Like every other Mac user, I’ve become accustomed to the Dock. But what cool things can I do with it? What does your Dock look like, Dave?
A part of the Mac OS X system since the introduction of Mac OS X itself, back when the leap from MacOS 9 was controversial and criticized as “too much of a change”, I’ve always been interested in how to maximize the benefit of the ever-present bottom bar on my screen. Although — and here’s tip #1 — you don’t need to have it along the bottom. Turns out you can move the Dock to any of the four edges of the screen, as you’ll see shortly.
As someone who has studied usability and interface design, I also have unusual settings for my Dock: it’s big. In fact, most people I know have a long, tiny strip of a Dock that has 25 or more icons, one for each app that they run. At that point it seems like they’d prefer the Microsoft Windows Taskbar, but… maybe not. 🙂
The other thing that’s super helpful with the Dock is to drop a few key folders onto it, because a folder on the Dock turns into a convenient navigational element, making it super easy to get to any apps, docs, or whathaveyou.
Let’s start with the basics, though. In the Finder right click on the Applications folder on the left side:
Choose “Add to Dock”. Add other folders too, if you’re so inclined: I also add “Downloads” to make it easy to find what I’ve downloaded from the Web and other programs.
They show up on the Dock as either a blank folder icon, or a pile of the icons of the files within the folder. You can see both:
Notice that the Dock neatly organizes all the folders adjacent to the trash can. Applications show up as a pile of the individual app icons with 1 Password on top, while the adjacent folder is Downloads.
Now Control-Click on one of the folders in the Dock:
Lots of options. I prefer “Grid” view myself, but you can try the other views. The “Display as” is why Applications and Downloads look different: Applications is a “Stack” while Downloads is a “Folder”.
Click on a Grid view and here’s what you’d see:
And here’s a handy trick: you can drag files and folders directly off the Dock pop-up to move them to another folder (or the Desktop). And you can drag things into one of the folders by simply dragging them onto the folder’s icon on the Dock.
I use both of those quite a bit, actually. Handy.
And before we leave, don’t forget that you can also check out your Dock settings in System Preferences… off the Apple menu:
I’ll also say that I find the “magnify” effect really annoying and disable it, but perhaps you’ll like it. Give it a whirl, see what you think.
The Dock is a critical element of Mac OS X and it’s well worth the time to learn how to be maximally efficient and fine-tune it for your needs.