Technology Support Center

Customizing the Dock


Mac OS X does not allow you to customize the apple menu as previous operating systems did. With this in mind you will need a place to set up short cuts for your applications. You will see a window at the bottom or on either side of your screen that has icons in it. This will include an icon that looks like a trash basket. This window is called the Dock and it can be customized to meet your specific needs. The following instructions will show you how to change the size, location and content of the Dock. Note that the trash basket replaces the familiar trash can that the previous Mac OS's used.

Changing the size and location:

  • First find the dock (default at the bottom of the screen) and click once on the icon that looks like a light switch with an apple next to it.
  • If you do not have a dock, go to the apple menu and select System Preferences.
  • Under the Personal heading you will find an icon for the Dock. Click once on that icon.
  • Once in the Dock window you will see buttons and sliders for various customizing abilities.
    • To change the size of the dock, slide the arrow on the bar labeled "Dock Size". You can adjust the size from very tiny to full screen width. If you set the size to large, the size of the icons will be adjusted to fit all icons on one screen.
    • To change the position of the dock you have three choices (left, bottom and right). Left and right positions will create a vertical dock while bottom will create a horizontal dock. You may select this by clicking on the button next to your preference.
  • If you put the Dock on the right side of the screen and it covers up some of your icons on the desktop.
    • Close the System Preferences window by going to the System Prefs menu and choose quit, or simply click anywhere on the desktop that does not contain an icon.
    • Once Finder appears on the menu choices to right of the apple, go to the View menu and choose Clean Up. This will move the icons so that you can see them.
  • You can also change some of the other settings, such as animation, by playing with the buttons and slider bars on the Dock screen.

Changing the content of the dock:

  • Adding a program icon to your dock
    • Find the application that you wish to add to the dock. If you are not sure where it is, go to the File menu at the top of your screen and select Find. This will bring up the Sherlock menu allowing you to search your hard drive for the location of the application program.
    • Once you have located the application, click on the icon with your mouse pointer and, while holding the button down, drag the icon onto the dock in the location you want it to appear.
    • Let go of the mouse button.
    • An icon will appear on the dock that can be used to launch this program. If you do not like the location on the dock, simply click on the icon and hold the mouse button down. Then drag it to the location you prefer.
  • Deleting a program icon from the dock
    • Deleting the icon is similar to moving the icon. Click on the icon with the mouse pointer and hold the button down.
    • While holding the button down, drag it to the trash can on the dock.
    • A message will appear saying, "Remove from Dock".
    • Let go of the mouse button and the icon will be deleted.
  • If you have set the size of your dock to large so that it fills the width (or height) of your screen, you will see that adding and deleting icons to the dock will change the size of the icons. This is so you will not have to scroll to find the icons you are looking for. This also allows you flexibility in setting the size of your icons if you want them to be larger but they already fill the screen.