We Explain: How Do I Put My Downloads Folder or Mail Icon Back Onto My Mac Dock?

We Explain: How Do I Put My Downloads Folder or Mail Icon Back Onto My Mac Dock?
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How to Restore Lost Icons in the Mac Dock

Your Mac dock is your customizable row of application icons on the bottom of you mac screen. The dock has been praised much and has become the most recognizable item of the OS X operating system. With the dock being customizable as it is, it can happen that an icon gets accidentally deleted form it altogether. Read on to find out how to restore lost icons on the mac dock.

Restoring Application Icons

The Mac dock is divided in two sections. The part, where the applications go is located on the left of the divider. The section right of the divider is where folder items go. Lets explain how to put an icon back in the dock using the Mail application as an example. You use Mail for your daily email needs and you want to show the mail icon on the mac dock. Here is how:

  1. In finder, browse to the applications folder. All installed applications are stored here.
  2. All apps are filed in alphabetical order so the Mail icon should be quickly found. Select the icon and drag it down to your dock.
  3. Find a spot you like for it and see how the other icons make way for the new one. Release it to make the icon permanent in the mac dock.

The above method is the most straightforward solution. Another method is to open the application, which will have it show in the dock as running. This will disappear once the app is closed again, which is not what you want. Right-click on the icon and go to options > ‘keep in dock’ to make the icon stay once closed.

Naturally, this method will work for any type of application icon you want to permanently attach to your Mac dock.

How to Restore the Mac Dock Documents Icon?

Download Folder Options

Although the title might be a bit misleading, this will work for any document type of icon that belongs to the right of the dock divider. So if you have just accidentally deleted your quick links and are for instance wondering; How do I put my downloads folder back onto my mac dock, this guide will help you too.

The steps here are fairly simple and basically the same as for the application icons. The key here is to make sure you do not select the folder or icon from the ‘Places’ section on the left part of Finder. As this is in the essence a shortcut as well, dragging it to the dock will result in the icon disappearing from ‘Places’ al together. Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Select the folder icon you want to move through going to the root folder in Mac’s Finder and carry on finding it from there. Folders like ‘Documents’, ‘Downloads’ or others are typically found under the folder carrying your user name.
  2. Select and drag the desired folder icon to the dock, right of the divider. Your icon will snap into place and stay there permanently. From here on you can assign certain behavior to the folder through right clicking on it.

The above-described methods for both application and folder icons is similar in style and basically how the dock works in general. Mac’s desktop row of links is nothing more then a customizable line of shortcuts that you can use for quickly accessing different parts of your Mac computer. Remember that removing an icon or shortcut here can in no case lead to the loss of the application or folder it is associated with. Therefore you can play with, adjust and change your Mac dock to your hearts desire!


  • Author’s own experience
  • All Screenshots by the author