Putting the Dock to the Test - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

If your iMac’s Dock seems like a nifty contraption to you, you’re right. It’s like one of those big control rooms that NASA uses. From the Dock — that icon toolbar at the bottom of the Mavericks Desktop — you can launch an application, monitor what’s running, and even use the pop-up menu commands to control the applications that you launch.

By default, the Dock hangs out at the bottom of your screen, but you can move it to another edge, change the size of the icons, or even hide it until it’s necessary.

When you launch an application — either by clicking an icon on the Dock, clicking an icon within Launchpad, or double-clicking an icon in a Finder window or the Desktop — the icon begins to bounce hilariously in the Dock to indicate that the application is loading. After an application is running, the application icon appears in the Dock with a shiny blue dot underneath. Thus, you can easily see what’s running at any time just by glancing at the Dock.

You can hide most applications by pressing the Command key+H. Although the application itself is still running, it might not appear on the Dock.

Some applications run in the background — that is, they don’t show up on the Dock. You generally don’t even know that these applications are working for you. However, if you need to see in detail what’s going on, you can always use the Activity Monitor utility to view everything that’s happening on your iMac. (For example, an Apple support technician might ask you to run Activity Monitor to help troubleshoot a problem.) To run the Activity Monitor

  1. Click the Spotlight icon on the Finder menu bar.

  2. Type Activity Monitor.

  3. Click the Activity Monitor entry in the Spotlight menu (or just press Return).

Adding Dock icons

The Dock can offer more than just a set of default icons! You can add your own stuff to the Dock, making it the most convenient method of taking care of business without cluttering up your Desktop. You can add

  • Applications: Add any application to your Dock by dragging the application icon into the area to the left of the separator line (the vertical line in the Dock that appears between applications and folders or documents). The existing Dock icons move aside so that you can place the new neighbor in a choice location.

    Do not try to add an application anywhere to the right of the separator line. You can’t put applications there because Mavericks might think that you want the application dumped in the Trash!

  • Folders: Here’s where you want to add things to the area to the right of the separator line. A folder or volume icon that you drag to the Dock is called a stack in Mavericks, and you can display the contents with a single click. (The contents of the folder “fan out” into a half-circle or grid arrangement, depending on the number of items in the folder. In fact, if you have enough items in the stack, scroll bars will appear.) To open or launch an item, just click it in the stack display.

    Mavericks already includes two stacks on the Dock by default: your Documents folder and your Downloads folder.

  • Web URLs: Sure, you can add your favorite website from Safari! Drag it right from the Safari Address bar into the area to the right of the separator line. When you click the URL icon, Safari opens the page automatically.

Removing Dock icons

You can remove an icon (okay, almost any) from the Dock at any time as long as the application isn’t running. In fact, every Mavericks user remove the default icons that never get used to make more room available for your favorite icons. The only two icons you can’t remove are the Finder and Trash icons. To remove an icon from the Dock, just click and drag it off the Dock. You’re rewarded with a ridiculous puff of smoke straight out of a Warner Brothers cartoon! (One of the OS X developers was in a fun mood.)

When you delete an icon from the Dock, all you delete is the Dock icon: The original application, folder, or volume is not deleted, and you can even add that banished icon back to the Dock in the future.

Using Dock icon menus

From the Dock menu, you can open documents, open the location in a Finder window, set an application as a Login Item, control the features in some applications, and other assorted fun, depending on the item.

To display the right-click Dock menu for an icon

  1. Move your cursor over the icon.

  2. Right-click.

    Note that you can also press the Control key and click the icon, or even hold down the left mouse button (or tap and hold on a trackpad) for a second or two.

You can also change the same settings from the Apple menu if you hover your mouse over the Dock item, which displays a submenu with the settings.