5 Ways to Enhance Functionality of the Mac Dock

The Mac dock is a useful tool in OS X that holds all your favorite apps and or folders, giving you quick access. As great as it is, it only features a few ways to make changes to it, such as changing the side of the screen it appears on and changing the effect after you open or eliminate an app. For those of you who want more out of your Mac dock, there are some great tools available to get more out of this great OS X feature.

1. DockShelf


One of the knocks against the dock is that while you can add as many things as you want, the size of the icons has to keep shrinking to fit more items in there. DockShelf solves that problem by offering you the opportunity to create as many docks as you want. You can place them all around your desktop, helping you to designate different docks, between ones for productivity, social networking, documents, etc. These individual docks can be collapsed on your screen leaving just a labeled tab visible. You can opt to have DockShelf hidden out of the way when apps are in full screen mode to help your production. Apps, folders, stacks, and smart folders can be added to each dock with the ability to control each individually. Window previews are available as well. By mousing over items in your docks, it will give you previews of all the open windows pertaining to that particular item.


2. Tab Launcher


Tab Launcher works much the same as DockShelf. One difference is that it allows you to make more changes to it aesthetically. You an change the color, the transparency, the font on the label, etc. Upon download, it’s already set up with three tabs that include the “Main” dock, a dock for apps that connect you to the Internet, and Utilities, but you can make as many tabs as you want and utilize your own themes. However, unlike DockShelf, you can only place these docks along the edges of your screen. It does have one great addition, and that’s the ability to set up a Music tab to control your music, both in a playlist and Internet radio.

Tab Launcher

3. HyperDock


Forget about dock functionality; HyperDock gives you great functionality on your Mac overall. Aside from the great Window Previews, HyperDock also allows you to control a few native apps, such as iTunes and iCal. Mousing over iTunes allows you to see the current song, pause/play, forward/reverse, adjust the volume, etc., somewhat mirroring the new functionality in iOS 7. Mousing over iCal lets you see your upcoming events. HyperDock also allows you to add and assign shortcuts to apps, and move and resize windows.


4. DockDrop


Looking for an easy way to share files via your Dock? It can’t be any easier than the drag-and-drop process of DockDrop. You can share files via FTP, WebDAV, SCP, and Flickr. Just set up which of those services you want to use, then drag and drop files directly into the app residing in your dock. DockDrop then initiates a URL of your file and places it on your clipboard so that you can easily share however and with whomever you wish.


5. Dockchanger


Dockchanger is for those of you who just can’t get used to change. No matter what, you still long for the way things used to be. Leopard brought changes that gave the Mac dock a 3D effect. The people at Dockchanger recognized the people who don’t like change and gave them the option to change the dock back to a 2D effect. It will place dots below the active items just like 3D dock, yet will appear transparent like the previous dock.

For those of you using OS X earlier than Mountain Lion, you can also apply different themes to the dock in 3D with Dockchanger. This ability won’t work with Mountain Lion and above, however, as Apple removed the ability to be able to tweak the theme of the dock other than strictly 2D vs. 3D. Some believe the intention is to make the dock in OS X imitate functions in iOS as much as possible.



Despite not being able to tweak the Mac dock too much aesthetically, there are still many things you can do with the dock. What started out as just a simple way to access your apps and files has turned into a way to run your whole Mac, from controlling how apps work to complete organization. It’s all left up to the you to decide how you want your dock used.

Image credit: My Mac OS X Dock

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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