Keep Track of Stacks in Your MacBook's Dock

Lion offers Stacks, which are groups of items (documents, applications, and folders) that you want to place in the Dock of your MacBook for convenience — perhaps the files needed for a project you’re working on, or your favorite game applications.

To create a Stack, just select and drag the items you want to include to the right side of the Dock. As always, the Dock opens a spot on the right side of the Dock to indicate you’re in the zone.

To display the items in a Stack, just click it:

  • If the Stack holds relatively few items, they’re displayed in a really cool-looking arc that Apple calls a fan, and you can click the item you want to open or launch.

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  • If the Stack is stuffed full of many items, the Stack opens in a grid display, allowing you to scroll through the contents (and even open subfolders inside the Stack) to find what you need.

Lion provides a number of new display and sorting options for a Stack. Tight-click the Stack icon, and you can choose to sort the contents by name, date created or added, date modified, or file type. If you’d prefer a grid display (no matter how many items the Stack contains), you can choose Grid mode.

Choose List to display the Stack’s contents in much the same way as List view mode in a Finder window. List mode also allows you to view folders within a Stack as nested menu items. Choose Automatic to return to the default view mode.

You can remove a Stack from the Dock by right-clicking the Stack icon and selecting Options. Choose Remove from Dock from the submenu that appears. Alternatively, just drag that sucker right off the Dock.

You can also display the contents of a Stack in a Finder window. Right-click the Stack icon and choose the Open item at the bottom of the pop-up menu.

If you add a folder full of items, the Stack is named after the folder; otherwise, Lion does the best job it can in figuring out what to name the Stack.

Apple provides two Stacks already set up for you. One, the Download folder, situated next to the Trash, is the default location for any new files that you download using Safari or receive in your e-mail. Lion bounces the Download Stack icon to indicate that you’ve received a new item. Next to the Download Stack is the Documents Stack, which conveniently displays the contents of your Documents folder.

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