Simple hints for making the Mac OS X Dock more effective

Use the Mac OS X Dock more effectively. Place your hard drive icon in the dock (to the right line of the Dock). Leave it there. Forever. Apple should ship all Macs this way, by the way. Are you listening Cupertino? Click and hold on it to bring up a hierarchical menu of your drives’s entire contents.

(The “5 levels deep” default limitation of Mac OS X can be overcome. We used a nice little application called, “TransparentDock” to set our hierarchical level depth to “unlimited.” This setting is at the bottom of the “Dock Setup” tab in the application. At MacDailyNews, we use fully transparent Docks, but you don’t have to use this feature if you don’t want to, just use the application to set the hierarchy to “Unlimited Levels.”)

Then you can turn off “Show hard disks on the desktop” in the Finder’s Preferences if you like. (If you are a long time Mac user, you may not be able to bring yourself to do this, so leave the hard drive icon on the desktop, too, if you can’t bear it not being there.) We know we can’t do it; our hard drive icons are all in the dock and on the desktop, too.

Place your Desktop folder in the dock, too. Especially if you use the Desktop a lot, like you did in the Classic Mac OS. Place other commonly-used folders in the dock, too!

One last piece of advice: turn OFF Magnification in the Dock and make the Dock as small as possible – the text labels of the icons should be enough to identify the icons, if you can’t seem to remember which icon is which. Without magnification, it’s a lot easier to click a static icon than trying to click a moving target all day long. OS X will seem a lot less tiring this way.

19 Comments

  1. I do have my HD in my dock – and you’re right, Apple should ship ’em this way. Thanks for breaking my “5 levels deep” problem FINALLY! I downloaded TransparentDock and it worked as advertised, plus I like my dock transparent better, too!

    Magnification in the Dock is EVIL. Turn it off.

  2. There are two must-have that relate to this, number one – LaunchBar. Number two – DragThing. Both are available via macupdate.com or versiontracker.com, both are wonderful tools.

  3. I always keep the Applications folder on my Dock, since 95% of the time that’s the folder I want access to on my boot drive. I also like moving the Dock to the left-side of the screen, turning off magnification, and making the icons as LARGE as possible. One of the GUI guidelines – besides static location of icons – is that it’s easier to click on a larger object. But hey, whatever works. I have frequently used folders on my Finder windows instead of my Dock. Your mileage may vary.

  4. I use TigerLaunch to start less frequently used apps from the menu bar. Also load Launcher and Disk Space widgets (via Konfabulator) to access drives and important folders. My dock is on the right — on the left it kept getting covered by opening windows (since most default to upper left). Plus that puts the trash icon in its proper place!

  5. Dock tips are useful, but I find Proteron’s MaxMenus invaluable! It allows me all the customization I need in one app and is completely non-intrusive when working. In it’s prefs I’ve made all text small (to allow me to see more folders and items) and it allows me to drag-n-drop files onto any OS X or OS 9 app to launch immediately. I was a DragThing user for years, but MaxMenus does so much more and takes no screen real estate. [url=http://www.proteron.com]http://www.proteron.com[/url]

  6. i’ve been a long time mac user…and the day i made mac os x my primary operating system (since 10.1) i’ve had it configured the way they are FINALLY advising ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  7. I’ve been using that trick since OS 9 – drop an alia of HD into Apple Menu Folder… then it was ADock – a mock OS X dock which I got used to before going into X, now I just use two opened (Command + N on desktop) windows in column view – and drag and drop most used folders etc. into Tool bar – including trash can, now I don’t even have to drag my mouse very far to access EVERYTHING, I can move files from these two fils and really, anything else – I find it much better than any dock activity – it takes time to go to the dock you see ;o)

  8. Try XShelf. It holds folders, files, or apps. You can place it on anyside of the screen. It acts like the old OS9 pop up folders. With a little more writing from the author this will be the app to have.

  9. If you will organize your apps in related folders you won’t need to do this. For example, all of my graphics/photo apps are in 1 folder, all my music/audio are in one folder, all my games are in one folder. Then drag these folders to the dock & when you right-mouse (or control click) on them, the contents will appear as a menu. This way you don’t need to screw around with the size of the dock, which should ALWAYS be on the left side of the screen. I don’t know how people can stand to use their Macs with the dock hogging up the bottom of the screen.

  10. I’ve been using that trick since OS 9 – drop an alias of HD into Apple Menu Folder… then it was ADock – a mock OS X dock which I got used to before moving onto X, now I just use two opened (Command + N on desktop) windows in column view – and drag and drop most used folders etc. into Tool bar (Command + B) – including trash can, now I don’t even have to drag my mouse very far to access EVERYTHING, I can move files from these two “folders” and really, prtty much anything else – I find it much better than any dock activity – it takes time to go to the dock – especially if you have a big screen.

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