How to Customize Your Dock in OS X Mavericks - dummies

How to Customize Your Dock in OS X Mavericks

By Bob LeVitus

The OS X Mavericks 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.

How to add Dock icons in OS X Mavericks

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.

    In this example the TextEdit application was used. (It’s highlighted.) TextEdit is used all the time to type and edit quick text notes, so having its icon in the Dock is very convenient for me.

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

    The icons to the left and right of the new icon magically part to make room for it. 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, as you find out how to do in a moment, you aren’t removing the actual application, document, or folder; you’re removing only its shortcut from the Dock.


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 in 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.


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.

How to remove an icon from the Dock in OS X Mavericks

Removing an item from the Dock is as easy as 1-2 (there is no 3): Just drag its icon out of the Dock and onto the Desktop and it disappears with a cool poof animation.


Choosing Remove from Dock from the item’s Dock menu is another way to make the item go away.

You can’t remove the icon of a program that’s running from the Dock until you quit that program. Also, note that by moving an icon out of the Dock, you aren’t moving, deleting, or copying the item itself; you’re just removing its icon from the Dock.

The item is unchanged. The icon is sort of like a library catalog card: Just because you remove the card from the card catalog doesn’t mean that the book is gone from the library.

The Dock in OS X releases prior to Mountain Lion included icons for the Documents and Applications folders; the Dock in Mountain Lion and Mavericks does not, at least not by default If your Mac ran OS X 10.7 (Lion) or earlier versions and has been upgraded to Mavericks, the Documents and Applications folders will appear in your Mavericks Dock, unless you removed them at some point.

How to resize the Dock in OS X Mavericks

If the default size of the Dock bugs you, you can make the Dock smaller and save yourself a lot of screen real estate. This space comes in especially handy when you add your own stuff to the Dock.

To shrink or enlarge the Dock (and its icons) without opening the Dock Preferences window, follow these steps:


  1. Make the Sizer appear (as shown in the left margin) by moving your cursor over the dotted line that you find on the right side of the Dock.

  2. Drag the Sizer down to make the Dock smaller, holding down the mouse button until you find the size you like.

    The more you drag this control down, the smaller the Dock gets.

  3. To enlarge the Dock again, just drag the Sizer back up.

    Bam! Big Dock! You can enlarge the Dock until it fills your screen from side to side.