The Dock works like the command center of your Mac. With the Dock, launching, ending, switching between apps, and performing other functions is at the tip of your fingers.
If your hands are always on your keyboard—say you’re typing a lot, keyboard shortcuts allow you to interact with the Dock without having to take off your hands from the keyboard to touch the Trackpad or reach for your mouse.
I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts so you can navigate your Dock and use all the apps within it more quickly and efficiently. I’ve also added different ways to customize your Mac’s Dock to your liking.
- General Keyboard Shortcuts applicable to the Dock
- Dock-specific shortcuts
- Add, rearrange, or remove items on the Dock
- Different ways to customize your Dock
General Keyboard Shortcuts applicable to the Dock
Below are general keyboard shortcuts that perform actions related to the Dock:
- Command + M – minimize the front window to the Dock
- Option + Command + D – hide or show the Dock
- Option + Command + M – minimize all the windows of the front app
- Control + Shift + Command + T – add a selected app from the Finder to the Dock and vice-versa
- Control-click on any space beside the separator (|) on the Dock – open the Dock’s quick settings menu
You can access the Dock by pressing Ctrl + F3 or Ctrl + Fn + F3 on a portable keyboard. Once the focus is on the Dock, run any of the following keyboard shortcuts to perform specific actions:
- Left or right arrow keys – move through the apps and files in the Dock
- Up arrow key – open the Dock’s menu
- Return – open a selected app in the Dock
- Hold Option and use the left and right keys – move the desired app to a different place in the Dock
- First letter of the app – quickly jump to a specific app
- Option + click on an app with an open window – hide the app’s window
- Command + click on an app or file – open that app’s location on Finder
- Control + click on an app – show the app’s shortcut menu of actions. Hold Option to see the Force Quit option
- Option + Control + click on an app – show the app’s menu with a Force Quit option (alternative to above)
- Option + Command + click on an app’s icon – switch to an app and hide the other apps
- Control + click → Quit – exit an open app
- Command + Option + Return – hide all windows and apps except for the selected app
- Drag a file over an app’s icon – open it.
For example, to open a document you created in Pages, drag the document over the Pages icon in the Dock.
Add, rearrange, or remove items on the Dock
Add apps to the Dock by dragging them on the left side of the separator and files and folders on the right.
Remove items by dragging them away from the Dock. Release the app as soon as you see Remove. Alternatively, you may also control-click an app → Options → deselect Keep in Dock.
Note: Adding or removing items from the Dock only adds or removes an alias for the item. The item stays in its original location on your Mac.
Just hold the icon and drag it to its new location to rearrange items.
You may also create one-click easy access to your favorite website by adding a shortcut directly on the Mac’s Dock.
Your Mac’s Dock has two separators that separate it into three sections:
- Leftmost section: contains all your personally elected apps
- Middle section: contains the three apps you most recently used, including Handoff icons if you’re using the Handoff feature
- Rightmost section: has your Trash, Downloads folder or stack, and minimized windows.
While Apple does not really allow you to add another separator for added organization, you can use Terminal to add another separator on the Dock.
Different ways to customize your Dock
You can further customize your Dock by changing its appearance and features. To start, head to System Preferences → Dock & Menu Bar. Go to the sidebar and modify any of the following:
Click the drop-down menu beside Minimize Windows using and choose between Genie effect and Scale effect. The former adds a nifty genie-in-a-bottle animation whenever you minimize a window.
Size and magnification
Move the slider to adjust the icons’ size on your Dock. Magnification is another excellent graphic that enlarges the apps on the Dock while under your cursor. To enable it, tick the box beside Magnification and move the slider.
If you want further customization, you can also change your Dock’s color, but since there’s no option to modify it on your Mac, you have to do a little workaround.
You may have been used to seeing the Dock at the screen’s bottom, but you can actually move the Dock on your Mac to the left or right in a vertical orientation.
Minimize window into the application
If you find minimized windows an eyesore, you can minimize them into the application instead. This means minimized windows won’t appear on the Dock but can be found in the app’s shortcut menu.
Show recent applications in the Dock
Seeing the apps you last used may benefit your workflow, especially if you’re likely to use them again soon. If not, you may opt not to show them in your Dock.
Autohide the Dock
While the Dock is undoubtedly handy, it can also be a distraction. You have the option to autohide your Dock when you’re not actively interacting with it. To unhide your Dock on Mac, hover your cursor wherever it’s located.
To keep your Dock visible, deselect Automatically hide and show the Dock on the Dock & Menu Bar preferences.
You may have noticed tiny dots under some apps in your Dock. These are indicators that tell you that the app is open. You can hide this by deselecting Show indicators for open applications.
While the Dock can already help you do your work more efficiently, learning how to interact with it through shortcuts and customizing it according to your daily workflow can boost your productivity to heights!
Are you more of a classic clicker or the keyboard shortcut master? Did we cover all the shortcuts for the Dock? If not, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll add it to the list!