Some of you may be wondering “What the hell is the dock?”

A good question… and important to know, even if you don’t plan on doing any cleaning.

The Dock

The Dock is the steel gray shelf filled with icons and folders at the bottom of your screen.

On some Macs it may be positioned on the left or right of the screen and/or set to show/hide when your cursor moves into that area.

The icons provide quick access to frequently used  Applications, folders and files.

Mac OSX Dock With Parts Named


A thin grey line, called the Landing Strip, divides the Dock into two parts. Applications go on on the left. Files and Folders on the right.

What’s The Problem?

Most users docks are cluttered with applications.

As you add more the Dock shrinks to fit the screen. At a certain point, the Dock gets so small it loses all functionality.

Crowded Dock

How Do I Clean Up My Dock?

Application, folder and file icons on the Dock are aliases.

You can add and remove icons from the dock without having any impact on the original application, folder or file.

They key is to get rid of the icons you don’t need. Look for:

  • Applications you no longer use.
  • Applications you’ve never used.
  • Applications that are easily accessible from other areas of the screen, e.g.; Time Machine appears in the toolbar.
  • Applications that you open by clicking a file/document icon instead of the application icon, e.g.; Preview
  • Question Marks – These represent files that have been moved or deleted.
  • The Golden Rule – When in doubt, throw it out.

Mac OSX Dock Cleanup

To remove an icon from the Dock:

  • Click and hold down on the icon then drag it off the Dock.
  • Continue to hold if for a second or two, then let go. It will disappear in a puff of smoke.

To add an icon to the Dock:

  • Go to the Finder.
  • Drag any application to left-side of the Dock.
  • Drag any folder or file icon to right-side of the Dock.

That’s all there is to it.

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If you have questions, please use the Comments section below.

John Carroll - No Problem Mac

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