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Hiding the Dock in Mac OS X - A Quick Guide

written by: Bill Sodeman•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 2/5/2009

It's very easy to hide or move the Mac OS X dock. It's also easy to add icons to the dock, or change their size. This article gives you all the information you need to get a little more room on your screen when you need it.

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    If you use a Mac every day, sometimes you want a little more room on the screen. This may be a problem if you have a small desktop monitor, or you are using a MacBook or MacBook Pro. The dock is located on the bottom of the screen by default. However, it's easy to move or hide the dock in OS X.

    The shortcut key for hiding and revealing the dock is Cmd-Opt-D. This is a great way to determine if you'll miss the dock when it's hidden. The dock isn't really gone when it's hidden, either. If your dock was located on the bottom of the screen, move your mouse to the bottom edge and you'll see the dock reappear. Moving the mouse up will hide the dock again.

    It's very easy to add icons to your dock. Just drag an icon from your Applications folder (or anywhere else on your system) to the dock when the app is not open and the icon will take up permanent residency in the dock until you decide to remove it.

    More Features in System Preferences

    Another way to hide the dock is to use System Preferences and click on the Dock icon. This dialog box reveals a few more settings that control the dock's size, magnification factor and position on the screen. If you have a widescreen monitor, you might try moving the dock to the left. It's also possible to move the dock to the right, but that location may interfere with vertical thumb and scroll bar in some applications. [See Image 1]

    Reduce the Dock's Size

    The Dock System Preferences pane has another way to manage dock size, by using the Size slider. This actually controls the width of the dock. If you've moved the dock to one side of the screen, this slide controls the height of the dock. If you move the slider to the right, and your dock is visible on the desktop, you'll notice that the dock will not grow past the borders of the desktop. This keeps all of the dock's icons visible on your screen.

    This slider also affects the size of the icons in the dock. If the dock icons are too small, one quick fix is to use the Magnification slider on the Dock's System Preferences pane. Moving that slider towards max will make an icon grow when you point to it on the dock. This effect is also limited by the number of icons on your dock.

    Put Your Dock on a Diet

    If the previous suggestions didn't work, you may have too many icons on your dock. You can slim down your dock by removing apps or items that you rarely use.  Several Mac applications appear by default on the dock, including Safari, iChat, iTunes, iPhoto, and Photo Booth. You can remove an item by Ctrl-clicking on it, and then selecting Remove from Dock. [See Image 2]

    You can also remove an item from the dock by dragging it to the desktop when the icon's application is not open. When you release the icon, it will disappear in an animated puff of smoke. This approach is quick, but it can be confusing, especially if you have open windows on your desktop.

    There are some items that you should always keep on your dock, just for the sake of convenience. The choice is up to you, so base your decision on how often you use an application or feature. Most users will want to keep their web browser (Safari or Firefox), iTunes, and System Preferences in their dock. The Finder should never be removed from the dock, and you'll notice that there is no Remove from Dock choice for that icon.

    Remember, you can always find an application by starting a new Spotlight search with Cmd-Space and then typing the first letters of that app's name in the Spotlight dialog box. In Leopard, applications will appear early in a Spotlight search. [See Image 3]
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    Dock preferencesRemove from dockSpotlight search for an application