How to Set Dock Preferences in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

How to Set Dock Preferences in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

You can change a few things about the Mac OS X Lion Dock to make it look and behave just the way you want it to. First, look at the Max OS X Lion global preferences that apply to the Dock itself. Then explore some preferences that apply only to folder and disk icons in the Dock.

Mac OS X Lion Global Dock preferences

To change global Dock preferences, choose Apple→Dock→Dock Preferences. The System Preferences application opens, showing an active Dock pane.


You can also open the Dock Preferences by right-clicking or Control+clicking the Dock Resizer and choosing Dock Preferences from the contextual menu.

Now you can adjust your Dock with the following preferences:

  • Size: Note the slider bar here.

As you add items to the Dock, the icons, and the Dock itself, the icons will shrink to accommodate the new ones.

  • Magnification: This slider controls how big icons grow when you pass the arrow cursor over them. Or you can deselect this check box to turn off magnification entirely.

  • Position on Screen: Choose one of these three radio buttons to attach the Dock to the left side, the right side, or the bottom of your screen (the default).

  • Minimize Windows Using: From this handy pop-up menu, choose the animation that you see when you click a window’s Minimize button (the yellow gumdrop).

  • Minimize Windows into Application Icon: If you select this option, when you minimize a window by clicking its yellow gumdrop button, you won’t see a Dock icon for that window.

If this option isn’t selected, each window you minimize gets its own personal icon on the right side of your Dock.

  • Animate Opening Applications: Mac OS X Lion animates (bounces) Dock icons when you click them to open an item. If you don’t like the animation, deselect (that is, uncheck) this check box, and the bouncing ceases.

  • Automatically Hide and Show the Dock: Choose the Automatically Hide and Show the Dock check box; after that, the Dock displays itself only when you move the cursor to the bottom of the screen where the Dock would ordinarily appear.

  • Show Indicator Lights for Open Applications: Select this option if you want all open applications to display an indicator light below their Dock icons.

Folder and Disk Dock Icon Menu Preferences

If you click a folder or disk icon in the Dock, its contents are displayed in a Fan, Grid, or List menu.


If you right- or Control-click a folder or disk icon in the Dock, its Options menu is displayed.


Here are the choices on the Options menu:

  • Sort By, which determines the order in which items in the folder or disk are displayed when you click its Dock icon.

  • Display As determines what the Dock icon for a folder or disk looks like.

  • View Contents As lets you choose Fan, Grid, or List as the menu type for the folder or disk.

  • Options submenu:

    • Remove from Dock removes the icon from the Dock.

    • Show in Finder opens the window containing the item and selects the item.