applications and Documents.

When you right click on folders, you are able to set viewing options within the folder, without even opening it up. For example, you are able to sort a folder or desktop by name, date added, date opened, etc. These features are available readily from the dock. You can also change the look of the folder in docks (stack or folder view).


The “View Contents As…” option allows you to set how the contents are shown once the folder is clicked on. While we’re at it, what can the trash do? You can either look through its content with “Open” or delete its content with “Empty Trash”.

Special Circumstances (dock options for certain apps)


You may be wondering what occurs with the more specific, feature-filled applications on your Mac, what options you have there. You have many! First off, it’s important to remember that many of the features and options are available in dock only when the app is active. This may seem like a disservice; however, if you’re like me and keep many apps open when you are working extra productively, this can come in handy instead of having to go directly to the app.

For example:

  • when active, iCal allows you to create a New Event by right clicking.
  • Messages allows you to change your current status and to even begin a new message.
  • When Preferences is open, you are able to right click and go to a specific section from the dock. This can be quite useful when you’re unsure where a specific settings option can be found.

Almost every other app, including many that you’ve downloaded yourself, have these special options as well, so it’s fun to discover as you go.

How has the Mac dock helped with your productivity? Comment below to let us know!

Ari Simon
Ari Simon

Ari Simon has been a writer with Make Tech Easier since August 2011. Ari loves anything related to technology and social media. When Ari isn't working, he enjoys traveling and trying out the latest tech gadget.

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