How to add or remove icons from the Dock

Roman Loyola
20 January, 2011
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Apple’s Mac App Store makes it very easy to buy new software, especially for newcomers to the Mac software market. It’s so easy that you might become a frequent Mac App Store shopper, which means the Dock (Mac OS X’s program launcher) will become very crowded, if it isn’t already.

Purchased apps from the Mac App Store are automatically added to the Dock. That’s great if you plan to access the new app on a frequent basis. But if it’s an app you’ll use infrequently, you probably don’t want it there. Here’s how to remove icons from your Dock. I’ll go over adding icons to your Dock, as well.

Remove Dock icon: The easy way

To remove a icon from the Dock, all you have to do it is drag it out of the Dock—a puff will appear with the icon when you drag it. Let go of the mouse button and the icon is gone. Simple.

If the app is currently running, when you drag its icon away from the Dock, it’ll snap back to the Dock. That’s because open apps always appear in the Dock. When you quit the app, the icon will disappear.

Remove inactive Dock icon

On the Dock, right-click (if you don’t have a two-button mouse, hold down the Control key and click) a Dock icon of an app that’s not currently running. Apps that are open will have a white dot below the icon. Inactive apps will not have the white dot.

A pop-up menu will appear. Point the cursor to Options. Another pop-up menu will appear, and the first option will say, “Remove from Dock”. Select this option, and poof, the icon disappears from the Dock.

The app you just removed from the Dock is still on your Mac. You’ll likely find it in the Applications folder. To launch an app not in your Dock, you must go to the folder where the app is located and double-click it.

Remove active Dock icon

When an app is running, you can check to see if it’s set to not stay in your Dock. Here’s how.

Find an app in your Dock that’s running; the app icon will have a white dot below it. Right-click on that icon and select Options.

You’ll see an option for “Keep in Dock”. If it has a checkmark next to it, then this particular app icon will stay in your Dock, even after you have quit the application. If you don’t want it to stay in the Dock, select Keep in Dock to remove the checkmark. Now, when you quit the app, the icon will disappear from the Dock.

Add inactive app to the Dock

It’s very easy to add the icon of an app that’s not currently running. Find the app on your Mac (probably in the Applications folder), click on it, and drag it to the Dock. You’re done.

If you want to change the location of the icon on the Dock, click and hold on the icon. Then drag it to the desired location.

Add active app to the Dock

When an app is running, you can keep it in the Dock by using the method described in the “Remove active Dock icon” section above.

Right-click on that icon of the open app in the Dock and select Options. You’ll see an option for “Keep in Dock”. If you want it to stay in the Dock, select Keep in Dock to add the checkmark. Now, when you quit the app, the icon will stay in the Dock.

Tip: If you move an open app’s Dock icon to a different location within the Dock, the icon will automatically be set to Keep in Dock

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