Dock on Left OS X

About a year or so ago, I decided to position my Mac’s dock on the left side of the screen. Since then, I haven’t looked back. In my opinion, this is by far the best position for the dock if your right hand happens to be your dominant hand. Positioning your dock on the left side of the screen has some obvious advantages, which I’ll highlight in this post.

Advantage 1: The most obvious advantage is that apps can now take up the full height of the screen without being obstructed by a dock positioned at the bottom of the screen. Since monitors are almost always widescreen, a dock placed at the bottom of the display can cause a serious loss of vertical real estate. Placing the dock on the left (or right) side of the screen lessens the constrain normally placed on the already limited vertical space.

One of the easiest ways to see the advantage brought to the table is by simply viewing a web page and comparing the page with the dock on the side of the screen versus on the bottom of the screen. The benefits should be obvious. Since most web pages provide content on a limited horizontal span, with a more spacious vertical span, you’ll be able to read more content on screen at once without any negative side effects. To illustrate, compare the following two pictures:

Web with dock at bottom

Notice where the text on the web page cuts off on the screen above…

Web with dock on left

…versus how the text cuts off on this screen

With the dock placed on the left side of the screen, I can benefit from up to five additional lines of text on the web page that I’m currently viewing. While you can always adjust the dock and make it smaller, I tried to keep the sizes of both docks similar to show the difference with comparable sizes. Of course, you can compensate for the lost real estate simple by making the dock a lot smaller.

Notice, too, that there are no negative effect on horizontal space, because most web pages don’t span as long horizontally as they do vertically.

Advantage 2: In English speaking cultures, our eyes have been trained to start from the left of the page, so placing the dock on the left side of the screen feels natural. It’s also great if you have a dominant right hand, because your hand has room on the trackpad for movement from the right to the left of the trackpad. Obviously, if your dominant hand is your left hand, this can change things a bit, but even if you decide to move your dock to the right side of the screen, I think most of the benefits apply.

Given those two advantages, especially the first one, I think it’s a no-brainer to place the dock on the side of the display. Since doing it, I’ve never looked back, and I don’t see myself ever going back to the stock dock position. The only superior option than placing the dock on the left side of the screen would be to enable dock hiding, but that’s not something that I’m totally comfortable with doing yet.

What about you? Do you agree that placing the dock on the left side of the screen if for the best?

  • Charles222

    Oh, sure. I’ve had mine hidden over there for a few months now.

    • Brian Smith

      I already enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son, Project Almanac, Black or White, American Sniper, The Boy Next Door, Blackhat, Mortdecai, The Wedding Ringer and Taken 3 on my iPhone 6 from l M O V l E S A P P(dot)C O M…

  • It’s been on the bottom since I unboxed my first Mac and it will stay auto-hidden there for some time. Maybe I’ll try the left side, but I’ll never un-hide it, ever.

    • Do you omit the delay with auto hide at least?

      • Actually, while reading your previous post about removing the delay, I thought the delay wouldn’t bother me enough to disable it, but when trying to get to my dock right now, I can see why one would remove the delay. (And I’m removing it right now!)

      • Jjonas808

        Wait….how do we remove the delay?? Thats the only reason I dont use auto hide/show….it’s too slow! I’m on Yosemite 10.10.1

      • Put the following in Terminal and hit enter:

        defaults write com.apple.dock autohide -bool true && defaults write com.apple.dock autohide-delay -float 0 && defaults write com.apple.dock autohide-time-modifier -float 0.5 && killall Dock

        You can play around with the last value to make the slide-in-animation faster (1).

      • Jjonas808

        Thats awesome…..thanks!!!!

      • All right, changed my Dock settings to left side and a bit of magnification. (also, removed the delay!) First impression: WAY better than before.
        This is one of the things that you don’t feel like changing just because it’s been like that forever.

      • The Zlatan

        I did and it works brilliantly.

  • I agree completely. One thing I will suggest is to try out hiding the dock. It is a feature that has made the dock a lot less intrusive.

    • @mfpearl

      yes, it’s hidden

  • Niclas

    I’ve had my dock (and taskbar) on the side for years just because the vertical window size is more important than the horizontal.

  • Imran Ar

    I have kept it on the left since 6-7 months. Because it was obstructing me in my software development.

  • Husam Hamed

    The problem is that I can’t stand seeing things uncentered! I even hide my desktop icons with an app when they’re not in use, just because they’re not centered, which makes me feel like the screen is unbalanced! 🙁

    • Chang in Charge

      What app?

      • Husam Hamed

        It’s called HiddenMe on the app store.

  • One tip I’d like to share here: I develop for iOS and just thought of this simple trick: get the Duet Display app and put the iOS Simulator on the screen of your iPhone! Best way to try your app without fiddling with actually getting the app on your phone etc.

  • Modest

    This is great for people who don’t have external displays. I have a MBP which sits on the left of my monitor, so yeah, I can’t position my dock on the left on my monitor. It goes right on the MBP screen.

    • Paul Meneshian

      yea i have the same problem too..

  • craig

    I’ve never really ever liked positioning my dock anywhere other than bottom, but then i never tried it on the left and this to me makes sense, think i found my new dock position 🙂

  • Nagy Konstantin

    The only reason why I place my dock on the bottom is the Downloads stack.
    If you want to remove the last downloaded item, you have to drag only a little bit to reach the trash. However if you place your dock on the right side, you’ll loose stacks (only grid and list is available).

  • I will try it on the left as you make some excellent points. But, I am thinking about the accessibility of the trash can since my external drive appears on the right and camera appear on the right.

    • Put the dock on the right. The trash will be in relatively the same place, on the right bottom.

  • Viktor_Zweig

    “In English speaking cultures, our eyes have been trained to start from the left of the page, so placing the dock on the left side of the screen feels natural. ”
    You probably meant anywhere in where alphabet is being used?

    • Yeah, excuse my ignorance.

    • Evgen Morokin

      In Hebrew language people reading from right to left (as far as in Arabic), and surely they have alphabet. Just FYI

  • Lagax

    I just have to many apps in my dock (17) (+Downloads and Trash). It’s too small on the left side, especially with a 13″ MBPr… Just hiding it…

  • Inseltraeumer

    Had the dock hidden on the left for as long as i can remember, but these days I use spotlight basically all the time. Cmd + space beats any ever so conveniently positioned dock any day.

  • Martynet

    I can’t really move it to the left, because the app icons get too small… see attached screenshot…

    • Andrew

      Holy crap, man. How do you have so many icons in your dock?!

    • Inseltraeumer

      Do you actually use the dock like that? 😀

    • Husam Hamed

      I suggest you only put apps that you use all the time in the dock. You can find the rest in your launchpad.

    • Martynet

      When the dock is at the bottom it’s fine. I use lots of apps regularly. I might remove few though 🙂

      • Edgar_W

        Get Custom Menu and unclutter your dock. That is too much. Or use an app launcher like LaunchBar.

    • @mfpearl

      yeah you’re doing it wrong, apps you use everyday should be in the dock. anything else you need just use spotlight search to launch.

    • Briedis

      Mind blowing resolution 😀

  • Elias

    This and and removing the show/hide delay makes for an excessively seamless experience.

  • Unicorn Drank

    I am going to give it a try, I just hide it on the bottom and the delay does not bother me at all, but I will still give it a shot.

  • mike

    If I used OS X I’d surely place my dock on the left. Or hide it down bottom.

  • Ian Leon

    Thats where its supposed to be IMO

  • Fırat Çiftçi

    Jeff, what is the name of the app that lets you maximize the app (like the Aero Snap feature in Windows)? [0:58 in your video]

    • Agru

      Should be bettersnaptool

    • Skoven

      Hyperdock

    • Cinch.

  • Jason Trenkler

    I also put mine on the left and also tell it to auto hide, this way I get my full screen and it appears when I hover over it.

  • swhitlow

    Does anyone know of a way to have my dock on the left side but with a monitor on the left as well without it being pushed to the other monitor? Basically, I have two monitors setup. My main one and the one to the left. If I try and put the dock to the left, it ends up all the way over on the 2nd monitor and far away. I want it on the main monitor (left side) but still be able to use my second monitor still to drag windows over there. Hope this makes sense! 🙂 Thanks!

  • Timothy

    I’ve had mine on the right for about seven years. Any reason I should have it on the left over the right? I’m right-handed.
    I used to use TinkerTool to position it in the start position (top-aligned on the right, so it’s next to the menu bar) but sadly that functionality was removed with Mavericks. 🙁

  • Skoven

    He is using hyperdock in the video (9.99$). BetterTouchTool also does this (free).

    • Fanboy 

      “BetterTouchTool” doesnt exist in the app store. Which free app can I use to get this same effect?

      • Skoven

        You have to download it from their website. Search BetterTouchTool on google.

  • john diaz

    Just enable auto hide, theres no point in always having the duck visible

  • Juan Felipe Gutierrez

    Very good post, I think I’m gonna try it with my macbook air, which I think will be more useful… one last thing, how do you enable that action of dragging the window to the top and maximising the window view? I’ve got Yosemite and it doesn’t do it for me :S

  • daniel 

    I used to have my dock on the bottom, but I will give this a try. It’s on the left now. I’ve also hidden it and removed the delay. This gives me so much more space for Safari (especially on a 13″ Pro).

  • thavith

    If you have multiple monitors, then it will put the dock on the left most (or right most) monitor if you chose left or right. With bottom, you choose where the dock will be. That is one advantage to bottom.

  • ThoseCurves

    Jeff, Could you please tell me what’s the aero snap alternative you are using there ? it looks like hyper dock but the status bar icon you have contradicts that. please let me know.

  • Just put it on auto-hide. Best of both worlds.

  • kokeropie

    3 posts related to Docks within 3 days. Let’s see if it can be more productive. I’m already loving the setup dock on left side and auto hide 🙂
    Question: is there a keyboard shortcut to open FInder for the first time? If it is already open, I can use Command+Tab or Mission Control to choose Finder.

  • z1n

    I’m not sure where mine is anymore. Spotlight has been such an awesome launcher for the most part.

  • JG

    I use TabLauncher instead. And hide the dock so it never gets in the way.

  • Ryan B.

    Why isn’t there a default setting to auto hide the dock when maximizing the window, but if preferred, disable the auto hide if no window is maximized? That seems like it would be an obvious intuitive setting to have enabled.

  • Fanboy 

    Did a bit of looking around, and “iSnap” works great! Yosemite compatibility and FREE 🙂

  • Michael

    I’ve always had mine on the left side. Don’t have it on auto-hide though.

  • Now I understand why Canonical put Unity launcher on the left.

  • @mfpearl

    I’m not a fan of Hot Corners, i prefer the trackpad gestures over having all four corners linked to an action. i use bottom left corner for display sleep. the rest I leave alone. I also use dock on left side, unhidden, even with the delay so short it’s still inconvenient with dock hidden. Wasted seconds of my life determine which features i turn on and off.

  • ncenzano

    ***Hi Jeff,***
    Thanks for the post, I had change my dock to de left side.
    **The reason of this comment is to know if anyone can help me to find the name of the app that you use in this video to split de windows of safari, like auto-size the windows for the new size of the screen….
    Thanks! Regards from Chile (Sorry for my spelling, I’m Spanish native speaker)

  • DevXav

    Really great tip there Jeff! Thanks a lot..
    Some small details make such huge difference!

    Just positioned my dock on the left side and now it will be there lol.. Loved it!
    It feels like i have gained lots of space on my screen, specially when browsing.

    Btw, I’m using a MBA 13′.

  • Markco

    How often is the cursor at the bottom of the screen? Rarely, in my case. This is the huge benefit to side-based docking. As far as the left goes, again, my cursor spends more time on the left of the screen than the right. The menu bar for apps is top left. Everyone’s cursor is top left more than bottom right. The placement is absolutely obvious.

    I have been a left docker for a number of years and it’s clear that it’s superior. The only thing that disappoints me is that you have let this secret out. My competitive advantage is slimming.

    PS – sorry for the really, really late comment.

  • What about for us lefties?

  • (JailbreakQA) King Shoot

    I’ll be sure to place my dock on the left on my Windows machine. I sometimes try to bring the dock up (I have it set to auto hide) and I put my cursor on the bottom of the display, but I place it on a part where the dock doesn’t reach, so I have to move the cursor a bit more to the left/right in order for the dock to show up. Placing it on the left would solve this since I would always move my cursor to the center of the left side, ensuring I always bring up my dock.

  • Natasha C

    The right side also seems less practical than the left because because although you can hide the dock no matter where you put it, it’s still gonna pop out when your cursor gets there, and scrolling pages involves going down the right edge.

  • Shaun Trillo

    The problem with hiding on in bottom position is if you mouse over the bottom of the screen for another reason e.g. within an application, the dock comes up when you don’t want it to which can be annoying.

  • Saint

    I’ve had my dock on the left for years. First thing I do on a new mac is move the dock to the left.

  • Nyk Zukowski

    I’ve had my dock positioned on the left side for over a decade! It feels incredibly unnatural to be anywhere else!

  • BlueBoomPony

    I do the same, and with the Windows task bar, too. My coworkers are baffled even after I explain the vertical real estate. It’s amazing how mentally locked into things people can be.