6 Dock Terminal tweaks Mac users need

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Apple, OS X, Mac, Dock, Terminal, OS X hints

These useful tips should help any Mac user get a little more from OS X’s Dock.

Learn the basics

It’s worth taking the time to explore what you already have, read this guide to Dock Essentials, as this collection is a little more advanced and requires your use Terminal.

Bigger icons

Perhaps you’d like to make the icons in your Dock much larger than you can by default? In Terminal type:

defaults write com.apple.dock largesize -int 512; killall Dock

Hit Return and increase the size of the icons. You can use numbers larger than 512, but you’ll find most app icons look lousy when you do. This is how to make a Mac more usable for partially sighted people. To reset it back to normal type

defaults write com.apple.dock largesize -float 128; killall Dock

Active apps

Ex-Windows users may like this tip as it changes Dock behavior so only active apps are visible there. This means that when you launch an app it will appear in the Dock and disappear when you quit that app.


defaults write com.apple.dock static-only –bool TRUE; killall Dock

Press return

Hidden apps

You can tweak the Dock so any active but hidden (Command + H) apps you might have running on your Mac are shown as transparent icons in your dock.

In Terminal, type

defaults write com.apple.Dock showhidden -bool YES; killall Dock

Hit return. (Replace YES with NO to reverse this effect.)

Give Dock icons a little space

Add blank space between icons in your Dock using a Terminal command. This creates a blank app icon – effectively a blank space -- in your Dock that you can drag and drop to wherever on the Dock you want it to go.

Launch Terminal


defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{"tile-type"="spacer-tile";}'; killall Dock

Press return

You should repeat this sequence for each blank space you wish to create. To get rid of these spaces simply drag and drop them out of your Dock in the usual way.

Source: iMore

Add recent items

This script creates a folder (actually a ‘Stack’) called “Recent Applications” in the right-hand section of your Dock. To create it:

Launch Terminal


defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add '{ "tile-data" = { "list-type" = 1; }; "tile-type" = "recents-tile"; }';killall Dock

Source: Macworld

There’s a little more to this trick:

Control-click on the folder icon in the Dock and you’ll get the option to see Recent Applications, Documents, Servers, Volumes or Items. If you want shortcuts to each of these just create a new folder by repeating the command. This invaluable tool makes it incredibly easy to get back to what you were doing last time you used your Mac.

Reset your Dock

If you’ve used one script too many and yearn to get your old Dock back launch Terminal and type:

defaults delete com.apple.dock; killall Dock

Contextual text

A little extra from the it's so incredibly obvious once you learn it dept., try this: Highlight text in any application window on your Mac and and drag it to another application on your dock and the application will begin working with that text. This lets you drag a URL from a document straight into Safari, grab text from a document to chuck into an automatically created new email, or take text from one document to use directly in a creative app.

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