How to Make the Most of the Mac Dock

The Mac desktop Dock is a convenient tool to help access apps on your Mac. You can change the Mac Dock settings to customize various aspects of the Mac Dock, such as the size, location, orientation, and much more. Read through this article to learn some useful Mac Dock tips and tricks to help you make the most of the Mac Dock.

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What Is the Dock on a Mac?

The Mac Dock, sometimes called the Apple Dock, is a toolbar that appears at the bottom of your MacBook desktop display. 

The Mac Dock allows you to access and launch multiple applications or programs from the home screen of your MacBook. The Mac Dock typically has three sections before customization. Your permanent apps, your recently used apps, and a section for your downloads and trash. As with many Apple features, the Dock has some cool customizable features to make using your computer simpler and more personal to you.

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How to Change Dock Size on Mac

You may be wondering how to make the Mac Dock bigger or smaller depending on your personal preference. This is a really useful feature if you find the icons are too small. To change the Dock size on a Mac is fairly simple.

  1. Between the Mac Dock sections, there are small dividing bars.

  2. Click and drag the bars up or down to adjust the size.

Customize Mac Dock Settings

There are a few cool ways to personalize the Dock on a Mac. You can change the position or location of your Mac Dock, turn magnification on and off, customize the way windows minimize, and change which apps stay in your Dock even when the app is closed. Let’s go through each customization option.

To change the location of the Dock on your screen,

  1. Right-click on the Dock in between the apps.

  2. Select Position on Screen.

  3. Choose which position works best for you.

Magnification is a feature that magnifies apps in the Mac Dock when your cursor hovers over them.

  1. To turn Magnification on or off, right-click on the Dock in between the apps.

  2. Select Turn Magnification On.

  3. Now the apps in the Dock will magnify when your point your cursor at them.

You can also customize the way windows minimize with the genie effect, an animation of the app getting bigger or smaller as it flows in or out of the dock, or the classic scale effect, which opens and closes the app from the dock without any fancy animation.

  1. Right-click on the Dock in between the apps.

  2. Select Minimize Using.

  3. Choose which effect you’d like to use.

Show or Hide Dock on Mac

You have a few options for whether the Dock stays visible. It has the ability to hide itself automatically when your mouse is away and pop up again when your mouse hovers over its location. To turn this feature on,

  1. Right-click on the Dock in between the apps.

  2. Select Turn Hiding On.

  3. The Dock will immediately hide until you hover over with your mouse.

  4. You can turn this feature off with the same steps.

How to Add & Remove Apps to Dock on Mac

A lot of people ask, “What does Keep in Dock mean on a Mac?” Basically, you can customize which apps appear on your Dock and remove the ones you don’t want. There are a few ways to do this.

If an application is open, but not set to Keep in Dock, it will disappear from the Dock when it is closed. To keep the app in the Dock:

  1. Right-click on the app that’s open in the Dock.
  2. Select Options.

  3. Then, select Keep in Dock.

You can also add an app to the Dock from Launchpad. Launchpad is a place where you can see and open all your apps. In the Dock, Launchpad looks similar to an app folder on an iPhone, with smaller app icons within it.

  1. Open Launchpad and find the app you’d like to add to your Dock.

  2. Click and drag the application to the Dock.

  3. The dock will make room for the new app.

To remove an app from the Dock:

  1. Right-click on the app you want to remove from the Dock.
  2. Select Options.

  3. Then, select Remove from Dock.

More Mac Dock Tips

When you right-click on the Mac Dock, you will see an option at the bottom of the menu for Dock Preferences. This is a way to access most of the personalization options as well as customize the Dock with more advanced features.

  1. You can change the size of the Dock and the magnification effect.

  2. Show indicators (the little black dot under the app icon) for open applications.

  3. Customize whether to show recent apps in the Dock.

  4. And customize what double-clicking on a window’s title bar does.

And that's how you make the most of your Mac Dock! The Dock is an iconic part of the MacBook experience, and smaller variations of the Dock can be found on iPhones & iPads. Whichever app is your latest obsession, having it readily available on the Dock is a must-have for Apple users. Check out this article to learn how to make the most of the iPhone Dock in iOS 15. For more tips and tricks for using your MacBook, sign up for our Tip of the Day!

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Author Details

Rachel Needell's picture

Author Details

Rachel Needell

Rachel Needell is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and a poet and author. With 10-plus years of experience working with Apple devices, she specializes in all-things iPad and is a Notes App expert, having worked on both the 2023 iPad Guide and the Notes App Guide. You can usually find her writing in the Daily Tip newsletter as one of our senior Tip writers. Rachel received her Master’s degree in English Literature in 2021 and her most recent work appears in the Winter ’21 edition of New Note Poetry. When she’s not obsessing about Apple products, you can find her voraciously reading fantasy books with her cat in Asheville, North Carolina.