5 Dock tips most Mac users need

Most Mac users still use the Dock at least some of the time, so here are a few tips that may help you get even more out of using it.

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Daniel Masaoka / IDG

Most Mac users still use the Dock at least some of the time, so here are a few tips that may help you get even more out of using it.

Add an AirDrop icon to your Dock

AirDrop is a painless way to share files between Apple devices so long as they are on the same network.

However, sharing files using AirDrop from a Mac becomes much easier with this tip: Add an AirDrop icon to your Dock:

  • In Finder select Go>Go to Folder
  • Type: /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/Applications/
  • TapGo

A Finder window will appear in which you’ll find several applications, including one for AirDrop. Drag it to your Dock, and an icon will be placed there. In the future, when you want to share an item using AirDrop just tap its icon in the Dock to open its interface.

Add an iCloud icon to your Dock

I like to maximize the number of ways I can get around my Mac, so I have one iCloud Drive icon in my Finder and another in my Dock.

This makes it very easy for me to reach items in my drive through one of those shortcuts or by using Command-Space and typing a file name. I do this by dragging the iCloud Drive application item to my Dock. You find this in the same folder as the AirDrop application:

  • In Finder select Go>Go to Folder
  • Type: /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/Applications/
  • Tap Go

A Finder window will appear in which you’ll find several applications, including one for iCloud Drive, which you should place in your Dock.

Add an Applications icon to your Dock

There are lots of alternatives to get to applications on your Mac. Most Mac users employ Launchpad to open them.

Many use Applications in Finder, some ask Siri to open apps, perhaps they tap Command-Space, type the application name and hit Return to launch.

I have another way, one I think ex-Windows users may like because it works a little like the App Switcher on the other PC platform.

  • Find your Applications folder in Finder.
  • Select it, and drag it to your Dock.
  • It will appear at the right-hand side of the Dock.
  • Open it, and in Options choose Stack and List.

In the future, when you select this item in your Dock you will be able to quickly open any application you have installed on your Mac from here, as well as from Launchpad.

Add (almost) anything to your Dock

There’s a keyboard command that lets you add items to your Dock. To use it, select an item you want added to your Dock in Finder and then tap: Control+Shift+Command+T

The item will now be available in your Dock – documents will be found at the right-hand side of the Dock, while applications will array themselves to the left-hand side.

8 essential Dock navigation keyboard shortcuts

There’s nothing wrong with using your cursor/mouse to get almost everything done that you need to get done on your Mac, but you can minimize arm strain and improve your focus if you try to use keyboard commands wherever possible. These eight commands will soon have you navigating your Dock like a pro.

1. Essential to learn

Control-Function-F3: This command is an essential first step. Not only does it invoke the Dock, but it does so with keyboard navigation enabled, which you’ll need for the rest of these tips. The following keyboard tips will not work unless you’ve first enabled keyboard navigation using Control-Function-F3.

2. Navigate the Dock

Now you’ve opened the Dock in keyboard navigation mode, Left and Right arrow keys will let you move within the Dock items.

3. Moving up

When you find an item you want to use, just tap the Up arrow to open the Dock items menu. Navigate the options there using the arrow button, tap Return to activate an option, and tap down to exit that menu and continue travelling through your Dock.

4. Launch

To launch an application from your Dock in keyboard navigation mode, select it and tap Return.

5. Letters

You can also jump to apps by the first letter of their name in your Dock while using its keyboard navigation mode.

6. Force Quit

You can Force Quit applications from the Dock in this mode – navigate to the appropriate icon and then tap the Up arrow while holding the Option Key to find Force Quit.

7. Where is it?

Want to see the Dock item in the Finder? Tap Command-Return and you’ll be taken to that item’s enclosing folder.

8. Focus more

Tap Control-Function-F3 to access keyboard navigation, select an application icon using the arrow keys in your Dock, and then tap Command-Option-Return to hide all the other active application windows so you can focus on your selected application.

Want more? Here’s another useful Dock tip to add the power of Smart folders to your Dock set-up

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