For all the time and trouble and expense we go through to find really cool and easy to use file finders and app launchers, sometimes the best is just built in. So it is with the Mac’s Dock.
No, not the Application part of the Dock. Love it or hate it, the Dock is easy to use. The Dock is also easy to customize, and with a couple of simple steps, can be a one click app launcher and file finder without having to clear away windows to find the Finder.
Your One Trick Pony Has More Tricks
Unless you’re a power user, or really well disciplined, it’s hard to ignore the Dock. It’s the launcher for the rest of us. In true Apple style, the Docks features are limited.
Wouldn’t it be cool to unleash more capability in the Dock?
Wouldn’t it be cool if the Dock could double down and be a file finder? Or, an app and utility launcher?
Are you prepared to enter the world of personal customization? Can you handle the arcane chores of drag and drop and file renaming? If so, you’re ready. Your Mac’s Dock is a one trick pony that’s capable of more than one trick.
Customize Your Dock In 3 Easy Steps
The Dock is a handy place for the most frequently used apps and utilities on your Mac. Drag an icon to the Dock and it’s there, a click away from launch. The right side of the Dock holds your open documents. Let’s make that area even more functional.
First, we need to create a special folder in your Mac’s Applications folder. Click to the Finder. Select New Folder from the menu. Rename the Folder to • Applications (the dot is Option-8 on the keyboard; it’s important).
Next, grab the Applications folder and drag and drop it to the right side of your Mac’s Dock. That will make the Applications folder a one click apps launcher.
Wait. There’s more. Repeat the above steps for other frequently used folders on your Mac. I use the Applications folder, the Utilities folder (it’s inside the Applications folder), the Library folder, the Documents folder, the Desktop, and the Downloads folder.
Remember to create a new folder in each, and rename it starting with the Option-8 to place a dot in front of the empty folder. That helps to sort the folder’s contents and serve as a visual cue so you know which folder you’re using.
After you have the folders you want in the Dock’s folder area, click and hold each to change the default settings.
The settings are easy. Right click on a folder as in the image above. Select Sort by Name, then select Display as Folder, then select View Content As Grid. Easy, right?
Now what do you have? Quick and easy access to all your Mac’s applications, utilities, Library files, Documents, Desktop, and Downloads folder.
Each of the main Mac folders in the Dock (Apps, Utilities, Library, Documents, Downloads, etc.) has a built-in icon so you can quickly identify the folder. Click to reveal the contents of files or apps in each folder.
Even clicking on other folders within folders will leave the Dock’s grid view open, and place a small Back button in the upper left corner to navigate backwards.
I’ve been using this method since Mac OS X Leopard.
It’s easy to set up, works flawlessly, and costs absolutely nothing (other than about five minutes to do half a dozen folders).
Any problems? Dock space is still limited to screen width. Any ways to make it better? Create a frequently used folder and drop application aliases inside, then drag the folder to the Dock. That way you don’t have to wade through all the apps in your Mac’s Applications folder.
Your Dock might be a one-trick pony, but it is capable of learning a few new tricks. And it’s free.