By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

To run an app from the Dock on your Mac, move the pointer over the app icon that you want to run and click. (What? Were you expecting something difficult?) The Dock contains icons that represent some (but not all) of the apps installed on your Mac.

When you turn on your Mac for the first time, you see that the Dock already includes a variety of apps that Apple thinks you might want to use right away. However, you can always add or remove app icons to/from the Dock (that’s next in this section).

You can use the Dock in several ways:

  • To gain one-click access to your favorite apps.

  • To see which apps are running. You see a small white illuminated dash under, or next to, the app icon (see this figure) if you turn on the Dock indicator lights in Dock Preferences.

    The Dock identifies running apps with a glowing dash.

    The Dock identifies running apps with a glowing dash.
  • To switch between different apps quickly. Clicking a running app’s Dock icon makes it easy to switch among all the apps that are open at the same time. So, if you want to switch to the iTunes app from the Mail app, you just click the iTunes app icon.

    Doing so immediately displays the iTunes window(s) and displays the iTunes app name in the Application menu on the menu bar at the top of the screen. (Clicking the iTunes app icon brings iTunes to the forefront, but the Mail app doesn’t close or quit on you; it just moseys to the background, waiting for its turn to step into the limelight again.)

  • To see which windows you have minimized.Minimized windows are tucked out of sight but are still open. By default, you see a miniature version of the minimized window on the right (or lower) end of the dock. Simply click it to bring it back to full size.

    You won’t see minimized windows if the Minimize Windows into Application Icon option is selected in Dock Preferences; click the app icon to open the minimized windows of documents created in the app.

  • To view a specific app window.

  • To go to a specific window of a running app.

  • To perform specific tasks of an app.

  • To quit an app without switching to it.

  • To show or hide all windows that belong to a specific app.

You can add or remove app icons to or from the Dock so it contains only the apps you use most often, and you can arrange the icons in the Dock to suit yourself and make starting apps even easier.