Everyone seems to have an opinion about the Mac’s Dock. It’s the mostly used, often maligned utility that launches apps, holds files and folders, and gives Mac users a heads up about what’s running.
The Dock has many users, many detractors, and many features and capabilities seldom used by the Mac masses. Is there a way to make the Dock do what it does even better? Thankfully, yes. Customize your Dock.
Eye Candy vs. Functionality
The Mac’s Dock might be the poster child of esthetics and function. It’s easy to drag apps and files and folders to the Dock so they’re plainly visible. It’s just as easy to make the Dock invisible and have it show up only when you need it.
What if what you want is more functionality and more eye candy?
CandyBar to the rescue—the absolute premier eye candy tool for Mac lovers who are bored with the status quo.
After all, what’s a personal computer for if we can’t make it personal to fit out tastes? CandyBar is a utility which lets you change a bunch of Mac icons with nothing more than a click.
Part of what CandyBar does is tweak the Dock, giving you different icons and looks. But what if eye candy isn’t enough? What if you just don’t have enough space on your Dock for all your demanding apps, utilities, files, and folders?
What if you want to use the Dock on the right or left of your Mac’s screen; vertical style? That method usually has less space for app and utility icons than the default horizontal Dock at the bottom of the screen.
Functionality vs. Eye Candy
All that’s required to truly enhance the functionality of your Dock (and improving usage)—giving you more Docks, and the ability to switch quickly between multiple Docks—is any one of a few nifty Mac utilities.
One of my favorites is Dock-It—a straightforward utility which simply gives you more Docks. Create a Dock for apps, another for folders, another for specific files, perhaps another for seldom used but quickly needed utilities.
Similar to Dock-It is Dock Spaces which gives you up to 10 different Docks and a Menubar option to switch between the Docks.
What’s the value in having multiple Docks? Screen real estate is finite.
There are only so many apps, utilities, files, and folders we can cram into the Dock before it squishes itself down to tiny icons what are painful to navigate, difficult to view.
The Mac’s Dock doesn’t discriminate, but your utilities do. The Dock treats every icon the same—same space same notification. But you use some apps more than others and need them to be front and center. But others, though they don’t get used as often, still need to be a click away.
My Dock is pretty well crammed with Apple apps and utilities; mostly those I use often. But I keep folder aliases in the Dock for Applications, Utilities, Desktop, Downloads, and Documents. To view the contents of those folders I just click and hold, and up pops the grid—I’m a click away from anything important.
If so many Mac users rag on the Dock, and there are many ways to customize the Dock, why doesn’t Apple give us a utility that’s better? Because the Dock is good enough for most Mac owners and users. They’re less concerned about the eye candy or functional shortcomings. It’s a Mac. It just works. That’s why they use it.
For the rest of us, there’s an inherent need to tinker, to improve a personal workflow, to get better, to adapt. What’s your poison? Do you use only the Dock and nothing else? Or, do you venture into other app launchers for comfort and solace and higher productivity? Share your experience and consideration in the Comments section.