How to use the Dock of your Mac like a pro

The Dock is a crucial element of the macOS user interface, providing quick access to your most frequently used apps and documents. However, many users are unaware of the full range of features and customizations available within the Dock.

In this article, we will explore how to use the Dock of your Mac like a pro, with tips and tricks for customizing and maximizing its functionality and efficiency. Whether you’re a new Mac user or a seasoned pro, these tips will help you get the most out of your Dock and streamline your workflow.

Mac Studio display showing its huge Dock and Dock settings on the screen

Set Dock preferences

One way that you can make changes to your Dock’s appearance is in your System Settings. So, click the Apple icon  > System Settings from the top menu bar and select Desktop & Dock.

Dock settings on Mac

Starting from the top, you’ll see that you can move sliders for the Dock size and magnification.

You can then choose the position for your Dock from left, bottom, or right.

Next, pick the effect you’d like to use for minimizing windows from genie or scale.

Then, move on to the rest of the settings you’d like to enable.

If you have a question on how any of these settings work, just click the question mark button on the bottom right of the window.

Related: How to hide recent Mac apps in the Dock on macOS

Dock shortcut actions

You can adjust some settings using the Dock itself. For instance, if you’d like to increase or decrease the size of the Dock, move your cursor to the separator, and when it turns into a double-sided arrow, drag it up or down.

Dock Separator Arrow Mac

There are additional options available as well. When you see that double-sided arrow, hold Control and click. You’ll see a pop-up menu that lets you turn hiding and magnification on or off, change the position on the screen, adjust the minimize effect, and open those Dock Preferences described earlier.

Dock Settings Shortcut Mac

This gives you a quick way to make slight changes to the Dock’s appearance and effects without going into the settings.

Actions for apps in the Dock

Opening apps

You have many actions that you can take with the apps in your Dock starting with opening apps. This you can do simply by clicking the app icon in the Dock.

You can also open the previous app and hide the current one. Hold Option and click the app icon in the Dock.

And you can open an app and hide all others. Hold Option + Command and click the app icon you want to open.

To open a file in a specific app, just drag the file onto the app icon in the Dock.

App shortcuts

To see a list of shortcuts available for an app from the Dock, hold Control and click the app icon. Here you can do things like switch between windows of the same app and open recent files with that app.

If you put your pointer over Options, you can choose to Keep in Dock, Open at Login, and Show in Finder.

App in Dock Settings Shortcut Mac

You can also Show All Windows, Hide, or Quit an app. If you hold down the Option key when this shortcut menu is open, you’ll see Hide changes to Hide Others and Quit changes to Force Quit. You can also use Control + Option and click the app to bring up this menu. So keep these quick actions in mind too.

App in Dock Option Settings Shortcut Mac

Adding, rearranging, and removing apps in the Dock

To add an app to the Dock, you can use the shortcut menu and select Keep in Dock, as mentioned above, if the app currently displays in the Dock. Alternatively, you can just drag the app to the Dock on the left side of the separator.

Add App to Dock Mac

To rearrange the apps in your Dock, just click and drag an app to its new location.

Rearrange App in Dock Mac

To remove an app from the Dock, click and drag the app icon out of the Dock. When you see Remove display, release. Remember, this action only removes the app from your Dock, not from your Mac.

Remove App From Dock Mac

Do more with Dock

For additional help, check out these related how-tos: