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How to Add Mac OS X Mountain Lion Dock Icons

The Mac OS X Mountain Lion Dock is a convenient way to get at oft-used icons. By default, the Dock comes stocked with icons that Apple thinks you’ll need most frequently, but you can customize it to contain any icons that you choose. You also find out how to resize the Dock to fit your new set of icons and how to tell Dock icons what your preferences are.

You can customize your Dock with favorite applications, a document you update daily, or maybe a folder containing your favorite recipes. Use the Dock for anything you need quick access to.

Adding an application, file, or folder to the Dock is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Open a Finder window that contains an application, a document file, or a folder you use frequently.

    You can also drag an icon — including a hard drive icon — from the Desktop.

  2. Click the item you want to add to the Dock.

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  3. Drag the icon out of the Finder window and onto the Dock.

    An icon for this item now appears in the Dock. Note that the Dock item isn’t the actual item. That item remains wherever it was — in a window or on the Desktop. The icon you see in the Dock is a shortcut that opens the item.

    Furthermore, when you remove an icon from the Dock, you aren’t removing the actual application, document, or folder; you’re removing only its shortcut from the Dock.

    Folder, disk, document, and URL icons must be on the right side of the divider line in the Dock; Application icons must be on the left side of it. Why does the Dock force these rules upon you? Someone at Apple must think this is what’s best for you; who knows? But that’s the rule: apps on the left; folders, disks, documents, and URLs on the right.

As long as you follow the rule, you can add several items to either side of the divider line at the same time by selecting them all and dragging the group to that side of the Dock. You can delete only one icon at a time from the Dock, however.

Adding a URL to the Dock works slightly differently. Here’s a quick way to add a URL to the Dock:

  1. Open Safari and go to the page with a URL that you want to save on the Dock.

  2. Click the small icon that you find to the left of the URL in the address bar and drag it to the right side of the dividing line in the Dock.

  3. Release the mouse button when the icon is right where you want it.

    The icons in the Dock slide over and make room for your URL. From now on, when you click the URL icon that you moved to your Dock, Safari opens to that page.

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If you open an icon that normally doesn’t appear in the Dock, and you want to keep its temporary icon in the Dock permanently, you have two ways to tell it to stick around after you quit the program:

  • Control-click (or click and hold) and choose Keep in Dock from the menu that pops up.

  • Drag the icon (for an application that’s currently open) off and then back to the Dock (or to a different position in the Dock) without letting go of the mouse button.

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