How to make apps stay in the Dock on Mac

When launching an app that is not already in your Dock, it typically disappears after closing it. This is ideal for occasional use, but inconvenient for frequently accessed apps. In this article, we will show you two easy ways to keep currently open and recently used apps in your Mac’s Dock permanently so you can quickly access them at any time.

MacBook Pro showing the Dock and desktop icons

Partitions in Mac’s Dock

Out of the box, the Dock on your Mac has three sections, and here’s how they look when the Dock is positioned at the bottom of the screen:

Three parts of default Dock on Mac
  1. The left section shows the Finder icon and the apps you have added to your Dock.
  2. The middle one shows the currently open apps that are not added to the Dock as well as your recently-used-but-now-closed apps.
  3. And the right section houses the Trash icon, Downloads folder, and other app windows you minimize.

You can easily add apps from the middle section to the permanent left section.

Related: How to reset the Dock of your Mac to its default apps and settings

How to keep apps in the Dock on your Mac

There are a couple of ways.

1. Use the Keep in Dock option

  1. Right-click or Control-click on an open app.
  2. Choose Options > Keep in Dock. The app will move to the left section and stay there permanently even after you quit it.
Keep in Dock option on Mac

2. Use drag and drop

  1. Place your mouse pointer on an app in the middle section.
  2. Drag it to the left side to add it to the Dock.
Drag app from middle to left side for the Dock to add it permanently to your Mac's Dock

Bonus tip: About seeing recently used apps in Dock

By default, recent macOS versions are set to show a few recent apps for a while in the Dock, even after you have closed them. This results in an additional section of recently used apps in the Dock. But you can hide this by following these steps:

  1. Go to System Settings > Desktop & Dock.
  2. Turn off Show recent applications in Dock.
Turn off Show recent applications in Dock on Mac

After this, the recent apps section of the Dock will hide away. And when you open an app that’s not already added to the Dock, it will appear alongside other apps that are added to the Dock. Quitting these apps will instantly get rid of their app icon from the Dock.

Show recent applications in Dock turned on and off on Mac

I understand that this may be old news to seasoned Mac veterans, but since the Mac has been selling so well as of late, there are bound to be lots of new users that haven’t fully grasped how the Dock works on Mac.

Please sound off in the comments section if you have anything additional to add to help fellow readers.

Other Dock tips: